Life in general

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything.  So, I will try to update now.

Yesterday we had a guy show up at our gate asking about the house across the street, it’s vacant now.  I used to have the woman’s phone number but couldn’t find it anymore.  There is another house down the street that is vacant also and is a little bigger.  It took us a while, talking with our neighbor, and a few phone calls, but we finally got the number for the house down the road.  It’s a small Tico style house with two bedrooms and a big kitchen, going for 60,000 colones a month.  The house across the street, we finally found out is no longer being rented but they want to sell it for 15 million colones; I wouldn’t give you 5 million for it.  It’s in really rough shape.  We bought our house just four years ago and only paid 15 million for ours and we have three bedrooms.  I wonder what our house would go for now with all the work we have done to it?  The house across the street was being rented for 45,000 colones per month, the guy told us that the same house in San Jose would go for around 150,000; I about fell out of my hammock.

Anyways, about the guy.  He had been in our town for about three days and working in the pineapple fields, which is really hard work.  His family lives in San Jose and he is trying to get them out of there and bring them up here.  He said his neighborhood is very dangerous and wants them to be safe.  He is only 21 and has three kids, he started early.  But I can tell you that he does want to provide for his family, so much so that he resorted to sleeping on the streets just so he could work up here.  He said he couldn’t find a job where he lives.  Everything he has made he has sent back to his family in the city.  He was here for a while, we made him a sandwich and had some coffee.  (We didn’t let him in the house though.)  He was very polite and I really felt sorry for him.  My husband did take him to town to write down numbers off the signs for other houses to rent, and we let him charge his cell phone here.  I guess today he is working.  I just hope that everything works out for him and his family.

We headed over to a friends house after that, I had some things that I needed to return.  Turns out that one of our friends had broken several toes and another bone in his foot.  Poor guy is on crutches now.  Today we took him over my crutches to use because they are much lighter than the wood ones.  We let them know that if they need to go anywhere to just call us, he is the only one with a license in the family and he can’t drive now.

Friday, my cleaning lady never showed up.  We waited and waited.  This was very unusual for her, she always let me know if she wasn’t going to make it before.  Turns out she was babysitting for her neighbors.  So she showed up Saturday but I had an appointment for another ultrasound for my thyroid.  I told her not to worry about it.

I went for my ultrasound at another clinic I found that was a lot closer to where I live and a lot cheaper.  I had been noticing what felt like another lump in my thyroid, but this time on the right side.  Turns out I was right, I now have another tumor in it.  This makes three now.  But they are all still pretty small, just bothersome.  If I talk a lot my voice starts to go hoarse.  One of my friends was joking with me today and said that makes me the perfect woman.  I couldn’t help but laugh and I know that he was only kidding with me.  After all, I had been picking on him for breaking his toes playing soccer.  He is like a brother to me.

As for the area I live in, Sarapiqui, it has been extremely hot here these past few weeks.  It has been getting into the upper 90’s, which is unusual for here.  Even the locals are in disbelief at how hot it’s been.  We haven’t been getting the rain like we normally do this time of year either.  It’s made it difficult to cook or bake anything in the house as we don’t have A/C.  When it does rain I may just run outside and dance in it.  The little beach areas at the river have been packed on the weekends with everyone trying to cool off.  I looked at it today and was very tempted to go home, put on some swimming clothes and jump in.  I haven’t been down there in a while.  I really feel sorry for my cats and dogs though, it’s almost impossible for them to cool off.

I did start painting again, but now I am out of canvas.  I did a geometric design in oil and an abstract in acrylic.  Looks like I will have to keep painting in acrylic because I can’t find oils where I live.  Acrylic is easy to clean up though too, plus you don’t get the smell from the oil or the paint thinner.  Would like to sell them to help cover the costs of a few things.  (Like saving up for surgery.)  In order to keep painting though I will need to take another drive to Guapiles, which is about an hour away, to get more canvas.  It’s a heck of a lot cheaper there compared to what I found here.  I can get it for 1,000 in Guapiles and around here it’s over 3,500 for the exact same size.

Well, that’s what’s been going on in my little corner of Costa Rica.  Not much really.  We have been to a couple of get-togethers with friends and met some more wonderful people.  It’s very relaxing here and I have started reading another John Grisham novel.  We are trying not to do a whole lot because we don’t know how much my surgery will be, we will be self paying for it.  Until Mañana, Pura Vida!

 

 

 

Endocrinologist

Well I finally went and saw an endocrinologist today.  He was a very nice doctor at Hospital Clinica Biblica.  He went over everything with me and spoke really good English.  He was really surprised that my public doctor wanted me to have the biopsy done with how small the tumor is, but he stated that it was a very good thing that she had me do it.  There are some cells in the biopsy that are very questionable at this point.  Basically, it is a 50/50 chance that it could still be cancerous.  He knows the doctor very well that did the lab work for the biopsy and was surprised to see him even give the recommendation to have it surgically biopsied.  He said this is very unusual at this stage.  He doesn’t want to jump right in and do surgery on me; especially with how many I have had done already.  I went over my surgeries with him and I thought he was going to fall out of his chair as I went down the list.

Three eye surgeries, Tonsils and adenoids; plus a cyst that was found, Wisdom teeth, gall bladder, appendix, bilateral lipomas four times, sinus surgery three times, plus countless removals of cysts.  I think I am trying to see what all I can live without.  And that is not even the complete list of stuff done.

So, I have a list of blood work that needs to get done.  I will be having that done through the public system as it doesn’t take too long to get the appointment and get the results back.  Then next month my specialist wants me to have the ultrasound done again.  He said I can e-mail him all the test results and if I have any questions I can e-mail him anytime.  My next appointment with him is in June, if all the test results are fine.  If things change I will probably be going to see him sooner.

He has ordered me to relax, no exceptions!  He said if it is cancerous I still don’t need to worry because it is easily treatable.  I know that it is, but it still makes me worry.  The doctor spent a very long time with me today and made sure that I understood everything.  Total cost of today’s appointment, with no insurance, was under $100 and this was at one of the best hospitals in the country.  He didn’t order any unnecessary tests, or prescribe any unnecessary medication.  He is taking it one step at a time to make sure that surgery is the last option.  I like this.

Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Wedding with Friends

Yesterday my husband and I had our wedding here in Costa Rica.  It was amazing.  We never had a wedding before, we went to Las Vegas and got married.  We took turns driving from Cincinnati and drove straight through; it was 2,000 miles and took 30 hours.  We drove there and back.  I figure if we can spend a total of 60 hours in a vehicle together and not want to kill each other, then we were made for one another.  I tried planning a wedding back then, but it wasn’t going very well.  I had called up my father to ask him to walk me down the aisle and he said, “Why don’t you just go to the justice of the peace and get married?”  Needless to say I was pretty heartbroken.  So, we ended up in Las Vegas.  That was 11 years ago.

Now, with the new law here in Costa Rica you have to produce a new, notarized, apostiled, and translated marriage certificate that is not more than 30 days old when you go to renew your carnet.  My husband and I live in a pretty small town of around 8,000 people.  We got our new residency cards last month, it took us a full 30 days for them to come in.  Then we went to renew our carnets, we did not have the marriage certificate, but they didn’t even ask for it.  I am not sure if it just because they know us or what.  But it never came up and we weren’t going to bring it up.  But we still had our wedding and got remarried.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, even though it was really hot and humid; at least it didn’t rain!  We only had about 20 people there, which was perfect for us.  We had traditional Costa Rican food that was all homemade by our friends.  I did buy a beautiful three tier cake though, which was quit difficult to get it to the wedding.  We held the wedding at one of our friends houses, they live on a big property  not far from our house.  (We actually used to rent one of the houses on the property.)  My friend asked me a few days before the wedding about decorations.  I told her that it wasn’t important to me, just having our friends there is what really mattered.  I did buy some balloons though to have put out so people could find the place.  When we got there they had the place looking so beautiful for us.  They got a tent for outside, put fresh flowers up everywhere, got tables with really nice tablecloths, and had flowers on those too.  I was so overwhelmed.  I just wasn’t expecting all of that, I got teary eyed.

I got to finally toss the bouquet, I always wanted to.  My husband and I had our dance, Phil Collins-Groovy kind of love.  There wasn’t any rum left over.  These people here have become my family.  It was a beautiful day with beautiful people and I don’t think I could have been happier.  I was so nervous beforehand.  But it was very relaxing and really stress free.  Everyone was smiling, laughing, and having a great time.  I’m glad we had a wedding here with close friends.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day.  Until mañana, Pura vida!

weddingus

wedding40

wedding33

Helping Neighbors

I am not writing this just to get people to think I am a good person.  I am writing this to encourage people to pay it forward.

When we moved here almost five years ago we rented a fully furnished house, if you could call it that.  We stayed in that house for three months and came to realize that the person we were renting from was pretty much crazy.  She was also a control freak.  Our house and her house were on the same property and she was not taking care of the property like she said she would in the contract.  The only things we brought with us were clothes, a few personal items, and two cats.  We had absolutely no furniture.  But we had to get out of that house and away from her.

We met a nice lady from Germany who had property about a 30 minute drive from where we originally at.  There were a total of three houses on the property; her’s, a nice Tico family who cared for the property, and another house.  We decided to go and have a look at the house.  It was a cute house, kind of in the jungle and very peaceful.  There were a couple of tables in the house that we could use, a couple of stools, and a couple of office chairs with the backs missing.  We had also bought two plastic chairs at a supermarket one day and took them to the new house.  We pretty much had nothing.  No plates, silverware, stove, cookware, bed, glasses, or anything else.  There was another nice family that we had met while living in the first house; they were from South Africa.  They loaned us so many things and gave us a lot of stuff.  They gave us plates, silverware, a couple of cooking pots, a small folding table, and a mattress; they also loaned us a washing machine.  One thing that we were definitely missing was a refrigerator.  We went three months without one.  We borrowed a cooler and traded out ice bottles with the Tico family living next to us.  Everyday I would go over there and exchange the bottles and they would let me keep meat in the freezer until I needed it.  This family has become like family to us.  It was kind of sad when we moved out and bought a house of our own.  But we still see them often, this is actually where we are having our wedding at.

My neighbor across the street was gone for many months taking care of her sister.  She would come back and bring stuff back to the house but would never stay.  During the time that she was gone her utilities got shut off.  I am not sure if it was just because she could not pay them with where she was at or what.  Her sister passed away last week and she has been here ever since with her brother.  She came over the other day asking if she could get a few big rocks out of our yard.  (We had plenty left over from the fence building we just got done.)  Turns out she is using the rocks for a fire pit in her back yard to do some cooking on.  But I thought about it for a minute and realized that she had no way to keep anything cold.  My husband and I had bought a cooler not that long ago, we hadn’t even used it yet.  So we decided to ask her if she wanted to borrow it.  I already had a bottle of ice in the freezer, I always keep one there in case the power goes out.  She was so happy with the cooler and ice.  Yesterday when I took a new bottle over she gave me a t-shirt for my husband, it’s really awesome.  We definitely weren’t expecting anything in return, after all someone had done this for us.  Then later last night she brought over some ice cream and a fresh pineapple thanking us again.  It’s so sweet.  I did tell her that someone had done this for us before and I know how it is.  We charged up a couple of flashlights for her also.

I just feel this is how neighbors should treat each other.  With respect and helping each other out in a time of need.  We have some really good people in our neighborhood, all Ticos except us.  I love the small town feel and how good people are to each other here.  Kind of like when I had my surgery, my other neighbor brought me over something to eat everyday for a week.  That is usually something reserved for family.  I love it here and don’t want to be anywhere else.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Update: Biopsy results

I got the results yesterday, it’s good new but not great news.  It’s NOT cancer!  That is such a relief.  But I did sit down and talk to one of the doctors at the clinic about the results.  There is some stuff still going on with the tumor and it is causing problems for me.  He is thinking that it is causing some hyperthyroidism and I need treatment for that and then I need to have the tumor removed completely and biopsied again.  I really do not want another surgery but it seems I don’t have a choice in this.  The doctor wanted to me to go and see my regular doctor, but we were about an hour away from home and it was getting late.  It was a really long day yesterday, and it’s already been a long one today.

We had dropped the car off for a radiator flush and then went to see if our new cedula cards had come in.  After waiting a month we finally had them!  This is the longest it has ever taken.  The radiator flush ended up only costing us under $24, way cheap for that.  Then we went to Pequeño Mundo to return a couple of shirts, and of course I picked up some more dark chocolate espresso bars.  After that we stopped by the clinic and got the test results.  I am still not sure how I am feeling about it.  I know I should be happy that it’s not cancer, but I just still feel down about everything.  Maybe it’s because of having to face another surgery.  I hate having my neck touched, and to think of someone having to cut into it just freaks me out.

Then on the way home we get a flat.  We just bought these tires in December.  But something definitely cut the tire causing it.  So we pull over, my husband and I get out and he starts getting everything out of the trunk.  He pulls out the spare tire…that one is flat too.  This is not fun.  I started calling some people, but they are either not close by or didn’t answer.  About then is when someone pulled over to help.  We loaded both tires in the trunk and I rode with him to get air in the spare and to see about patching the other one.  I got that done and it only cost $8, I bought the guy who stopped a small soda and asked him how much for the ride there and back, $6.  Not bad, I will take that.  We finally get the spare on, we decided we didn’t feel safe with the patched tire, and we finally made it home.

I got up early this morning to go and see my regular doctor.  I didn’t even think about this being Holy Week.  Everyone in the town is trying to get in before the clinic closes on Thursday and Friday.  There were no more appointments left for today.  This is actually the first time this has happened to me.  So, I will get up earlier tomorrow and see about getting one.  (Thursday, I am sleeping in!)  We went and picked up some more materials for our fence that we are building and then went and got a new tire.  Turns out when we got the flat we bent the rim also.  At least we have a full size spare so it’s not too bad.  My husband then took me to the other clinic to see about refilling my medicine.  Now, we just got our new cedulas yesterday.  Our carnet, which is like an insurance card, expired with the old cedula.  We couldn’t get a new carnet without a new cedula.  Even though we have our cedulas and proof that we paid for the insurance, they wouldn’t let me refill my medication.  Even after I explained to the woman why I didn’t have the new carnet.  So, I said “F” it and had my husband take me to the pharmacy and paid out of pocket for it.  It was about $16.  That was actually less than my co-pay in the States.  He asked me if I wanted to go back to our clinic to see if we could get the new carnets today; nope, just take me home so I can relax.  It can take several hours of waiting to get a new carnet and I was already frustrated.

So, that has been my yesterday and today.  I am tired and grumpy right now.  I am thinking of taking a nap, or taking up drinking.  I haven’t decided yet.  Until Mañana, Pura Vida!

Nicaragua Border Crossing

First I am going to tell you step by step about the border crossing.  We went through by Los Chiles.

I would recommend paying your exit tax before getting to the border, it is much easier and it was $9.  There is a place to pay it in Los Chiles next to the bus terminal which is across the street from Gollo, it is at a little soda.  You can pay it at the border, but it is done at a machine, which is similar to an ATM machine, and it will be the same as doing a cash advance on your bank or credit card.  I know many banks charge an extra fee for this and you cannot get money out of this machine.   When you go up to the office there is a tent outside with a table and a couple of border police there.  You need to show them your passport, they will write down your name and passport number.  You will need to fill out the form for leaving, make sure to take a pen with you.  Next you will go to a window marked “Salida”, this is for leaving Costa Rica.  There you show them your exit tax form and the form you filled out inside the building.  After that you will proceed to the border.  There is another tent with two border police at it, you need to show your passport again here.  After that you can finally get to the Nicaragua border.  You walk through a gate and show your passport to the guard.  You continue up to the building where there is another tent with a table and some more border police, again you must show your passport and you will need to fill out a form for entering Nicaragua, it is the exact same form that you filled out for leaving Costa Rica.  (Get used to filling this form out)  Next you will pay your entrance fee for Nicaragua, $12.  Now you can finally be on your way.  It is the exact same procedure for leaving Nicaragua, the exit tax is $2.

I would recommend having local currency for Nicaragua, it would have really made things a lot easier there.  I was told to bring US dollars and that is what I did, so everywhere we went it was a matter of pulling out the calculator or phone to do the conversion.  There are vans at this border crossing now and they will take you to San Carlos, Nicaragua for $3 or 70 Cordobas.  $3 is more than 70 Cordobas.  The ride up there took us about 40 minutes.  They dropped us off and told us that they would be running about every 30 minutes, this is not entirely true, they run when they have a full van.  Remember that the border does close at 4pm.

The lake and water front was very beautiful.  The breeze was very strong, but the heat was unbearable.   Even in the shade it was ungodly hot with the breeze.  We did have a nice lunch for cheap and picked up a few items.  My friends got some alcohol and some gifts for family.  I got my husband a wooden hand painted turtle, and I got myself some ibuprofen.  I know it sounds weird, but it was extremely cheap there.  I didn’t like the market, it was too dark and dingy for me and it seemed that all the stuff was of really low quality.  Then there were the guys walking around selling jewelry and belts,  and no matter how many times you said no if they seen you again they would still ask.  I had one guy shoving spices in my face.  I really didn’t like it there.  I am thankful for the experience though.  I am not judging all of Nicaragua based on this one experience in this one town.  I have heard that other towns are very nice and would possibly like to visit those someday.  But if you have to do a border crossing to renew your visa, this one is very easy to do.  Just cross over, take the van, and then grab some lunch and come back.

This is the soda in Los Chiles where you can pay your exit tax.

exit

Update 4

I got some good news yesterday.  My blood test results came back normal.  This was the thyroid hormone test.  So, maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Just still waiting on that biopsy result.

I also had a cyst removed yesterday on my back.  I believe I am genetically cursed with these things.  The worst part about the hole procedure is getting the anesthesia injection to numb the area.  I could tell that part way through the procedure it was starting to wear off.  I didn’t complain because I definitely didn’t want another shot.  He got it completely out and even showed it to me.  They all kind of giggled when I said, “Cool.”  I do have a medical degree so these things rarely gross me out, I usually find them fascinating.  I got three stitches in my back and I go back in a week to get them removed. (I don’t know what it is either but every time I get stitches the first one always pulls out, it doesn’t matter who does them or where I get them done at.)  He put me on some antibiotics to prevent infection.  All of this was covered by the public healthcare system that we pay into.   My husband was right there by my side the entire time yesterday; just like when I had the biopsy done.  He is such a great man and I feel so lucky to have him.  Also, he has been making sure to wash my wound for me since I can’t really get to it.

Tomorrow I am going to Nicaragua with some friends.  My husband told me that I need a vacation after this week!  I agree.  This is my first time making the border crossing and I will be sure to tell you all about it.  We are just heading up to San Carlos for the day.  I am hoping to find something special for my husband, he is staying home with the furry children.  I am looking forward to going, just not looking forward to getting up before the sun.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Update 3: Biopsy

I am really tired now from today.  This biopsy took a lot out of me, plus I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night; probably from just being worried about today.

We got up this morning around 7, that is a little early for me.  I usually get up around 8.  It is difficult for me to get a good night sleep because my back always hurts so I am always changing positions during the night.  We had our coffee and a bowl of cereal, yup I still eat cereal, and then headed out around 8.  My appointment was set between 11 and 1, but we were expecting heavy traffic.  Of course today, there wasn’t any traffic on the way there, there was a road closure so we thought there would be more but in fact there was less.  We get to Guapiles early and went and made the house payment at the bank.  Actually got in and out of the bank quickly today.  Then we decided that since we still had plenty of time we would head over to the Maxi Pali and do some shopping.  There was a tour bus in the parking lot and a whole bunch of gringos in the store.  I am not used to being out in public with a bunch of people from the US around me.  From there we stopped by the vet and stocked up on cat food for the month.  Some things are a little cheaper in Guapiles than where we live so we stock up on those few things for the month.  After that we headed to the clinic.

The same greeter was there again, always smiling, she walked us over to the counter to get registered and to pay.  Total cost of the biopsy was less than $250, cheaper than our monthly insurance premium in the States.  Then we waited.  We did wait quite a while until I got called back.  My husband went in with me.  I had the same, very nice, gentleman that I had before for my ultrasound.  He remembered me and made sure to speak English, even his assistant spoke good English.  He sat me down on the edge of the bed and got me to relax, he knew I was nervous.  My legs hung off the end and I had a pillow under my back so it made my head lean really far backwards; this makes it easier for him to do the ultrasound and biopsy.  He found the tumor again, it is still the same size.  Then he took the needle and inserted it into my neck.  Keep in mind that I had no numbing agent either.  I felt a little pinch going in, not so bad.  But then he had to take the needle and move it in and out a little to collect the cells, he did tell me everything he was going to do before he even started the ultrasound so I was prepared.  The needle was going in and out, think of a plunging motion, and boy did it start to hurt.  I wasn’t allowed to talk or even to swallow, I had to stay perfectly still.  My husband was next to me holding my hand, more like me squeezing his hand really hard.  At one point I noticed tears in my eyes, but I stayed still.  I just kept twirling my feet.  He pulled the needle out, then informed me that he had to do it again because he didn’t get a big enough sample.  I wanted to cry at this point.  But I went through it again.  I remember feeling myself tense up and he would calmly tell me to relax, then I would take a deep breath and try to relax a little.  It worked.

He finally collected a big enough sample to send to the lab.  He got a paper towel and wiped off my neck and he and my husband help to get me in a sitting position.  I got so dizzy at that point.  I was so hot too.  My neck was super stiff and it hurt to turn my head to the side.  The technician told me to take all the time I needed, there was no rush.  He was very polite the whole time.  Even as I was leaving he did the tradition Costa Rica farewell of a small hug and a kiss on the cheek and shook my husbands hand.

This is not anything that I would wish upon anyone, but it was a good experience.  The staff and personnel at this clinic are absolutely amazing.  Now we just play the waiting game on the test results.  Anywhere between 10 and 15 days.  If they call, it’s not good news.  If they don’t call, it’s good news.  These next two weeks are going to take forever.  Until mañana, pura vida!

biopsy

My Average Day

People ask me a lot of times what I do.  Well, not much really.  I have a normal morning routine that I follow.  My husband usually gets up before me and brings me a cup of coffee while I am still in bed.  He is so sweet.  I take a few sips and hand him the cup back and then put on my sandals and follow him out to the patio.  We have our morning coffee and listen and watch all the birds.  This morning I was listening to the toucans off in the distance and some other small birds in the trees next to the house.  Just a little bit ago I saw a brown Basilisk  lizard running through the yard and our small dog started chasing it.  After about three cups of coffee I make my way inside to change clothes, then I put the dishes away, brush my teeth, and clean the litter box.  Somewhere in there I usually have a bowl of cereal.  I love Fruit Loops, but of course we buy the local brand.  From there I check my e-mail and messages.  Check my Facebook and read a lot of news.  Then I do whatever I want.  Also, through-out the day my husband and I also take turns walking the dog.

I had a friend stop by this morning, she helped me again by calling my private clinic to see how much a biopsy of my tumor would cost; about $250.  I wasn’t expecting it to be that much.  She is going to call around to some other clinics that she knows of to see if she can find it cheaper.  I just really want to know if this thing is cancerous or not.  I went a few days without feeling it at all, but the past two days it has really been bothering me.  It feels like I have something stuck in my throat that just won’t go away.  I can feel pressure on the front of my throat, like someone pushing in on it with their thumb.  Not a good feeling at all.  We are still waiting for the test results of the blood test, hopefully I will have them by next week.

As of right now, the weather is beautiful.  upper 80’s and a nice breeze with sunny skies.  It is a lot better than the rain we had been having.  My husband was actually able to get the gutters cleaned out this morning.  He has gone for his walk, something he loves to do.  It keeps him active and healthy.  The only other thing I have to do today is laundry.  I am conducting an experiment right now with that.  I am trying to figure out if we have a smart meter, some areas do and some don’t.  So, I have been waiting until the afternoon to do all my laundry. If my utility bill goes down, we have a smart meter.  I am hoping that is the case.  Granted my bill is only $32 a month, but I am frugal.  I am thinking of changing all the light bulbs to LED bulbs next.  They use a lot less electricity than the energy efficient ones.

I did get a message from a friend last night in the States, whom I immediately called.  The State of Ohio finally opened up all adoption records that were sealed before.  I had sent off for my original birth certificate to see if I could find out who my biological father was.  Of course he is not listed on it, I am not surprised by this at all.  I have had health problems since the day I was born.  I would like to know if these are hereditary or not for the sake of my child.  I am thinking of doing a DNA test next, see if I can get anywhere with that.

Well, I need to brush the cats and clean up a few things around the house.  We are still planning our wedding for April.  I got confirmation that we can use the property that we want!  And we are planning a day trip  up to Nicaragua soon also with another friend, not sure if we will go or not as we haven’t got all the details yet.  Lots of planning going on.  So, this is my life here.  Not a whole lot to it, but we love it.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!

Renewing Residency

Oh the wonderful process of renewing your residency here.  We are under the pensionado status, so this is the only status I can tell you about.

A few weeks ago we went and made our appointment at immigration to renew.  We asked them what all we needed to have.  They gave us a short list and I even asked if we needed copies of anything, of course they told us no.  (We determined later that this was a lie.)

Earlier this week we went and made our deposits at Banco de Costa Rica, you have to make them at this bank.  We also got a print out of our transactions for the past six months.  They were unable to just print out the deposits that are made into the account so we have to print everything.  Of course they charged us for this.  I made sure that we had our passports, our receipt where we pay our insurance, our insurance cards, and of course our current residency cards.

So today we go to immigration in Ciudad Quesada.  We have always used this office since we first applied and have been using it ever since even though there is one closer to us.  It’s nice to go there and see the same people who originally helped us and they continue to help us with a smile.  Wonderful people there.  We got there early and waited in line for them to open, the line was pretty long by the time they opened the doors.  I don’t know for sure if they do generic appointment times or if they actually try to stick to the appointment times they give you, this is why we got there early.  We were one of the first people called up.

Everything for my husband went through perfect!  Not one little problem.  We had everything we needed for him.  Then we get to me.  Well, they needed a copy of my husbands residency card for my file.  He ran across the street and got one; while he was gone I found a copy in my folder.  Oh well.  Then they tell me that they need a copy of my entire passport.  So, the husband must go across the street again and pay for more copies.  I did tell the lady that I had asked when we made the appointment if we needed copies of anything and I was told no.  She seemed to sympathize with me.  Now, I have four entry stamps in my passport from where I went to the States and came back.  Every time you leave your passport is SUPPOSED to be scanned showing that you are exiting the country.  Then it is scanned and stamped for when you come back in.  I have four entry stamps, but it only shows that I left Costa Rica twice.  I was never scanned out when I left this past November.  This caused a hiccup in the process.  The lady even printed out the document showing me every time my passport was scanned.  Someone at the airport here in Costa Rica didn’t do their job.  After several minutes of patiently waiting she returned with my passport and told me that everything was fine.  There were a couple of people there who knew us from before and probably put in a good word for us.  So here is my word of advice for you all.  When you leave Costa Rica and go back to your home country; ask them when you enter to stamp your passport and date it.  It is not something that they normally do, but it can be done.  This way, if you have the same problem that I had you will be covered.

But we got it all done, got our pictures taken, got our paperwork, and went on our way.  Our next stop was the post office.  The last time we renewed our residency it took us 8 days to get our new cards back, now they are telling us it is going to take 22 days!  I am hoping that this is not going to be a problem for us.  Our current cards expire at the beginning of March and we won’t have the new ones until the middle of March.  We will have our paperwork showing that we are approved and waiting on new cards, but it also means that we cannot renew our insurance cards.  I guess we play the waiting game and hope for the best.

Step by step on how to renew your pensionado residency:

  1. Make appointment with immigration, or you can do it at a Banco de Costa Rica (But not all BCR’s offer this service)
  2. Make your deposits, $98 and $25 at BCR per person and take those receipts with you.
  3. Bring your current residency card (Cedula), your current insurance card (carnet), your passport, and your receipt showing that you are paying the insurance (CAJA).
  4. Make sure you have proof of your income being deposited into a Costa Rica bank.
For the dependent you must also have:
      1. A copy of your spouses residency card (Cedula)
      2. Copy of your entire passport.
Also, don’t forget to smile and be friendly.  That goes a very long way here.  Even if things are looking bad, keep a smile on your face and remain calm; seriously.  You want these people on your side!  Until mañana, Pura Vida!