changing residency status

Today was a day filled with getting things done.  For starters, we finally got all of our stickers for our car.  We got the inspection sticker and the INS sticker; the INS is like a government mandatory insurance.  For our car it’s about $130 a year.  It doesn’t really cover much, I don’t even know what it actually covers.  To me it is the equivalent of just getting your plates renewed every year.  You can purchase real coverage for very cheap here.   The inspection you have to have done once a year also.  They are very thorough with it too.  It’s not just an emissions check.  If you are old enough you may remember something from some states called the safety lane inspection.  It is very similar to those.  They check everything on your car.

So, about immigration today.  When we first got our residency we were told that we needed to pay separately for the medical insurance coverage.  This is not the case.  I am my husbands dependent and should be covered under him.  So, for three years I have been paying when I shouldn’t have been.  I am not going to complain about it though.  I had emergency surgery done and so did my daughter and we didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket for it.  I was in the hospital for 6 days and my daughter just overnight.  I am sure that if we would have been in the States it would have cost more just for my daughter than what I have paid over the past three years.  So I am not going to complain.  Turns out years ago there was a mis-communication about how immigrants were suppose to pay their insurance.  It is finally getting straightened out.  But for us to get this changed I had to get a copy of our marriage certificate from immigration with all the stamps and translations.

I had originally contacted an attorney about this.  He said he could do it for $50 with no problem.  I was thinking why not.  But for us $50 is a lot of money.  So today while we were in San Carlos we stopped by immigration.  This is the office we used to get our residency and they have always been super nice.  Just always be nice to them first.  I asked the gentlemen at the counter if I could get a copy of our marriage certificate and why.  He understood and knew what was going on and got it for me right away.  It is officially stamped from the office so all I have to do is take it to my local clinic and get a new card from them stating that I am a dependent and then take it to my local CAJA office and they change it in the system and we are all set.  Nothing is ever done in the same office, it is a lot of back and forth, but that is just the way it is done here.  If you want to live here and enjoy it, you either must be patient or learn patients.

My second question I asked at immigration was about changing our residency from temporary to permanent.  I had again asked an attorney about doing this for us, he was going to charge us over $1000 to do the paperwork.  There are only three things you need to change it over.

1) A letter stating why you want to be a permanent resident

2) Make a deposit in the bank for $200 per person

3) Submit copies of your cedula card that you already have (residency card)

That is it.  We still have to pay for our new cards which is about $125 per person.  With temporary residency we pay for a new card every two years.  With permanent we will have to get new cards every 5 years.  We are definitely going this route. So, that is all there is to it.  Saving us $1,000 and doing it myself.  I did our original paperwork for residency without an attorney too.  I figure why not try it again.

We are still here

It’s been kind of crazy here lately.  The volcano has been spewing ash into the air, we finally bought a car, and I started doing some volunteer work.

When it comes to mother nature, you never know what to expect.  No matter where you live in the world, you have something to deal with.  We used to live in Ohio and dealt with tornadoes in the spring, summer, and fall.  During the winter we had ice storms.  When we lived in Colorado it was snow and more snow and then some more snow.  Oh, and blizzards.  Did I mention the snow?  We also had tornadoes there.  Here, we have earthquakes and volcanoes.  Even in the US you have earthquakes.  We are lucky with where we are though, we don’t get hurricanes.  Just this past week we had a few small quakes but nothing too serious and no damage.  Today one of our many volcanoes decided that it needed to burp really good and spew some more ash into the air.  You have good and bad where ever you go in the world when it comes to nature.  You just have to decide for yourself what you can live with.  I look at it this way, at least I am not freezing my butt off anymore.

Buying a car was an experience to say the least.  Here, cars are not cheap at all.  They hold their value a heck of a lot better than in the US.  A big reason for that is because of the extremely high import tax.  We just bought a 2002 model car and it cost us around $8,000.  We couldn’t go through a regular dealership though because we don’t have permanent residency yet.   We just reached the point to where we can change over though.  Also, for a down payment, you need at least 20% down, some places require 25% down.  So, don’t think you are going to come here and pick up a car cheap with a zero down payment like you would in the States…not happening.  If you have the money feel free to pay for it outright; it is better that way.  We just couldn’t go any longer without one, my back was really hurting on the bus, plus it was getting difficult getting on and off the bus. It is so much quicker getting to where we need to go now.  They say time is money, the bus is very cheap but takes a long time; gas is very expensive but you get there so much quicker.  Plus my back doesn’t hurt as bad from riding or driving in a car like it does on the bus.

How I got suckered into volunteering; I have a soft spot for animals and little kids.  A friend of mine asked me if I knew anyone that could volunteer one day a week to teach English at one of the elementary schools, of course I don’t know of anyone but why can’t I try it?  So here I am trying to teach kids who barely know two words of it.  Although there are a couple that know a bit and most know numbers.  I find it easier to work with the real little ones that know nothing; with them I can just start at the very beginning and go from there and not worry about them getting bored.  They are great kids and I really like them.  Although it is costing me some money.  I don’t get paid for this, it is completely voluntary and I had to buy my own program to teach from, plus I have to make all of my own copies.  I have about 100 kids I teach from pre-school to 6th grade; which means close to 200 copies a week I have to make.  Not sure how long I can keep it up, but we are going to try and my husband is a great supporter of this.  The school that I am at is in a very rural area and they are having trouble finding teachers for this school, that is why I am there.  Including me there are a total of four teachers, including the principal too, and I am only there one day a week.  I do enjoy being there though and the kids are great, they really make me feel welcome and appreciated.