Residency Approved!

Good morning Mr. Doggett,

Congratulations you got your residency approved!

I will send it to you on Monday when I get to the office.

Have a nice Sunday!

That’s the email I just received from my residency attorney. I think there are separate steps to get the actual Cedula or residency card and the CAJA or medical services card. Plus a “Gold Card” for senior adults to get free bus and discounts on other things. Our next step is doing something on June 1 he said. One patient little step at a time!  🙂 The paperwork was filed in February 2015, so about 15 months for approval in my case. Friends have waited a great variety of times from 8 months to 3 years! So not bad and he asked for the resolution on Friday the 13th!  🙂

If you are wondering why I haven’t been posting as much on the blog, it is partly because of having a full schedule and partly because I’m using down time to work on a new photo gallery that will replace my PBase gallery for just Costa Rica photos, It is taking a long time to just upload/label the bird photos, not to mention all the other kinds of photos still to go! I hope to be introducing it soon. It is with and will look a lot better than PBase plus you can order prints or other items with my photos on them if interested. 

The Bother of Security

Apartment Front Gate

The gate is not bad looking, but the compound wall is ugly and I hope with all the improvements they are making, they will paint the walls soon. We all now have a clicker for the drive-through gate which means we can have a taxi take us up the hill to the apartments at night.You can barely see them through the trees in upper left, about 300 meters uphill! In addition to the clicker for the big gate we each got a key to the pedestrian gate in the green tower in the photo below. I use it more as a walker. They were locking the big gate only at night, but say they will start locking it all day, we’ll see.

Walk-through Gate in tower. First building is complex office, Hours: 7-4.


I decided it was time to get a local bank account now that I’ve been here 7+ weeks. But for a non-resident, it requires a lawyer and a bit of effort and time. Trying to avoid the big city as much as possible, I’m not going to use Jose Pablo in San Jose for that, but just secured a local lawyer here in Atenas. She is the attorney for the apartments also and I’m impressed with her. 
So, a half hour in her office today and two hours at the bank next Thursday morning at a hundred dollars an hour! (Many tell me “You can’t do it on your own.” While a few have said you can with patience and multiple trips to bank with the long waits.) It is worth the cost to me to get it done in one week, plus I don’t speak Spanish yet, making her my translator. She will also translate my letter of recommendation from my Nashville bank (Remember, everything is in Spanish here!), she provides required local letters of recommendation, and processes the other papers like three months of bank statements from Nashville and my rental contract here. We meet at the bank at 8:15 AM Thursday and expect the bank to take about two hours including wait time. (The attorney sends an assistant at 7:30 to save us a place at front of line.) In banks there is always a line for any service and it is a type of “Musical Chairs” with one or two rows of chairs. When one person is received, everyone moves up one chair. Cute, isn’t it? I can hardly wait! 🙂
But when finished, I will have a checking account with a checkbook, a debit card, a “Quick Pass” card for the Autopista Toll Gates, and access to a lock box, savings account, CDs, loans, and other services. I will start feeling like I really live here!   🙂    Pura Vida!

The Autopista del Sol to San Jose

Well, I splurged today and hired a private driver to drive me to San Jose for my residential paperwork appointment and to sign up for medical insurance. Part of the way we drove on the Autopista del Sol (official site), or the newest, access-controlled highway from San Jose to the Pacific Beaches. See also a Nosara Surfer’s Report on the Highway. Here’s three phone photos, then I’ll tell you about the experience in the big city.

Out our way is beautiful scenery driving up the central valley.
Further from the city is only 2 or 3 lanes, but . . .
In and near the city are 6 and 8 lanes, toll plazas, and bumper to bumper in rush hour.

I have a wonderful attorney, Jose Pablo Carter Herrera, the son of another attorney with the Association of Residents of Costa Rica, a service organization for expats living in the country. I’m still waiting for an Apostille on my proof of income which Social Security in the states refused to help me with. The embassy here is supposed to do it easily, but it didn’t happen today! The only unfriendly, unhelpful place I’ve been in Costa Rica is the U.S. Embassy. I wasn’t too surprised that they wanted me to make an appointment but they would not let me make it even though I was there standing at the guard station. The correct procedure is to do it over a certain phone number between 8 AM and 11:30 AM, no exceptions! So me and my driver wasted time there. (The embassy in The Gambia was just as haughty and difficult to work with, but you have to work with them!)

The good thing I did not expect was I got my application for health insurance started and within the next week or so I will receive a call from the doctor to schedule my physical for the insurance company. I’m covered by my Medigap Policy for the first 90 days or until March 24. My Pricose agent, Juan Colero, says I will easily have it secured by or before then. It usually takes about 5 weeks after the physical. So I wait for the doc’s call on this. Then pay a whole year’s premium at once, then after a $300 deductible, 90% of everything is paid. It costs less than my Medigap and Rx insurance in the states. But when my residency is finalized I get the even cheaper government medical service if I wish. 
Tomorrow I will dutifully call the correct embassy number during the correct hours and hopefully get an appointment fairly soon. Jose can’t file my residency application until I get this last legal document. Then it will take from 5 months to more than a year, depending on which bureaucrat is assigned my application in the Immigration Office. It is all part of the laid back life of Tico-land and I will not worry about it after I have done my part. The private insurance can go on indefinitely and I could decide I like it better than the Caja or government health plan – we will wait and see. But government medicine and a long-term Visa are the reasons I’m applying for residency.

After back around 1:00 I had lunch at a new place for me, La Trilla Restaurante. I compared their Casado con Pollo with La Carretta’s and it was very similar, though they add a piece of cheese and some black bean dip and chips. I also drank another Guanabana drink, this time con leche. Muy bien! Now back to my birds!  🙂 And my study of Spanish!

Someone asked about the inside of the apartments. During the first two weeks I linked to a photo gallery of the downstairs apartment #4. I have a smaller gallery of my upstairs apartment, since much is the same, all built-ins, granite counters in kitchen, carved doors etc. But anyway, here are the links to the Inside Apartments Galleries:

I’ll figure out how to photograph the balconies soon. They are not super grand inside, but more than adequate for me. When my boxes get here, they might get clutter or crowded.  🙂