Double Trouble Background Check

Apostille on my Background Check

Better to laugh than cry or gripe! So here is the somewhat funny saga of the background check for my residency application and above is the Apostille that makes it official.

I got a good report in September and asked at the police station about getting an Apostille on it. They didn’t know what I was talking about and so dumb ol’ me decided that, well, maybe this doesn’t need one like the birth certificate did. So I accepted it as is and sent it on to my attorney in San Jose who didn’t look at my papers for a month. When I wrote and asked if all was okay, he wrote back saying I must have a background report and proof of income letter with Apostilles on them. Grrrr! But he said not to worry about the Social Security letter, the U.S. Embassy could do it in San Jose. But I must get a background check with Apostille.

So Monday I go back downtown to the Police Department Records Office with another $13 application for a background check. This time I told the guy what I must have. He still didn’t know what I was talking about, but did say he could have it notarized. I asked that he check with his supervisor about getting an Apostille. About 5 minutes later he came out with a sheet of paper from the TN Department of State outlining what I must do to get an Apostille on a public document:


  1. Take the public document to a Notary Public and have it notarized. Police Dept. did that. CHECK!
  2. Once it has been notarized, take it to the County Clerk where the above notary was commissioned and have that first notarization notarized. Yep! Have the notary notarized. So on to another part of town where I get the second notarization for a price of course! CHECK!
  3. Then take the complete set of papers to the Tennessee Secretary of State  in a tall building near the state capitol. The parking garage in this building is for employees only now that our government is so bloated. So I park in a public lot blocks away for $7 and walk through construction to the right building. Once I’m in the Snodgrass Building and up on the 6th floor, I wind through several office areas to the one with “Apostille” on their sign, and then it was a piece of cake! For just $2 they added the Apostille in less than 10 minutes. Quickest step in the whole process! And I am the proud holder of one correct set of documents for my residency application. CHECK! Whew! And in less than four hours!
To make it more fun, it was pouring down rain during the whole process as I went in and out of all these government buildings with a dripping wet umbrella. Fun! And to make it more interesting or coincidental, a young man was with me in the county clerk’s office also getting a notary notarized so he too could get an Apostille for some papers needed to take a temporary job in Australia. We met up again at the Secretary of State Office. 
Now for those who haven’t dealt with government bureaucracies in other countries, it is the same and often worse or more time consuming. In The Gambia I finally hired a part-time assistant to walk paperwork through government offices like this. Another reason I’m getting all of this done now, is it would be much more difficult from afar and I will be on public transportation there. Now you know what an Apostille looks like! It is in one sense a third notary by the state verifying that the document I present is legitimate. So make that three notaries!  🙂

Gunnera Insignis, “Poor Man’s Umbrella” (Sobrilla de Pobre), On Poas Volcano

The little ID photo of me in the right panel was made in front of one of these plants which can actually be used as an umbrella. The variety of plant life in Costa Rica is astounding! These particular plants grow only in the cloud forests or up on the side of mountains. When considering all plant and animal life in Costa Rica, there are more species than all of the U.S. and Canada combined and that is in a little country the size of West Virginia. Yes nature is one of the biggest draws for me! It is also interesting to note that this week Costa Rica celebrated 66 years without an army or military. It is the champion of peace-loving countries! 

No Record! and No Excess Luggage! :-)

Another Species of Toucan, I photographed in 2010 in Braulio Carrillo
Click photo to enlarge

So one more needed document obtained today from Nashville Police pretty quickly and easily for $13. The Costa Rica officials will like the red ink rubber stamped declaration “No Record” below the colorful Metro Police logo. I’m good to go on that!

This was easy too and a free flight with air miles, except for tax I had to pay! And I decided on Christmas Eve to be there for the holiday and get away from what could be Christmas blues here. In Costa Rica everyone makes tamales for Christmas, a long time tradition! I’ll expect some! Plus I may get to see some colorful Catholic Church celebrations on Christmas! Plus I need to get rid of all by stuff before Christmas anyway, so Christmas Eve seemed to be the best time to leave with an empty house. And hey!  I got great seats in front of the business class cabin on both flights! That is almost like first class (row 7 with bigger seat & more leg room). I will be flying in style through Miami on American Airlines. Another momentous Christmas for me!

But the hope that I could take 6 to 8 suitcases to carry my beginning stuff, is not going to work out. There is a max of 5 suitcases, but the escalating cost may mean only taking two and shipping other stuff. 1st bag is $25, 2nd bag is $40, 3rd bag is $150, and the 4th & 5th bags will be $200 each! So much for a free flight! I’m hoping air freight will be cheaper and plan to start with quotes from DHL which was my shipper from The Gambia, but will compare with FedEx and maybe find a freight company that will send footlockers. UPS is not in C.R.

I will wait until next week before I try following up on their promised letter. Then I can stay focused on getting rid of stuff. So far, everything is falling together pretty quickly and easily.

A Few Steps Closer

Phons sent me his photo of one of my future neighbors, an iguana.
Hope I get photos this good! I think he and I will get along fine!

I’ve made the deposit and it is confirmed that I will be moving into an apartment at Hacienda La Jacaranda in Atenas, Costa Rica the end of December. It is run by a lovely Dutch couple and he, Phons von der Bom, has been corresponding with me and sent the above photo plus one of a butterfly earlier.  If you zoom in on a Google Map of Atenas enough you can find the name of the apartments on the map, just north of downtown within about 8 blocks of the Central Plaza and a Super Mercado and of course the weekly Farmers’ Market every Friday. And the Map Link above includes a map pin for Helados POPS, the best ice cream in Costa Rica and some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I had my first Fig Ice Cream there!

 Birth Certificate has been returned with an Apostille on it, thus one more document ready for the residency application. I earlier printed out my filing with the U.S. Embassy (State Department) of my intentions called a “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” which Jose wanted on file. But I am still waiting on a letter from Social Security proving a minimum income for residency. Even though the last guy I talked with said he would do it right then, I really expected it to take a while. I just called our Metro Police Department and for the “police report” Costa Rica is asking for on me, they say they call it a “Background Check.” I simply go downtown to the Criminal Justice Building to the Records Window and for $13 they will provide one while I wait. So maybe tomorrow. When that is done, I will only lack the Social Security letter.

And the next step soon is to order my one-way airline ticket to San Jose, Costa Rica and I’m hoping I have enough air miles for it and they have space on their planes for an air miles ticket! If not, one way should cost less than round trip. Then the main job is to clean out this house, decide what to take, what to store, and what to sell or give away – the biggest job of all!