Thankful for small blessings!

I had to go to the bank this morning for two items of business and they were really busy because it was closed Monday for Mother’s Day (which was really Saturday but banks and government offices celebrate all holidays on Mondays here now.)

My small blessing is that the banks here have a special line for us old people, “adultos mayores.” There was only one lady ahead of me in that line while the regular line would have meant waiting an hour or more. My little blessing of the day! 🙂 Still took 20 minutes+. They are also slow here! 🙂

And oh yeah, they are now taking your temperature before you can go in the bank in addition to requiring a mask. Taking the virus seriously is paying off here! Masks are required everywhere now, country-wide.

¡Pura Vida!

P.S.

I picked up my “Permanent” Residency card today. more than a year after I turned in the paperwork. It lasts 3 years instead of 2 like the pensionado (not 5 like someone told me) and is supposedly easier to renew. We will see! 🙂

Two Hours in Bank Today – Lessons Learned

After waiting  only a short time for a teller, she could not help with my problem, I was therefore sent to “la platforma” or set of desks with persons supposedly more knowledgeable than a teller. My problem was that I got an email, in Spanish of course, that told me the auto-debit of my TV/Internet Service monthly bill failed. Well, it was because they used my local bank debit card to get their money and this month my card was replaced with a new one to include “a chip” which also meant a new number. The teller did pay my TV/Internet bill with a transfer, so at least no disconnect for now! 🙂

After waiting nearly an hour (15th in line) for one of the three “specialists,” she worked and worked on her computer and called the cable company talking at least 10 minutes to someone there and finally used a translator on her computer to tell me in English that the only way CableTica would correct it was for me personally to respond to the email (in Spanish of course) with my new card number. They are not allowed to let the bank or anyone else speak for me! I came straight home and did that. Hope it works!   🙂   Just another little irritation of living in a modern society in any country! 🙂

But this is also another lesson in the importance of learning the local language! I’m doing much better and communicated with all in the bank in Spanish though understanding what they say back to me is more difficult!   🙂  To make me feel a little better, a French couple was at the next desk to mine and the man was going on and on about something in the French language, raising his voice and I felt sorry for the banker helping him. She too used her computer translator and a cell phone. It is disrespectful to not learn and use the local language and that was part of the reason our waits were so long at the bank!

“You live a new life for every language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.”     – Czech proverb

¡Pura Vida!

Cajero Automático & Musical Chairs Again

Atenas Branch of Banco Nacional de Costa Rica

Okay, I’m moving to a new rental and they need a deposit plus first month’s rent (in other words 2 months rent) which is expected – no problem – except my French Canadian landlord wants it all in U.S. Dollars Cash! After this I can pay my rent online through my local Costa Rica bank online, but not now. So what’s the big deal you ask?

The ATM is called  “Cajero Automático” or loosely translated “Automatic Cashier.” They are scattered around town and operate just like in the states except they are more security conscious and have a limit you can get out in one 24 hour period. So to get my new house keys Thursday, I need to make withdrawals on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from an ATM that gives out only Costa Rica colones of course. Then after my Wednesday afternoon third withdrawal, I take several hundred thousand colones into the bank to have them converted to U.S. Dollars for the next morning event. And another interesting fact is that the largest colones bill is just c20,000, which is about $40 USD. I’m talking about big wads of money needed before I can trade them for $100 bills in dollars. Glad I feel safe and secure here!

I did go inside with the musical chairs trip to a teller and learned I can get the money all at once from my U.S. debit card at a 3% fee which I refused to pay. (I’m beginning to wish now I had paid and gotten it over with!) So I went back outside to the Cajero Automático and got my first of three installments. In the meantime, I told myself that this is crazy when I have a local bank account but still have most of my money in the credit union in Nashville. So I got the form Erik gave me from the credit union to wire a large amount of money to my Costa Rica account. Should have already done this but been busy.

So today after the second installment of cash from the ATM I went inside the bank for a game of musical chairs twice! If you missed my earlier report on the bank, you wait in line for a teller or desk agent by sitting in a row of chairs. When the next person is served you all get up and move over one chair towards the front of the line. Really! (One time I sat in 24 chairs before I got to a teller.) Well, I headed for Ricardo’s desk who supposedly speaks English and helped me open my account. He was at lunch, so I read a chapter in my Happier Than a Billionaire digital book on my phone’s Kindle App while others wondered what I was laughing about. I finally get to Ricardo  and he has suddenly forgotten how to speak English. Seriously. This time he only spoke in Spanish and acted like he did not understand what I said in English. I think he misunderstood and thought I wanted to wire the money from the account here and told me I didn’t have enough. But anyway, after a bit of charades and broken Spanish from me, Ricardo sends me across the lobby to another desk where I start the musical chairs game again! I’m only number 3 in line this time, but the customer being served (who looks like a woman prison guard) has some complicated business that takes another 30 minutes while a read a couple more chapters in this book. (I’m taking a break from Lord of the Rings with something lighter and funny about Costa Rica). At least the second customer ahead of me didn’t take very long and I’m up again with another Spanish only person. “Necesito dos números por favor,” pointing to the empty spaces on the form for a Swift Code and an IBAN number. She has to take the wire transfer form back to another office and talk to someone, then returns and asks if the money is going into my colones or dollares account (Yes, I have two accounts here.) which I’m able to answer “dollares.” Then back into the office she goes and returns later with a computer printout of two numbers I can use for the transfer, so next month’s rent can be paid from my local bank account, assuming these numbers work! Whew! Another exciting afternoon! Everything’s an adventure!
But you know what? I’m learning the systems around here and even though it may not sound like it, life is simpler, more relaxed, and much more spontaneous. The birds are singing happier today it seems, maybe because of the rain. And a flock of squawking parrots just flew over! What a place!

It is also cooler since Sunday’s first rain of the season. It looked like more rain today (Tuesday) but hasn’t happened yet. And today’s laundry is already dry!  🙂  Hey! By Thursday I’ll have an electric dryer! Let it rain! 

More adventures to come!  🙂