Remodeling Post Office

20150225_112625In Atenas the Post Office (la oficina de correos) is being remodeled or sort of freshened up with new mail boxes (apartados) that are not in numerical order (?go figure?!), new tile floor, new counter and paint on walls, etc.

The good rapid clerk (nice young man) no longer works there – with a new one being trained very slowly and she was the only one there yesterday when I go in line behind about 10 persons and waited more than an hour to mail one of my photo books to a hotel I visited recently. Though it is not always this slow, it kind of reminded me of waiting in line at the post offices in Nashville where I also remember some very long waits and similarly inefficient processes, especially around Christmas! Oh well, that’s life!  Así es la vida!

A few days ago workers installing new lights – one ceiling fan still not installed! And the short line of just two people ahead of me is more typical than yesterday (below)!


Waiting in line yesterday for more than an hour while new solo clerk slowly learns her job. The clerk’s ceiling fan is installed but not the one over customers yet and it was hot!

Correos de Costa Rica    (The official postal service website.)

My P.O. Box here is:

Apdo. 441-4013, Atenas, Alajuela, 20501 Costa Rica

Letters take about a week, 10 days, from the states & almost as long in-country!   🙂

Packages take longer depending on Customs.

NEVER send anything to my street address! Carrier will stick it in the fence or gate if I’m not home and it could blow away or otherwise be lost! No home mail boxes here! What’s that?  ¿Qué es eso?   And most locals don’t have mailboxes like me but use “general delivery.” Part of that line is persons waiting to pick up general delivery mail, or get passport, cédula, visa, pay property tax, etc. I’ve seen a clerk dig through 3 big mail cartons of letters looking for someone’s general delivery letter and sometimes never find it. 

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


¡Pura Vida!

Musical Chairs at Post Office Now!

A miniature version of the 30-chair line at Banco Nacional.
It has been a line of standing which is hard for some old people, I guess!
For every transaction the clerk goes back to his/her desk to enter it into
a computer, even the purchase of postage for a letter. Can’t get stamps here,
they print a postage strip and stick it on each letter. Sloooow!
Like the bank, when next person is served, you all move up one chair.

I would rather show you the “musical chairs” line at the bank but the high security with armed guards there doesn’t allow me to make a photo or wear my cap or my sunglasses and I must have my real passport and not a copy like other places will use. They keep our money good and safe!  🙂
The above post office (Correos) gives very good and friendly service, just very slow. But I mailed a large box to my sister in Missouri and it got there in less than two weeks! And I get mail in a reasonable time usually. My Apdo. 441 is one of those gray boxes on the left of the above photo. 
Charlie Doggett
Apdo. 441-4013
Alajuela, Atenas, Atenas
20501 Costa Rica

A People Day

And not a single photo of all the neat people I related to today!

I waved goodbye to my neighbors Don & Judy and the landlord’s gardener Javier as I walked out our compound gate for my Spanish Class at Su Espacio. Then “Buenas Dias” to Luis, the guard at our Roca Verde gate.  It is my habit to say just “Buenos” (the new, younger greeting) to everyone I meet on the sidewalk walking to town. If someone refuses to make eye contact, then they don’t want to be spoken to, so I don’t force them!  🙂

I greet the shop keepers around the Su Espacio Community Center and whoever is already in the center, except the exercise class which is very busy! Everyone here is so nice and friendly and we all greet and visit at first. The two hours of Spanish with an hour and a half just talking in Spanish which is what I need the most to learn the language! After class I visit with another student a bit and then head for the post office to wait in line to get postage on a letter to the states.

I mailed my request for U.S. Voter Registration to Nashville as a citizen living out of the country. I’m only allowed to vote in national elections, which is mainly the presidential election every 4 years. To vote for mayor or governor you have to actually live in the city or state. Makes sense! My national election vote is counted among the “Absentee Voting” and I read somewhere that they only count those if the election is very close and it could make a difference. But I like doing my duty!

While waiting in line at the “Correos” (Post Office) I see the business associate from my old apartments, Hacienda La Jacaranda with the new manager. We talk for 5 to 7 minutes in Spanish no less! I’m so proud of myself! The new manager wants some of my photos to possibly use in promotion or marketing of the apartments. I will gladly provide them gratis. I really want that place to succeed! It has so much potential. Then after talking to the two ladies I got acquainted with a nice guy behind me in line who speaks fluent Spanish and English and he chose to use English mostly with me.

From there to Coopeatenas, my supermercado, for about 4 items and a visit in the produce section with Carol, a former Spanish student who may come back. She is from Inglaterra (England) and just got back from a business trip back there.  We talked in Spanglish!  🙂

By then it was late enough for lunch and as I was headed toward La Carreta I bumped into Jason, a local Tico young man who helps in Su Espacio Spanish and English classes, for conversation and tutoring. I offered to treat him to lunch for some Spanish practice (meaning we only talk in Spanish) and we did, mostly! Soon after we sat down Corinna and Nicole came in for lunch but they did not sit with us because they were using this time for Nicole to work on a jigsaw puzzle (he’s the 6 year old son). So they were at the next table. Then one of my first Tica friends in Costa Rica, Anna, came in with an American friend and tenant in one of her houses and did sit with us. The 80 year old friend just moved here from the states and speaks no Spanish, so English took over again with a few exceptions with Jason and Anna. Wow! A big day already and then it started raining (Hallelujah!). After lunch I walked Jason home under my sombrilla (umbrella) and then on home myself. We are going to start getting together more to just talk in Spanish. His cousin sells good wood fire oven pizza and I’ll have him over for pizza one night and talk in Spanish. Whew! Hey! It is really hard work for me to carry on a conversation in Spanish!  🙂

I’ve been home the rest of the day and still greatly enjoy being “Home Alone” but also enjoyed the many encounters with friends today and much of it in Spanish! The best Spanish Class is talking with live people in Spanish! It is one of my goals!  Pura Vida!

The Humble and The Proud

Atenas Correos (Post Office)

Atenas Banco Nacional

Both the post office and this particular bank are government owned and operated. (There are some private banks and courier services in Costa Rica.) But the contrast in these two government businesses is great in my opinion.

My service was quicker, simpler, and more friendly in the humble post office, an old building on a side street between small businesses. My PO Box was secured in less than 15 minutes while the friendly clerk helped other customers who came in. He even showed me how the envelopes should be addressed as I demostrated yesterday. And he smiled!

On the same day (Tuesday) I spent two hours at the bank (after an hour of preparation and taking an attorney and a stack of documents with me). There were few smiles and many demands. I was scheduled to be trained today in using my account but that was postponed until Monday because Ricardo, who does the training in English, had to substitute for a cashier out sick. But the proud building is new, modern and beautiful! It is located on the square or central park opposite the old catholic church, easy to find, and at the center of the town’s activity. Money rules here too! I already like the Post Office better!  But I need both!   🙂
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled,  
and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.    
Jesus in Matthew 23:12