Residency During an Epidemic

Government bureaucracies are a pain everywhere in the world, even in paradise-like Costa Rica – though no worse than the states and West Africa topped them all in my limited world experiences – BUT – staying on focus:

For your first 3 years + in Costa Rica you can apply for and get a “temporary” (2 years) or in my case as a retiree it is called “Residente Pensionado,” meaning you will have two of these before you can apply for a “Residente Permanente,” which is not really permanent, but does last 5 years which is better than 2! 🙂

So, even though my second pensionado Cedula (name of resident card) was good until this July 26 (almost there) I followed the advice of my lawyer/translator and applied last year on July 26, one year ahead and still do not have it, though Immigration claims to do it in about 6 months. After 7 months they informed us that they were overworked and behind on applications with so many applying for residency (which I believe). So they gave me a little document that I have been carrying around in my wallet that tells people if my card is out of date Immigration still accepts it because they are backlogged in their work. Whew!

Finally I get an appointment to pay the four different fees ($400+) and get photographed for my new Cedula last week. Wellllllll, because there was a spike in COVID19 cases, the Ministry of Health shut literally everything down last week and most everything this week, but did reschedule my appointment to this week in Alajuela, my provincial capital. Instead of going to a bank to pay and the post office for photo and other paperwork, Belinda (my British Lawyer and Spanish Translator) wanted to try a new office in a suburb of Alajuela in one of the banks where you can do everything in one place (seems more efficient).

And it was fairly smooth with the mask requirements and the fact that my agent was a new young man employee doing his first permanent residency with the help of a senior agent. Very friendly and kind and it only took 2.5 hours! (Ohhh! in Gambia it would have taken all day!)

Belinda thought it funny that I wore both a mask and a face shield and made the featured photo on her I-Phone and asked me say something about it for her video which I tried to insert below but was told: “Sorry, this file type is not supported here.” (Apple junk!) thus I repeat the photo below. At least I am safe and I’m helping keep others safe, regardless how ridiculous the old man looks! 🙂 And masks are a national requirement here!

And oh yes, they won’t let you smile for the photo, just like the U.S. Embassy for my Passport! Guess all this is suppose to be serious stuff! But just another adventure for me!


¡Pura Vida!

Summer Flowers

My Breakfast View this Morning
It is summer here, school is out for summer break & more flowers are blooming.
Jan-Feb are also the windy months, but at least the volcano has slowed issuing ash.


What Our Costa Rica President Says about Immigration, an article in Tico Times today.

You guys in the U.S. feel free to share this article with your new president-elect. The quick summary is “If you want to get through a border, you’ll be able to sooner or later.”    🙂    And read about how CR deals with the flow of Cubans en-route to the U.S. through Costa Rica and the Nicaraguans and Colombians who come here to stay. Personal Disclosure: My maid is a Nica and my haircuts are at a Colombino peluquería and nobody seems to have a problem with that here. Everyone is welcome in Costa Rica, even arrogant Americans. Though there’s already enough in Atenas, so I’m not issuing an invitation!  🙂

I’m an Official Resident of Costa Rica Today!

It is a longer number to memorize than my Passport,
but it will become my most important number now.
And of course the typical “bad photo” on all such cards!
But a nice hard plastic card with electronic strip on back.

Next I get a gold card for senior adults to ride on bus for free (Yay!) and other discounts. 

Then I will get a Costa Rica Driver License and I’m done for two years! 
In two years I renew this residency card, called a CEDULA here, and then three years after that I renew a second time for what will become my permanent residency card or Cedula. 
Note that my card says “Residente Pensionado” which is for retired foreigners who have a particular set of requirements. There are other categories of residency that have different requirements with people coming here to start a local business having the most complicated requirements. For me, I just had to promise to not take some Tico’s job (I cannot work for a local business) but I could earn money on the internet if I wanted to. And secondly I have to prove that I have income of at least one thousand dollars a month which is done with a Social Security form from the U. S. Embassy. Then the usual paperwork and red tape stuff and qualify for the government healthcare program which I am required to participate in whether I use it or not (called CAJA). It is all done now for me and I’m a legal resident! And fully covered for all medical expenses! Not a worry in the world!  🙂
For those considering it, I can’t imagine doing it without an attorney! And I really needed him today! I was suppose to bring the receipt where I paid for the first month of CAJA and forgot it! He managed to smooth talk the girl in inmigración and she let it slide. I couldn’t have done that! Plus my Spanish is not good enough to carry on this kind of business by myself.

After Much Effort – I’m Insured Again

My Carné card is what will get me all needed medical service;
including prescriptions, doctor visits, hospital, surgery, tests, etc.
at no extra cost to me above the $114 a month coverage fee based
on my U.S. Social Security income check deposited in a bank here. 
The instructions said bring the original of each needed document and
one copy. In my usual overkill I made 3 copies of all and took it with me.
He didn’t even want one copy beyond the originals, BUT . . .
He did not like the digital printed receipt of my electric bill and made be go for a
traditional paper bill mailed to houses with no email. Very difficult to get!
But with help of my amigo Jason Quesada & landlord, we finally got it in time.

I still have to go back to Immigration 28 July for my Cedula or residential ID card, but I am legally a resident now with full medical coverage. An American Tico? Well, more secure anyway! 🙂  

Next week I will schedule my initial appointment with the Caja doctor assigned to me, getting a physical and giving him my medical history. It will be interesting to see what they do with my Sleep Apnea and the recently discovered heart arrhythmia. For some specialists I may have to go to Alajuela or San Jose, just like with the more expensive private doctors. 

Another 90-Day Visa Collected!

A 15 hour day and nearly $200 for a bloomin’ rubber stamp with “90”
handwritten over it. But I cannot rent or drive a car without it.

Nine Canadian and U.S. Expats joined tour guide Walter on “Visa Run” today.
Canadians in the majority this time! 5 to 4!

Ten of us squeezed in and out of his new van all day today! 

At the border we wait in lines at Both Nicaragua & Costa Rica Immigration.
This was twice for each country, out, in, out, in! 🙂
A “helper” in Nicaragua did most of our line waiting for us while we shopped.

On the way up a late breakfast at Rincon Corobici Restaurant overlooking river.
Then a late lunch or early dinner here on the way back. Great food & views!

And why do I do this? Only to keep the option of driving open for me until my residency is finalized and I can get a Costa Rica Driver License. (Maybe next March) As a residency applicant, I have a letter saying I can live here without renewing my Visa, but the transportation department says that to drive here with my Tennessee Driver License, I must have a current Tourist Visa. 90 Days is the max you can get per trip out and in. Some people are doing this instead of applying for residency, but not practical in my thinking. So I will continue this every 90 days until my residency and a local driver license is obtained. Two more times probably. And I may decide to do some tourism in either Nicaragua or Panama and accomplish the same purpose on my return.