|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.
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!
|A Broader View of Atenas Banco Nacional than the last image|
Okay, I go back to the bank this morning hoping the line for a cashier won’t be as long as the 37 person line on Monday. Well, it was shorter! Only 24 people! But I kept moving my little butt into all 24 chairs until after chair #1 it was my turn! I not only paid for the “token” (electronic device for security when using online banking, giving a new code number each time I use online) for 3,000 colones (sorry I said 300 yesterday) which is about $6. But I also made a deposit of a check received from Nashville for the sale of my dining room table and chairs. Finally! AND I paid my electric bill which was the equivalent of $32 that included using the a/c in my office almost every afternoon. Not bad!
Then I get in the shorter musical chairs line to see Ricardo (7 chairs this time). When I finally get to him with my little receipt for the electronic token thing he is supposed to give me now, he says, “Oh, you were suppose to log on to your account first and create your secret password before I can give you your token.” (No one told me that and I didn’t know how or even the web address.) I tell him, “I don’t know how.” (He speaks broken English but better than my Spanish!) Then he says, “Oh, I will help you.” He leaves the other people waiting and goes to the public computer and logs me into my account where my ID # is my passport # and a bunch of other IDs and address and email, then their secret code I got when opening the account and then a place for me to create my personal secret code. Thieves beware! I’ve never seen so much security! Once that is finished (he had left to help other is the line) I go back and I am 4th in line this time, hoping he didn’t decide to break for lunch before me, like yesterday.
Finally I am back to Ricardo (an indispensable person for this bank) and he helps me log in my online account again on his computer to the point when the little token’s number is needed. I type it in from the token he has given me. Then he says “Wait a few seconds for a second code to go in the next box online.” Sure enough, the first code number goes away and a second one appears and I type it in. Then the account is officially set up! Everything on the web page was in Spanish, so I ask, “Is their an English page.” “No.” Oh, I’m going to have so much fun! AND, before I go online I am to call this phone number for instructions and he said there might be an English-speaker for that. My online banking could be limited for awhile! 🙂
And to think, I paid an attorney to make this process easier! Well, she did write a reference letter and introduce me to the first desk where we stayed for nearly 2 hours and got me past that one. But it is Ricardo I’ve spent the most time with since! I have a bank account here now. My primary bank is still in Nashville, but I can use my new Banco Nacional Debit Card at the Super Mercado or a restaurant! And once I learn how, I can pay my electric bill online! And once I am in the Caja, the national medical plan, I can pay my monthly fee for that online. So this account will grow more valuable for me.