Don’t Do This!

Don’t do this while Driving!
But don’t worry. I wasn’t driving. Stopped for construction, motor off!
But this photo did not really show the backed up traffic I was in.

And Don’t Be in a Hurry while in Costa Rica!
After getting around the construction I was anxious to get around
the slow moving cars and big trucks and started passing them . . .

But do you see that double yellow line on that straight stretch of road. I guess it means the authorities don’t want anyone to pass on the mostly two-lane highways like this. So . . . I was one of 6 cars stopped in not a “speed trap” but a “passing trap” by el policia with a very serious lecture in Spanglish about the dangers of passing when there is a yellow line (There’s almost always one) and that if he writes the ticket and it goes to court it will cost me the equivalent of USD $600! But if I promise to drive more safely he will settle for $100 cash. Well, I learned in West Africa to never mention bribery or tangle with a policeman and so folks, I chose $100 over $600 even if what he said may not have been true, I do know that going to court would be a nightmare! 

I took my time the rest of the way, taking 4.5 hours to go 117 km, with one bathroom/snack break and of course the construction break! 🙂  That highway in the photos above is Costa Rica Highway 1, The Pan American Highway, linking all the countries in the three American Continents! 4 lanes would cost too much! And they do keep the pot holes filled with constant construction work AND they are building a partially controlled-acessed 4-lane segment with overpasses through the area’s big city and provincial capital of Guanacaste, Liberia, north of where I turned off for Monteverde. 
Then off Highway 1 to Monteverde was uphill all the way and about half a narrow gravel road with one lane bridges over the streams. Reminds me of Arkansas in the 1940’s and 50’s! “The Good Ol’ Days!” Remember? So I learn another lesson the hard way! Slow Down!
Now I thought Atenas was a country town and it is! But Monteverde is, well, more country! Most of the city streets are dirt or gravel (there’s a difference folks!). But the main drag through town is paved which helps reduce some of the dust. But I like my first night’s lodging, a cabin in a little 8 acre forest with lots of birds and nature. And the butterfly garden and dinner place was good, which I will tell about in a separate post. Tomorrow I move to another set of cabins with the birding club where they did not have room for me tonight. 

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!