Patience is Costa Rican!

Your have heard me brag about the tranquility and great weather of my little farming town of Atenas – and the “muy amable” or very kind people here. But one thing that many hyper and efficient Americans don’t always realize when they move to such an easy-going society, is that to be that way means everything and everybody moves slower here! No rush! ¡Pura vida! To not adapt to this slower way means you will not be happy here. Always frustrated at the inefficiencies!

My example of this today is my efforts since Monday to pay my surgeon for the work he did. (No pressure from him.) I made arrangements in advance with my Credit Union in Nashville to move the needed money from Savings to Checking so I could easily pay with my debit card. Hospital payment was quick and easy as I had planned, but the doc requested to be paid separately. Okay.

The doctor comes in my room with his little portable credit card machine, saying he doesn’t like to wait for the hospital to reimburse him if I pay through them (the most efficient way), saying they sometimes take a full month to forward the money to him. Okay. He tries repeatedly and his machine doesn’t work or at least he blames it on the machine and not my card which had just worked for the hospital. He leaves and returns in a little while with a bigger machine he plugged into the wall (still dependent on hospital WiFi). And it did not work. He then says we will take care of it when I see him at his office later this week (Wednesday). It still did not work there. He then gives me his account number at Banco Nacional and asks that I just transfer the money to his account from my account – but that account (my SS check auto-deposit) is just for housing costs, so I still have to get the money from Nashville.

Thus Wednesday afternoon I go to the bank with my CU debit card and ask them to get the needed money from it and put into my local account so I can transfer it to the doctor’s account. Sure! The teller aims to please, and tries repeatedly (7 times – service is important!) and he continues to get “denied” or “acceso denegado.” I call Nashville and they raise the cash advance limit (I thought they had already done) and say everything else is cleared – it should work! It did not! I told the patient teller (not the long line of people behind me) that I would return tomorrow and try again. Lo siento señor, mañana es un día festivo, no estamos abiertos. And I reply, Hasta el viernes.  Tomorrow is a holiday and we are closed. See you Friday.   🙂

Well, Thursday was Virgen de los Angeles day, (patron saint of Costa Rica) with only Christmas and Easter being bigger for Catholics here, when thousands make the pilgrimage to Cartago Cathedral to touch the black stone Maria. So nada yesterday! (Click above link to learn about the holiday.)

This morning I call the Credit Union again and make sure the card is good for a large amount of cash on this day and I’m assured it is. I go to the bank with teller lines going outside onto the sidewalk and street, more than an hour wait for a teller, so I tell the guard I need the “special services desk” and go wait nearly an hour for it, but those persons are more accustomed to “different” transactions like mine and I figured they could handle it better, maybe quicker, and once I finally got to a desk, it worked very smoothly, though taking another 25 minutes to do it! Remember – everything is slower here! Why rush? But she did go ahead and let me pay my monthly CAJA (public healthcare) with her and not have to go wait for a regular teller to do that.

Sooooo . . . an hour and a half at the bank, another chapter read in my latest book (which is so, so), my doctor bill is paid AND my monthly CAJA (public healthcare) bill paid! I breathed a sigh of relief and headed home for a more relaxed weekend! Pura Vida!

And, if you are wondering, the reason I didn’t use CAJA for the surgery, is that I would still be waiting to see a surgeon and I chose not to have patience for that!  Choices and Patience! Retired in Costa Rica!   🙂   ¡Pura Vida!



Inside Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles Church

Sorry! Human error! But have you sent me mail?

Part of “Pura Vida” is not getting bent out of shape when things go slowly or go wrong. That is part of the warm climate attitude or lifestyle and if you can’t adopt it, go with the flow, and live with something going wrong, you will never be happy here. That is probably one of the biggest reasons some Americans don’t make it here or they are not happy here.

If you have in the last four months to my Costa Rica PO Box, it was not delivered. Read on to see what happened to your letter.

In late February I announced I had my own PO Box and you no longer needed to send mail by way of the apartments PO Box (where I received several Christmas Cards and letters just fine). You may remember that I was proud of my own address, bragged on how much easier it was to get that than open a bank account, and even posted a copy of a business card with the new address and my phone number. Yet I never received any mail in it. But I didn’t really expect it to be used except for local and Costa Rica business.

When my health insurance policy was completed the first of April I was expecting hard copies of the policy and an insurance card for my wallet. I never got it. Around the same time a friend in the states sent me an important letter that I never received. That is when I told everyone to use my Miami PO Box address for mail from states. Well the friend had the letter returned two month later as “not deliverable” or something like that in Spanish. They emailed me a photocopy of the returned letter and today I took it to the Atenas Post Office.

The older man who had set up my box was not there (learned later he was fired). The first person, a younger man, had trouble understanding and seemed to be looking for the letter somewhere. Then he called the woman over (exactly what I needed to solve my problem – really!). She managed my poor Spanish better AND when she understood what had happened, she had the insight to go to my box 441 and look at it (from the inside). I heard the rip of tape peeling off. She came back and said “Discuple” (Sorry!). Then someone else translated her explanation: The guy rented me a box with someone else’s name still on it and did not put my name on it like he was supposed to. So the mail-sorter would not put mail for me in such a box! The guy who sold me the box evidently made other errors because he no longer works there! And now that I am adopting the Costa Rica ways, I took three months to figure it out! And I will not worry about it. But if you sent me anything important, let me know! 🙂

I just called my Pricose INS Insurance agent about my medical insurance policy and wallet card. They will re-mail it all today! (Yep! Their mail bounced too!) See! Everything worked out! The world didn’t end! Life goes on! Pura Vida!

And though it can take up to a month from the states, my local mail address will work now (they say!).

Sr. Charlie Doggett
Apdo. 441-4013
Alajuela, Atenas, Atenas

And yeah! It is not written like you do it in the states! That second line is my Province (state) first, then the Canton (county), and then Pueblo (town). Last line is the zip code BEFORE the country name. But honestly, the Miami address is still more efficient and usually here in 5 business days.

Charlie Doggett
PO Box 025-331
SJO 170066
Miami, FL 33102-5331