A post I wrote yesterday was scheduled to release at 4 am this morning and it did – for 30 minutes – then at 4:30 AM I woke up and felt compelled to delete it, meaning most of you who subscribe got an email linking you to “Whiffs of West Africa” and received an “Oops message” saying the post is not there.
I felt guilty that I was inflaming the few Trump supporters who still follow my blog, so at 4:30 AM I deleted the post that compared Trump to Yahya Jammeh, the Gambian despot who refused to step down when he lost the election and the featured photo showed him being escorted out by military troops.
Joe Biden has declared this “A TIME FOR HEALING” and I don’t want to make it more difficult for him. So I will honestly try to write no more anti-Trump posts and I hope you “other guys” will decide to work with Biden to bring America back together for peaceful progress as one nation, not two! And yes, the above flag photo is mine, photographed back in 2005 at the Everglades National Park Visitors Center. 🙂
E pluribus unum – Latin for “Out of many, one”
God Bless America!
StoryCorp.org and Public Radio are trying to organize “One Small Step” where you can join them in getting people with opposite views or politics to simply talk to each other. Click the link to check it out and see if you want to participate. Sounds like a great idea Americans!
Hurricane Eta Rains are gone and we have blue skies!
JOE BIDEN IS PRESIDENT ELECT of the USA!
And Trump is gone!
The featured photo is looking towards my house from my street along side the cow pasture. The visible house on the left is my neighbor across the driveway from my house which is hidden in the clump of trees behind that street light. I like being in the woods! 🙂
The “Big House” is barely showing on top of our hill which our landlord has rented out since he now lives on the beach north of Jaco. And that’s today in my neighborhood! 🙂
“Love thy neighbor — but don’t pull down your hedge.”
Even though I am a legal resident of Costa Rica with a residential card or “Cedula” and thus a national ID number (which I have memorized), I am not a “citizen” which takes longer, is more complicated and is not one of my goals with no particular advantages for me (vote & CR Passport).
Thus I must retain my citizenship in the U.S. and that requires a valid U.S. Passport if “living abroad” (says the U.S.) though I no longer have to have a Costa Rica Visa stamped in it as a legal CR Resident. It just declares where I am a citizen (everyone must be a citizen somewhere), required by both countries, AND is required to travel internationally or even buy an international airline ticket. While I can travel domestically in Costa Rica with only my ID number or resident card, I used my U.S. Passport on those 3 trips I made to Nicaragua and Panama. A U.S. Passport is good for 10 years with my current one obtained in 2010, thus expiring in 2020, this year, on my birthday in July. And most countries require at least 6 months left on your passport to enter, thus needed now! Not as confusing as it may sound. But . . .
Process Before Going to Embassy
So, the first week of January I got on the U.S. Embassy Website to make an appointment for the renewal of my passport which they gave me for 28 January. No one can just walk into the embassy here – you MUST have an appointment first. It is like a huge military fortress of paranoid American bureaucrats surrounded by high concrete & steel walls and razor wire. Once you get in with an appointment, you are checked by dozens of armed guards, remove everything from your pockets and enter with no bag, purse, cellphone or anything but the cloths on your back and required paperwork. My two other experiences there were that once you finally get in, they are fairly efficient and rapid with whatever service you need. For us expats there are even IRS and Social Security offices inside the embassy. Passports are by the Department of State.
Required Paperwork Before Appointment
When I made the appointment on the embassy website I also downloaded and printed a 2-page form to fill out along with the 4 pages of detailed instructions (good grief!). I filled in the form with ink and went to a local Atenas photography shop for my passport photos, attaching one of them to the form as instructed. All of the above was before the actual appointment on 28 January and I will continue this saga after my appointment for which I’m hiring my local driver Walter to take me and wait on me while in the embassy, which shouldn’t take more than one hour. Then I will write the next paragraph and post this to the blog.
The Appointment – 28 January 2020
A Comedy of Errors
Walter picked me up at 8:30 AM this morning, saying that we would be early for my 10 AM appointment because it never takes him a full hour to get to San Jose (but I insisted on 8:30). Well, we zoomed up Ruta 27, our semi freeway to San Jose until about 5-7 km outside the city and we screeched to a halt or slow crawl of bumper to bumper traffic, assuming a wreck ahead and sure enough, about 45 minutes later there was a wreck on the opposite side of the freeway! Good grief! It was “rubber necking” or people slowing down to stare at the huge multi-car pile-up on the other side going in opposite direction! Whew! Then we sailed right into town pulling up in front of the embassy at exactly 10 AM, my appointment time! 🙂
But did I go straight in? No! The armed female guard with bullet-proof vest at door asked if I had a cell phone or any other electronic device? I said, “A cell phone which I expect to put in the locker inside.” (like I did last time there) She then tells me that they no longer have lockers, it was too much trouble and they have too many people entering. Walter was already gone and is not allowed to park near the U.S. Embassy, thus he goes somewhere else until I get out and call him for a pickup.
So I helplessly look at her and ask “There is no one here to give my phone to, so that means I cannot go in and renew my passport?” THEN she tells me that the Catholic church a half block down the street has lockers I can rent. So I hike down the street and after asking someone, find the little church building and go in among statues of Mary, pay my 1 mil colones and get locker #13 key (lucky 13!). I put in my phone and at her suggestion my coins and belt with big metal buckle, but keep my wallet because you have to pay for a passport! 🙂 By then this frustrated foreigner was feeling his two cups of coffee from breakfast and had to pay 600 colones to use the baño! (But my coins are in the locker!) Ohhhhhhh! I hate the American Embassy!
I rush back to the embassy, late for my appointment, feeling like I was entering the embassy in Afghanistan or Iraq with armed guards and bullet-proof vests, and finally, after a severe security check, I get inside and make it to the correct window for passport renewal (not labeled, just window 15), passing crowds of other people there for visas, and who knows what else? But I had an appointment! 🙂
Wow! No one else at the passport window! (In fact the worker there looked bored!) I give him all my paperwork and passport photos (left) which he stared at for a few moments and then said “These will not do. The photographer zoomed in too close to your face.” and he showed me how it was suppose to look. Then he said, “No problem! You can go back out into the lobby to the photo booth and get your photo made properly.” (Grrrrrrrrrr.)
So back out among the throngs of people in the huge open-air lobby with others, mostly Ticos getting U.S. Visas, also waiting to have their photos made. I finally get it and pay the dos mil (about $4 compared to $2 for the Atenas “zoomed in” version).
I take them back to the guy behind the passport window and he asks me, “Now aren’t these much better?” I wanted to say “No” but rather used the local non-committal “Mas o menas.”(more or less) and then asked “Cuanto cuesta?” And he says $110 and I give him my MasterCard and it is basically done. . .
. . . until he gives me a little slip of paper written totally in español explaining how it will be mailed to my AtenasCorreos (Post Office), but only after I go first to that post office and prepay them the equivalent of $7 for their postal services and email to the indicated U.S. Embassy email address a photo copy of the receipt I will receive, saved as a PDF file only. Then he explains in English that it takes them 2 weeks to get the new passport made and the post office 2 days to get it to Atenas. Then I can go pick up my new passport and the Post Office MIGHT even call or send an email when they have it. The embassy will not send it to my PO Box. I guess afraid of theft.
Oh Lord-y was I glad to get out of that place! I go directly across the street to a tiny coffee shop (Coco Cafe) and get a cup of coffee and 4 miniature cinnamon rolls, losrollitos de canela.I call Walter and by the time I’m finished, he is there for me. All total an hour at the armed fortress and about 2.5 hours on the road! But almost done! And Walter dropped me off downtown where I took care of the post office payment today AND I have already emailed the PDF photo copy of post office receipt to the embassy. Waiting is all that’s left to do.
One less thing to think about for the next 10 years! 🙂 So in 2030 I will do it again as a 90-year old (wiser & more experienced) for the passport that will get me to age 100! 🙂 Then I may need someone to go with me in 2040, but the embassy only allows one extra person who is not the applicant! 🙂 And who says retirement is boring?
“Nature as Art” is what I called my little retirement hobby photo business from around 2004 to 2008, selling art photos out of 3 galleries in Nashville and in Arts & Crafts Fairs all over Tennessee and thrice out-of-state. It was fun at first but soon became hard work with back aches from lifting boxes and tent set-up, etc. and bottom line was my “hobby” was costing me more money than I was making! +Back aches! So I quit in 2008 and had no more back aches! Here’s a slideshow of some of my shows in 2006-2007, my peak year:
Nature as Art: Charlie Doggett Photography 2007
One of my current efforts is to get all my old favored photos preserved in my online gallery as my only backup in the “cloud.” I have added the old sales photos from my computer organized by the sizes I printed them for sale back then. You can look at them and/or order prints from the SmugMug connected quality vendors, just like you can with any of my Costa Rica photos. 🙂
When you click “BUY” at the bottom right of an opened photo you choose first “Paper Prints” or “Wall Art.” The latter menu includes metal images, my new favorite and they have my old favorite of canvas. Check it out on an image you like from these old Tennessee photos with the most options appearing on the popular sizes back then of 8×10, 8.5×11, and 11×14:
I’m not reviving this memory for money with only a $1 markup on an order credited to me. But as a service for anyone who likes to decorate with photo art, especially Nature as Art! 🙂 Their print options are high-quality and cheaper than I could sell them in my business back then! 🙂
And he didn’t even mention that we have no army and get along with all our neighbors and all other countries in the world. And no Republican Party! Though sorry to say there’s politics here, just not as evil as the states’. 🙂 But we will stick with a young writer’s ten reasons for now!
They are also just 10 of the many reasons I came to Costa Rica and expect to stay here the rest of my life! I have many other reasons like the natural world, etc. . . .
This AM walking & hearing McKendree improvements from Jane made me think I’m better off staying here. This process will take awhile. August Trip will tell a lotI hope! Written on new cell phone and boy is typing hard on this tiny keyboard!