27 November 2007

The Bank

What a grand Tuesday we were having!

I was awakened by my lungs trying to suck my CPAP face mask up in through my nostrils. Then I became conscious enough to realize that I had finally popped my lips apart and inhaled vs., the usual explosion of air, accompanied by the most god-awful palate rattle ever emitted by a human-ish creature – the usual occurrence when parting my lips while hooked up to the infernal breathing machine.

“Hey, the machine quit. The power must be off,” I said, figuring that I might as well wake up Pat with the news, since I couldn’t awaken her with the vile sounds of my rattling palate. Just then …

“Pot!” came the voice of Vinicio at our bedroom door. “Johnny wants to talk to you.”
{ASIDE: I gotta tell you . In Spanish, Patricia’s everyday name, Pat, sounds exactly like somebody shouting for a cooking vessel. There is no end to the passive-aggressive fun I can have with this!}

Johnny is our really good Tico lawyer and we had set up an indefinite meeting with him for this week so that we could do all of the paperwork required to set up a bank account here, to be used for the pending house construction project. He was asking us to be at his office in ½ hour – no later – so that he could meet with us prior to a court appearance for some other client.

Race race race. No showers today. Can we do it. Pant pant pant.

The phone rings. It’s Johnny. The power is off at his place, too, so we might as well not come over since he can’t print out any of our documents.

A few minutes later the power came back on and we decided that it was now or never for Johnny.

We actually arrived just a few minutes after his imposed ½ hour deadline. He answered all of our questions, gave us all kinds of really official looking documents with purty-colored stamps and seals all over them (Ticos love colored stamps and seals – and some of their paper currency is considered the most beautifully colored in the world. No kidding.) We paid him and were off.

Had breakfast in a super little soda / panderia in town.

{ASIDE: For those of you unfortunate enough not to know what a “soda” is, they are very tiny “restaurants,” usually with 10 or fewer chairs or counter stools, and they serve a delicious, nutritious, balanced, typical Tico meal that will fill up an empty belly for less money than a burger & fries. For $3 to $5 you can eat and drink Coca-Cola with enough calories for a full day. Really amazing places. Do NOT rob yourself of this experience by going to McDonalds or Taco Bell when in Costa Rica.}

Since we had all of the official documents finished for our Costa Rican corporation, including all of the correct powers-of-attorney (not what they really call them here,) why not go get Vinicio and open up a commercial bank account.

Lesson 1: Know that doing ANYTHING important at a Tico bank will involve a lot of time. And, you DON’T have all of the proper papers, no matter what your attorney or anybody has told you. There shall be something that you’ll have to go elsewhere to get.

In our case, it was the fact that Vinicio (Corporate Treasurer) had brought the requisite utility bill that showed his post office box number, and not the verbal description of the physical location of his office. Now, lemme ask you … would you rather have, “Box 238,” at the Correo (Post Office,) as an address for service of documents or would you like to live with the Tico version of a street address: “100 meters north of Billie’s Pharmacy and 200 meters west of Our Lady of Something-or-Other Church”? Well, the bank wanted the “100 meter” thing.

{Aside: The government has announced that they will give all of the streets in Costa Rica a name over the next few years, so everyone will eventually get a “house number on a street,” address instead of the physical description based on landmarks, as they have used for centuries.}

But, the banker agreed to get started on the paperwork and we could go get a proper utility bill. Two and a half hours down and not finished.

And, oh yes, they were having trouble with the computer hookup to the national registry and couldn’t verify that we really were a corporation, even though they were holding a plethora of stamped, notarized, embossed, be-ribboned, signed in triplicate nationally official documents. Nah. But they hoped the computer would finally answer “in an hour or so.” Ya, right.

So we diddled away a delicious hour partaking of Tico BBQ ribs with all the trimmings. I’m in heaven.

We sauntered back to Vinicio’s and picked up a bill with a descriptive address on it.
Back to the bank; hippity hop inside; where is everyone?
Lunch, I guess. For a l-o-n-g time.

At 2:10pm, (no, I’m not kidding) our banker gal came back to see us. O.K., all the paperwork is there …. but she can’t find Pat’s business card that we’d given her earlier …. did we have another. Sure, everyone carries dozens of business cards with them on vacation. Hope she doesn’t need more than one more.

Typity type type. Our banker is burning up the keyboard on her PC. Typity type. I guess I’ll go over to stand in line to change some dollars into colones since the exchange rate is going the wrong direction and is expected to tank over the next few days or weeks.

That took a half hour. Not bad!

Typity type type. Wow, they’re really into paperwork at this bank.

Well, since we already have the new account number, maybe Vinicio should go over, get in line and make our first deposit.

Another 40 minutes. Things are really flying along around here!

Typity type type. Now banker-girl is on the phone ripping off a bunch of technical stuff in Spanish, and, Oh, god, Pat is rolling her eyes.

“What?” I want to know.

“Well it sounds like their system took all of your information but it refuses to take mine. She’s entered everything 3 times and now the home office is working with her over the phone trying to get it in,” says my bride.

By this time, we’re worried about getting out of the bank in time to pick people up after work, etc. So, Vinicio and Pat both work on our banking pal and she agrees, finally, to give us all of our paperwork, bundle up her copies, send them to the home office, “and let them figure this out.”

She got my vote.

Lesson 2: Ya better not have “Houston” as your city of residence because the computer system at the bank refuses to recognize it. Put in some other town name & BANG – it goes right through. Just not Houston. So there.

We cruised outa there by 4pm, the proud owners of a new corporate checking account.

We be ready to roll!

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