22 September 2011

Day 72: Rancho Progress, Credit & Official Residency

The crew has made lots of progress on the Rancho this week, in spite of the rain. The structure to support the roof is now finished and the concrete base for the tile floor was poured today. Tomorrow, all of the structure will be painted and they will begin to lay the roof. The guys will be so glad to have a roof over their heads to give them a break from the sun in the morning and the rain in the afternoon. Now they won't have to call it a day when the afternoon storms roll in across the mountains.

We have been buying building materials as needed from the local hardware store and this involves several trips during the week. Sometimes we have made 2 or 3 trips in the same day because we forgot, or ran out, of something. The hardware store offers substantial discounts for cash; anywhere from 3% to 15%, depending on the type of material. Cash is not a check or a debit card. Cash is the printed paper and coin that comes from the Banco Central de Costa Rica. Needless to say, this means multiple trips per week to the bank's ATM or lobby to get CASH. I hate walking around with large amount of cash!

Our contractor recommended we talk to the hardware store about opening a credit account because they will give the same discounts if you setup an agreement to pay weekly or bi-weekly. This would be really convenient later on, when we start to build the house. I'm thinking to myself (having been a banker in my previous life) why would they extend credit to a couple of foreigners, foreigners who are relatively new residents in town that they don't know from Adam?!?!?! Where is the guarantee that we even have the means to pay? Yeah sure, they're gonna do that just on our good looks. The banker in me is screaming, "No Way José, estas loco?"

So, wouldn't you know it, we had to make the second run of the day to the hardware store this afternoon to buy about $600 worth of electrical goodies, plumbing supplies and other miscellaneous stuff. What the heck, I'll ask for credit and if they say "No," no harm done. Wow, not only did they say "YES," but they will give us the same discount, as if we paid cash, if we pay the bill once a week. They extended credit to us without asking us to producing any type of credit reference. Not only that, but they will invoice us by email and accept payment directly into their account through online banking.

I LOVE THIS COUNTRY! I grew up in a small town like Atenas. My dad owned the local hardware store, so I really appreciated the courtesy and credit they have extended to us. Couple this with the high tech convenience of on-line bill paying and they've got themselves a new loyal customer for the foreseeable future.

In other news, we made the trip into San Jose Monday for a final meeting with Migración for my residency. Once again, I was reminded senior citizens over 65, the handicapped, pregnant women and parents carrying an infant, always get to go to the head of the line for preferential treatment, EVERYWHERE in this country. It's the LAW. If you fall into any of these categories, you will be given your cedula (National ID carnet) on the spot, instead of having it mailed to your local post office, or having to come back to the Migración Office in 10 days to pick up the cedula in person. Guess what? I don't fit into any of these categories.

When it was finally my turn, I provided them with proof I had made all the bank deposits to cover the cost of my cedula and another $300 deposit to cover the cost of my deportation if my residency is ever revoked for some reason. They took my photo for the cedula, verified all my personal profile data and asked if I wanted to be an organ donor.

The official, who was entering all of the data into the computer was a young lady, struggling to learn to speak English. She was so relieved to find out I speak Spanish. She said she always has a problem with the residency applicants that only speak English, because she doesn't know how to ask them if they want to be organ donors. She asked me to teach her how to ask this question in English and I taught her a couple of ways to say it. We practiced for a few minutes until she had it written down and memorized.

When she was comfortable with the phrase, she thanked me for the lesson. I told her she was very welcome and if she wanted to "pay" for the lesson, how about giving me my cedula on the spot so I could avoid the return trip to their office, or the post office trip a week later. To my surprise, she said, "Con mucho gusto. Seria un placer." She said I would have to wait about an hour, but she would go ahead and push it through for me.

I have been granted "Permanent Residency, Without any Restrictions" since my sons are Costa Rica citizens. With my cedula in hand, this put us in a position to apply for John's residency. We immediately started the ball rolling. Wednesday we went back to San Jose to get John photographed and fingerprinted for his application.

It took forever for John to get called into the fingerprinting office. He kept getting bumped back in line because of those entitled to preferential treatment. He got bumped by two parents accompanied by their infant son, a man over 65, a woman over 65, and a man with a cane + his wife. Next time we have to do something like this, I'm think I'm going to borrow somebody's baby! Finally, after about 2 hours, John was called in to be fingerprinted. The government will automatically run a check through Interpol to make sure he's not a bad guy. After we finished this lengthy ordeal, we headed over to the lawyer's office to sign some additional documents for his application.

On Monday, John is heading back to the States on a 4-day trip to gather all of his certified documents; birth certificate, marriage certificate and local police record. Once he has these documents notarized they will be shipped to the agent that is assisting us with the residency process. With any luck, John will have his residency application approved within the next 6 months.

!Pura Vida!

No comments:

Post a Comment