09 September 2013

Social Networking in Atenas

When we moved to Atenas, I found our little town lacked an interactive resource for sharing community information. There is a monthly newsletter published in English, and a telephone directory (yellow and white pages) that is sent out by email to most of the Expats in the area. But what was really needed was a place for folks to share information about the Atenas area.

Those of you that know me, know I’ve always been into data processing in some form or another, so it was a natural step for me to try and find a solution. Since we have been using Facebook for a few years to keeps tabs on everyone, and stay in touch with what’s happening in the lives of our family and friends, I thought Facebook could be a workable solution for Atenas residents.

So, about a year ago, I created a Facebook group called Atenas Costa Rica Info and it took off like wildfire. We now have 235 members and folks are sharing everything from the latest lost puppy to where to buy the best seafood. Let me tell you, social networking is very much alive and well here in Costa Rica! I love the info that is being shared. Some folks post links to personal blog posts, while others share nature photos and videos. There are constant discussions on the things like the best place for a pizza, or a hamburger, or where to get a small engine repaired.

A natural spin off to this group was the second Facebook group I created called Atenas Costa Rica Classifieds. This group is a place to list items for sale, in search of items, garage/contents sales, apartment/condo/house rentals, real estate, businesses, restaurants, products and services, job postings, etc. So far, this group has 129 members, with more joining all the time.

As time has passed, I found Facebook is extremely limited because it is not a searchable database. It is designed for social networking. This past June, I created a new forum for the Atenas community to provide the features lacking in Facebook. The forums give us a place to discuss organized topics. It supports multiple categories, polling on topics, private messaging, and many more features. It is searchable, so folks can always go back and find old topics. This doesn’t replace the Facebook group, it just supplements it. Here is a link to the forums at Atenas Costa Rica Info Forums

It has been fun for me to manage the Facebook groups and the forums. They don’t take a lot of time. They pretty much take care of themselves and I’ve only had to ban a couple of spammers. The positive feedback from the Atenas community has been overwhelming. It’s nice to have my efforts appreciated, and I’m happy to be involved like this in our community.

If you are interested in the Atenas Costa Rica Community, join our groups.

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Residency Renewal

The first of this month my Costa Rica Cédula was scheduled to expire, so I went ahead and applied for a renewal back in August. I found the process to be pretty straight forward. Once the renewal is approved, the Ministry of Migration issues a new cédula (government issued identity card) and sends it to the local Post Office for pickup. It was supposed to take a month to get the new one, but in my case, it only took 15 days. This time I was again granted permanent residency for two years. If anyone is about to go through the renewal process, I have documented all the requirements at this link: How to renew your residency

I sat down a couple of months ago to review all of the documents showing my original residency in Costa Rica from way back in the 60s and 70s. I also reviewed all my passports showing entries and exits from Costa Rica for the past 40+ years. It turns out that I now have accumulated well over the 7 years required to apply for citizenship in Costa Rica. I am seriously considering this next step, and I have started to gather all the information needed to apply. I’ll keep you posted on my decision.

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