June 14, 2010
So now I have to deal with Hemingway-esque grief from Mark about the fishing. Take your best shot “I can only catch fish when I spend a lot of money for a guide” buddy. When I first moved to Sarasota, I also had trouble catching fish. Took a few months to get the right knowledge.
Didn’t fish today. Was planning on going at high tide at 4 pm, but that’s when the rains came. Did have some important tasks to take care of today, however.
Mainly, I needed to mail a letter to Wachovia officially asking for a bank letter of reference so I can open up a bank account here. This is necessary so that I can get a local ATM card and access my money without the fees, which can be quite steep. First, however, I would need a printer. I had spied an inexpensive HP printer just like the “temporary printer I bought in Sarasota for my last few weeks there (after I sold my Mac and bought the laptop). The printer was at the computer shop where I had my laptop fixed, so off I trudged the 7-8 blocks. Shouldn’t make that sound like an ordeal because I routinely clock in maybe 30 blocks of walking a day. Luckily, they still had the printer (they don’t stock gads of these things at these small stores). Also bought a USB port for all my gadgets. Price for both and a USB cable came to 44,000 colonnes, or about $80. Brought the printer back and was confounded by the loading of the cartridges. Decided it was something wrong with the printer or cartridges so brought it back to the shop, where Alejando quickly pointed out I was trying to load them backwards. That’s what 11 years of working on technology magazines will get you.
When I bought the printer, I also went to the office supply store for paper and envelopes, notepad and stapler. That all cost me about $20. Once I had the printer working, banged out a letter to Wachovia (they had sent me the necessary information via e-mail after my Internet request – two days after I asked) and took off for the post office. Checked my POB even though I knew it was too soon to receive any mail. Sending the letter was easy. There was no line, I handed the addressed letter to the woman behind the counter, she entered some stuff into a computer and I paid her 350 colonnes (about 70 cents). My next postal task will be to try to order something online. It may be necessary to send it to my daughter first for her to forward it but we’ll see.
Next, it was from the post office to the Pali for more groceries. I have learned about the hamburger choices here. I tried to economize by buying the lowest price brand but it was not very good, so this time I bought the premium brand – 2 kilos at about 3,500 colonnes, or about $7. That’s less than $3.50 per pound, which is comparable to U.S. prices. When I came down here, I already knew that prices for meat and chicken were not going to be a bargain. I’m also learning about buying chicken. Again, I was trying to economize at first but the chicken parts here are so much smaller than in the U.S. because they don’t add the antibiotics and steroids that bulk up U.S. chickens so much. This time I bought some breast fillets for about U.S. prices. I’ve decided I can afford not to be cheap with the meat.
Curtis asked how long it took my hand-washed clothes to dry on my back balcony, what with the high humidity here. It takes about two days. Since I have very few clothes, I’m doing laundry every 2-3 days.
After I tried and failed to learn Spanish before I left by listening to a CD on the way to work, I decided the best way was the immersion method. I haven’t had very much conversational contact with the locals, however, and when they talk it is just too fast to understand. In response, I am doing two things: learning a few key words or phrases that the Ticos will understand; and using Babelfish on the computer to translate some phrases I will need . For example, today I wrote some phrases down for what I would need at the office supply store, because everything’s behind a counter and the clerks don’t speak English. Worked out well (with some finger pointing at which stapler I wanted).
I plan to keep a log of what I am spending each month (at least for awhile) but the first month is not included. Since I’m having to basically restock myself after selling/giving away everything, the amount spent in the first month will be much larger than the average going forward. This was expected and planned for. I do not see any reason I can’t live on no more than $1,200 a month once I get settled (except when/if I have visitors and need to do the tourist and sport fishing gigs). I’m saving my touring of the country for when I have guests, although I will be making some scouting trips to other towns in the next few months.