Aug. 27, 2010
Well, my new phone system works. Tried two calls with Skype today to mobile phones not on Skype – one to Jack in Panama (left a message) and one to my driver tomorrow to remind him to pick me up at 7 to go to San Jose. This ride will cost me $140-160. The one problem I still have is people not on Skype still can’t call me. Skype offers phone numbers but they are as much as the Skype service, and since there is really only one person here who would call me it’s not really cost-justified. Had a video call from Tim Martin in Atlanta this morning and another from Anthony in Sarasota last night late. Curtis did a video call Thursday night.
Do you know the way to …
It’s Friday and I did my trip to the embassy in San Jose today. Ronald picked me up at 7 and we made it by 8:30. He is based in San Jose, BTW, so he had to come to Jaco, bring me to San Jose, bring me back to Jaco, and bring himself back to San Jose. Chatted a bit on the way up but his English was just OK. Of course, my Espanol is not nearly as good. He dropped me off and I told him I should be done by 10:30. Since I was early I went in and waited for Mayanye to arrive, which she did about 9. I had already taken a number so we went inside to wait. Then she told me she had to meet another client outside, told me what I needed to do and what to check for and left me on my own. Somehow I managed. The SS woman checked my account on her computer and then printed out a couple of documents. Then she printed out one in Spanish for me – and I was done. I gave Mayanye the document – my certification of income – and asked if I was going to go it alone when it came time to go to immigration to get my cedula (certificate of residency). She said no, that she would be there to assist me. That will be another trip to San Jose in 6-8 months. Approval of my application is considered a formality. When I pick up my cedula I will have to pay the government about $425 and Mayanye the final $575 I owe her. Then, every year, I must renew my cedula for $150. I hope that does not require a visit to San Jose because the one today cost me $160. Of course, I could gut it out the next time by taking the Tico bus to San Jose and a cab when I get there. That option would cost me roughly half what I spent today but does not provide the assurance that I will make an appointment on time unless I leave Jaco very early in the morning.
Jack got back from his regular every-90-day trip out of the country to get his passport stamped. He spent two nights in Panama. The trip takes him 4-5 hours by car each way, although he had some police trouble coming back that made the trip longer. He had bought six cases of alcohol for his restaurant business (much cheaper in Panama) and thought he was OK because it came in under what he thought was a $300 limit on bringing stuff in. Turns out that doesn’t apply to alcohol. So he hired a couple of Ticos to guide him around the police checkpoints and paid them $100 for the help. Told him that next time he goes I’d like to ride along. Would be a great adventure. His next trip will be to Nicaragua, which he says is better than Panama for a short visit. That would be the end of November.
Met Jack for pool at Tabacon and then we went to Ole, although I knew his goal was to convince me to go to the Beatle Bar nearby. He finally convinced me. Actually, he bribed me by paying the cover charge and buying me a beer inside. You get frisked for weapons at the door and I couldn’t bring my pool stick in with me. $6 cover and over-priced drinks. It’s just a big square building with a couple of bars. It was Friday night so the place was really packed, about two-thirds women. There must have been 40 taxis outside. We found a corner spot at the bar and then the fun started. An endless stream of women wanting to know my name, where I was from, etc. Jack tried his best to put me in compromising positions. For example, he told several women that I was new to town, and so the word spread that there was a new gringo to sell to. This makes you a sure target. Jack knew several women and had some conversations. The whole situation made me very uncomfortable but we had a few laughs. Quite frankly, most of these women would not be of interest to me even if they were free. And I’m sure I would not be of interest if there weren’t colones in my wallet. Jack loves the whole culture of this and has a real good time chatting up the ladies. I’m reminded that his career was in sales. BTW, if anyone’s offended by this, even as lightly as I’ve treated the subject, I apologize. Just thought it’s an interesting aspect of the culture.