Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back in Paradise

Well, as the title of this post suggests, we are back. Had a wonderful and eventful summer, and in a little over a week the first day of school will start, but for now we are just getting back into the swing of living in Costa Rica.
The first night that we got into Liberia we were pretty exhausted from traveling all day. We picked up our dog Isa, drove home, and fell asleep. Actually, I had to kill a scorpion, but then we went to sleep. Oh yeah, we also had to shoo a giant tarantula out of the house, but after that we definitely fell asleep. Wait..there was also a dead gecko on the floor in our bedroom, but we slept like babies after that was taken care of.

The next day we woke up and went to eat at our favorite breakfast spot, The Shack, in Playa Potrero. Then we went to Playa Grande for surfing, playing with the pup, and relaxing on the beach. The 80 + degree water felt amazing compared to the giant ice cream headache that is the California Coast. Next it was off to Auto Mercado, which is a lot like a Trader Joe's back in the states, but everything is written in Spanish.

The day after that entailed more surfing for me, a trip to the salon for Allie, and a WHOLE LOT OF CLEANING around our house. We're talking hours, and hours and hours of sweeping, mopping, dusting, scrubbing, and not stopping until all of the dirt, dust, grime, mold, bugs, and dead geckos were gone.

Today Allie went out to brunch with a friend and I went to ICE, the phone company, to get our cell phones reactivated. The phones were supposed to start working in 15 minutes, but here we are 10 hours later, still unable to make calls. I foresee a return trip to ICE in our future.

Then we took on the big task of the day: renewing our drivers licenses. Two years ago we got our Costa Rican licenses and tomorrow they finally expire. If you are a Tico you can renew your license by setting up an appointment at the bank and picking it up. If you are an "extranjero" (foreigner) like us, it's not so easy.
First we had to go the Banco Costa Rica. Sometimes the lines at BCR take over an hour to get through. We were thrilled to make it through the line in 10 minutes. "Cool! This license renewal thing will be easy!" we thought. All we had to do now was get some doctor paperwork and go to the Costa Rican DMV. It was 1:00, and we had 2 1/2 hours until we had to be at the DMV. Plenty of time for a quick check up, right? How foolish we were...

So we went the Emergencia 2000, which is 5 minutes down the road in the town of Huacas. Unfortunately, when we went in to get our check ups, we were promptly told that they did not have the forms that the doctor must fill out so that you can get your license. "Go to the Emergencia 2000 in Tamarindo, you can do it there." 10 minutes later we were waiting in front of the Tamarindo office. The lights were on and the sign said "Abierto," however the door was locked. We knocked and knocked, but a TV was blaring telenovelas inside, so nobody could hear us. Finally someone came to the door and let us in. However, when we asked to get examined for our licenses we were once again shut down - they didn't have the forms either! The EMT guy who was helping us called 3 or 4 other clinics, but NOBODY had the freaking forms.
It might seem odd to go into so much detail about such a mundane task, but the point is to show the patience that one must possess in order to survive down here. Sooo, our EMT friend told us to check out another clinic owned by a different company in Villa Real, another little town 5 minutes down the road.

We showed up and told the receptionist what we needed, and this guy actually had a copy of the right form! The key word here is "a" form, because there were two of us, so one would not suffice. The guy helping us got on the phone and called at least five other clinics asking if there were doctors with this sacred form, but believe it or not, no one had it. Finally, on his sixth, or seventh, or eight, or ninth call he got ahold of a doctor who was 20 minutes away in Potrero, and this guy had the forms - two of them!!!
We thought we were almost done, but then the guy told us that the new drivers licenses require you to get a blood test for your blood type, and we would have to go the lab to get that done. 15 minutes later we were at the lab for the tests. When it was all said and done we learned that Allie was A positive, and I was A negative.

After the blood tests, we raced back to the clinic and found that the doctor had arrived, forms in hand. It took him about 20 minutes to check us out and fill out the papers, and by that time it was too late to go to the COSEVI (the Tico DMV). The good news is that tomorrow we will be able to leave the house first thing and go to the COSEVI and get our licenses right away. On second thought, we will probably have to wait in many long lines and jump through all types of hoops at COSEVI, but it will be OK. We are so lucky to live together in this paradise of lush jungle, pristine beaches, and the friendliest people on earth, and it is definitely worth all of the waits in the end.

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