Make Sure YOU Know What’s Going On!


It’s Friday again, y’all ….

So, uhhh … Thank Goodness I’m Friendly!!   Get it, T.G.I.F.?!  Perhaps, too corny!

Is everybody “cool” today?!?  Well, it’s been HOT here in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica!  In fact, yesterday, it was so hot while the sun was out, it seemed like it could rain simultaneously (we used to call them “sunshowers”)!  But it didn’t.  I was heading back to my cabin from the beach and water was pouring down my bald head!  It was sweat!!!

One of the reasons I believe that I was successful as a teacher is that I like to explain things to the fullest.  I like to be understood.  I will use as many analogies, metaphors and stories as I can take to try to clarify a situation.  That’s just me!  I was always a curious kid and if you couldn’t explain it well enough so that I could understand, I might go research it myself!!  That’s kind of what I have been doing with my retirement residency application here in Costa Rica.  Many folks have hired attorneys … most with success …. some got ripped off!  My situation … if I can do it, I am not paying anyone else to do it!  That’s just me …

So Monday, I got up early to catch the local “Mepe” (Marco Polo) bus to Limon where there is an office of “Migracion”.  The main office is in San Jose.  I had what I thought were all the papers necessary including a background report that a dear friend, Tashi, who works for Broward Sheriff’s Office had procured for me.  I also had my birth certificate thanks to Kelvin Carey (former student) and a letter from the Social Security Administration in Ft. Lauderdale stating that I had sufficient life time benefits to meet the requirements for retirement here.  Once at the office, there was a line outside in the sun!!!!  It was 8:30am and the room where the line led to was full!!!  There were signs all over the walls in that tiny room with a ceiling fan blowing hot air everywhere.  There were mothers with kids who were literally playing on the floor.  One parent took the time to tell her toddler NOT to put her hands in her mouth after touching the floor.  She had the “germ spreading” conversation in Spanish with her baby girl!!  There were crushed crackers on the floor and one little boy was stomping on the remaining pieces of the crackers!!  I went inside the room and leaned against the wall …  “How bad do you want this?”, I thought.  More than sitting on a freaking sidewalk in Ft. Lauderdale or New York or anywhere else listening to some raving lunatic with a gun ordering me around for NOTHING except to satiate his ego!  I asked the people if I could stand there inside out of the sun and took note of my turn in the line that was forming to enter the air conditioned room where there were three staff helping the waiting people.

I had an excellent representative who went above and beyond the call of duty to gather enough of my information and put into the system so that I was eligible for a form called “Expediente” which indicates that I am in the process of gathering the last few items to complete the application.  She informed me that I would HAVE to go to San Jose (5 hours by bus) to get my fingerprints done to register with the Costa Rican Public Safety Department.  This woman even RETYPED my letter stating why I wanted to retire in Costa Rica and where I was coming from as well as my status!!  I thanked her, she wrote down some addresses and office names including the American Embassy in San Jose and I was on my way.

Wednesday, I took the 5 hour bus ride to San Jose leaving at 5am in the morning.  The bus got to San Jose at 10am without incident!  I was lucky to have met a decent taxi cab driver who helped me arrive first at the Embassy, he waited while I spoke on the phone outside, and then took me to get fingerprinted across town.  After that, while I was waiting for one driver to get directions for a place I wanted to visit in San Jose, another driver came up and asked what I was looking for.  I told him I needed an official government translator and he replied that he knew of an office where I could get my birth certificate translated by a certified representative!  It turned out it was the SAME office that I had sent an e-mail to the day before inquiring about their translation services and cost!  Once dropping it off, I had two hours to kill.  The driver was cool but got a little too “nosey” as I sat in the front seat with him and he watched where I was taking money from in my shoulder bag.  When he told me what I owed him ($80.00), I asked him to take me back to the office where my birth certificate was being translated.  “We live and we learn!”  At least, I was fairly safe in San Jose with this last driver.

After picking up the translation, I took a taxi back to the Mepe station, had the worst “arroz con pollo” in my life, and waited for the 4pm bus back to Puerto Viejo.  On the bus ride, I saw one lady blowing her nose into her hand and then wiping it on the bus seat!  The same woman began to cough up what we used to call “luggies” or snot filled spit!  I didn’t notice WHAT she did with that!!  The bus driver turned to look at her but said nothing.  She was like 350 pounds and had a little “Tico” boy with her …  I didn’t judge … I just promised myself that I would try NOT to have to take a Mepe bus anytime or anywhere … for any reason!  Before I got off the bus in Puerto Viejo, I felt something crawling around in my shirt!  I shook my shirt and a cockroach fell out on the floor … I stomped him quick and started to prepare to get off the bus ….

Still, don’t judge … there are a lot of things that I have to learn!  Have a great weekend!  How bad do YOU want something important in your life?!?


John I. Cook, Director

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