Good Karma: A Tale of Two Miracles

Happy Friday once again!  I’m starting to like the sound of a heart-felt “TGIF”, Y’all!  So, if you’d be so kind, join me in one for today!!  “Hip hip … hooray!” as one of my California friends likes to say … “Hooray!”  Thanks again!

Do you believe in karma?  It can be good karma …  Or, it can be bad karma!  The choice is actually yours!!  How do you “roll” (behave)?  Fortunately for those of us who believe in good karma, we just need to carry on as we’ve always done – being good people.  That’s what allows the creation of “good karma” … essentially, good behavior!  Sometimes, if one is paying attention, one can see it!!

When I was in Medellin a few weeks ago, I relied on hoping that I had chosen a good hotel.  As it turned out, I was looking for an inexpensive hotel in a safe neighborhood.  As usual, I started to check for places on  I personally like them better than AirBnB since I had an extremely challenging situation in Barcelona 5 years ago.  After AirBnB had given me a location to stay just outside of Barcelona, Sabadell to be exact, when I arrived there after two days of travel from Ft. Lauderdale to Spain, the hostess said that AirBnB had “canceled” my reservation!!  It took a few days to demonstrate to the hostess that I was a harmless old man traveling to places that I’d never been … before I die!!  The hostess agreed to let me stay at her home for 200 Euro a week.  That was fine.  So, when I located this place online with called “Ayende Jardin de Provenza”, I contacted the ONLY person I knew of who lives in Medellin.  Keep in mind, I had no previous knowledge about anything or anyone in Medellin … except “Naty”.  Since she had been a student at the High School in White Plains where I landed my first full-time teaching job over 40 years ago, I trusted her judgment of a safe neighborhood.  Besides, I later learned that she had run her own hostels in Medellin before the “pandemic” and was a member of a group of people who owned and managed the hostels in Medellin.  We messaged each other a few times and finally met up at Jardin de Provenza.  We traveled by bus together as she showed me some sights and then walked to a shopping district in downtown Medellin.  But first, we had lunch at an exceptional restaurant – Parmessano’s – before window shopping!  

The next day, I decided to try my hand at getting to see where Naty lived which was in another area of Medellin.  It wasn’t easy for me as I am a bit direction challenged especially when I visit a place for the first time!!  So, I couldn’t figure out where “Poblado Park” was which was actually four Medellin City blocks from my hostel.  The hostel was on a street, blocked off at one end where there was a mobile “police tent”, and had some of the MOST dynamic venues full of fine foods and good music.  My window on the second floor not only overlooked this street, but the room itself was beautifully hand-painted with Macaws aka “Guacamayas”!!  The lights in my room with that queen bed were stellar!  So, after giving up on potentially walking in the wrong direction (which I had already done twice), I asked a taxi driver to take me to the park.  When I got into the taxi, I looked at my cell phone to review the bus directions to Naty’s place.  When the taxi got to Poblado Park, I jumped out with excitement.  As I approached the collectivo (small van bus), I searched for my cell phone, paid the fare as I got on, and continued looking for my cellphone!  I didn’t have it in my possession!!  Oh nooo!  I asked the driver to stop and I got off, then took a taxi back to Jardin de Provenza.  As I entered, the manager greeted me and asked how things were going.  When I told her that I had just lost my cell phone, she frowned a bit and then smiled.  I felt like I had dropped it in the taxi … I mentioned that, too!

I mentioned to the manager that I was on my way to visit my friend “Naty” and she smiled.  She began to scroll through her phone and finally looked up and said, “I have her number.  I’ll call her.”  She did, but there was no answer, so I retired to my room to meditate.  As I left the reception area, I said, “God is here!”  We all smiled at each other, including her staff who stood by.  I went into my room and began to relax, meditate even.  Ten minutes went by and there was a knock at my door.  When I opened it, a female staff member was handing me her manager’s phone.  “Naty” was on the line.  She said that a woman who maintains the Park found my phone on the curb!  She picked it up before a motorcycle had run over it.  Naty had called my phone after the manager told her that I had lost it … and she spoke with the woman who cleans the park and told her that I would come to pick it up!!!  Can you say “good karma”??  God, maybe?!?  Okay, both!!

As some of you may recall, I have been in the process of applying for residency in Costa Rica.  I had actually given up until my friend “Naty” informed me that I could get my FBI background check “certified”/apostilled by a company in New York.  After investigating more, as this is the last step for me in this process of applying for residency in Costa Rica, I found out that there are companies that place the apostille on federal documents, not just state documents.  I did my research and found an organization in Georgia that could generate my background check from my fingerprints.  Once I get this done and sent back to me here in Costa Rica … by e-mail and later physical mail … I need to get it translated into Spanish and then take it to Migracion to complete my “10-Step Process” in applying for residency in Costa Rica.  Some of those steps also included verification of income from the Social Security Administration, my birth certificate, fingerprints in San Jose to have on file in their police department(s), and more just to complete the application.

Before traveling to Medellin, I started the process and was told that I needed new (6 months or less old) fingerprints taken and sent to the FBI Apostille in Virginia, USA.  Now, I started panicking trying to figure out how I get all of this stuff done before Nov. 14th, 2022 the date I was given generated by the administrative division of “Migracion” (Immigration).  The computer-generated e-mail from Migracion stated that I would need to make an appointment online or by phone (neither system was functioning) if I needed more time.  Now, I had already written a complaint letter to “customer service” with “Migracion” regarding a woman who had attended to me for over 18 months when I had visited their office in Limon before traveling out of Costa Rica so I wouldn’t have problems regarding documentation and status to get back into the country.  That’s how I got the e-mail giving me the date from October to November.  I hesitated to go back to that same office.  Yet, I couldn’t contact them by WhatsApp and neither could a friend who agreed to call the number periodically to request an extension to turn in my last step of this 10-step process.  So, enter good karma!

I decided to go to get fingerprinted at a police station in Limon on Monday as requested by the company in the States and send them by express mail afterward.  When I got to the closest police station, they stated that the ONLY way I could get fingerprinted was by appointment.  The officer told me to take a photo of the web link posted on the wall that was used to make an appointment. So, I decided to go to Migracion to request an extension in order to get my background check back from the States and translated (I know of two companies in San Jose who can do this in 24-48 hours … for a fee!).  As I stood in this long a$$ line that ended up on the street outside of the office, I decided to use the link to make an appointment for fingerprinting.  Of course, after I gave a bit of information, it asked for my date of birth.  Each time I entered my date of birth, the form would say “NahNahNah” and kick me out!!  So, I decided to go back to the police station which was within walking distance from Migracion, just around a Limon (Old Bronx-like) corner!  I explained to the officer who gave me the website and I even let him try it!!  It was in English and it didn’t work.  Finally, the officer said in Spanish, “Wait here.  I’m going to the office where they do the fingerprinting and tell him about the problem.”  I waited … and waited … people came and went … I sat outside on a cement block bench … I waited …  Finally the officer pointed where to go to explain what happened.  It was the fingerprinting office.  I walked over and the officer accompanied me.  Everybody was armed up in there!  Cut to the chase, they gave me an appointment for the very next day at 10:30 am.  I got the prints done AND then went to the Migracion office …

I got online at Migracion immediately after the fingerprinting session which was incredibly smooth …. for Costa Rica … air conditioning and all.  The line was shorter than earlier when I went there early Tuesday morning before getting my fingerprints.  When I was finally called, it was a different professional, yet the employee that I had written the complaint about was there also.  The more professional mature woman was treating me very kindly … like a 68-year-old gentleman should be treated… with RESPECT! It was like she was demonstrating what good customer service looks like … for the knowledge of the only other agent there.  This woman even taught me a new legal term in Spanish, “prorroga” (accent mark over the first “o”), which means extension!!  She asked me how much time I wanted.  I told her sometime in December and asked for the exact date of the appointment as I looked over the form for a date.  She said, “You don’t need a date …”  I thanked her and departed walking past the other agent without saying a word.

Which miracle did you like most?!?  Of course, you don’t have to tell me or choose.  I liked them BOTH and am humbly grateful that they happened to … ME!  You’re next!!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!!

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