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October 10th, 2011
In this post you will find both emails and comments asking me questions are generally not covered in The REAL Costa Rica or this Blog…. or maybe they are answered, but there is some other twist that I think might be of interest.
As some of these were sent more than 5 weeks ago, I do appreciate your patience. I am just bombarded with email.
I do correct grammar where practical and some spelling of the various emails/comments, but I do not change the content other than maybe a swear word.
If this interests you, please read on.Banking in Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Real Estate, US Embassy, Visas to the USA | Comments (14)
September 29th, 2011
A Costa Rica citizen applying for a tourist visa to the USA may find the road a bit difficult. My wife just received hers last Monday. The US is a tad nutsy over the possibility that they will issue a visa to someone who then never leaves the US after their visa expires. Can you imagine that!?
If he/she has no serious ties here (family does not count) assets, land ownership, long term employment… especially professional… etc, it can be a difficult and expensive process. Being married to a North American is no slam dunk either. It is not uncommon the split a family, offering a visa to a parent but denying one for the kids. Ever wonder why the USA is not always popular? I guess they have a job to do, but it strikes me as a bit harsh at times.
OK… The process (easiest) is to go online to https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
The applicant will fill out the application form. It is the form from hell… maybe 20-30 pages long and requires a ton of detailed info regarding the person’s family all prior visits to the US, etc..
CRITICAL: SAVE YOUR WORK regularly. There are options to save the form as each page is completed. DO THIS… and save a copy on your computer. It would be a stinker to start from scratch.
Some of the questions are pretty funny… like they ask an applicant if he is a terrorist. Wonder how that works out for real terrorists seeking visas… Probably they answer “no”, huh?
Once complete, the applicant will need a digital photo that meets the state department requirements for size, quality etc. It is then uploaded and the application is complete and submitted. Then, you will get a very high quality .PDF copy that embeds the applicant’s photo. Print a couple of copies. Need ‘em later.
Then, you will go to Banco Nacional (I did it online) and make an appointment. You pay for this privilege… $14.00. Once paid, you get a toll free number and a PIN. You then call for the appointment. My wife’s was for about ten days after she made the call.
You will now need to pay another $140.00 (I think she used Banco de Costa Rica) and save the receipt.
Day of appointment… arrive 45-60 minutes earlier than they tell you to. MAKE 1000% sure you have every supporting document. Take the CR cedula. They leave that off the list.
First… enter main application review line.
Next, submit documents at one of the windows
Next, get fingerprinted at a second window
Next, await in another line for the interview at a third window. I went with her and turns out that was a good idea. They asked me if my wife would ever want to live there or get citizenship. Pretty funny… in my wife’s opinion, (and interestingly in MANY Tico’s opinions), the US exists only for shopping
So… If the person passes the interview, they get in the DHL line and arrange delivery of her visa (another 3000 colones).
Total Time: 3.5 hours beginning to end… excluding the enormous time spent on the application.
TGFiled under Costa Rica, Obtaining a US Visa | Comments (9)
June 19th, 2011
Before we begin, the graphic left shows three sets of letters. Most of my readers know all three, but for those who do not, LOL = Laugh Out Loud. OMG = Oh My God, and WTF= ummmm, well best to ask your kids or grand kids about WTF.
Very handy though!
In Costa Rica, we only have two types of gas, Regular (OMG) and Super (WTF).
Prices in Costa Rica have been sliding up for some time. Food, of course is one, but that seems to be a world wide issue. I have already ranted about the transit laws and how much a parking ticket can cost, but the thing that really frosts my twinkle is the ridiculous price of gasoline and the seemingly never ending increases.
We just had another increase a few days ago, and now I am paying about $85.00 to fill my tank (Nissan Xtrail, a small SUV).
It has been a while since I actually calculated the price per gallon in dollars. As we use liters here and pay in colones, it takes a couple of calculations to convert to dollars but I have done so here as many of my readers are from North America and are more accustomed to price per gallon.
Below is a little chart showing the prices. If this topic interests you… read on!Cost of Living, Cost Of Living Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Expatriate Life, Gas Prices, Gasoline, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Opinion, Rants, Travel Advisory | Comments (38)
June 14th, 2011
Those of you who subscribe to my Twitter account (right side >>>) received the word about ten days ago that tha Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico, the volcano watching people, have set up a web cam so they can see what’s a happenin‘. You can too. Just click here!
Arenal is a favorite tourist spot. It is always erupting and has been for years… though some eruptions are more interesting than others.
During the rainy season (now) Arenal volcano watching can be pretty boring… but if that thing goes off, it’s a good show. Also, it is often clear late at night. Worth an occasional visit. It refreshes every ten seconds.
Hint! If you want to get my other updates that do not sometimes make the blog immediately or ever, Follow Me on Twitter.Filed under Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Tourism, Ecology and Nature, Life in Costa Rica, Tourism, Travel, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (3)
June 10th, 2011
Those who drive any type of vehicle in Costa Rica must take their vehicle to be examined once every one or two years. This is done at any of thirteen locations throughout the country. This is known as Revisión Técnica or Riteve for short. Not well known is that they also have four mobile units that service remote areas North, Central, South and Los Santos.
How often you must go depends on the age of your vehicle. Newer vehicles must go every two years and those who drive older vehicles must go in ever year. My license plate ends in a six, so June is my month, and I just had it done yesterday.
Cost for a passenger car is just under 10,000 colones or about $20.00 at the current exchange rate.
If this topic interests you (and it should even if you are an old pro because I am including some helpful info, read on!Cost of Living, Costa Rica, Reteve, Revisión Técnica | Comments (16)
May 24th, 2011
Might as well tell my readers that this post has nothing to do with Costa Rica other than being of mild interest to anyone who wonders what I do when I am NOT working or giving tours.
Hint: I am a closet criminal trial watcher, and today is the first day of the Casey Anthony murder trial. I am blogging in one window while listening and watching opening arguments in another!
Now I realize there will be readers who 1. Care only about Costa Rica goings on and/or 2. Have zero interest in the Anthony trial. I respect that, so for those of you who fall into either of those groups… Ya’ll have a great day! At least you know that with a decent Internet connection, you can keep up with the dramas from up North! Besides, criminal trials in Costa Rice almost never have a jury but are instead heard by a judge or panel of judges.Costa Rica, Streaming Video | Comments (4)
May 10th, 2011
Before I start… Quite nice feedback to last week’s Costa Rica Tourist and Visitor Advisory. Had no idea it would get the response it did.
Anyway… here is a quickie! Route 32 San Jose to Limón is closed due to landslides. See below why this is important.
Now while these notices apparently are welcome, it now occurs to be I may not be able to update these things on a timely, so my best guess is that it will take a week or so to get it fixed, so best check when you arrive here if arriving soon.
One of the toughest things to get your mind around when living or traveling here is how often you are faced with the odd fact that there are many times few or NO alternative routes to wherever you are going. In the US and many countries, a road closure is no big deal. A minor inconvenience. Not here. An example is, in fact, San Jose to Limón. When route 32 is blocked, you are pretty much screwed, especially if you need to get there quickly. There is only one other (practical) route and taking that doubles the drive time to 5+ hours and maybe more as it is now carrying more traffic.
May 6th, 2011
I know a lot of the visitors to the REAL Costa Rica are folks either planning a trip to Costa Rica or are considering a move here either for retirement or work related. It occurred to me that many of these people are not Spanish speakers and have no idea of some of the issues that may affect them when they arrive here.
With this in mind, I am starting a new Category names TRAVEL ADVISORY. This way, travelers can perhaps learn about some things that may affect them negatively while in country and perhaps better prepares themselves for their visit.
If any of my Costa Rica readers have an idea of other topics (and no, I am not going to revisit crime as it is overworked everywhere), add your thoughts to the comments. I am going to start with two advisories that may or may not be well known outside of the country. The at-times dangerous beaches of Costa Rica and the travel resstrictions around San Jose. If the topic interests you… read on! Continue reading »Filed under Beaches, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Tourism, Travel, Travel Advisory, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (14)
May 2nd, 2011
However, I knew that one day I would revisit this topic. Today is the day.
“We’ll go forward from this moment.
It’s my job to have something to say. They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering:
You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.
What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us?
What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.
Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.
Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.
Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.
Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We’re frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae—a singer’s revealing dress, a ball team’s misfortune, a cartoon mouse.
We’re wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though—peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God. Some people—you, perhaps—think that any or all of this makes us weak. You’re mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.
Yes, we’re in pain now. We are in mourning, and we are in shock. We’re still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn’t a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn’t the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world.
You’ve bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before. But there’s a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.
I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future. In the days to come, there will be re- crimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We’ll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.
THE STEEL IN US
You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don’t know us well. On this day, the family’s bickering is put on hold. As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish. So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that’s the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange:
You don’t know my people. You don’t know what we’re capable of. You don’t know what you just started.
But you’re about to learn.” Leonard Pitts, Jr. Copyright 2001 Miami Herald