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A Disgrace for Costa Rica – Opinion

June 30th, 2012

Jorge Rojas VargasI generally do not write op-ed blog posts, but today Costa Rica has lost a fine man who more than any other, has changed the face of professional law enforcement in Costa Rica.  His name is Jorge Rojas Vargas, pictured left, and while I have never met him personally, (or professionally thank God), I would consider it a high honor if someday I might make his acquaintance and shake his hand. He is to me a hero in a land where heros in government are hard to find.  I have delayed writing this post because I thought that just maybe… someone in the government might come to their senses and not permit this man to retire from public service. I mean all he really wanted was enough funding for he and his staff  to do their jobs. Sadly, that has not come to pass.  For shame.

Should you like more info on Mr Rojas and his importance to Costa Rica, read on…

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Costa Rica Modifies Rentista Residency

May 20th, 2012

Last Thursday, 17 May 2012, various new immigration rules (reglamentos) were published in La Gaceta, the magazine used to publish various legal notices and also where all new laws must be published before they actually become  enforceable, active laws. These reglamentos (rules) clarify the actual underlying law and also state publicly how a law, (in this case immigration law) will be enforced. Should you wish to read this reglamento, click here.

I waited until I gad a chance to read the new rules myself as often what is published very quickly in CR  papers may not be 100% accurate. If you wish to know more about the new Rentista form of residency, read on!

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My Readers Write – More Questions about Costa Rica

October 10th, 2011

Hi to my faithful readers.  Here is yet another addition of “My Readers Write”

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.

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Applying for a Tourist Visa to the USA

September 29th, 2011

I have had a few emails from readers asking how hard it is for a Costa Rica citizen to get a US tourist. Spouses of North Americans are specifically concerned with this.

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).

That’s it.

Total Time: 3.5 hours beginning to end… excluding the enormous time spent on the application.



Gasoline Prices in Costa Rica – Just Stupid

June 19th, 2011

Warning:  Rant coming!

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!

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Arenal Volcano Watching in Costa Rica

June 14th, 2011

Arenal VolcanoThose 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.

Revisión Técnica aka Riteve

June 10th, 2011

ReteveThose 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!

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What I am Doing Today!

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.

However… For those who ARE interested in this topic, read on! It’s not long.
Follow REAL_CostaRica on Twitter

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OK… now I am all a’Twitter!

May 10th, 2011

People keep bugging me to get socially networked. OK… now Tweet Me or is it Follow me or whatever. I am too old for social networking.

Follow REAL_CostaRica on Twitter

Costa Rica Tourist and Visitor Advisory

May 10th, 2011

Road Closure – Route 32 to Limón

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.

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