SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis – plumitapacifica.com

5 Feb

chapter 26

TAKING the BUS

I’ve taken the bus all the way from my place to San Jose just for the adventure of it and discovered it’s actually a good way to get to San Jose.  It costs less than $6 one way where as gas would be about $40.  Takes a little longer of course but on the other hand you’re not tired and stressed out from forever trying to get around a black smoke belching truck that can’t go more than ten miles an hour on the mountain roads.   Plus like I said before, it’s a gorgeous drive and from the bus you can actually enjoy the scenery.  And let the driver be stressed trying to get around the smoke belchers.

As of the date of this writing a bus ticket now costs about $10 and of course gas prices have risen too.

With the exception of the day I decided to go to San Jose and a big tree fell across the road between P. Junquillal and Santa Cruz, causing me to miss the connection I wanted for San Jose, that I needed to catch in Santa Cruz, because we had to wait while a bunch of guys chopped that big tree up with their machete’s.  It’s my preferred way to go.  It’s amazing what these ticos can do with a machete.  That has to be one of the most versatile tools in the world.  This tree had a trunk diameter of about 6 to 8 inches.  Those guys whacked the branches off and had the trunk cut up enough to be able to drag it off the road in less than a half hour.

But more on the bus system here.  I’ve been here about 7 months now and have been to San Jose several times on the bus.  I’ve found a place that, at least for now, I can leave my car in Santa Cruz and pick it back up when I’m back from S.J.  The bus from P. Junquillal is a rickety old thing with blown out shock absorbers and on that rough dirt road you must take to get to Santa Cruz it’s just nicer to take my car.  The bus I take from S.C. to S.J. however is much nicer.  Some of them even have a TV and since it’s a four and a half hour ride it’s nice to watch a movie.  (As the years have passed however, the busses to San Jose have deteriorated terribly and there are no more movies.)

It has been interesting though to learn the idiosyncrasy’s of taking the bus.   For example on more than one occasion I have arrived at the terminal too late to get a ticket for the bus I wanted.  Not a big problem because in another hour or two there will be another bus to the same destination.  The reason there are so many buses with such a varied schedule is because something like over 50% of the people in C.R. don’t have cars.  Thank goodness the bus company’s aren’t government controlled!  After my experiences with ICE (see Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet) I can only imagine the nightmare it would be.

 

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis – plumitapacifica.com

4 Feb

chapter 25 continued

First let me tell you about two of the non-food items I had to purchase for this adventure, a pot and a wooden spoon.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Even though I’m not much of a cook I do have a couple five quart pots and a good assortment of very useable wooden cooking utensils.  You’ve seen tamales.  They’re not very big so of course when she surveyed my assortment of cooking equipment and said she needed bigger I was in slight disbelief.  

She wasn’t thrilled with the biggest pot we were able to find in the stores in Santa Cruz but since it was the biggest she said she could make do.  I have no idea how many gallons it holds but it measures 13 inches deep by 16 inches in diameter. 

Then she pointed at a wooden spoon and I thought was making a joke.  But she gave me this serious look and said it too would do.  It’s over 2 feet long!

Ok, so back to the cuadrado leaves.  The first step is to carefully fold them so as not to tear or break them, fill the pot with them, add water to the top and boil the hell out them.  Then take them out of the pot and very gingerly dry each one off with towels while at the same time making sure they are very free of debris.  At 11pm she said she was tired and would finish drying leaves in the morning and we went to bed.

At 5am she was up and at it again (I stayed in bed till about 7 since the night before she had wisely let me know in no uncertain terms that I could be of no help, other than lifting the full pot).  By the time I got to the kitchen to watch she was just in the process of all the ancillary vegetable and condiment preparation. 

Then came cutting the two different cuts of pork “just so”.  Then came the cooking, brazing and what only other Latinas might understand about tamale preparation. 

By about 10am everything was cooked and ready for the next step… cook the corn meal.  Here’s where that big wooden spoon came in.  Once again that huge pot is on the stove with water and, this time, corn meal.  Now, she is about 5’3” tall.  I have photos of her standing on my step ladder with that big wooden spoon stirring the pot of corn meal. 

Then after it had cooked enough she needed me to take it off the stove and put it on the floor so she could stir in a bunch of condiments (prepared earlier in interesting and exotic ways).  I have photos of that too.

Finally, everything is cooked.  Now it’s time to wrap it all up in the cuadrado leaves.  It was like watching an artist work!  First the leaves are laid out and arranged “just so” for each individual tamal.  (No, that’s not a typo.  One is a tamal, more than one are tamales.)  Then a little of the corn meal is placed on the leaves as a base for all of the other pre-cooked items as follows. 

A little of the rice goes on top of the corn meal, then a little pork, then a slice of potato on one side of the pork, then a slice of carrot on the other side of the pork, then a slice of chile dulce diagonally across, then a green olive. 

Then with great care the leaves are wrapped, folded and bundled over and around it all and now you have this neat little packet that is then gently laid aside.  I have photos of that too. 

I counted 84 packets.  I have photos of that too.

Now it’s time to tie all the packets up with string.  I finally get to help.  She let me cut the string.  I don’t have a photo of that.

The packets are bundled two packets together and then tied with string.  I have photos of that too and now I think “we’re” done.  It’s about 1pm, I’m hungry, and it all looks great… let’s eat!

No.  Now all the packets have to go back in the pot with water to cook!  I ask her “why does it all have to cook again?”  She said because if they didn’t cook some more the special liquid pork fat that she stirred into the corn meal after it was done cooking would keep me on the toilet for days!  Ok, I lift the full pot up onto the stove.  She gives me this giggle and say’s no… we have to take it outside and cook it over a wood fire.  I can’t believe it. 

I have a beautiful Jenn-air gas range with one special burner that produces a huge flame for rapid boiling and other high heat needs.  She knows this, she’s used it before, and it’s not good enough.

So we each grabbed a handle and lugged it out to a shady place under the coconut palms.  Unbeknownst to me, Mario knew and had brought some concrete blocks to hold the pot above the flames.  Using all of my Alaskan woodsman skills I had a roaring fire going in minutes (finally I felt useful for something).

4pm:  It’s all ready!  We can eat! 

And are they ever delicious!  I’ve had restaurant prepared tamales.  I’ve had home made tamales in California.  I’ve had tamales prepared with less care and time investment.  I’ve never had a tamale as delicious as these (am I prejudiced?)  And after doing the math, starting at 6pm the night before – she spentseventeen hours preparing 82 packets, two packets per meal per person = 42 meals…

I told her I would chew very slowly.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis – plumitapacifica.com

3 Feb

chapter 25 continued

There was still one ingredient we didn’t have… banana leaves.  You probably know this but in case you don’t, in C.R. tamales are cooked after being wrapped in banana leaves.  We could have bought some leaves in Santa Cruz.  I saw a lady buy a bunch in one of the stores that didn’t have the special pork oil.  I asked my friend if we should buy some.  She said no, because apparently she had talked to Mario and Nidia earlier and Mario had offered to cut them fresh in the jungle.

So at about four that afternoon Mario and I took off in my car for a part of the jungle where he knew there was a plethora of plantanos and cuadrados.   Ok, I need to explain “cuadrados”.  It turns out that tamales are not wrapped in banana leaves.  There are actually about five or six (maybe more) different types of plants that fall into the “banana” category of plant species.  I have four or five of them on my property now and probably will have more in the future since Mario is a master at finding beautiful plants and placing them in strategically decorative locations around my house.

Cuadrados look to me like any other banana plant but while driving with my tico friends in my car I have had them say “that plant is a banana, that ones a plantano, that’s a cuadrado” and so forth.  You’ve seen plantains in the market. 

Cuadrados are a little smaller but used the same way as plantains but to me all the different types of “banana” plants look identical so don’t ask me how the ticos tell them apart, even when they don’t have fruit.  At least the fruit of each plant looks distinctively different. 

I have a delicious type of banana that is producing fruit now, which is not sold commercially, on my property.

So anyway, it seems that you can’t just use any old type of “banana” leaf.  It has to be from a cuadrado plant. 

Mario and I arrived at the place where the jungle is thick with cuadrados (not more than three or four kilometers from my house) and since he is the expert with the machete and also knows exactly which leaves make the best tamale wrappers and how to cut them up and how to leave the plant so it’s not damaged… I wasn’t much help.  But how fun! 

We arrived back at my house around 6pm and my friend started the tamale making process.  I’ll describe it as best I can, but let me tell you, I now truly have a new respect!

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis – plumitapacifica.com

2 Feb

It has been a couple weeks since I posted anything (for reasons which wouldn’t be interesting enough to explain). But since it’s been that long, here’s the last post, the new post and the new look of future posts. (New look meaning that I will not be boring you with the information I have been repeating on all my past posts, such as “this is a continuation blah blah blah & all the chapter titles and #’s.)

chapter 25 continued

Uh oh… another shopping story just occurred that needs to be included here along with a related tamale cooking story.

So now, let’s talk about holiday shopping for food.  In the U.S. the big holidays have special food items that are prepared traditionally, like turkey with all the trimmings at Christmas.

Can you imagine walking into your local market and not finding some of the ingredients and then being told that they are nowhere to be found in any of the stores in your city?

That is exactly what happened today, 12/22/2008.  In all of Latin America it is a really BIG tradition to make tamales at Christmas.

A friend of mine said she always makes tamales for her family at Christmas, of course, and since I would like for her to make a couple for me to enjoy I offered to purchase the ingredients.  One of the ingredients is meat.  Apparently the type of meat is the cook’s choice and her choice is pork.

Costa Rica is a country where pork is almost a staple of the diet (for those who can afford to buy meat of any kind).   And I happen to prefer pork over beef so I always have some in the freezer.  But I didn’t have exactly what she wanted and also her recipe called for a type of oil made from pork fat.  It’s liquid and comes in a bottle like many other cooking oils.

Actually, I didn’t have any of the ingredients she wanted since about the only thing I know how to do is BBQ.

So off to Santa Cruz we went, which now I can happily say is only a half hour away because what was a one hour drive on a road that would destroy a Hummer is now a drive on a nice smooth ready for asphalt surface.

There are no markets in Playa Junquillal other than the one little store that is best described as one half of a 7-11 that carries no fresh meat and a few wilted fruits and vegetables in addition to the 7-11 type items.  So Santa Cruz, with a population of maybe twenty thousand people, is where I do most of my grocery shopping.  I have already described the grocery stores in C.R., which would make a gourmet quickly exit the country, but being the simple cook/eater that I am I’m almost content.  I would be more content if I could get fresh produce but without refrigerated transportation on slow roads and a system that guarantees at least four day old produce I put up with the wilted lettuce, floppy carrots, way over or under ripe fruits and other veggies, etc.   Even the little farmers market that occurs in Sta. Cruz on Saturday’s can’t guarantee fresh picked produce.  The local tropical fruits are wonderful however at the farmers market.

  • Unless you opt to reside in S.J. (yuck) or Cartago, where much of the produce is grown, expect to be disappointed regularly.

Anyway, back to the story, we had no problem finding everything she wanted… except the pork and the special oil that’s made from pork fat.  You can imagine my disbelief at not finding those holiday staples!

As the day wore on and my patience began to wear thin from going to virtually all the normal markets and most of the little specialty meat markets we ended up going back to my place with everything except the pork and the oil.

I absolutely could not believe it!  That would be like looking for a turkey before Thanksgiving and not being able to find one or the stuffing makings in any store.

But this is an interesting country with interesting surprises.

We got back to my house and I suggested she ask Nidia if she had any ideas or knew of someplace we could complete the grocery list.  Nidia says “yes, my mother-in-law, who only lives about two kilometers away (Paraiso), sells pork”.  She got in the car with us and directed me to her mother-in-laws house and now we have all the ingredients.

And I have a new source for really good fresh pork!  (And a new respect for tamales.)

Actually, the real respect goes to the tamale maker.  You’ll read why next.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis – plumitapacifica.com

16 Jan

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 25 continued

Uh oh… another shopping story just occurred that needs to be included here along with a related tamale cooking story.

So now, let’s talk about holiday shopping for food.  In the U.S. the big holidays have special food items that are prepared traditionally, like turkey with all the trimmings at Christmas.

Can you imagine walking into your local market and not finding some of the ingredients and then being told that they are nowhere to be found in any of the stores in your city?

That is exactly what happened today, 12/22/2008.  In all of Latin America it is a really BIG tradition to make tamales at Christmas.

A friend of mine said she always makes tamales for her family at Christmas, of course, and since I would like for her to make a couple for me to enjoy I offered to purchase the ingredients.  One of the ingredients is meat.  Apparently the type of meat is the cook’s choice and her choice is pork.

Costa Rica is a country where pork is almost a staple of the diet (for those who can afford to buy meat of any kind).   And I happen to prefer pork over beef so I always have some in the freezer.  But I didn’t have exactly what she wanted and also her recipe called for a type of oil made from pork fat.  It’s liquid and comes in a bottle like many other cooking oils.

Actually, I didn’t have any of the ingredients she wanted since about the only thing I know how to do is BBQ.

So off to Santa Cruz we went, which now I can happily say is only a half hour away because what was a one hour drive on a road that would destroy a Hummer is now a drive on a nice smooth ready for asphalt surface.

There are no markets in Playa Junquillal other than the one little store that is best described as one half of a 7-11 that carries no fresh meat and a few wilted fruits and vegetables in addition to the 7-11 type items.  So Santa Cruz, with a population of maybe twenty thousand people, is where I do most of my grocery shopping.  I have already described the grocery stores in C.R., which would make a gourmet quickly exit the country, but being the simple cook/eater that I am I’m almost content.  I would be more content if I could get fresh produce but without refrigerated transportation on slow roads and a system that guarantees at least four day old produce I put up with the wilted lettuce, floppy carrots, way over or under ripe fruits and other veggies, etc.   Even the little farmers market that occurs in Sta. Cruz on Saturday’s can’t guarantee fresh picked produce.  The local tropical fruits are wonderful however at the farmers market.

  • Unless you opt to reside in S.J. (yuck) or Cartago, where much of the produce is grown, expect to be disappointed regularly.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis – plumitapacifica.com

15 Jan

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 25 continued

When I got home I opened the first box and the fan was black (you’ll see why noting the color is important soon).  I got it completely assembled, plugged it into the wall socket, it ran fine at all speeds and that’s when I discovered that the little knob you push or pull that resides on top or the fan motor was missing!  So I took it completely apart, put it back in the box and got it ready to go back to the store. 

Then I opened the next box.  That fan turned out to be white but I noticed that it did have that little knob on top and oddly enough it was black.  But when I pulled all the parts out of the box I discovered that even though they were all there, the fan blade, which was in its original packaging, had one blade broken completely off.  Also the housing for the fan motor was broken.  The guy was right, the parts were there but he failed to notice the ones that were broken.  But it had a black knob!  Perfect, I took the knob off, re-assembled the black fan and now I at least had one good fan. 

I took the white fan back but once again Murphy got me.  They didn’t have any more of that brand/model.  They did however have a floor sample model of a different brand of that type of fan.  There were no fans in boxes.  That floor model was the only fan of its type in the store.  It happened to be about $2 less expensive but at this point I just wanted to swap straight across and get the hell out of there.  But no, they couldn’t do something that simple because it messed up their accounting.  They scratched and figured and scratched some more and finally said that if I bought something for 5 colones (which is about the equivalent of a tenth of a cent) or more that I could leave with the fan.  I said fine and went to look for something I might need.  I found it but when I got back to the cashier she said I didn’t need to buy anything after all.  Don’t ask me what made the difference.  I didn’t ask them.  I just took my fan and left… quickly.  (Maybe someone realized that if they got this fussy gringo out of the store there would be $2 extra in the till… )

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis – plumitapacifica.com

7 Jan

This is the continuation of a series of posts on my blog to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a Guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers:

Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And just in case you’re interested… here’s the table of contents:

Introduction and Preliminary Comments – 3, My First Trip -15, Lost in Guanacaste – Playa Coyote – 20, Trust with a Child – 26, Lost in Panama – 29, Attorneys – 35, My Contractor – 38, My Security Guard – 61, My Toldo – 67, Getting a Land Line Phone and Internet – 76, A Cellular Phone – 115, A Country Doctor – 124, A Lesson Well Learned – 130, A Little Green Frog – 138, A Little Brown Frog and a Bat – 146, A “Murphy’s Law” Day – 153, Driving in the Rainy Season – 161, Drunk Drivers – 174, Fiesta del Toros – 185, Getting a Drivers License – 195, INS and a Minor Accident – 203, Lifeguards – 224, Passing through Customs – 232, Rules of the Road for Tico Driving – 236, San Jose – 241, Shopping and Making Tamales – 250, Taking the Bus – 272, Turtles in My Front Yard – 281, Untitled – 287, When it Rains it Pours (sometimes) – 294, She Found My Lot – 307, My First Traffic Ticket – 312, Ticket # 2 – 316, My Radar Detector – 318, Ticket # 3 (after a slow speed chase) – 324, A Christmas Parade – 338, Sex (the truth about ticos) – 343, Photo Album – 347, Appendix – 374

chapter 25 continued

Now the small example, which happened recently, and since I’ve learned my lesson, which is to lessen the frustration by giving in to the fact you almost always end up only getting “close”, I bought it.  And if you are buying the first “close” thing you find, it might not take too much time.  I wanted two electrical extension cords, about 6 feet long, white.  The kind you will find all over the place in Ca.  You don’t even need to go to a hardware store for that.  Usually your local market has them.  Not so here, you need to go to a hardware store.  I went to a store I’ve been to before that seemed to have a larger than average selection of electrical type items.   They had white extension cords, 20 feet long.  I asked for shorter, 15 feet was it.  So I left and went to the store I go to most of the time because they have lots of everything (sort of).   They had extension cords, 9 feet, brown.  Like I said, I’ve learned the lesson, I can live with brown instead of white extension cords.  I bought them.   You’ll understand why my suitcase, each time I arrive back to C.R. from Ca., is full of Home Depot (and Ca. wine, which is another story).

Now it’s time to pay.  Here’s how that works and what I’m about to describe is true for most of the different categories of stores here.  You have your item and you’re at the counter ready to pay.  Someone writes up an invoice.  You take the invoice to a cashier and pay.  You go back to the counter to a third person in a different area who now has you product.  You present your paid invoice to the person who stamps it “cancelado” and bags your product then staples your receipt to the bag in such a fashion that you can’t remove the product without ruining the bag, and then at some stores when you are at the door ready to leave, you present your bagged product to an employee who makes a mark on the receipt (sometimes it’s an x) and you can leave.  Now I understand why C.R. has a low rate of unemployment.

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