Archive | April, 2013

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

30 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 21 continued

However as I’m sure you’re aware, the ocean has its perils.  Not the least of which is undertows, which is what got the tourist who drowned, and that is one of the many good reasons to have lifeguards.  I believe that some of the larger and more tourist populated beach towns could afford lifeguards.  One can only speculate as to the reasons why they wouldn’t have lifeguards.  But Playa Junquillal is a quiet and developing slowly community.  The beach is nearly two miles long and with the exception of one small area in front of the only “beach bar” it is mostly deserted.  Even at the height of the tourist season you see very few people on the beach.  So to have a lifeguard(s) is not a realistic option.

Which brings me to the subject of… drowning.  I’ve read about “near death experiences” but they all sounded pretty mystical.  How about an NDE that was all too real with no mysticism involved.

This is a good place to insert – how to get out of an undertow… swim parallel to the beach.  An undertow can be stronger than the strongest swimmer but they are usually narrow so if you swim parallel to the beach you’ll know when you’re out of it.

First, you need to know that most ticos do not know how to swim.  They’re scared to death of the ocean.  They love to go to the beach but they just play in the suds.  You’ll very seldom see them in the breakers.  Why don’t they know how to swim, you might ask?  Well, think about it, where do most North Americans learn to swim?  That’s right, in a pool.  Maybe they even get swimming lessons.  But C.R. is a poor country.  Most ticos can barely afford to eat let alone pay for the luxury of swimming lessons.  And furthermore, where will you find a pool?  Mostly at the homes of gringos and not even at the homes of the few wealthy ticos.  I’ve never even seen a public pool advertised here.  So ticos stay a safe distance from water more than knee deep.

Well, as it turned out the other day I had some tico visitors, one of whom was a 23 year old young man about 6 feet tall.  He seemed to be having fun in the suds so I invited him to join me in one of my favorite ocean activities.  This is nothing more than standing in shoulder deep water (on me at 5’9”) just beyond the breakers and enjoying the tranquility.  The beach in front of my house slopes so gently that I can walk out past the breakers and still be standing on the sand in about chest/shoulder deep water.  It’s wonderfully tranquil to be out there in the water, the temperature of which is warm enough that even after a great length of time you are still not chilled, and just let the swell lift you up off the sand then set you back down again.  I can stand there for the longest time, just looking back at the shore, lost in thought.  I never attempt to swim because I’m the world’s weakest swimmer.  Like the ticos, I was also raised in an area where there were no pools or swimming lessons… in the wilderness of Alaska.  And believe me you don’t jump in the glacier fed lakes or rivers there either.

So I never got swimming lessons either and as a matter of fact have never had a lesson in my life.  Everything I know about swimming I learned from splashing around in pools after I had the good fortune of being sent to a military academy in So. California when I was sixteen.  You can throw me in the deep end and I can make it over to the ladder.

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SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

29 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 21 continued

I don’t know if the word has gotten out to the general tourist population but if it has I can imagine they wouldn’t have much of a need for lifeguards until they get the pollution problem solved.

As of my recording of the above pollution concern it is apparent that word has not gotten out.  In an edition of the Tico Times a few weeks later was an article about the fact that someone did drown at this very beach.  Apparently there were no signs posted either to warn people of swimming dangers or of the pollution.  If it weren’t such a sad fact it would have been comical since the article did lament the fact that there was a deserted lifeguard stand on the beach.  I can see in my minds eye the next obvious cartoon.

A couple business owners standing there saying they hope neither word gets out.  In the background is a deserted lifeguard stand, turds floating in the water and someone drowning amongst them.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

26 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 21

LIFEGUARDS

In Costa Rica there are none.

I saw a cartoon in the Tico Times.  It showed a sign posted on a beach “please don’t drown here, its bad for the tourism business”.   It captured the attitude of the country perfectly.  Of course they want the tourist dollars but the lack of lifeguards on some of the more crowded beaches is endemic of the mentality here.  They display all the great reasons for visiting but overlook the infrastructure that would create a sound and sustainable base for a continued tourist draw.

Maybe the most glaring recent example is a very popular beach community (it shall remain un-named) that has been experiencing rapid, sprawling and uncontrolled growth for several years.  Last year it was awarded the “blue flag”, as was my beach, which is Costa Rica’s highest award.  This year it was discovered that the water in the bay, which of course is the big draw for surfers, swimmers, etc., contains 7,000 times the maximum amount of contaminants allowed in the U.S.  This fact was published in the Tico Times, which is an English language newspaper published in San Jose that I subscribe to.   Since there are no sewers, only septic systems in most of C.R., you can imagine the source of the contaminants.  You’ve heard the expression “don’t eat the yellow snow”.  I guess you wouldn’t want to get any of that ocean water in your mouth either, or on your skin for that matter.

But at least the government finally stepped in and after several weeks of investigation and testing has closed down some of the biggest offenders and put many more on notice.  The good news for that community is there is a group of concerned citizens who are working with the municipality to find a solution to the problem.  (But of course the beach remains open with no signage to warn tourists.  Yuuuucckk)

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

25 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 20 continued

Then I call my attorney in San Jose and bring her up to speed on the situation.

She advises me to go to the court in Santa Cruz and get a copy of all the documentation they have.  Then get a copy of this paper Toyota wants me to sign and then fax everything to her so that she can advise me correctly.

My agent calls and explains.  Toyota calls and I tell them nothing will happen until my attorney has reviewed the case.   I can hear the panic in their voices.  I guess they have a buyer hot to trot for the car.  Not only does the government move like a turtle with its legs broken, private enterprise here does too if it’s not in their interest to move faster.  I was curious what action my attorney comments might motivate them to take.

They will DHL the paper they want me to sign and it will arrive at my door tomorrow (Thursday) so I can fax it with what I get from the court to my attorney.  The plan is, assuming my attorney is satisfied with all the legalities, that I can sign and DHL back to them before I leave on Friday.

Thursday morning, DHL calls, they don’t deliver to my area.  The packet is in the DHL office in Liberia (that’s where the airport is).  I begin to chuckle when I finally get the picture from the Spanish only speaker I’m on the phone with from the DHL office.  For once it’s not my problem.  I wonder what Toyota will do now, so I call them.

They did what they could have thought of doing in the first place.  They emailed the paper they want me to sign, in English, so I could fax it to my attorney for review.  I did, my attorney said sign but only after I had a copy of the same paper signed by the other party in the accident.

Basically, what the paper says is that Toyota has settled all claims, never used INS and all parties are satisfied and the letter is addressed to the court and demands that the case be dismissed.

I could hear the relief in their voice when I called and told them my attorney was satisfied and that they only needed to email me a copy of the same letter, signed by the other party, and that I would sign on Friday.  They emailed it to me and Toyota is sending a guy to meet me at the Toyota dealership in Santa Cruz so I can sign on my way to the airport.

I think it’s the same guy that sold me the car I’m driving now because the name is the same.

Good news!  That means the whole ordeal is finally over and I don’t need to worry that the lady who was so frustrated with me at the court house might throw a monkey wrench in the works and get the judge prejudiced against me.  I don’t even want to think about how this saga could have continued had I not had the good fortune and opportunity to trade that car in when I did.

You see, in the middle of all this I was asking my insurance agent when I might hear from the court as to its decision on who the guilty party was.  Because it’s a turtle… he wasn’t able to answer the question.

It’s amazing, however, how quickly the turtle’s legs can be healed when it’s in the other party’s interest.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

24 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 20 continued

ONE MONTH LATER:  It is now December 5

And I am happy to report that it seems the ordeal may end tomorrow.

I got a call yesterday from the Toyota dealership in San Jose.  They still can’t sell the car I traded them because it has a lean placed against it by INS.

Apparently the court still hasn’t reviewed the case to make a decision as to who is the guilty party.  What was that my Tico friend said about the turtle with its legs broken?

They want me to come to San Jose to sign some paper which says I’ve paid some amount for the damages and that everything is settled so they can legally sell the car unencumbered.  They say they have paid the money and that I don’t actually have to pay anything.  Sounds weird to me.

I explain that I was just there three days ago and don’t plan on going back until sometime after December 15 and that in fact I leave for the U.S. on Friday (two days from now) and won’t return until the 15th.  And furthermore there is no way I’m signing anything that says I paid something I didn’t and that once again they need to call my insurance agent and explain everything to him and then have him call me to explain in good clear English what the hell they’re talking about.  Oh, by the way, the amount they said that was paid was about $150.  Not the $800 that I was told a month ago that I would have to pay if found guilty.  Yep, I think they saw a “rich gringo” coming.

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

23 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 20 continued

Here we are in this setting where she of necessity must ask technical questions using technical and legal terminology.  So I’m hearing words I’ve never heard before and I could not get her to slow the cadence of her speech or attempt to rephrase what she was trying to communicate or ask.  You talk about frustration… I thought she was going to tear her and my hair out.

I kept interrupting her to call Federico in hopes that he could help but that got me kicked out of the room each time.  I’m watching her write notes about important aspects of the accident on little scraps of paper and wondering if what she is entering into her computer afterwards is accurate.  Finally she indicates that she is done, prints out a copy of the “report” and wants me to sign it.  No way!

She didn’t even understand the official drawing of the accident scene that someone had made, which was included in the official looking documents she had on the case.   It showed nothing more than the location of Jimmy’s parked car and my parked car after the fact.  I think it was done by the police so of course it didn’t show the cars I was parking between because by the time the cops got there three hours had passed and those cars were gone.   So here is this “map” and she’s trying to figure out how the accident happened if there are no other cars around.  I drew it out for her on the 2 inch by 2 inch scrape of paper she gave me to use.  I think she got it right finally because…

I tell her I want to read, to Federico, the part where I described exactly what occurred to make sure it’s correct.  I think if she had a knife at that point…  Anyway she told me to go out to the waiting area, again, to make my call.  That’s when I learned a new word.   Earlier in this process she kept asking me over and over if I had any “testigos”.  Sounded like “testicles” to me and she wasn’t able (or maybe willing) to describe what a testigo was.  She just kept repeating the same question so I was interested in asking Federico what a testigo is.  A testigo is a witness.

So I went back in and told her I had no testigos.  I don’t think she understood why I was chuckling.   But she had described what had occurred accurately and appeared relieved that I signed it.

Well, that’s as far as I can go.  I attempted to lighten her up by thanking her for helping me and apologizing for my weak Spanish.  All she said was “hasta luego” (good by).  I said, in my best Spanish, “oh, I guess we’re done and I can leave now”.  She said “si” (and nothing else).

Federico seemed to be satisfied so now all that’s left is to wait for whoever makes these kinds of decisions to decide if I was the guilty party (in which case… $$$) or not.  I’ll let you know as this makes its way through the bureaucracy.

I recently had a conversation with a nice young tico named Elliot (I told him I’d give him credit for sharing such creativity with me) who summed up the Costa Rican government and the unbelievable bureaucratic mess their institutions seem to be constantly mired in:

“It moves like a turtle with its legs broken.”

SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise

22 Apr

This is the continuation of a series of blogs 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

chapter 20 continued

So I’m back on the phone with Federico explaining the communication problem and all of a sudden Sharon is pointing at something behind me and firing her rapid fire garbled Spanish at me.  I turn around to see what she’s so excited about and there is nothing!  Behind me is a solid wall of clear glass on the other side of which is a waiting area with seats and there’s nothing going on out there except a few people sitting and waiting their turn.  So I keep on talking.  Then I see several other people at their desks laughing and pointing behind me and directing comments to me.

Pretty soon the whole room seems to be entertained… and that’s when I get it.  They’re trying to tell me to go talk out in the waiting area.

We all have a good laugh, I go out to the waiting area and Federico says he’ll call Sharon directly and get the process started.

After a few minutes of conversation with Federico she invites me to follow her back to her desk.  Good grief!  I thought I was done being frustrated with my developing Spanish.  The Sharon experience, however, showed me how much more improvement I need.