Second weekend in Costa Rica

You might be wondering: Gee, Geoff, where are all the posts you had for Costa Rica? Well, it’s not that I don’t want them up, it’s an issue of timing. I can’t really go into that right now, but let’s just say that this is the best way to have it for now.
But on the bright side, there is more stuff to come shortly. Our month o’ meetings continues as we head down to Panama [insert Van Halen here] tomorrow for a client kick-off. This should be fun.
First, though, let me recap our weekend just past.
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First weekend in Costa Rica

Last week was a rough one. It’s almost hard to believe we’ve only been here a week now. (A week ago right now, I was in the lobby of our hotel, chatting with Jason and Javier, waiting for our realtors to come and whisk us away to our condos.) Since then we’ve gotten our places, bought the things we need to make life reasonable (note: not “comfortable” — we’re still working on that), moved into a temporary office, got connected (still need cell phones), started working on new work, and had a surprising number of meetings given that there’s only four of us.
So when we got to the end of the week, we had pretty much declared ourselves “beat”. Had we been a lot more set up than we are now, we’d probably have just gone home to our respective places, kicked back, and relaxed. But it’s hard to do that when you have to flag down a cab. Which you can’t here, for some reason.
We rented a car instead.
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Setting up the office

Getting everything going here is a bit of a challenge. There’s a lot to do, and we’re starting from scratch. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. There’s currently four people down here working on all this, and only one of them is actually from Costa Rica.
It started a few weeks ago when we were down here on the “tour”, when we started talking about what this company should be called. We latched onto an airline theme, which led us down the road of a name (to be announced at a later date), but also for how it should look.
More on that in a moment.
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It's Mañana Time!

We’re slowly getting ourselves up-to-speed down here. But the reality is that things are not happening at anywhere near the speed we’re used to. This was something we were warned about — you need to relax and allow things to take their time. Things do not happen quickly here, and getting all bent out of shape only makes things go more slowly. (And no, totally slacking off doesn’t cause the reverse.)
For us up-tight North Americans, this is the single hardest thing to contend with. Uncertainty is the name of our game, so unknown things aren’t a problem. It’s the ability to do simple little things.
Like call each other. Hard to do when you have no phone.
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Starting life in Costa Rica

Think of when you went to university / college. You pack your things into a few bags, move to a new place you don’t know, into a place you think is far too expensive for what you’re getting, and then have to go out and buy all things you don’t currently have: food, cleaning products, beer, what-have-you. Your fridge is still conspicuously devoid of things, your place of living feels a little hollow, and you really have no idea where your friends are or what’s going on at any given moment.
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How to bring a pet into Costa Rica: Simplified

Okay, so a while back I was having kittens (pun intended) about bringing Asia into Costa Rica. Mostly because I simply could not seem to get a straight answer from anyone about the proper process. It was driving me batty.
So, to anyone bringing in their (small) dog or cat (this might also work for rabbits, but don’t expect success with gerbils or hamsters or any form of rodent; and it’s a one-way trip for all birds, you can’t take them out again) into Costa Rica, allow me to present the (current) process. It’s really easy.
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Alive and sick in Costa Rica

As you might have seen on my Tweets this morning, I’m alive in Costa Rica. But I’m not “well”. My daughter gave me a parting gift — a nasty head cold. Fortunately, it didn’t kick in until I arrived here, otherwise flying would have been utter hell. Such as it is, my head is stuffed with a pound or two of mucus, which is pouring out of a couple of orifices. Kept me up most of the night. Oy.
I had a better experience than Jason or Mark. Jason arrived at the airport on my flight last night only to find his bags didn’t arrive with him. Mark’s connection had issues, and got stuck in O’Hare. I had an email from him at 3:20 this morning, with a 5:45 departure. The bags and Mark should arrive just after 12:30 today.
Jason and I met with Javier this morning. Good news on the office front — we have a space to work in for the next month and a half, and we’ve started to acquire materials to construct the new office. I’m not going to go into details on those just yet — there are some things you really have to see to believe.
For now, Jason and I are cooped up in our hotel rooms (Jason’s likely to be here another night) until we can head out to get all of our paperwork signed for the condos. More than likely, Mark will be here and come with us at the time. With luck, I’ll be in my condo this evening, and the cat will finally have reign to run around a bit.

Enroute with the cat

Well, we’re on our way. I was up until almost midnight last night packing. Was originally thinking three bags, but went down to two. Which is good, because apparently I’d have been denied the third bag. As it stands, the backpack was overweight by three lousy pounds, so I got stuck with an extra bag fee and an overweight fee.
Where the heck did all these fees come from? It even costs me $100 to get the cat on the plane. Three and a half hours later, I’m in Houston, with a cat in a bag. Tried letting her out at the “Pet Relief Area” over in Terminal B, but all she wanted to do was hide in the tropical plants. I’m not even sure if she relieved herself at all.
Lunch was at Ruby’s, while Asia watched people go by. She’s been exceedingly good, and hasn’t had one freak-out as a result of all this. Whether or not she’s still in one piece when we get to our hotel in Costa Rica is another question.

An open letter to Jim Prentice

Dear “Honourable” Jim Prentice,
Allow me to express my sincerest feelings when I say you are responsible for fucking over the Canadian people. This bill you are introducing this morning — likely as I write this very post — is not for the benefit of the Canadian people.
Not one bit.
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One last lunch with the team

For all intents and purposes, I’m off the Rolex team. I’m still on their resource sheet, but the reality is that I haven’t done sqwat with the Rolex account for over a couple of weeks now. It’s all been transferred to Torin, who’s the new Tech Lead. I went into self-imposed exile at the fringes of the team’s seating space, soon to be a long-distant memory.
But before I left, I had a debt to settle. Many months ago now, I had to institute what we called the “Jugo Juice Rule”. It was an effort to get everyone to calm down a bit (we were all under a lot of pressure, and mistakes were becoming more frequent) and concentrate on what they were doing. Short version: If you made a mistake, you owed the entire team Juge Juice (a fruit smoothie).
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T minus 5 days

I’m beginning to know what a shuttle launch must feel like. Anxiety about what could go wrong, the knowledge that once the launch happens that there is little to do but hang on, that when you’re in orbit you’re pretty much at the mercy of your own fate.
The key difference is that my feet will (for the most part) be on solid ground. (Well, except when I’m flying.) But otherwise I’m feeling pretty wound up about what’s going to happen shortly.
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Basement renovation almost complete

Sigh. Just in time for us to leave the house, too. Oh well, at least it’ll improve the overall value of the place, right?
Here are the before/after pictures. Because it’s important to know what we’ve done here. We started off with a 70s reno gone wrong. We’ve ended up with a nice, modern space ready for almost anything.
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On Cats, Wire Transfers, Death, and Taxes

This moving thing is no fun. Not at all. Yes, Costa Rica is a nice country, with nice people, and we’re arranging a very nice place to live, but the act of getting there is far more work than I could have imagined. We have to sort through red tape on how to move the cat (a still on-going issue), we have to get a proper will (finally) sorted out, and then there’s the issue of taxes.
There are times when I wish this world wasn’t so obsessed with money, so moving around wouldn’t be such a pain in the ass. Sadly, greed being what it is, life is complicated.
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Getting my Birth Certificate shouldn't be this hard

One part of moving to any other country is the act of applying for a work visa. It’s pretty much a requirement where treaties (e.g. the European Union) aren’t there to ease the situation. A necessary evil, if you will. Because in most cases, the process is not really well documented and you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what you need.
And believe me, we are far from actually getting this one sorted out. Jason’s been a massive force in getting us some iota closer to having it done, but the reality is that we’re going to be flying by the seats of our pants until documentation is actually done.
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Web Analytics Porn

So this morning, I’m scanning through my Twitter feeds on Twhirl, and I came across a rather interesting note by Dave Fleet, which said:

@cspenn planning to install it tonight. Waiting for the confirmation email. Long-winded installation process!

Things like that tend to pique my curiousity. I’m a curious person. So I decided to see what Christopher Penn had wrote about it. I quote:

OMFG. Just installed Woopra and it really is web analytics porn.

That just sooooo necessitated a look-see.
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Renovations nearing completion!

It’s been a long, hard slog since all this began a year ago. Demolition, plumbing, heating, framing, electrical, gas, contractor nightmares, self-realisation, and now the end of the tunnel is fully lit. This weekend, barring disaster, the basement will be done.
Just in time for us to leave the house and let someone else enjoy it. I’ve still not really come to grips with that part.
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Is America ready for Obama + Clinton?

I love American politics. It’s my form of WWE — all the cheers and jeers with all the spectacle to go along with it. One day, I think the American presidency will go the way of the President of the Galaxy from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and be little more than a distraction from the real power.
Heck, it could be like that already, for all we know.
Today, it was announced that Hillary Clinton would be willing to consider a Vice-Presidency with Barak Obama as top billing. But here’s a thought: Are Americans ready for this?
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Bringing my cat into Costa Rica

We’re bringing Asia with us. Not the continent; she’s our cat. We don’t want to part with her. She’s a wonderful pet and truly part of the family. She was our first baby before Mi Niña Pequeña came along. Giving her up is just not an option.
Getting her through the border is the trouble. Mostly because there is no de facto source of information on how this is done properly. What I have found is confusing and very contradictory. For someone who is going to be spending 12 hours with an annoyed kitteh (LOLCat spelling) — she might be stuck in that cage the entire time — I need to know that getting into the country isn’t going to kill her.
Or me.
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I finally got a new watch!

[[I need a new watch|I had said I wanted a Rolex]]. I still do, really. I love the GMT Master II, the Submariner, and the Milgauss. But here’s the sad reality: I can’t afford one. I tried. I really did, but the finances weren’t working in my favour. (It’s hard to justify the high price when you have a small child, and we’re far from “rolling in it”.)
My major problem was that I still wanted an automatic movement — no quartz. And I really like the Rolex style — it’s not just iconic, it set the mould for watches around the world. Within my price range, there weren’t a lot of ones available that I actually liked. Most were atrocious, gaudy, tacky, or just downright ugly. Or quartz.
My co-worker Matt turned me onto something I hadn’t previously considered: Invicta.
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T minus 14 days to Costa Rica

Yeah, I’m back in Calgary, but this is only for the last bit before moving down (semi-)permanently. We have a place to live. That’s important, because it’s a place to go to. That would make this move even harder. But let’s not mistake one key detail:
There’s only two weeks left (10 business days, at that). And I’ve got a lot to do.
Among them:

  • Sell my car (and other things — a post for that is coming soon!)
  • Arrange for property management (almost done)
  • Ensure financials are sorted out (notably the bank accounts, and get a wire transfer to Costa Rica for our place)
  • Get my working visa sorted out
  • Meet with the tax guy up here (and he hasn’t set a meeting yet)
  • Ensure the renovations will be finished (they’re nowhere near done)
  • Make sure the movers are arranged (as they’ll need to clean the house out when I come back for Alex and the Wee One, herein known as Mi Pequeña Niña, or MPN for short)
  • and probably a million other things I can’t think of right now

Needless to say, I’ve got a lot on my plate. There’s a lot to do, and not much time to do it. Let the fun begin…