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.
For those of you old enough to remember, it’s like when you were in high school, and couldn’t use the phone to call your friends (your sister/brother/parents were hogging it or you were grounded) and had to wait until the following day to talk about anything. Oh, the days of yore!
When — like us — you’ve become accustomed to always-on internet access and cellular phones, it’s really hard to go back to having nothing. Literally nothing. Jason and I have to "borrow" internet from unsecured sites around our respective complexes; Mark is left high and dry. Planning requires an intricate set of where we’re going and when, and plans in the event we don’t exactly meet up as planned.
(It also doesn’t help that we’re wholly reliant on taxis for now — we haven’t been able to figure out the bus system — which are notoriously unreliable for being available in all places, or being anywhere near punctual. It’s especially bad if you’re out late, such as we were Monday night when we tried to catch a taxi after going to the grocery store. It was almost an hour before we could find one.)
At the office, we were struggling to get anything to work, stealing internet from an adjacent office (given, we were told the password). With Lee here, we had carte blanche to purchase a wireless router (yes, Clay, it’s a D-Link) and a printer. The router allows us to use an existing connection (which only started working properly this morning), and the printer is WiFi-enabled so we can put it wherever it makes sense to put it.
And the speed at which it takes to get them done. We’re used to "right away". Here, it’s "mañana", which requires a lot of grains of salt. There’s just so many things that we would like to have happen now, so we don’t have to worry about them for long periods of time. But no, it don’t work that way.
Take Mark, for example. He’s been in his condo since Monday afternoon. He still doesn’t have air conditioning installed (despite being told it would be done the day he moved in) and his dryer doesn’t work yet. It’s happening, just really slowly.
It’s not uncommon for someone’s email system to fill because there just isn’t a rush to empty it.
Collectively, we’ve got a whack of things we need done, and we’ve no idea how fast/easy these will happen. And believe me, this is causing us concern. For example:
- How do we open a bank account? It’s not as easy as walking into a bank with a few bucks in your hand.
- How do we purchase a car? Apparently, it’s like buying a house in North America, complete with lawyers.
- How do we get a driver’s license? And get one of those fancy “medical” certificates?
- How do we get the insurance? And handle the annual mechanical inspection?
- How do we get cell phones? More importantly, how do we get the number for any phone? Unless you’re a permanent resident, you can’t get a number (although you can get the phone).
- What health care will we get?
And then there’s the visa process. This is really an entirely separate topic, which I’m not sure I can really do justice. The whole process is a living nightmare, which Jason and Jen have been trying to wrangle to the ground. Sadly, the consulate keeps giving us new information which amounts to “oh, by the way, you need to do this too, which I realise totally throws off everything you were already doing”. More on that later, though.
So this is live in Costa Rica. No, I’m not complaining. I’m not changing my mind. But a lot of people wanted to know how it’s going. Now you know.
Which begs the question: If knowing is half the battle, what the heck is the other half?