Saturday, December 6, 2008

Unexpected Tasks – What Did You Expect?

I don’t think we really have “unexpected tasks” anymore – we pretty much expect that there will be things that we have to do (tasks) that we didn’t think we’d have to deal with (unexpected).

Friday (our first full day in Costa Rica) was full of these things. The first thing you always have to deal with in a new place is getting oriented. This one was pretty easy – we are right across the street from Mall San Pedro – we had been there before on a previous trip. This time, we found the pedestrian signal light – the *safe* way to cross the street.

Our first problem to deal with was money – we had left our small stash of colones in the states, as well as our single Costa Rican bank card. We had some dollars, but not a lot. And we had no breakfast. We cross to the mall, find several ATMs, but none are working for us. We find our bank, but it isn’t open until 1:00. We’re a bit cranky – no food, surrounded by restaurants! We finally decided to charge a sandwich – who’s picky at this point? Well, really, who’s *thinking* at this point! We go back to our hotel, ask about other banks, and find out that (duh!) there were several other banks in the mall. Shoot! We go back, change all our dollars to colones at a different bank, have a nice conversation with the bank guard about English, Spanish, and apartment-hunting, get some *wonderful* coffee, and decide to just wait until our bank opens.

We’re in line at 10 minutes till 1:00, and only have a short wait to see our banking expert. We should have thought of this before, but as it turns out, this was a more necessary trip than we thought! We needed to get a new bank card to replace the one left behind. But, because we got new passports, the number changed. Because the number changed, we had to update our account reference. So, we got all that taken care of – and I even got my own card this time :-D. It is amazing how much paperwork this sort of thing takes – we spent over an hour at the desk, and our guy was typing and stamping the entire time! It is a Friday, and so we can pick up our new cards on Monday (if we go to the central office. We would wait until Wednesday if we wanted to pick them up at the local branch). Meanwhile, we can’t do any transactions (online or in line) until we get our new cards. Contrast this a bit with our situation in Alajuela last year – the ATM ate our card, and the guy inside got us money using our passport. We got a new card in roughly the same amount of time.

Next stop – lunch (seems like we’re eating all the time!), then catch some buses to ARCR on the other side of town. *This* was *great!* We had planned to find out more about the bus system through San Jose – it seems so complicated, especially when you are coming from another city, and need to get to the other side of San Jose. Well, we took two buses, and it was *easy!* I think I’ll have to post separately about the details.

We got to ARCR about 3:30, and signed up for AeroCasillas so we can get mail forwarded from the states. Then we got the ball rolling on looking for an apartment.

We took the same 2 buses back to our hotel, and relaxed a bit – contacted some friends, got on the internet. It felt good to get so much accomplished, even if some of it was not on our original list :-)

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