19. The Good News Came First...

Monday 6/21-- To be able to stay in Costa Rica for more than 90 days at a time you either have to do a boarder run every 90 days (literally cross the border into another country, get a stamp in your passport, and then come back into Costa Rica to get a new 90 day Costa Rica stamp) or you must apply for Residency. There are several different ways to go about gaining residency in Costa Rica, but none are quick, easy, or cheap. I won’t bore you with a ton of details right now (that might also be a future post) but there are 4 main ways. To be a Pensionado- which means you are retired, have at least $1000 per month guaranteed income for life (like a pension or Social Security). To be an Investor which means you have to buy property or a business valued at the government rate (not necessarily what you paid for it, but what the government thinks its worth) of over $250,000(we definitely don’t have that kind of money to drop on a property!). To marry a Tico (a Costa Rican native). Or to be a Rentista- which is the route we are going. For this you have to put $60,000 into a Costa Rican bank account and have the bank set it up as basically a set of CDs that pay you back $2500 per month for 24 months, then start it all over and do it again for another set of 24 months, totaling 4 years. The bank has to write and submit a very specific letter with very specific words and requirements to the government stating that we have this account set up, etc. There are only a few banks here that write the letter correctly for it to work, so we went with the one that has a branch here in town. We have also been told and have heard from many people on some of the Costa Rica Facebook pages we are part of, that foreigners have a very hard time opening accounts here. You do need some specific documents from your home bank in the US including a letter stating how long you have held an account there, and 6 months of bank statements as well as some other things in order for the bank here to open an account for you (these requirements are all part of anti-money laundering laws they have to follow, not just because they want to make things difficult).

This morning we were going to go try to open our bank account.

We went pretty much right away when the bank opened knowing that this could take a long time. There are sometimes very long lines at the bank and you have to wait for what feels like forever, before you even get to a person that can help you, and then the process itself can take a very long time. We didn’t have to wait long for it to be our turn. We went up to the bank lady and explained to her what we needed to do. She doesn’t speak English! Ok- no problem. Google translate is a wonderful thing! We were able to explain to her what we needed, and after a little bit of confusion, we figured out what she needed from us. Things took longer since we had to translate everything back and forth, but we made it work. Around and around we went, and finally, almost 2 hours later, we opened an account!! Now- you can’t deposit any money in or use this account yet though. In 2 days we have to come back to get our card for the account so that they can activate the account. Then, after we have all of that done, we can transfer money into the account and start the process of the CDs for our residency.

That is good—or GREAT news for us. We were able to open a Costa Rican bank account. It wasn't as impossible as those facebook people made it sound! 

Since we were already planning to be in town, we had brought our computers with and stopped at the OMG (mini golf) to use the internet. Loren and Geiner were there working, and came down to talk to us. We told them about our success with opening the account, and they were happy for us. This is when they burst our happy Monday bubble….

A little over a week ago Mike, the neighbor at the bottom of the hill got his internet installed. We spoke to the installers as they were finishing up down there and they thought that they would be back the following Monday or Tuesday to install ours (that estimate was for last Monday/Tuesday). As I just mentioned, we had stopped down at OMG to use the internet—which means that no, our internet was NOT installed when they originally thought, and now it is a week later and we haven’t heard anything new. So, when we got down to the mini golf course, Loren and Geiner informed us that the conduit that they thought was installed from the bottom of the hill where the power pole is up to the house—well, it was never installed. What that means is that conduit has to be ran from where the internet comes in (at the power pole) up to the house before the internet people can come out and hook us up. The internet company doesn’t install the conduit either, you are on your own for figuring out how to get that installed. Geiner does have guys that he could send up to do this, but he’s pretty busy with construction jobs right now, so he doesn’t know when he will be able to free them up.


I mean, I don’t mind going down to the mini golf course once in a while to use the internet. It’s a nice change of scenery and they have comfortable picnic tables that we use, but it’s nice just to be able to jump online at home to do things or waste some time. We have been going SO far over on data and I just keep my data turned off most of the time and do without. I get so many messages from people back at home disappointed that we aren’t posting more about our adventures on Facebook, but honestly, that is not the top priority for my data usage right now! 

So, after some discussions between us, Loren, Karen (the homeowner), and Geiner, it was decided that Ramie & I would install this conduit from the house to the pole. This is a super steep hill, (If you remember it’s the one we run up daily) and the stretch is pretty long, but we can use the exercise, right? The nice part about this is Karen agreed that she would deduct the cost from our monthly rent! I sure am glad Ramie knows what he’s doing on these kinds of projects. I can use a shovel, but to figure out the rest, that’s all on him!!

We made a couple of stops at the hardware stores in town just to see if they had the materials, which it appeared that they do. We didn’t buy anything yet because we don’t have a clue how much we need, but it’ll be a lot. 

See that house in the jungle at the bottom of the hill? That is where the power pole located

Its tough to tell but if you look at the right side behind the two white trees, you can see the angle of the hill at the tree line.

That’s a LONG way from our house to the pole!! That’s a STEEP hill!! It is HOT and HUMID here right now!!! It’s a good thing we’ve been conditioning ourselves for this hard work by our walk/runs on these hills!

But—hopefully this means we will have internet at the house sooner rather than later, right? Pura Vida!!

Manual Labor:

Tuesday 6/22 was a no-driving day again so there wasn’t a whole lot that we could do in town. We didn’t have the tools or supplies to start working on the trenching for the internet so we couldn’t start on that project either. Fortunately, we could drive to the end of our mountain road, park at the mechanic’s shop, and walk a little ways down the highway to get to OMG (the mini golf course we use the internet at for those new readers). So, that’s what we did. I applied for some online jobs and did some research on other ones that I could apply for. Ramie looked for some online work that he might be able to do and started doing some research on house designs that would fit our needs. Today was a very easy-going day because tomorrow we would be starting the hard work.

Wednesday 6/23 we started out our day by stopping at the bank to get our cards for our new account. Of course, they didn’t have them right away in the morning when we stopped in, so they asked us to come back in a couple of hours after their mail gets there. Our cards should be in today’s mail delivery. I guess that’s fine, we have to go buy the parts and supplies we need for installing the conduit anyway. But first, we stopped at the mini golf course because we saw Loren’s vehicle down there. He was surprised to see us, he figured we’d be working on digging. After chatting with him for a little while, he told us to take his pick axe, he said that will make the digging quite a bit easier (since it is very rocky soil here. Hmm… I sure am glad we talked to Loren, we would have never thought to use a pick axe. We saw them in the hardware store but didn’t figure we’d need one. He also taught us how to use a pick axe to make husking a coconut much easier and safer than using a machete. Very good to know—it will now be less likely that Ramie will cut off a finger when trying to open coconuts!

 We proceed on to the first hardware store to buy parts. They had some of what we needed in the size that we were going to buy but not everything. So, the workers at the store suggested we go down a size, they had more of what we needed for that! Well, will the smaller one be big enough for the fiber optic cable? It sure appears that way. They still didn’t have quite everything that we needed, so we had to go to the other hardware store. I have read plenty of times that this is the case, so we weren’t surprised by it. They say the same thing about groceries! If you have a specific recipe that you want to make, you might need to go to several stores to get all of your ingredients and even then you might need to make substitutions. Also—when you find something you like or think you might need in the future—buy it! You might never find it again or it might be a long time before you can find it again! Anyways—so after we got all of the parts that we were looking for, we stopped back at the bank, got our cards, (which took about another hour to get activated) and then headed home.  

We didn’t waste too much time once we got home. We ate some lunch, and since it wasn’t raining we got to work digging right away. Ramie chopped with a pick axe and I followed with the shovel and cleaned out a trench for the conduit to lay in.

Ramie would take a few swings and get a few feet ahead of me, and I would follow up with digging.

Since he only had to take one chop and could loosen up a longer area, he quickly got ahead of me. But, even though he got ahead quickly, his job was a lot more tiring since he had to swing the pick axe up, chop into the rocks, and then loosen them. My job, even though it took longer, was just flipping the rocks and clay up from where the trench needs to be to the ground right next to it. Ramie would get 10 feet ahead and take a break, I just kept on digging. When I was almost caught up, he swung some more, and then before I knew it, I wasn’t even close to being caught up anymore. The length of the driveway was less than ¼ of the total run and the flattest part of the whole thing (oh, did I mention, Ramie estimated about 385 feet… if you don’t know how long that is, it’s longer than a football field from end zone to end zone). The soil here is rock and clay. Big rocks, little rocks, and really sticky, heavy orange clay. This afternoon we made it to the end of the driveway before we had to quit (so I could go make dinner). We were exhausted, dirty, sweaty, and had blisters starting already. How were we going to finish this whole thing?!  


View from the house to the end of the driveway before you have to turn right and head down the hill to the power pole.

View from the turn towards the house. You can already start to see the height difference from the turn to the house. Its about a 7' drop to this point.

We just keep telling ourselves that this is all part of the adventure. I really don’t think either one of us would have ever guessed that we would be digging a trench for our internet to be ran to a rental house… but here in Costa Rica, you just never really know what is going to happen!!

That’s the beauty of the Pura Vida!

P.S. You may be wondering what all of this Pura Vida is about. This is a very common Costa Rican phrase that literally translates to “Pure Life” and it can be used in many different ways. You probably most commonly hear it used as a greeting to say hello or good bye or as something similar to “you’re welcome”, but it can also be used sarcastically meaning something more along the lines of “it is what it is…” As you read through my posts, I’ll let you guess which sentiment is being expressed each time I use the phrase. 😉