146. A Beautiful Reunion

Reunion Dance GIF from Reunion GIFs Saturday 2/3- Many of you who know me know that once upon a time I was in the military. During a deployment to Iraq nearly 17 years ago (Ugh, I really feel old after saying that!) I got close to 2 battle buddies who I hope will be in my life forever. We were all young girls from MN in a military field where very few women end up and we formed a tight while trying to keep each other as sane as possible during a tough 18 months far, far from home. After the deployment we all ended up back in MN, but only saw each other about once a year. Despite not seeing each other very often, when we do get together it’s like no time has passed and we can step right back into our friendships without any problems. The last time I saw these gals was shortly before we moved down here, and ever since then we always talked about when they would come visit us. That was finally happening! We have been working on planning this for a while, and today was my & Ramie’s d

21. Attorneys, Police, and Finger Printing

Friday 6/25 – What a long and exhausting day of not really doing a whole lot. 11 hours to be exact, which consisted of driving 3.5 hours to San Jose, sitting in an office, driving across town, sitting in a police station, driving back to the office, and then turning around and driving again 4 hours back to Uvita. Why would we do something like this? Well, the short answer is so that we can become residents of this beautiful country!

As I have mentioned previously, there are certain steps that you have to go through to become a resident of Costa Rica (so that you don’t have to leave the country and come back every 90 days as a perpetual tourist). We are doing this through the “Rentista” process, and in order to get all of the paperwork done correctly and expeditiously, we hired an attorney firm who specializes in things like this to help us out. The process started back when we were still in MN. We did our research, of course, and got in contact with this highly recommended attorney firm. They guided us through what we needed to do before we left MN and what we needed to bring with us when we came to Costa Rica. Beginning back in March we started gathering the US documents that we needed including new certified copies of our birth certificates and a new certified copy of our marriage certificate. These documents had to be sent in to the MN Secretary of State and apostilled (certified again with a special stamp and letter), and that took a few weeks to get back. We also had to get fingerprints and an FBI background check done and send that in to the US Department of Authentications for apostilles on those. This apostille process takes longer than the MN Secretary of State, and they say typically can be 6-8 weeks to get them back. Now since COVID, things have been taking MUCH longer. These were the documents that worried us, would we have them in time?! On top of needing to get all of these back (hopefully before we left for Costa Rica) if we didn’t have them in time, they expire after 6 months from the date of getting the original document (so, 6 months after the date of fingerprinting or the date we got the birth/marriage certificates from the courthouse, NOT the date of the apostille). Well, we were very fortunate to have all of these documents before we left. We got the apostilled FBI check back about a week before we flew down here to Costa Rica. It was a HUGE relief when they showed up in the mailbox!

So, back to today. Today, for the next step in the residency application process we had to drive up to San Jose, 3.5 hours away, meet with our attorney, deliver the original documents, get fingerprinted here in CR for their immigration files, and then, after all of this, turn around and drive back to Uvita. Ideally, we wouldn’t have had to drive both to and back from San Jose in the same day, but we couldn’t bring Breeze with us, and while Loren would go check on her if we needed it, tomorrow is a no driving day for us, so we would be stuck up there for 2 days. That just wasn’t going to work, so today was going to be a long day.

Our appointment with the attorney was at noon but we left the house at around 7:30. It was pouring rain here and figured it might be a little bit slow-going on the highway. It rained hard for about 2 hours of our trip, and by hard, I mean almost to the point where in the US people would pull over and wait for it to slow down some. Well, people here know that the rain is not going to slow down, so they just keep driving. There are even people out on motorcycles in this weather (probably because that is their only mode of transportation). So, we drove like a local. Just before we started getting into the city, we stopped at a little restaurant on the side of the highway for some brunch. It looked very touristy, but that was fine, we just wanted to grab some food. It was set up cafeteria style (first time we have seen this down here) and we got to pick what we wanted. Gallo Pinto (Tico rice and beans) scrambled eggs, fried plantains, a few different types of meat to choose from, AND it came with coffee 😁. It was very good, and we decided that if we ever have to drive back up to the city and need to eat on the way, we would probably eat here again. It was quicker than stopping at a regular restaurant, it tasted good, and it was convenient. Exactly what you need when you are on a trip into the city. We ate our brunch and then got back on the road into the city. Driving into San Jose can sometimes be stressful, but it does have some amazing views. 


The main highway through town is a toll road, so you need to pay attention when you come up to these toll areas. Fortunately, the booths are attended and do give change if you don’t have the exact amount. It’s not like some of them in the US where you have to toss coins into a basket. We had to go through 3 tolls, and each was about $1.00 - $1.50. People drive a little bit crazy here, and there are a lot of on and off ramps, so you really have to pay attention to where you are going. 

No Trailer?? No Problem!!

We finally made it to where we had to exit the toll road and go through town to get to the lawyer’s office. Here again, you really have to pay attention to where you are turning since many of the roads don’t have street signs. We found the building without any trouble but had to stop and ask where to park


(we then found out that they have a big parking ramp out back that you couldn’t see from the road). And we made it to the lawyer’s office at about 11:30. Perfect timing!

We met with Irene, our lawyer, who explained how all of this immigration and residency stuff works again and went over and signed some paperwork. All of the paperwork is in Spanish, so we really don’t know for sure what it says and what we’re signing (just like when we signed everything when we bought our car and opened our bank account) but there is no reason not to trust these people. There really is a TON of trust that we have for people since we’ve moved down here. Irene is Tica but speaks perfect English (she even went to college in the US) so she explained everything in these forms to us. She was happy to let us know that we moved through all of this paperwork much quicker than many people do, mostly due to us already having all of those apostilled documents. Apparently, according to Irene, many people don’t have them all in order when they get down here. This made us feel a lot better about this whole process (Yay for us! We did good!!) since other people who aren’t as organized as us can do it, we can do it too!! We also found out that they had recently passed a new rule allowing our paperwork to be filed online instead of needing to be in-person. This is fantastic!! This means that we don’t have to drive up here again like we would have had they not passed the new rule. Score!!  

Our fingerprint appointment with the Policia wasn’t until 2:00, and there was a little drive across town (they arrange an Uber for us) and another associate from the firm would go with us over there, help us with any translation that needed to be done, and bring us back to the attorney’s office). Pedro was our guy, and this is a big part of his job, so he knows how it all works and the Policia know him. He said we would head over to the station early and he would explain to the officers there that we have a long drive back to Uvita and we have to go back today, and he thinks that they should have no problem getting us in early, so we got in our Uber and headed to the Policia station.  

Man are we glad they had an Uber pre-arranged!! Driving through the city again, back out on the toll road for a little while, but then through neighborhoods, lots of turns, and bigger parts of town, I don’t know if we would have been able to find our way! Plus, when you got there, there was no parking anywhere!! We were pretty lucky when we got there too, as there were only a couple of people ahead of us in the line. They got us in with no problems at all. Pedro said he would be right outside of the station in case we needed him for anything or any translations because only a few of the officers here speak English. Another thing that this attorney’s office does in preparation for this fingerprinting appointment is fills out a form that answers all of the questions that the officers would ask when you go in for the appointment. This means, that unless they need clarification on something, they really shouldn’t need to ask any questions. (This firm really is good and thinks of everything- of course, they are one of the biggest firms in the country and specialize in residency, so they should be good at this!). The office only asked me one question, and fortunately my very small Spanish vocabulary recognized the main word in his question—Trabaja. Work. Do I have a job here? No, I don’t work. Easy question, easy answer. I sat in the chair in front of him for about 10 minutes while he filled out the forms, and that’s all there was. He handed me a fingerprint card with my name on it, then I went over to the officer that actually does the fingerprinting.


That took about another 2 minutes, and I was done. Head back outside to Pedro. Ramie was still inside finishing up with his, since it was Ladies first and they had me go in before him. I got outside to the front area of the office, still inside the station, but out of the area where they do the actual work. Pedro wasn’t there. Uhhh… what do I do now? I stood around kind of waiting near the door. The officer at the front kind of looked at me like “what are you doing, you can go”. I just pointed inside and said “esposo” (that means husband) and he just nodded. Hooray again for my minimal Spanish, just good enough to get me by! Also, after a few more minutes of waiting, Pedro showed back up. It had started raining and there was no overhang outside (where he was supposed to wait) so he went and found temporary shelter somewhere else. When he came back, he and I chatted a little bit longer while we waited for Ramie to finish up. By the time Ramie finished, it was about 2:00, right around the time of our original appointment (and it would have been much later had we not gotten there early). We caught another Uber back to the attorney’s office, and that was it. We were done here.  

It was a little bit before 3 when we got back on the road down to Uvita. At least it wasn’t raining!! We went back the way we came, back through the 3 tolls, and out of the city. This time leaving the city wasn’t as bad, we just had to make our way to the highway (which is always easier than trying to make your way to an address) and then it’s a straight shot to the coast, and another straight shot down the coast. After driving for a few hours, and about the same place as it stopped raining on the way up to San Jose, it started raining again. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining as hard this time, but it’s never fun to drive in the rain.

We made it to Uvita at a little after 6 and were hungry! We hadn’t eaten anything but a few snacks in the car since we ate brunch this morning on our way into the city. There were no leftovers in the fridge, there is nothing quick and easy to cook, and there was nothing thawed out. We also didn’t want to sit down at a restaurant since it was already dark out and we try not to drive at night (yeah, gets completely dark around 6pm here all year, even earlier if it’s cloudy & raining) plus, Breeze has been in the house and alone since 7:30 this morning. What do we do? Get our first fast-food EVER in Costa Rica. Now, fast-food isn’t really a thing down here, especially in the smaller towns. There are places like McDonalds and Subway in San Jose, but once you get to the smaller towns, you don’t see places like that. There is, however, a big chain called Pollolandia (my rough Spanish translated this to Chicken Land one of the first times I saw it since pollo means chicken. I honestly don’t know if landia means something else, but in my head this place will forever be Chicken Land!). I have seen these all over the place but was never really sure what they were until our last trip here, I just had to look it up online! It’s a fast-food fried chicken place. Well, no time like the present to check it out!! Plus, it was right on the main highway, right in the middle of town, right on our way home!!

This was just a tiny little place; you order at the counter and wait for your food just like fast-food at home. There were 2 tables there, but it appeared that this really is just a takeout place. That’s perfectly fine with us! They had the overhead menu like the fast-food places at home do, and there were pictures of everything! Between my little Spanish, the pictures, and gesturing, we can make this work! We ordered an 8-piece chicken that came with their standard side dishes, just like KFC (minus the pick your side dish part)!! We did have our choice between coleslaw and ceviche (a pickled raw fish dish that is SUPER popular down here) and, for now, we just went with the coleslaw. It also came with french fries, tortillas, and a 2-liter bottle of pop. This really was a lot like KFC takeout at home, just with a Costa Rican spin (Just wait till KFC in the US serves tortillas and ceviche instead of biscuits and corn, hahahah)! The question is--- will it taste as good? 

We got home, and after greeting our very excited doggie, we dug into our Costa Rican KFC. Yep, it sure was good!! Now, we weren’t sure if it was REALLY that good, or if we were just that hungry- but it sure did hit the spot. And their coleslaw--- pretty much as good as KFC coleslaw back in the US. We don’t eat out often, and we get takeout even less often, but if we ever need a quick and easy meal to bring home with us, this will definitely make the cut!!

It was a long day, but everything went smoothly. This is the Pura Vida we have been looking for (minus all of the driving)!