After receiving notice that our residency application had been approved, we had to take care of a few more paperwork steps towards finalizing our residency – joining Costa Rica’s socialized medicine system and receiving our Carnet medical cards. We had to go to the nearest office in our canton (like a county). So last week, we drove to Quepos to visit the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social office (CCSS, the Costa Rican Social Security System, which is commonly know as the CAJA). We brought copies of our residency approval called Resoluciones, our marriage certificate, passports and an electric bill. Our first visit to the CAJA was late Friday morning and we discovered the person who had to help us had already left for the day. The fellow at the window told us to return on Monday morning. He also gave us an application with directions, which was very helpful. We discovered that we needed the most recent copy of our electric bill that we didn’t have with us. When we returned to the casita, we asked Lopez if he could obtain a copy of the electric bill for us on Monday morning before we had to return. Lopez is a great guy! He left very early Monday morning to pick up a copy of the electric bill. He had to wait an hour in line to do it! Shortly after Lopez returned, we drove to Quepos for another visit to the CAJA office. Amazingly, things went very well. We didn’t have to wait in line very long, all our paperwork was in order and we were able to communicate in Spanish! The CAJA official calculated our monthly payment, completed the paperwork and told us we had to go elsewhere to make our payment.
There are many places to make payments and we chose the nearest one within walking distance which happened to be the BCR Bank. Things went smoothly here, too. We were feeling pretty good about it all. Even though it was almost noontime, we decided to try to get our medical cards. For these, we needed to visit the hospital in Quepos. We arrived at lunch break, so we decided to get a quick bite ourselves and return a little later. We returned about an hour later and this is where things get interesting! The place was rather crowded and we were the only gringos. There weren’t any signs that we could see that would give us a clue as to where we should check-in. We asked a receptionist and she pointed to the desk around the corner. We walked up to this young man sitting at the desk. Eddie showed him our paperwork and asked if we were in the right place. The man nodded and motioned us to take a seat. He looked things over and asked us for our passports. Then he disappeared for a bit.
When he returned, he had copies of our passports and told Eddie to come back when he had copies of all the rest of the paperwork. Eddie told him that all the papers were already copies for him. He didn’t look all that happy to hear that…we guessed he didn’t want to spend the time to set up new accounts. The man then asked to see our Cedulas (residency cards). Well, we don’t have the Cedulas just yet. That’s the next step. We first have to join the CAJA, obtain the medical cards, pay for the Cedulas and government fees, then our attorney can request an appointment with immigration. Using my very best Spanish, I told this fellow exactly what our attorney told us. I was really pleased that he understood me!
He left us again and when he returned he sat at the computer and started to type. He would only get a few words typed and then we had to wait and wait and wait. The computer was so slow. While we waited, we talked with him a little bit and he started to warm up to us. By the time we left, he was very pleasant. Meanwhile the line was growing. An impatient lady walked up to the desk and demanded to know how long she had to wait. Well, our fellow didn’t like her attitude at all and told her it would take as long as it would take since the computer was so slow. Then, he told everyone to leave and come back another time. Not long afterwards, the computer started to work again and we ended up with temporary medical cards, which he typed up on an old fashioned typewriter. Once we receive our Cedulas, we will receive the regular medical cards. Now we are waiting for the immigration appointment and we really hope that we will get one before we leave for the U.S. on September 16! We don’t want to have to change our trip plans, that’s for sure. This process at the hospital only took us about one hour…really good for Costa Rica!
By now, you are probably wondering about the BIG fish! Well, this afternoon, Lopez came running into the rancho area shouting, “Look, look!” He was holding up a huge Red Snapper that he caught on the beach using a simple hand line (without a pole). Lopez told me that he was standing in the water up to his hips when he hooked the fish. There have been so many times when he returned from fishing without ever catching anything. So this was a big deal for him!
He told Eddie that he didn’t know how to fillet it. Good thing Eddie knows how to do it…from many years of fishing with his Dad. Eddie did a great job without having a fillet knife. Guess we had better get one! Lopez gave us one of the fillets, so we are planning to cook it tomorrow. I am sure it will be awesome!