Well, we vagabonds have been on the move this week and have only today “landed” at our next temporary shelter: our Wisconsin-bound friend Ruth’s charming bungalow and serene garden in Auburn, California. (See photo at right of Ruth, Elizabeth W., and Layne) For the next month, we’ll care for her two cats, take out the trash, pull a few weeds and water the backyard plants. Oh, and feed the hummingbirds! Tough job, as they say…!
Layne and I picked up Janine at the airport last Tuesday evening following our two-week stint house-sitting for her, then left the next morning, heading for the San Francisco Bay Area. We would be staying a few days there with our long-time friend Patricia, who recently moved into a lovely home in a suburb near Mount Diablo. A vivacious blonde with an infectious smile, Patricia and I have been close friends for over 25 years, watching our sons grow up and ourselves grow … uh, more mature. We’ve both gone through good times and bad and have always been there for each other. She’s a very special friend. Between coffee in the morning and cocktails in the evenings, we enjoyed a great visit. We even took a drive up into the foothills near Angels Camp to visit with her son Brad, his wife and two cool kids. Living on 20 acres in a rustic cabin, they enjoy a bucolic lifestyle caring for 4 horses, 3 dogs, 2 cats and several chickens. Reminded me of Costa Rica - all but the weather: It will get cold there in the winter.
Speaking of cold, on Friday Layne and I took off for San Francisco to enjoy a round of golf with my son Damian and grandson Kai. It was summer in San Francisco - cold, you know - but it was a delight to be out with all three of my favorite guys. I even managed to hit a few good balls. Kai seemed to be a natural and Damian, who stays strong working as a firefighter, was hitting them into the stratosphere. Unfortunately, at about a mile high, too often they picked up a headwind and sliced off to the right. Also, a minor detail, the Pacific Ocean was often on our right. ‘Nuff said. Poor Layne had already played 18 holes earlier in the day with his best golf rival and good friend Bobby so he ran out of steam early, but he still beat me. We all decided to cut off about halfway through and enjoy a delicious Thai dinner. It made for a wonderful day for me!
Of course, the residency drama continues unabated. After celebrating getting our papers authenticated by the Costa Rican consulate in Los Angeles and sent off to our attorney Monika, we learned from her of a new requirement: a police clearance letter from a court in Costa Rica! This letter must be obtained before she files our papers for us; otherwise, she would be required to wait 10 days before filing again. We’re still awaiting word from her as to how to fulfill this requirement from here in the U.S.
An additional problem arose in trying to wire money to pay for the translation into Spanish of our documents. When dealing with the transfer of funds internationally, it is vital to have all account numbers recorded correctly and, equally important, to know which number is a routing number or a bank number and which is the actual account number into which the funds should go. The reason this is so critical is that wire transfers are just like cash -- once the funds hit the account, they are negotiable. Transpose a digit and you just handed your money to the wrong person! Our problem was that the personnel in our small bank were unsure which number was the account of the “beneficiary bank,” the final recipient, and which was the number of the “intermediary bank,” the U.S. bank that would convey the funds to Costa Rica and which was actually Monika’s account. But one advantage of living in a small town is having a personal banker. Our local Wells Fargo bank staff worked with us for an hour or more to be sure we were wiring the right amount to the right account.
So with perseverance and a lot of help, we finally wired the funds and once again heaved that proverbial sigh of relief, only to learn in the next email of two more requirements. Monika had visited the Immigration Department and learned that to prove that we are out of the country (and not in violation of the 90-day rule for tourists), we must scan the passport pages where our passports were stamped at the airport showing when we left the country and send that to Monika. Next, we learned that even if our documents have been filed by the time we return in August, we still must have a round-trip ticket in hand showing we can leave within the 90-day limit just in case residency is not granted. This seemed clear enough -- until her next sentence, which says that despite this requirement, Immigration said that we should not feel that we must leave the country at the end of 90 days, IF our file is “active, complete or being efficiently attended.”
As Monika says in her email, “there seems to be a contradiction here.” Yeah, ya think? Welcome to Costa Rica!