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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Embossed and Authenticated: Ready to Go!

Sunday, June 13, 2010
         “On the road again,” as Willie Nelson would say… literally. With all of our residency documents safely in the briefcase, properly certified by the California Secretary of State or the other states of origin, we are heading south to Los Angeles today. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we’ll be at the Costa Rican Consulate to submit everything for authentication. Wish us luck! If all goes well, the authenticated documents will be on their way on Tuesday to our attorney in Costa Rica. She will submit our completed paperwork as soon as she can get an appointment with Immigration. If she can move our residency process along, we should be legal to stay beyond the three-month tourist limit when we return in August.
         We left home this morning and turned on “Ilsa,” our trusty German-made Garmin GPS device for her advice on the “fastest” route to LA. We’ve come to rely on this amazing instrument to lead us down less-traveled perhaps, but quicker roads to reach our destinations. Today she surprised us once again by directing us off Interstate 80, which we would usually follow into Sacramento to the intersection with Interstate 5 South, sending us instead down Highway 99, the older route through the mid-section of the state. Now we cruise past mile after mile of cultivated farmland, much of it in vineyards to produce barrels of California wine. Other fields are in orchards of peaches or cherries, almonds, pecans, onions or corn. Lots of corn. It is only with the water from Northern California, of course, flowing steadily southward through the California Aqueduct, that this land is now so fertile and prolific. Otherwise, we’d be driving through a desert.
         But that reality reflects good news and bad news. Obviously, it’s wonderful that California produces so much important foodstuff for the country and indeed the world, but it’s tragic that rivers and lakes up north have been diverted so dramatically that some areas, such as the Owens Valley, face water shortages each year and salmon and other wild fish species have dwindled to drastically low levels, their traditional runs reduced to less than 10% of normal numbers, according to a 2008 report by Robert T. Lackey of Oregon State University. In February of this year, an article in the website cited the lowest number of Chinook salmon ever recorded in California rivers during the fall of 2009 run, only 39,530 salmon returned compared to 87,940 just two years earlier, that already an historically low number. Central Valley agribusiness interests argue that they need water from the Sacramento Delta to grow their crops but commercial and sport fishermen argue that salmon runs have diminished “in exact concert with a 16 percent increase of Delta water diversions over the last decade.”
         The potential for desert is clear when I look over at the wrinkled and undulating foothills of the Coast Range, their barren grasslands already bleached golden brown in the hot California sunshine here in early June. Just across the road stretch acres of green, a man-made oasis of farmland in this otherwise arid region.
         Fast forward: It is now Tuesday, two days later. My plan to finish this Sunday night was foiled by problems at our hotel in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. When we arrived about 6:30 p.m., we were tired from our drive, ready to relax there at the Best Western Dragon Gate Inn and planning a nice Chinese dinner out. Instead, the front desk clerk said their rooms were sold out! After a trip back to the car for my computer, I showed him our confirmation email and on that basis insisted that we deserved a room. He insisted that they had none. Staying calm, I asked for the manager. After looking over the unambiguous confirmation email, he proceeded to labor over their records, looking for cancellations, trying hard to find us a room. At long last, he succeeded and we got settled in. Our dinner out at the Plum Tree Inn nearby was late but delicious as we splurged on Bombay Sapphire martinis to accompany Crispy Duck and Beef with Broccoli. Excellent! 
         On Monday morning, after a breakfast of Chinese leftovers, we drove a few blocks to the Costa Rican Consulate and presented our papers. After paying $200 in fees ($40 per document), we were told to wait “a few minutes.” Time passed as we read the entire LA Times and then we began to worry. What could be wrong? Was something out of order, incomplete, suspicious-looking?!  But no, after almost an hour, the young woman returned, apologizing for the delay, explaining that only one consul was in the office so it had taken longer than usual.
         Hurrah! All stamped, embossed, signed by the official and ready to FedEx to Monika, which we did today. I was amazed to learn that FedEx offers no insurance for parcels and, despite the value to us given all we’ve gone through to obtain these precious documents, we could only declare a value of $1.00, the price of the paper itself! Plus, the shipping cost was almost $100 to send it to Costa Rica. When we add it all up, this has been a rather expensive process. But at least the package is now on its way and we can relax and enjoy the rest of our summer in the States, starting with golf tomorrow! 

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry it is going to get more expensive as time goes by. We are getting our cedulas on Monday and were told that the fees and deposits have climbed (again) so that we need to bring along another 200 bucks to cover that. I quit keeping track some time ago.

    As to your comment about being able to stay beyond the 90-day tourist limit, there are two schools of thought there. One, technically, this is not true, you are still required to leave and re-enter every 90 days until you have your Residency Resolution (about 18 months from now give or take). Two, is, yes, you are supposed to leave, but no one is going to bother you, just show them the residency application receipt you walked away with from the L.A. Consulate.

    I'd recommend you talk to one or two other residency lawyers besides Monika about this point and decide what your comfort level is. We came and went a few times, but never on a 90-day schedule and were never hassled, and it's all moot now since last month as we all have our resolutions, and soon (ojala) our cedulas.

    Good luck, it's been fun reading about your actual and virtual journeys!