Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Friday, July 20, 2012

I learned yet another Tico word just before we left Costa Rica.

Prenda – a Tico word that means “Guess what?  Just when you thought we couldn’t screw you over any more, we have a way to do it one more time!”

We were anxious to sell our car before we left Costa Rica, so you can imagine how happy I was to recently receive payment from a buyer.  This buyer happened to still be in the States, and is not due to be in Costa Rica until September or October, long after our departure.  So, in order to be sure that he can have the car in his name, I went with our friend, Pete (who happens to be a realtor who sold property to my buyer, and who found this buyer for me), to visit a lawyer in Tilaran, to effect a Power of Attorney (from me to Pete) so that they can go to another attorney when the buyer gets here.
It is bad enough that the Power of Attorney cost me an additional $80.00, but the first thing the attorney told me is that the Registro Nacional shows there to be a lien against the car.  I asked him how that could be, and he said that the car dealer from whom we bought the car had placed a lien against it in June of 2009 because of the way in which we purchased it. - - We paid a total of $16,000.00 for the car, putting the first $10,000.00 on my credit card.  Then, per our agreement with the dealer, we returned to them in September of that same year, and paid the balance in full.  Actually, we ended up paying more than we had expected because they added fees and interest that we had not anticipated. - - When we paid the balance, we asked them if that was all, and were we done, and we received reassurances that we were done, and owed nothing further.
Well, just like with so many other things in this country, we have now learned – three years later – that we were not, after all, done.  The dealership never mentioned the lien to us, and more importantly, never told us that we were the only ones who could get it removed.  And, wouldn’t you know it, that removal has to cost even more money!?
The lawyer in Tilaran wanted me to give him an additional $200.00 to remove this lien, but I declined, saying that I would contact the dealership and inquire as to how this had come to pass.  I did indeed talk to their legal department only to learn that (as the lawyer in Tilaran said) this was the responsibility of the lawyer who did the paperwork when we bought the car, but no excuse or apology for this oversight was forthcoming.
There is (just as with most things in Costa Rica) considerable paperwork to be done, and hoops to jump through.  So, we went to another lawyer in Nuevo Arenal, looking to get this stupid thing resolved.  It cost me $160.00 more to remove (hopefully) all impediments to the completion of the sale of the car to this buyer.  Would you believe that I am delighted, relieved, excited, and very, very happy to have left that place behind?

Monday, July 2, 2012

¿Quien Sabe?

“Strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and higher education positively fortifies it.” - - - Stephen Vizinczey, An Innocent Millionaire
The last place to look for correct, accurate, and totally unbiased information is an internet forum. And, the first place to find incorrect, inaccurate, and totally biased information is on an internet forum. This is because, being human, most people can't help posting things as if they are gospel, just because it happened to them, or just because they heard from a friend of a friend, or just because they think so, rather than making an effort to apply anything resembling the scientific method. Following are a couple of examples of posts containing misinformation taken from real online forums:
First Example:
"[We} travel a lot all over the world but mostly to the USA, especially Georgia as our domestic operations are located there. 3 of my family members have drivers licenses from Costa Rica. We have had so many problems with this since we are US citizens. We have been told everything from "you can't drive in Georgia with an international drivers license", "you can't have residency in another country and be a citizen of the USA", or "we do not recognize international treaties in this State" ... yes, this is true ... and a good hint why we moved....." [evidently away from Georgia]
OK, so then this person went on to relate how the laws in the U. S. have changed so that now the laws require everyone to have a valid driver's license from their country of residence, plus a valid International drivers permit (from your country of residence).
The person also reports that her daughter was arrested because the Georgia police would not recognize either her IDP or her license from Costa Rica.
Now, she fails to cite either a Georgia state law or any Federal law that supports her contention. And, she ultimately asks whether or not there is some place in Costa Rica where she can obtain an IDP..........(btw, I have to wonder; since when did such an offense become something for which one might be subject to arrest?). My point about this example is that the person is totally misinformed in the first place, and rather than double check the law right there in Georgia, she resorts to ranting on an internet forum [which forum purports to be exclusively for/about/pertaining to Costa Rica], essentially seeking validation for her choice to be misinformed, ill informed, and/or just plain ignorant.

A Second Example:
A newcomer to Costa Rica from Canada (they evidently just picked up and moved, without having done much preparation, but that's another story), wanted to know about the forty day wait period for the processing of a check from outside the country into an account in a Costa Rican bank. They essentially complained about the difficulties they encountered in simply opening a bank account, and then were looking for information about what might be the best way to get money from Canada into their Tico bank. This is what the all knowing moderator told them (in part):
"About the float on the check deposits at 40 days, that's about six weeks and not unusual for a brand new account. Here is where being a member of ARCR can help because as a member they will provide you with a letter of introduction to the nearby Banco Nacional branch with which they have an arrangement for their (ARCR's) members, which will make your application with BN there go a lot more smoothly and, as a reference, that letter might even shorten that float time a bit for your deposited checks. Check this out with ARCR. BTW, the float time will diminish after you have developed a history with the bank.
As to the VISA debit card, it depends what logo is on the reverse of your card. Star, Plus, and Cirrus are the systems that work best with the ATMs in CR. The ATH, which stands for 'A Toda Hora' and means 'At All Hours' (logo looks like OATH at first glance) seems to be the best ATMs to use and offer the least trouble. At least that has been my experience with ATH ATMS."
Now, his statement that ARCR can help avoid or shorten this 40 day delay in processing is just flat not true. I bank at BNCR, and was a member of ARCR. I still had to wait even longer than 40 days for a personal check to process, and this was after I had been banking with that bank for nearly ten years! As for opening the account, we did that some years before we moved to Costa Rica, on our own, without any letter from anyone. As for using a debit card, there are some cards that charge an international fee, and others that do not.
This same moderator is also infamous for posting rumor and second hand information with his built-in authority as if it were fact, which leads to even more people believing misinformation. As an example, recently a person came onto a forum seeking contact information for an attorney. One person provided what little they had, and, after a time, here comes our 'expert' who, incidentally only lives part time in Costa Rica, saying "I thought I heard" that so-and-so had moved away from Costa Rica! Now, first of all, how is that helpful? Secondly, if he only thought he heard, what does that say about his information? It is, at the very least, questionable, and highly suspect as to accuracy! My point is that if he doesn't have a definitive answer for the person who asked the question, then he has no business posting anything - Especially, if he is supposed to be serving as a moderator.
Speaking of misinformation, here is a glaring example found all too often on certain forums. Say a discussion begins on the subject of GMO food, or organic produce, or to be (or not to be) a vegan. The folks who support these half-baked (no pun intended) and otherwise strange concepts invariably refer their dissenters to see this or that 'documentary,' whenever they are challenged to offer any kind of scientific evidence to support their claims. Or, to go to certain web sites that support their position. Or, when asked where they obtained their information, they will admit that they did a Google search using wording something like "the harmful effects of GMO produce," or "The evils of Monsanto," thus creating a variation of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not only that, but if one was to Google simply the word/name, "Monsanto," I believe that most of the 'hits' would be negative in tone. Why? Because, there is much more discussion of that company from the haters than from any legitimate member of the scientific community.
Now, as to the creation of any video documentary, consider this: It takes money to make a decent video, no matter the subject. Who has paid for the production costs of all these 'documentaries' referred to by these folks who espouse the vegan way of life, or the elimination of Monsanto and their 'evil' GMO produce? I can tell you who did NOT pay for it. No one in their right mind, that's who. No one who has looked at this issue with anything resembling an open mind, that's who. No one, in short, who is able to maintain an objective view of the subject, that's who!
So, because emotions run so high on these subjects, newcomers are being constantly provided with only half the story, and, being human, they all too often stay ill informed simply because they are too damn lazy to do their own - objective - research!