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Everything posted by RichyB

  1. Hi Ticos and Gringos, I am a permanent resident of CR and usually come for a visit every year. Last year I was not able to visit because of a medical issue, so I do not have all the latest info on the state of technology in CR. I use Uber with my smartphone in the US. Can I bring my smartphone and use it for Uber in CR? Would I have to buy a new SIM chip? I actually do have a prepago SIM chip and have kept my number by added money to it remotely. Can I get that service upgraded to work with a smartphone? I was planning to go to my local Kolbi store in Santo Domingo de Heredia, but thought I would try to get some info in advance. Thanks! Pura Vida, Ricardo
  2. I say go for it. Is your Spanish pretty good? That will help a lot. You will learn a lot about how business is conducted in Costa Rica, or maybe you already know. If you run into a snag, you can always turn to ARCR for help. Ricardo
  3. RichyB

    Suicide shower question?

    Here is a funny story (*I* think it is funny) about suicide showers. Ticos are more relaxed than gringos about such safety issues as having live electrical wires right next to running water which is about to come in contact with your body. The first time I saw one in CR I said No way am I going to use that. But people assured me that noboby was ever electrocuted by one so I began my long journey of using suicide showers. Once I mentioned suicide showers to a Tica and she had never heard the term before! Cultural differences are like that. Ricardo
  4. RichyB

    Bus ticket out of CR enough?

    I just arrived in Costa Rica last Tuesday. Here is my simplified story of return tickets for a flight here. I had a one-way ticket on United Airlines and when I went to the counter to check in, the rep said let's see your return ticket. I said, oh but I am a Permanent Resident of Costa Rica and don't need no stinkin' return ticket (I said it nicely though). She said prove it. I whipped out my cedula, which unfortunately had expired 2 1/2 months ago. She said this is expired and is therefore no longer proof of residency. I think she was right. Then I remembered that I had a Tica Bus ticket with LEG field of SJO-PTY (which I think is in Panama City) and a STATE field of ABIERTO. I had bought that in 2008. So I showed that to her and she thought it might be sufficient but called her supervisor to make sure. The supervisor said that that ticket expired after 1 year. I think he was wrong but I wanted to get on my flight to CR and the only way the rep would give me a boarding pass was for me to buy a return ticket. She really was trying to be helpful, and suggested a refundable ticket. She searched for the cheapest one and it was $1,100 plus a non-refundable $35 fee of some sort. So I bought it. After I arrived at my destination in CR I got on the web site of United and tried to get a refund. I can usually find the way to do things on line if they are possible to do, but I was stymied by the requirement to cancel your ticket before applying for a refund. I could not find the cancellation page which they referred me to. So I called the United customer assistance number and the woman said she could start my refund application right then. I gave her my ticket information. She said it would take 2 weeks. I will be checking my bank account which I debitted to buy the ticket. But at this point I am not worried. Lessons learned: I had known that my cedula was expiring but since if you renew it within 3 months you just have to pay a fine of $3 a month, I did not think it was essential to get to CR before it expired. However I did not anticipate the unintended consequences which were: could not use the cedula to prove my residency to the airline, and could not use my cedula to ride the busses for free (I am over 65). Next time I will get to CR in time to renew my cedula even if I would have preferred to wait. Other lesson: if I had known that I might need my Tica Bus ticket as proof of passage out of CR, I would have been ready to confidently explain that the STATE field of ABIERTO meant that it did not expire. Even so the rep might have insisted that I buy an airline ticket from CR to the US, but I would have had a better chance of convincing her to let me use the Tica Bus ticket. So that is my simplified story. Since it was not relevant I will not tell you about the airline losing my luggage and that my Kolbi phone number was inactive so I could not call my taxi driver. Pura vida. Ricardo
  5. RichyB

    Ryan Piercy Update

    Great news. What a relief. Hope the investigation comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but having Ryan back safely is the most important thing.
  6. I live in the US, and also use Schwab Bank and have been very happy with it. If I am going to withdraw a lot of cash in CR, I call them and ask them to increase my daily limit to $2,000. There are no ATM fees charged by Banco de Costa Rica if you withdraw dollars. And anyway, Schwab will reimburse ATM fees incurred anywhere in the world, but they do have to be identified as ATM fees on the withdrawal document. I also use my Schwab debit/ATM card as a debit card in CR and there are no foreign transaction fees. Also, I once lost my Schwab card coming to CR and they got me a replacement pronto. They also were willing to mail the PIN to a friend in the States whom I later called to get the PIN. That way I did not have to wait for the mail to get to CR for the PIN, just the card. They are very accomodating for a big bank. Pura vida. Ricardo
  7. I have been banking on line with BNCR for years. And it has taken years to solve the problems. Many have been with the Java applet. I have 2 suggestions. Use this forum to post your problems. Many of us have experienced the same ones. If that fails, call or go in to your local branch platforma. What has happened with me is that when they get tired of my awful Spanish, they switch to English which most of them speak well. The great thing about Ticos is that they don't get mad at you for asking for help, and they love to help you. Best wishes, Ricardo
  8. I bought a FiiO E3 3.5mm Earphone Volume Booster Power Amplifier 5 years ago and have used it with various headphones. It does give a significant boost to the volume. It is not very user friendly. You have to unplug your headphone from it when not using it, or it runs down the battery. It cost me $6.25. Pura vida. Ricardo
  9. RichyB

    Dentists and X-rays

    In response to stewart.tb's original post, my dentist for the last 5 years, Dr. Eugenio Campos in Santo Domingo de Heredia, takes full-mouth X-rays about every 2 years, which as I recall is about the same as dentists in the States did. It costs about CRC 20.000 as best I can recall. He does put a lead apron on me to shield some of the radiation. I had gone to Tico dentists before him but don't remember if they took X-rays routinely or if I had to request them. I second tibas9's advise to get a check-up every 6 months. Otherwise you may end up spending a lot more money and having teeth extracted when they are too decayed to save. Ricardo
  10. I have been using the Banco Nacional website for years. I change my password every 2 months so that I do not get locked out, since I am not in Costa Rica physically that much of the year. Today I tried to change my password but, after entering my Identificación, the next screen where I would normally enter my password brought up an empty box. The same thing happened when I did not check "Cambiar mi clave" I saw the message "¿No ve el teclado virtual?" which seemed to apply. (I can read Spanish haltingly.) I followed the link "enlace" at the bottom of the message. First of all, it did not seem to offer instructions for my version of Windows, which is Vista. So I follow the one for XP but it did not work, because I could not get to the "Advertencia - Seguridad" error message where I would check the box for "Confiar siempre en el contenido de este editor." I don't speak Spanish well enough to benefit from calling BN for help. Has anyone else encountered this empty box for the password entry? Have you found a solution? Gracias. Ricardo
  11. Since this thread turned into one partly about culture and adjustment, I would like to add my dos colones (I know there is another expression for this in Costa Rican Spanish and I promise to write it down if someone will tell me again.) I moved to Costa Rica in 2008 and intended to stay here for the rest of my life. But I experienced culture shock and after a year of living here moved back to the USA. I don't regret at all having lived here since it gave me an appreciation of life in Costa Rica and of life back in the USA too. My biggest problem was the language. I am 65 years old and my elderly mind just could not learn very well. I still study conjugations of verbs over and over and very little stays in my head. I had intended to become so fluent that people would ask me what part of Costa Rica I was from, but instead people asked me what did I say. I did get used to some of the things in CR which were worse than in the USA. For example, the broken up sidewalks stopped bothering me when I realized that Costa Rica spends money on education and health care rather than on splendid quality sidewalks and roads. I can appreciate that. I think Ticos are kind, friendly and helpful and very accepting of the poor Spanish of foreigners. I have several Tico friends whom I look forward to seeing whenever I am in CR. If the economy in the USA gets very bad I can imagine moving back to CR. I have temporary residency and will soon get permanent residency. If I do move back I will accept the differences and be glad that I can afford to live here. Pura vida, Ricardo
  12. No, I do not need the token. I have been logging on from the USA for more than 6 months without it. I remember when it was announced, it was intended to be optional and I did not want another thing to have to have with me. I might have left it in the USA when I came to Costa Rica. I was reluctant to call BN and get an English speaker. I actually have done that before, but I figured that I would get better suggestions on this board. [comment]#9 eleanorcr and #10 CountDown hit the nail on the head (I wonder if that translates literally into Costa Rican Spanish). The Java symbol never did appear on the website. So I did need to update my Java applet. I went to the control panel, selected Java, then Update. The next time I ran my browser (Firefox) it asked me if I wanted to update the Firefox Java applet and I did that. I was able to log on, change my password and access my account. Thank you to all for your intelligent suggestions. It is always a pleasure coming to these forums for help. Pura vida, Ricardo
  13. Jessica, I agree that the safety of myself and others where I live is more important than the things which were stolen. I lived in the mountains near San Ramon in an isolated group of cabins and one morning came into my living room and realized something looked funny. Finally I realized that my computer was gone, but there were no obvious signs of a break-in. It turned out that the thief had jimmied open a window and removed the computer, and a chair with heavy metalwork to which it was cabled, while I peacefully slept in the bedroom. At first I worried that the thief could have harmed me while I slept but then I realized that he (or she to be fair) did not burglarize my cabin in order to hurt me. I would feel differently if I had children living with me. A Tico policeman told me that it is permitted to use lethal force on an intruder and I would consider that if I had children. The manager of the cabins, a Tico, took me to the local OIJ office where I filed a report of the theft. They did not want to take a report but I insisted and after a couple of minutes of discussion they did. I agree with Paul M. that Costa Rica could improve the quality of life for citizens and visitors alike if they prosecuted criminals more diligently. My computer was never returned but the day after the theft a couple of my friends in the USA got Skype calls from a high-school-age woman in San Jose who had just acquired my computer. She saw that it had Skype and decided it would be fun to call a couple of people on my calling list. Obviously she was not the thief and had probably bought it from the thief. This incident was one of the reasons that I moved back to the USA after living in CR for a year. I had intended to live there the rest of my life but between the difficulty of learning a new language in my 60s and the insecurity of all the theft I decided that I was not ready for living in another culture. Ricardo
  14. RichyB

    Medicare Part B

    I am a US veteran living in the US and have been going to VA Hospitals and Clinics for more than 10 years. I am more than satisfied with the care I get. At least in Ann Arbor, MI, veterans are treated with a lot of respect. I turned 65 last year and decided not to sign up for Medicare Part B. Before deciding that I talked to a lot of people around my age and I talked with a couple of people at the VA too. It seems that many veterans also have decided not to sign up for Part B. The $100 a month cost would really hurt my budget. The only disadvantage is that I cannot get non-VA doctor's visits covered but I have been doing well without them for a long time. By the way, I recently got a total hip replacement. The operation was done in the Ann Arbor VA hospital and follow up care in an inpatient rehab facility was covered by Medicare Part A. Now that I am home I am getting visits from a nurse and physical therapist and that is also covered by Medicare Part A. I have residency in Costa Rica and am enrolled in CAJA for about $50 a month. If I ever move to CR, which is a possibility, I will be covered for medical care. Cheers, Ricardo
  15. RichyB

    Need help in Costa Rica

    I second Paul's recommendation. Guillermo just helped me renew my cedula. He picked me up and brought me back to my house. He made sure I had everything I needed and spoke to the bank clerk even when we were waiting to see how long it would be before she served us, and what the hold-up was with the person she was serving. It turned out to be a computer problem with renewing passports but when we got to the window there was no problem processing a cedula. Guillermo is one of the most decent, qualified and dependable people I have ever met. Cheers, Ricardo
  16. You dial 1190 for voice mail with Kolbi ICE.
  17. This is exactly what I do. And as !Mark! points out, this can be used to keep your SIM active while you are away from Costa Rica. Cheers, Ricardo
  18. If you use http://www.masterpago.com/ the minimum is 50 colones. I have used this web site a couple of times and I charged the amount to my Banco Nacional debit card. Regards, Ricardo
  19. "Myth: As a resident you must be in the country (CR) a certain amount of time each year depending on your residency category. Real Deal: False. Under the new law there is no required minimum amount of time a resident must be in the country. The only PYSICAL PRESENCE requirements for residents are as follows: A Permanent Resident may not be OUT of the country more than four years and a Temporary Resident may not be OUT of the country for more than 2 years." Just to be sure that I understand this new law, does this mean that I no longer have to spend 4 months a year in Costa Rica to maintain my pensionado residency? Thanks. Ricardo
  20. I always carry a folding knife with me whereever in the world I go. But when you go to a soccer game at many stadiums, such as Ricardo Saprissa near San Jose, they will not allow you to bring a knife into the stadium. I have had to surrender knives a couple of times so I buy inexpensive ones which I will not lose sleep over, and always have a spare available.
  21. Paul, This is just a suggestion as I have not done this. But if I needed to store a few boxes of things for a few months I would talk to my Tico friends and see if anyone could store those boxes for a small amount per month, say c 8,000. Presently I do store some boxes with a gringo friend who has some extra space in his large house. Cheers, Ricardo
  22. RichyB


    Laura, I lived at El Castillo de Relajamiento for several months last year. It is a wonderful place and the manager Cesar is a national treasure. The buses only run every 1 or 2 hours and stop around 6 pm. But you can get a taxi for about 2,000 colones from town to El Castillo. Cesar can recommend a taxi driver and you can be sure that he will get you someone honest and dependable. I should mention that my laptop computer was stolen from my cabin when I was there. It is a difficult area to secure because there are woods all around the cablins. But the management improved security after the burglary. They put metal bars in the windows to keep them from being forced open. And they hired an armed guard to patrol at night. I think you will enjoy staying there. Saludos, Ricardo
  23. RichyB

    Airport Taxi

    I arrived at Juan Santamaria airport on December 4th and took a taxi from there to my residence in Santo Domingo de Heredia, which is just north of Tibas. I bought a prepaid ticket at the window for c 12,500 and was dispatched in an orange taxi. There was no problem whatsoever. I don't know how many kilometers the trip is but I think the cost is about half of what I would pay in the States. From my experience the amount charged is about the same as the metered rate but I always prefer a flat rate which discourages the driver from taking the long way home. That happened to me once a couple of years ago going from San José to Santo Domingo, a c 3,000 ride which cost me c 17,000. By the way, I understand there is a web site where you can report taxi overcharges. You would of course have to have the name of the taxi company and the number of the taxi, both of which are on the side of the cab and on the license plate. Ricardo
  24. I was away from Costa Rica and recently returned. After about 6 months in the States Banco Nacional suspended my accounts (colones and dollars) and I could no longer access them via Internet. After I returned I went to a branch of Banco Nacional and they reactivated the accounts. I had to wait for the manager to come back from lunch to approve it. There was no fee for reactivation. The cashier told me that they suspend the accounts after 6 months of inactivity, for security purposes. I had been logging on every month from the States and changed my password a couple of times. But that did not count as activity. What was needed was something like a transfer between accounts. Ricardo
  25. Does anyone know if CAJA provides long term care? Thanks. Ricardo

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