Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

We finally picked up our car on Monday. I'd left it at my mother's house for pickup to ship here to Costa Rica in late June. Discovered when I got to Mom's that my title didn't state that the car was free and clear so they refused to ship it until I got another title from the state of Virginia with a stamp and signature certifying that there were zero liens against the car to be sent to my mother. She was supposed to let me know when she had the new title and I would call the shipping company for a new pickup date.

The title took almost a full month to get to her. She and the shipping agent whose English is not the greatest did not understand each other so there was some delay and we missed the July date due to the misunderstanding. It finally left the port of New Orleans in late August - arriving at the port of Limon in early October.

Then we had that hurricane and had to go to the States for Jim's mother taking a turn for the worse, delaying pickup even more. Add in getting the needed import fees wired in from our US bank and the endless paperwork and money to get the riteve and marchamo paid. Dumb things like having the original car title take a plane to the import lawyer in San Jose/Limon and we didn't get pick up our old Honda CRV until Monday afternoon.

This is the thing about the experience that sort of blows my mind. We're out about a grand total of $5,500 bucks total for a car only worth about $2,000 in the States. Here the taxed value was a shocking $12,000. Yeah, I was blown away by that amount, but SUVs are worth their weight in gold in Costa Rica and I discovered why on my way home to Tamarindo.

Tamarindo is a good four or five hours from San Jose and to get the bus there we would have had to either hop the 3:30 am or 5:30 am bus ride, so we broke down and rented a car to take us to the import lot.

The drive down was largely uneventful and we had some errands to run before we left. We stopped at a restaurant named after Princess Diana for lunch. The place had typical Costa Rican dishes in a buffet line with a faded poster of the Princess tacked to the wall. This isn't the first time I've run into someone named for her down here. The funniest part is that I was so excited to see carrot raisin salad on the salad bar, got a heaping helping and prepared to have one of my old favorites from childhood. Took a heaping spoonful and discovered that their version had very hot peppers chopped up and mixed in, the kind of peppers I like to call Guatemalan Insanity Peppers. Burns going in, burns coming out. That's saying a lot considering I usually douse my food with Tabasco. The salad was very tasty even with the peppers.

By the time we picked up a new car battery and got to the import agency it was 3 pm. We finally met the older lady that handles all the import registration and paperwork and she was nothing like I imagined by her voice on the phone, a very sweet older lady who seemed more like someone's grandmother than a business woman.

Her office was right across the street from the airport and our car was being stored on the median near the big Holiday Inn hotel and casino. This stretch in front of the hotel and airport is one of the scariest intersections in the entire city of crazy drivers in San Jose, so we wasted no time getting the heck out of Dodge.

Jim took the rental car and I took ours. When we were on Route 1 headed back up north just at dusk I ran into an unexpected difficulty. A car with one flickering headlamp, no back lights just reflective stickers glued onto the back light lenses. The backseat was full of small children, at least four of them that looked under six or so.

I almost rear-ended the car because it's so dark on that road. No overhead lights and I feel pretty certain that the oncoming traffic wasn't seeing him either.

So I did the only thing I could do in good conscience, I got behind him, stuck with him the entire time I was on the road. At least others could see him while I was shining a light on him. He was driving so slowly that the entire drive took longer than I thought it would. But I just could not put those kids at any further risk.

Lately I've been thinking about just being helpful and encouraging as much as possible. At my old church one of my friends used to say when she got irked over something 'Thank you Lord for another opportunity to offer mercy and forgiveness!' While I'm not jumping up and down for joy to be doing just that I'm convinced that doing just that is the way to go.

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