Friday, June 16, 2006

Things I'm Glad They Have in Costa Rica Now

  1. ATMs

  2. Actually, they've been around for a while, but I so love that I hardly ever have to go inside a bank. Partly because, who wouldn't be glad. And partly because, on the inside, the banks are still closer to the third-world mode, with pretty long lines for most of what you want. Although there, too, they've made strides. Now you can show your ATM card and ID and just tell the teller how much you want to deposit or withdraw - no more filling out little slips, no more passbooks where the current balance prints on top of the previous balance and the ink ribbon is so old you couldn't have read it anyway.

    Oh, and too? Costa Rica's unit of currency, the colon (pronounced cologne), is so small that when you key in the amount you want to withdraw, you can play "Shave and a Haircut," all the way through the "two bits" part, if you count "enter" as the final note. What's not to love?

  3. Networks

  4. Yesterday I went to an ATM to withdraw some money but no money came out. I was at PriceSmart, which is like Sam's Club. There's a bank in the store (which is not actually that common here yet), but the teller there said that even though the ATM is theirs, I would have to go complain to my own bank.

    This morning, I checked the account balance online (whee!) and found that the money was in fact debited from the account, so I printed out the statement and took it to the bank. The teller there very nicely pointed out that--right there on my own printout--next to the line showing that the the ATM had debited $78.43 (it was an even number of colones), was a line showing that the bank had credited $78.43 back into the account. Networks. I'm a fan.

  5. E-mail

  6. Because, who can live without E-mail, right? Now take that and put yourself 3000 miles away from a whole bunch of people you want to keep in touch with. Actually, these days it's not even E-mail that keeps us in touch, but this blog. With the added bonus that I don't feel bad about my scrapbooks being 12 years behind anymore. The girls can come back someday and see not just pictures, but a running commentary, with comments and everything. Awesome.

  7. Cappuccino

  8. I guess it's not everywhere yet, but it's easy enough to find. They even opened a little coffee shop across from the girls' school. Although when I tried to go there this morning it was closed, but it is brand new, so hopefully they'll get the hang of it soon.

  9. Thrift stores

  10. This used to be on my list of things I missed about the United States, but now they're all over the place. (A lot of the clothes, incidentally, still have stapled-on white, yellow or pink slips of paper with prices in dollars written in black grease pencil.) (Others have little grocery-store type sticky tags that have a five-digit code and what I believe is the symbol for yen.)

    But the best part is that, as a group, they're known as Ropa Americana (American Clothing) stores here, so if I talk to someone about thrift stores in the States, I get to say, "of course, there we just call them 'Clothing' stores." That joke will just never lose its charm for me, although I have to admit it really hasn't done that well with most of the Costa Ricans I've told it to.

And now, a brief list of Things they have in Costa Rica that, frankly, I can take or leave:

  1. Outback
  2. (Not that I don't like Outback, but I've heard that the prices are the same here as in the United States and, here, that's a LOT of money.)

  3. Hooters

  4. McDonald's
  5. (Okay, the girls love the play places, but ever since I saw Supersize Me at Lisa's that time, I have actually never gone back to a McDonald's. It just seemed like maybe it wasn't necessary. I wasn't sure how long it would last, but it's really not that hard to avoid, so I figure I'll keep it up. Plus, José & Yolanda take the kids there sometimes, and there are a few other restaurants with playgrounds now, so if I really wanted to, I could still take them to one.)

While we're at it, here are a couple of Things Costa Rica Doesn't Have, But Could Use:

  1. Dollar stores

  2. All you can eat buffets

  3. Yard sales

  4. A beltway
  5. That goes all the way around. (The capital city. Around the capital city. Not all the way around Costa Rica. It's not that small.

  6. Shoulders
  7. On the highways. Oh, and turn lanes. I heart turn lanes.

And, in closing, I leave you with Something That Should Not Exist Anywhere, But Does, Here in Costa Rica:

  1. A major department store called Carrion.

  2. Hmm. Says here it means 'The decaying flesh of a dead body.' Fabulous name for the new store, old boy. Let's advertise it on the radio!

3 comments:

Dad June 16, 2006 8:11 PM  

It sounds as if things are looking up. A few years ago I tried to withdraw colones from an ATM in San Jose. No money came out, but it WAS debited from (and not credited back into) my account. I did get it credited back...eventually...by writing up a report for the bank after I got home.

And I second the motion for a beltway around San Jose!

Yard sales? You could start a movement, couldn't you? You could set up just inside the gate (with the dogs choloformed, of course) and advertise with signs on utility poles. In San Rafael.

Dollar stores are nice, but EVERYTHING is made in China, and I wonder if the workers get fair wages.

lisa June 17, 2006 11:00 AM  

Yard sales. They're nothing but a big tease for me anymore, what with working every Saturday! I drive by them on the way to work and it's really hard. But I haven't been able to bring myself to just leave an hour early on Saturdays so I have time to stop. But we're spending my birthday at Mom & Dad's, so I get to do yard sales with Dad on the 8th!

Shoulders would be nice in North Carolina too. They're on the interstates, but not the zippy, windy, dangerous 2-lane roads they have all over the place.

lisa June 18, 2006 10:09 AM  

Oh, and what is it with the English language that we have to add a silent g and a silent e before we can figure out how to pronounce colon?

And, ever since I complained about not being able to type <, >, and /, I simply realized all I had to do was figure out which fingers should type them, and then, there you go! For some reason, having never used those keys, I assumed that all the rules of typing went out the window and in a panic I had to stop and look at the keys and single-finger them every time. Duh.

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