This is a season of learning for our family, and not just because we are all enrolled in school. We have a whole new country and culture outside of our door (inside, too, quite often) and we are getting acclimated with how to do life in it. Last week this hit home. For about 24 hours it looked like we needed to submit revised Power of Attorney forms for our house sale. Sounds easy enough. In the states you would hit print, drive to your bank, show off your John Hancock and driver’s licence to the notary public, then drop it in the mail. All you pay is postage. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Here in Costa Rica, we can hit print, but the easy-peasy stops there. We searched “how to find a U.S. notary public”, and went online to make appointments with one at the U.S. Embassy. It would have to be during our language classes on Thursday. The fee is $50 per seal, and only three seals can be given in a 15 minute appointment. Then we tried to strategize how best to get to the Embassy. Taxi or bus? The bus is usually cheaper, but we don’t know the lines/routes that well yet. Missing the appointment would be a disaster. How long might it take to get there? Some classmates said it took about 1.5 hours by buses and walking, asking for directions along the way. We were working with the window between school bells, and needed to be back in time for Ezekiel’s lunchtime dismissal. Or should we contact one of the private drivers that works with the language school? That could be less expensive than using taxis, and help us through the different stops we’d need to make.
Oh, and where might a FedEx office be? Addresses here are relative to other points on the map. Want to get to the language school? It’s down Calle Bosque, say 100 meters south of the laundromat. Sometimes the point of reference doesn’t exist anymore, like the giant tree that was cut down some years back. Street signs went up this year in our neighborhood, but people aren’t used to using them yet. Houses are referred to by color or notable feature. Without numerical addresses, Mapquest is a lot less capable of directing you from Point A to Point B.
Thankfully, we were given grace. The forms we already had on file were accepted and our Embassy exploration trip was sidelined. We were never so thankful to have just a normal day of language classes. But we understood a little better the scope of how much there is to learn outside of the classroom to do life here well.
We have already checked off some essentials. Utility bills are hand delivered to a little box in your front gate, but keep a reminder on your calendar for when it’s due. The little papers get into the wrong box fairly often. Take a bill (current or previous) to the grocery story. They will look up your account number and receive your balance due. While you’re there, recharge your cell phone plan, too. Selection is best in the wee hours of the weekly farmer’s market, but prices drop beautifully in the last hour before close. And let’s just confess right now that we got our PriceSmart (think Sam’s Club) membership the very first week. Buying in bulk saves on walking trips to the store later. Then of course, there’s the difference between understanding language and speaking it. I’m still praying over the log jam of verb conjugations and grammar rules that happens in my head when I want to speak with the tongue of men and angels.
There is a whole country full of things to master as we walk out the Lord’s plan for our family here in Costa Rica. What a blessing to have the Wonderful Counselor with us as we tackle the learning curve.
Teach me your ways, O Lord,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you. Psalm 86:11