1. The new bank is kinda sucky. I had such high hopes; I suppose that was my problem in the first place. I have the same sort of basic problem with my courier mail service, and also with a lot of businesses in Costa Rica. The problem is that they've sort of got you by the you-know-whats, because there just isn't that much competition and so they really don't give much of a rat's behind if you go somewhere else, because 1) there aren't too many other banks/couriers/cable companies/etc. you can go to, and 2) since there is so little competition, there's always another sucker lined up for their shitty service. Sigh.
So anyway. The bank. I had only two very minor (in any developed country, that is) requirements: a debit card I could use internationally, and the ability to cash international checks in a timely manner. The second requirement has been met with flying colors, so I have nary a complaint there. The first requirement, however, not so much. The debit card apparently does work if I were to leave the country and try to use it outside of Costa Rica, but it does not work on the internet, and it does not even have raised numbers so I can't use it to, say, order a pizza within Costa Rica because it can't be used on a manual credit card machine. So my hopes of closing my BAC account and moving over to Scotiabank has gone out the window. Now, I have to withdraw money from Scotiabank and deposit it in BAC just to buy something online. What a pain in the ass.
Furthermore, there was this little incident: I opened two savings accounts there, because I wanted to use one as a real savings account and the other as the account from which I would make purchases, pay bills, etc. Normally people don't have checking accounts here (unless you own a business) because you just don't write checks here, for anything. You never pay bills with checks, and you don't buy groceries with checks, so a checking account is basically useless. So I have two savings accounts instead of a checking and a savings. This must have thrown someone at Scotiabank for a real loop, because they could not figure out how to get both accounts to show up on my online banking. At first, I had one account on there, and when I asked to get the other one added, the first one disappeared. I had to go into the bank not once, not twice, but three times before someone finally figured out that the problem was that they had set up another user number for me and thus only the second account was showing up. That someone was me, by the way, not anyone who actually worked at the bank. They deleted the extraneous user number and voila, both accounts magically appeared in the online banking! Now, to transfer money from the regular savings to the savings savings would be a simple thing, one would think. And one would be wrong. I was not authorized to transfer money between my own accounts. Yet something else no one at the bank bothered to mention and thus necessitated another trip to the bank to figure out what was up (turned out I had to authorize myself to transfer money between accounts -- seriously, how stupid is that?).
Thus ends the latest chapter of my ongoing banking saga in Costa Rica.
2. My son takes karate lessons two afternoons a week, and usually the traffic isn't too bad, but last Thursday it completely sucked going over the hill on the back road from Santa Ana to Escazu. Without any traffic (like this morning, on the way to the Queen's Birthday Party), you can get there in about 10 minutes. We sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic in about a two-mile stretch of road for a good half hour. Uphill. When we finally got over to Paco in Escazu, we noticed a little fender-bender had taken place, thus accounting for the ridiculous traffic jam. One car had a light that had fallen out, and I couldn't really see any damage on the second car. Here in Costa Rica, you can't move your car out of the way after an accident, no matter how in the way it is. So the cars sit there until the MOPT arrives, they take pictures, statements, etc. and finally clear out the accident an hour or two later. I took photos for you, because I was doing nothing but sitting anyway and I thought it would be funny. I waved at the MOPT tow truck driver, who laughed at the silly Gringa taking photos of the accident. I guess now you can officially call me an ambulance chaser.
The highway patrol officer. Dude, are you done yet? Because, like, we've got a karate class to get to?
I waved at the tow truck driver as I took his picture. You can just hear him thinking, "Silly Gringa!"
3. I went to the Queen's Birthday Party today. It is held at the British Ambassador's house in Escazu every year, and is mainly a charity event. We always spend more money than we should. I have been craving licorice allsorts for a couple of months, so I got three bags of those (4500) and six bags of salt and vinegar chips (3000). Then I had a Pimm's for breakfast, which was not high on my list of best ideas I've ever had. A Pimm's is sort of like a British sangria, only with some sort of booze that no one I asked (including two Brits) had a clue what it was. (I looked it up; apparently it's vodka-based, which would explain why drinking one at 9:00 a.m. is perhaps something I'll refrain from doing next year.) I also had a dish of curry, and now I am thinking that, coupled with the Pimm's, was not a brilliant idea, either. (Mental note: pass on the curry next year.) My son spent almost three hours playing in the bouncy castle, while esposo and I chatted with friends and watched all the groovy peeps wander by the food tent (the theme this year was the 60s -- sad fact: I didn't actually have to go shopping to find appropriate clothes). Anyway, we had fun, Foster's, and I have enough licorice allsorts to last at least a week or two.
4. My cat? He's 24 pounds of super cuteness. That's all I have to say about that.