I am very pleased to announce that my visa de residencia has been approved. I received an email with the news last Monday along with instructions to, of course, pay more fees. After depositing $300 and $98 and $25, in that order, into the Ministry’s bank account (remember: we don’t use checks here), I became eligible for Caja, which is the country’s socialized medical insurance program. For the price of $45 per month, I can see doctors, have tests, go to the hospital and fill prescriptions for free. Yep. The only downside is that, for non-urgent matters, one can wait a long time for an appointment; this is why many folks also buy private insurance or pay cash for prompt attention. One reason I chose Costa Rica is for its excellent medical care and because it is, in fact, a “medical tourist destination,” where gringos come for procedures and surgeries with American-trained doctors for a tenth of the cost in the US.
The other important news is that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has ruled that several countries over which it has jurisdiction must treat same-sex couples “without discrimination” and legalize same-sex marriage. The court oversees 20 Caribbean, Central and Southern America countries that have signed the American Convention on Human Rights and include Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay. Out of these countries, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay have already legalized same-sex marriage. Costa Rica’s president has announced that Costa Rica will comply as soon as possible. There are several Christian deputies who are not happy about this and could delay the legislation briefly, but it will ultimately be approved.
My friends at Costa Rica Gay Traveler, which serves the international LGBT community, are thrilled to be able to sell actual wedding packages instead of just celebration ceremonies. They are expecting that their business to increase greatly with the new law.
This means that, in at least one more country, I can watch other people getting married.
As for me, I broke my streak of perfect health. For the first 13 months here, I never once got sick. I finally succumbed to a cold and conjunctivitis upon my return from the US. Perhaps it was due to the change in climates (cold and damp in Atlanta, cold and wet in Jacksonville) and the fact that it’s really windy here. I am happy to say I am back to almost perfect (healthwise, that is).
Tomorrow is picture day for my DIMEX (visa ID card), which should arrive one week later. Next step is a Costa Rican driver’s license.
So pray for me that all goes well. Until next time…