Keep on Tracking

When last we spoke, I had learned that my visa was approved. There was a final step to be taken.
On 1/16, I was summoned to the local post office to have my picture taken for my tarjeta (card). Although my lawyer had told me that it would take one week for my card to arrive, the nice muchacho at the post office told me from three to four weeks. He did inform me that the card could be tracked online, and he gave me my tracking number.

Beginning the next day, I tried to track my card’s progress. Every day for two weeks, I got a message that there was no such number in the system. Finally, on the 31st, I got an actual response, and I was relieved that they had finally entered it and I could track it. I sent the message to my lawyer to ask for clarification, and she said “Congratulations! It’s there for you to pick up.” So here is yet another example of the use of modern technology with third-world systems. But, hey! I got it!
The next hurdles to jump are getting my CR driver’s license and registering at the local office/clinic for medical care. I have no expectation that any of it will be easy, but I must shoulder on.

The weather is absolutely beautiful, with beautiful blue skies and no afternoon rains. The view from my computer in my upstairs office is breathtaking. My Spanish has improved greatly; I’ve taken to sitting up front with the Uber drivers so I can have conversations. Every once in a while I get a Nicaraguan or Venezuelan, whose accents are too much for me; the hierarchy of universal Spanish (excluding Spain) starts with Colombian at the top, then Mexican and then Costa Rican. (In Spain, pronunciation is different and very fast; in Argentina, where people think of themselves as more European, there’s a lot of Italian mixed in.) So I muddle through, feeling pleased with my progress one day and then frustrated after a telephone call from some service provider– Yesterday, it was the woman from the tailor shop who was patching a favorite shirt of mine. I understood NOTHING. After three items, the best I could do was say “Do what you think is best.” Can’t wait to see what, exactly, her best looks like.

This past week, I made dinner for a friend, a doctor, who was intrigued by the garbage disposal; not a common item here, so I installed one myself. (I can’t live like a savage, after all.) As I had prepared a veritable feast, which is rare for me, when I hit the disposal button, the waste shot up out of the second sink. Guess the pipes, etc., aren’t used to such volume. He very politely rewashed the dishes and probably reconsidered the practicality of my wondrous appliance. Oh, well.

In another case of culture gap, I have slowly come to the realization that helping my friends with their new travel agency is probably not going to work out as a source of income. The lack of organization and efficiency is nothing short of stunning. Simple questions often go unanswered and nobody is on time for anything. Whereas this was not a great surprise, and I have worked hard to adapt (I am, after all, the foreigner.), I thought I could make some progress with them. For example, if we need to meet at the office, to which I do not have a key, I bring my EReader and wait in a cafĂ©. I then text whichever partner I’m meeting with a simple request: “Please text me when you arrive.” Well, each time I tried that, I received responses such as “I’m on my way,” I’m on the bus,” and “I’m near the (some landmark I don’t know)” Then, not wanting to bother them, after waiting several minutes, I text again and am told “Oh, I’m in the office.” They’re not unthoughtful; they tell me everything except when they actually arrive.

On the work-front, I’m still consulting (using Skype for meetings) with a school in Coachella; and I’ll be scoring high school exit exam essays, also online, in March. I was contacted by a Chinese language school to tutor children online, but, first of all, due to the time difference, I’d be online at 4:00 am. Also, most of the jobs offered are with young children, with whom one needs to use lots of props, as well as songs and puppets. Take a moment and contemplate that: me, online at 4 in the morning singing and doing puppet shows to horrified Chinese children. Of course, I said no and to keep me in mind for adults I can teach in the evening.

That’s this week’s show. More later.
Pura Vida!