Adventures at the Coco Post Office

I’m in process of obtaining residency in Costa Rica on the grounds of being the legal representative and operator of Kuna Vela Sailing Tours.  This will allow me to stay in Costa Rica indefinitely without having to leave the country every 90 days to renew my tourist visa.

I spent 6 hours on a bus to San José in order to get the necessary fingerprinting for a criminal background check back in the USA (this is a whole other blog post).   Also, a 6 hour bus ride back to Playas del Coco, so as you can see, I had a lot of time invested in obtaining these fingerprints.

Back in Coco, fingerprint card in hand, I went to the local post office to mail the fingerprints back to the FBI’s processing center in West Virginia.   Luckily, there were only 2 people in front of me in line when I arrived at 9:30 AM.  After a five minute wait, it was turn.  I walked up to the window, talking to the postal worker through a little slit in the glass.  Remember, I speak and understand Spanish perfectly, but I had to put my ear up to the slit to hear the postal worker.  I noticed that she didn’t know how to type.  I could see the chicken peck method of typing was likely to outcome in error on my delivery request.

I gave her my passport.  It reads CJ GOLINAR in ALL CAPS.  Unmistakable.  I saw more chicken pecking.  Next, I gave her a piece of paper with the FBI’s address.  It was unmistakably typewritten:

1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306

She asked me where the address started.  I explained that the actual address starts with the “1000.”

Then, my anxious mind took over.   If these three pieces of paper do not arrive at the FBI and my fingerprints are lost, then that’s another 12 hours on that god-forsaken bus over a two day period.  Potholes, crying babies and inconsiderate passengers watching videos on their cell phones came to mind.

I paid the $80 USD to have it shipped in four days, insured with a tracking number.  Then, I noticed that all was signed and sealed.  I asked to review the label.  She handed it to me through the slit.  I immediately noticed that my last name was spelled incorrectly.  I knew that it would not keep my letter from arriving, but I got worried.

Next, I observed that she left off a zero!  1000 became 100.   The word Virginia wasn’t even close.   I patiently said, this is all wrong.  She said she was sorry, then we started over after 20 minutes wasted.   More poor typing, one finger at a time.  She was finished again.  At minute 40 of this transaction, she was handing the letter through the slit again for my review.  My name was still spelled incorrectly.   I mentioned it, but said “don’t worry about that.”   I’m sure that won’t impede its arrival.

This time she omitted the ATTN: ELECTRONIC SUMMARY REQUEST

My anxious mind again wondered.  Is there a reason the FBI put that in ALL CAPS?  I figured it’s the FBI, so they’ll likely get the package to the right department.  I didn’t object.  On a prayer, I handed back though the window and turned around.  In the 40 minutes that my transaction took, the line had grown to more than 15 people.   Dang!  They could be here for hours.   I said aloud to all, “careful, the devil is in the details.”

Have patience.  Pura Vida.


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