Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No Hay en Todo Paiz

“They don’t have ‘it” in the whole country.” Bill and I hear that a lot down here. We brought our low voltage patio lights from the states because we were told, “No hay en todo Paiz.”

Peanut butter with one ingredient - peanuts, I brought two jars from the US because I thought possibly “No hay en todo paiz.” I wasn’t taking any chances. I enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast every once in a while and I don’t want it loaded with sugar, salt and artery clogging polyunsaturated fats. The demand for natural foods hasn’t exactly taken over your average Costa Rican consumer.

The fact that you may not be able to find what you want in a third world country shouldn’t be so surprising. As the cliché goes, “When in Rome, do like the Romans.” or in this case, make do like the Costa Ricans.

Imagine though, if you were in the U.S. and had a Toyota Corolla and someone bumped you in the parking lot of the grocery store while you were inside. On the way home your right front blinker light falls off. You notice this when you get home a half-hour later.

Tough luck. You have to get a new turn signal lamp. You go to three or four auto part stores. Each one tells you they don’t have the part and they can’t get one. Or they tell you they will order the part for you and they’ll have it next Tuesday. Tuesday comes around. You have to call them. It turns out they don’t have the part after all and they can’t get it.

You’re desperate, you now figure you’ll go to the authorized Toyota parts dealer, even though you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg more. Oh, you wish! The Mitsubishi, I mean, Toyota parts dealer, tells you, “ We don’t have a part like that in the entire country.”

If you’re like Bill and I you’re thinking, “ How many Toyota Corollas (Mitsubishi Gallopers) are there on the road. It’s a darn popular car and you’re telling me the manufacturer doesn’t distribute parts in the country? Apparently not. We haven’t been able to locate one yet and it’s been a month. We’re holding on till next Tuesday….

We all know how ingenious Bill is though. He has fixed the problem. Here is a picture of our front turn signal lamp. Again, don't laugh. It works. If you can't figure out what you're looking at, send Bill or I an email, we'll be glad to tell you.

A Typical Britz Solution


The reason why the blog stopped for a while was that my parents came down to visit us for three weeks. I was enjoying precious time with them. I wouldn’t have known just how precious time was except for the thieves that took some of the time away from us.

Would you rob these people? Cruel and evil people did. It’s a lecherous side to this country and it deserves to be told. I’m almost too enraged to do it. All I can say is you have to be careful here. There are organized and efficient thieves in Costa Rica who think nothing of taking advantage of the elderly and/or unsuspecting tourists. The most hurtful thing that these pigs take from you is your piece of mind, your dignity and your vacation time. You have to spend hours filling out reports in the O y J (Police station), hours filling out passport paper work, hours waiting in lines and sometimes days to travel to and from the embassy in San Jose.


If you are riding public transportation, especially the MUSOC bus, be aware at all times of what is going on around you. Guard you bags. Wear a money belt. Keep your valuables, including your passport, on your person. Divide your valuables amongst your bags, so if one is stolen, you have something. Trust no one.

A common trick that happens on buses here, is that an official-looking, uniformed person, who may or may not be an bus employee, will take your bag and "help" you store it in the overhead storage of the bus. Then before the bus even leaves the station, another official-looking accomplice will quietly take the bag from the overhead and carry it off the bus, efficiently parting you with your belongings. (In my parent’s case, a witness said that the thieves left through the employee door of the MUSOC station.)

If your passport is stolen in Costa Rica, you’ll have to personally visit the U.S. Embassy in Pavas to get it replaced before you can leave the country. Judging from the numbers of dazed and confused families that I saw at the embassy, passports get stolen frequently in Costa Rica. If your passport is stolen, there are several forms you’ll have to fill out. If you can, I highly recommend that you download them from the Internet and have them completed before you get to the embassy. It helps the embassy out and it will help speed up your visit there. You can also have your photos taken at the embassy for a reasonable price.

I’d just like to say that the U.S. Embassy was very understanding, helpful and efficient in processing my parent’s passports. Thanks to everyone there!