We’ve been wondering for a long time now how easy (or not) the process would be, so I decided on January 3rd that the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale was a perfect opportunity to figure it all out. I mean, why not, right? The bikini I’d been drooling over all season was now 60% off. I practically HAD to.
We have a P.O. box in Jaco just twenty minutes North of here and I figured there would be no problem fitting a bikini inside of that thing. So I was a little disappointed when we went to check the box and it wasn’t there. Instead I got a print out with instructions to call the post office in El Roble
because that’s where they were holding it hostage and pick it up. El Roble is an hour and a half away. AN HOUR AND A HALF. But what can I do? It’s my bikini. THE bikini. I have to go get it. So off we go to find this place that’s only open from 10am – 12 noon, three days a week.
We went way too far, finding ourselves in Puntarenas Centro, a town fifteen minutes North of where we were headed. It’s now 12:00 noon and there’s no way we’re going to make it in time. I call. They give me directions. I pretend I understand and hang up. I start asking every person on the street where the post office is. You see, there are no addresses in Costa Rica, and you’re lucky if your road even has a name, and if people actually know what that name is. The instructions say the post office is located behind the Baptist Church on the main road. Okaaaaay. There are a bazillion churches here. After asking at least seven people and calling their office back twice we finally find it. HOORAY!!!
Like I said, we were late, and I was told on the phone that they wouldn’t even let me in now, but they did. Only me, though. Ivan was told he had to wait outside. He hands me my passport and his wallet through the gate and I head in to finally pick up my package. They check their records (actual books, with handwriting in them, I kid you not) and find the item number to begin the search through the sea of packages all over the floor. There it was. A fairly small envelope that could’ve easily fit into our box. So why didn’t it? Import taxes. I’m handed a razor blade to slice open the envelope so they can check it all out, then I’m told that I must bring my print out and receipt for the bikini to a building two kilometers away to pay the fees. Wait? What receipt? I don’t have it! “No problem“, he says, “There’s an internet cafe around the corner. Go there and print out your receipt and then go pay.“
I am so confused. Did I even save that email confirmation? Do I even know my email password?! argh!!!
No. I can’t remember my password. I have to call home and tell one of the kids to get get it off my computer. I find the email and print it out. Now we need to find this place two kilometers away in the direction of Puntarenas Centro, again. All I was told was that it’s past the Coca Cola sign, near the hospital, yellow, and has three floors. Seriously?! We went too far, again. We’re at the hospital and need to head back a bit. We find it. We go in. The man is not convinced my passport is mine. He says the woman in the picture is heavier than me, and older. I tell him that U.S. passport pictures suck and make us all look terrible. My husband is Canadian. He looks like Will Smith in his picture, but way cuter, cause Canada is nicer to their people. He laughs, and I get new papers. “Wait, aren’t I suppose to pay you?”, “No. Take these papers to the Bank of Costa Rica and pay them.”
Sure. But not before we get a jump from a random stranger because our kid left the car door open and killed the battery. (Which is why there is no picture of this place. We were too busy flagging down cab drivers and trying to avoid having to push the car to the mechanic over 400 meters away. Did I mention it’s 100 degrees in Puntarenas?) It’s a good thing I know how to say, “Mecagüen tu puta madre! Se jodio la bateria!”
Back to El Roble we go. We find the bank. I go in and take a number. Yes. That’s how banks work here. It’s like the DMV. You take a number and watch the monitor waiting for your turn. It’s 40 minutes before I see A125 on the screen. I pay $20. I get a new paper. I now have to take this paper back to the post office and pick up my package. Back at the P.O. with another $5 fee and a few more signatures in the ledger, and the package is FINALLY mine.
So in the end, it cost me $75 and took nearly 6 weeks to get. Still, it was totally worth it. A beautiful day. A beautiful drive. We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking a gorgeous lake with the ocean to our right, and fed iguanas french fries and veggies. Though, I will say that in the future I won’t be doing any shopping online unless I can send it with someone who’s coming to visit!
I love it! Pura Vida!