Friday, October 2, 2015

Reconnaissance Trip Day 3 - Our First "Day" Basic Housekeeping Tasks

Up early to get started on our adventure.  Up first on the agenda for the day is some basic housekeeping items that need to be handled.
  1. Coffee Based Drinks
  2. Local Cell Phone
  3. Exchange to Local Currency
  4. Snacks and Drinks
  5. Daily Excursion Plan
Coffee Based Drinks
This would seem like a simple easy task but that proved to be more complicated.  The Coffee Shop located in the plaza surprisingly didn't open until 10 a.m.  Must move on to new tasks. 

Local Cell Phone
We had been told to find a local Kolbi Cell Phone store.  We determined the closest store was in the HUGE Multiplaza Escazu which was located just down the road from the hotel so we set out on foot to walk the 6 blocks to the Mall.  Everything at the mall is "open air" entry so we proceed to enter the mall and are stopped by a guard and told in very fast Spanish that they do not open until 11:00.  It took a little work to determine this but were able to find out that in the mall there was a Super Mercado (grocery store) and no less than 3 banks so we walked back to the hotel plaza.

We hunker down at the hotel and decide to drive back to the mall after we plot out or daily excursion.  This adventure in the car would prove interesting.

We return to the mall at 11:00 to find it nearly impossible to find a parking spot after we obtain our parking ticket.  We make our way to the Kolbi store and are greeted by many workers who give us a number and none of them speak any English.  I gather in my limited Spanish that I am to sit down and wait until my number (numero ocho) is called.  It is important to know this is about 11:10 and we were already on number 8.  When my number is called I approach the counter and begin to explain in English/Spanish mix that I want to put cell service on the unlocked phone I have brought with me.  After using common words like Sim Card, vaccaiones, my sales person gives up and yells across the store to what I would find is the only person out of 10 that speaks any English.  He steps away from his customer long enough to tell her what I am needing.  I pay my very small amount of money ($25-$30) for enough minutes and data for two weeks.  This task completed, I go in search of my husband who has headed over towards the Bank across the hall.   Task COMPLETE!

Fortunately through our research before we came down, we were slightly prepared for the bank experience.   I missed the first part but according to my husband when the Armored Truck came there were seriously armed guards with large weapons who stood guard. During this time there is a queue lining up outside the bank.  Only a small amount of people are allowed in the bank at one time (5 at most) and the door is locked behind them by the bank guard.   Hats are NOT Allowed.  You are to take your number and sit down until your number displays on the display next to a cajero (cashier) number.  You proceed individually (only one person is allowed at the counter).  My husbands limited Spanish meant that he went to the cashier and hand her x US dollars, she smiled and gave him a nice selection of colones.  Task COMPLETE!

Confident in our abilities (ha ha) we proceed through the mall to the Super Mercado.  This becomes our first adventure in colones to $ conversions.  We figured out from others that the easiest way to convert is to move the decimal 3 places to the right and then multiply times two which gets you close to US dollars.  For example:  a bag of rice (arroz) is 1570 colons so that would be 1.570 x 2 or approximately $3.00.   We gathered our items and successfully used paper colons to complete the purchase and received yet "more" coins in return.   Task COMPLETE!

With the mall trip successfully complete we make our way back to the car and head to the exit armed with our parking ticket (el boleto).   We insert it into the gate machine and nothing happens.  Traffic is behind us because as I mentioned the mall is packed.  Eventually a voice comes over the speaker in very quick Spanish saying something we have no idea of what it means.  We respond with some version of the machine won't take our ticket.  Another series of fast Spanish and eventually they give up and raise the bar.  We are FREE!  Apparently there is a couple of validation machines in the Mall where you have to pay a parking fee before exiting the lot.  Good information for later. 

With all our tasks completed we are ready for to start on our next agenda item.  Today's Excursion! 

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