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In This Issue:

1. Broken News: New Puntarenas Hospital Planning; Costa Rica Secures Berth at 2018 World Cup, U.S. Bows Out; Telecom Free Market Adventure

2. Rumble and Weather Talk: Tropical Storm DomiNATEs the Weather News in October.

3. Feature: Getting Residency in Costa Rica (An Update - October 2017, from Golden Gringo University).

4. Que Es Eso? Department: The meaning of Q.E.D.?

5. Health Stuff: More on Centenarians.

6. What's-in-a-Word: Answer to Que Es Eso; Apostille; Apoderado.

7. ROMEO Corner: El Arado, Manuel Antonio.

Wisdom of the Ages

Broken News
(All the News That's Fit to Reprint)

New Puntarenas Hospital Planning


If you've followed the Chronicles for a while you've read a number of references to the major earthquake the country sustained on the Nicoya peninsula in September of 2012 not far from the city of Puntarenas. GG, unfortunately, was right in the middle of it.


Puntarenas Hospital
Before the 2012 Terremoto
...and Today

I was standing on the first floor in the reception area of the ten-story Puntarenas hospital (right) when we were hit by the second greatest earthquake in Costa Rican recorded history (7.6R - see Terremoto Terror for this story). The hospital was a medical facility designed to service patients from all over the Province of Puntarenas (which includes the Canton and Municipality of Quepos).


Within a few months after the terremoto, after the engineering assessment had deemed the upper floors unsafe and irreparable, the top eight floors were razed (lower right). The building now has only the original two first floors and is used for doctors and administrative staff offices, consultations and emergency services. The loss of floors three through ten cut available space for the hospital by about 90% and now most cases requiring hospitalization have to be referred to other regional hospitals or clinics in the national health system (called the Caja) adding an additional load to the system.


Ever since the old hospital was deemed non-salvageable, plans have been under development (like for five years) for a new hospital. Recently a progress report was given to the press. The new hospital, officially known as Hospital Monseñor Sanabria is named after a former Archbishop of San Jose. It is expected to be constructed in Barranca, a small "suburb" of Puntarenas and less than 10 miles away from the old hospital.


Artist's Rendition of the New
Puntarenas Hospital

The Caja said the new facility will include: "...64 offices, 12 operating rooms, 350 in-patient beds, 43 observation beds and four delivery rooms." The expected completion date is 2021 but no ground-breaking date was projected for the near future; so hang in there, more reports are likely to be forthcoming. The current rebuilding cost estimate (these kinds of things always keep growing, don't they?) is about ₡102 billion ($178 million).


An artist's drawing of the new hospital is shown to the left. I couldn't help noticing, if the drawing is true to the real plan, that none of the buildings are over five stories tall. I don't think that's by accident.



Costa Rica Secures Berth at 2018 World Cup, U.S. Bows Out


The CONCACAF division (North and Central Americas plus the Caribbean) of world Futbol finished up its qualifying rounds for the 2018 World Cup.


In a tough game at the national Stadium in San José on October 5, the Costa Rican national selection team (our "sele") managed to squeak out a tie at 1-1 with Honduras in overtime minutes. The stadium crowd went wild because, with the one point they gained with a tie, the Ticos achieved the arithmetic necessary to clinch a berth at the World Cup in Russia next year.


U.S. Player Christian Pulisic

A couple of days later the U.S. national team lost to the last rank team in the CONCACAF division, Trinidad & Tobago, which virtually eliminated the U.S., who had been holding 3rd team position in the rankings. Meanwhile Panama, in a surprising game marred by a questionable goal, upset Costa Rica 2-1 giving them just enough points to claim third spot. The combined effect of the Costa Rica tie with Honduras and the surprising Panama victory pushed Panama into the third position qualifying slot and froze the U.S. out of qualifying.


This will be the first time in over 30 years that the U.S. has not qualified for a berth at the World Cup. One of the young (18!) U.S. players, Christian Pulisic (above, right) seems to be saying: "Wah...happened?"


Telecom Free Market Adventure


Costa Rica has been endeavoring to open its telecom market for a number of years now. For many years the only option available was the government owned ICE organization (Instituto Corricense de Electricidad) that enjoyed a monopoly in electric, telephone and cable services. Many older Costa Ricans have a fondness for ICE (pronounced eee-say) because they figure without it being created by the politicians originally, the telecom industry would not have happened as soon as it did. Let's give the politicians credit for that.


Let's also give them credit for realizing a few years ago that monopolies can be wasteful, expensive and often devoid of innovation. So, a few years ago, the Costa Rican pols allowed competition in for the first time in the form of limited licenses for Claro and Movistar, who seem to have prospered (or at least waiting out the development of the market).


Now the government is ready to go the next step and the press report stated that the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, the regulatory agency in charge recently made this commitment:


"On Monday, September 18, The Superintendencia gave Claro, ICE and Movistar the freedom to define the voice and data packages prices they want. Prior to this, prices were regulated by the Superintendencia and could not be changed except by a process of hearings and studies."


Of course, there is an unidentified challenge to this free market move in the Supreme Court (ICE?) and we'll see if that prevails but my money is on us getting a free market and the benefits resulting from such, namely better products at lower prices.


¡Pura Vida!


Publisher's Corner

GGC Publications Group is the umbrella organization that publishes the Golden Gringo Chronicles as well as a number of books and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles and Costa Rica.

We now have a web page, separate from the Chronicles, that describes our book and product offerings in detail.

The page is called GGC Publications Page - Products and has 3 sections:

Section I: Books from GGC Publications Group

This section of the GGC Publications Page consists of descriptions of the following books published by GGC Publications:

Golden Gringo Chronicles - The Novel (details HERE)

Mariposa, A Love Story of Costa Rica (English - see description and details HERE), also available as:

Mariposa, Una Historia de Amor de Costa Rica (Spanish Version - see description and details HERE)

Entreprenewal! Business Management Guide (see description and details HERE)

Or go here for all of them: GGC Publications Page - Products Section I


Section II: Recommended Inspirational Books - Life Changing Stories


S.O.B.E.R. - How the Acronyms of AA Got One Drunk Sober - by Ian Asotte (description and details HERE)


◄To Eternal Happiness - by Abelardo Garcia, Jr. (see description and details HERE)


A Woman Awakens: Life, AfterLife - by Jan Hart (see description HERE)



Or go here to see all of them: GGC Publications Page - Products Section II



Section III: T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs All About Costa Rica and the Chronicles


In addition, GGC Publications Group now also offers t-shirts and coffee mugs that are related to the Golden Gringo Chronicles with Costa Rican themes, to wit:


gtyderT-Shirts: a. Golden Gringo Chronicles with Logo, b. Official Golden Gringo with Monkey on Banana Hammock, c. ¡Quepo en Quepos! ("I Fit In Quepos!") with Photo of Quepos, d. Wanna Monkey Around - Come on Down! with Photo of White Face Monkey and e. It's OK to be Slothful with photo of Three-Toed Sloth.



Coffee Mugs: a. Golden Gringo, b. Wanna Monkey Around?, c. OK to be Slothful

Go here to see more: GGC Publications Page - Products Section III

¡Solo Bueno!

Rumble and Weather Talk
(Tropical Storm Nate)

Forget the rumbling, let's talk rain some more.


Just as we began thinking that this very, very rainy rainy-season might be letting up, mother nature decided to form one of those late-season southwest Caribbean tropical storms and send it our way. This one received the name Nate and would cause enough havoc, damage and loss of life to be indelibly recorded in the memories of current inhabitants of Central America, both native and expat.


The Costa Rican part of the story started around Tuesday, October 3 and the storm would not withdraw its tentacles until Friday, October 6, as it then passed on to Nicaragua and Honduras. Later in the week it proceeded N/NE across the Yucatan peninsula including Cancun and towards the U.S. gulf states, particularly Louisiana, strengthening to hurricane level over the warm waters of the Gulf. It would go ashore in Louisiana as a Cat 2.


Nate's Trajectory

Nate never reached hurricane strength in this part of the world but the winds did get strong enough (80-100 kph or 50-60 mph) to fell quite a few trees and lift off many corrugated roofs (a favorite construction material here because of its durability and economy). But it wasn't the wind so much as the rain that caused problems like landslides, washed out roads and flash flooding. This storm was so large that it easily reached its tentacles all across Costa Rica and the real problem became water, mucha agua everywhere; and in many places, not a drop to drink, as many main water lines were broken.


Flash flooding occurred from the southern sector all the way to provinces bordering Nicaragua (Limón, Heredia, Alejuela, Guanacaste) with particular intensity in the central provinces of San José and Cartago. Limón province, of course, was hit as hard as any because it encompasses the entire Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and was closest to the eye and path of the storm. Flash flooding is a natural and common occurrence in Costa Rica because all the mountains and hills can force large amounts of water to drain down narrow passages; dry stream beds can become raging torrents in a short period of time.


By Wednesday the central government had issued a Red Alert storm warning for the entire country. The winds picked up, the rains began pelting our tin roofs and there was no mistaking we were in for a real storm. By Thursday the winds and rain had increased to peak level and businesses were shutting down and schools were called off for the rest of the week.


Nate's effect would not have been so dramatic if he had just come in a normal rainy season. But we had been experiencing heavy, saturating rains for two months before he arrived. The rains were reminiscent of those we experienced in 2010, which long-timers here characterized the rain then as a 50-year event (see Anatomy of a Landslide). With hills and mountains across the country already saturated, Nate's extra and heavier rainfall produced the inevitable result: landslides, flash flooding, disruption of business and transportation and casualties. The landslides in turn would produce home damages, destruction of parts of many roads and broken water mains that run along the roads.


Here are some of the pictures that came out in the national press (the photos are commented on by their numbers below):


1 - Farm Near Parrita 2 - Americana Road South of San Jose 3 - Partially Washed Away Bridge
4 - Saving Abuela (Grandma) 5 - Homestead Outside Quepos 6 - Emergency Stats on Friday Oct 6

Photo Legend

1. This is a farm known as La Ligia near Parrita (14 miles north of Quepos). It is a very large farm producing rice, pineapple and melons.

2. This shows a big landslide and break on the Americana Sur, the main road that traverses Costa Rica and every other country in the Americas

3. Photo shows what raging flood waters of one river did to a bridge.

4. Many elderly and infirm had to be evacuated.


5. Photo shows one of many homes inundated by flood waters, just outside Quepos.


6. CNE (Comisión Nacional de Emergencias) diagram on damage and casualties.


7. The same bridge in photo #3 after water receded and with ladder access.

7 - Same Bridge in #3 Above Except Water Has Receded and With Ladder Access to Cross Over the Bridge


The scene shown in photo #1 above was repeated in many farming areas of the country and government officials are now concerned that there might be a spike in food prices as a result.


A Town in Guanacaste Province

After the storm had mostly passed on Friday, October 6, the CNE (Comisión Nacional de Emergencias) issued the diagram in photo #6 above giving a summary of the immediate post-Natel problems (woops, a little pun there). The translation of their diagram is as follows (from the left counter-clockwise): Fallecidos (fatalities-8), Desparacidos (missing-17), Personas en albergues (people in shelters - 7,217), Personas sin agua (people without water - 500,000), Albergues (shelters - 95 open) and Rutas cerradas (roads closed - 24). By October 22, the fatality count had risen to 14.


Included in that closed road count was the main road (CR Route 34) north to San José from Quepos. It was flooded out at both the three-corners intersection outside Quepos and also in Parrita, a town which is situated low in the plain and doesn't have a dike like the Malecón in Quepos. The closing of the main road for at least three days meant that towns along the coast could not be supplied by the trucks that usually come out of the central valley and GG noticed that by Sunday the stocks in the local supermarkets registered a notable drop, particularly in the meat and produce sections.


At the height of the rain on Thursday morning GG decided to walk downtown and see what might be happening in my little Quepos. Most of the businesses were closed but our local Musmanni store, a Costa Rican bakery chain, was open; we would not starve for the lack of a pastry and coffee.


Top - People at Band Shelter
Center - Three Stranded Boats
Bottom - The Madrigal Boat Next Day

I noticed only one bus in the central station where normally there would be four to seven of them jostling for parking positions at that time of day. The bus that was there was a Manuel Antonio type so I thought I'd still have a chance to go meet some friends in MA. It was not to be. Just as I was thinking that, the driver came out of a shop with his coffee, got in the bus, closed all the doors and drove off empty into the rain. I then learned that bus service throughout Costa Rica had been canceled for the day. Later I would learn that the main coastal route north was inundated around Parrita and nothing was going north or south on that route. The blockage continued into Friday and Saturday.


I continued down to the Malecón, the dike that prevents the sea from coming into Quepos (it held up well during this threat). As I got closer I noticed a number of people on the ocean side of the back wall of the band shell. They were noticeable because the wall is an open-louvered slat system (top photo left). What could be going on?


When I got to where they were standing I could see what they were gawking at. The Naranjo river that exits at Quepos and runs parallel to the Malecón before turning out to sea at the Pez Vela Marina was raging (center photo left), stronger than I have ever seen it before. In calmer days at low tide surfer kids often walk across that river to get to the main shore; not that day. On the other side of the river were three fishing boats stranded on what was left of the sandbar that becomes Cocal beach as you go north along the coast. One of these boats, a green and white one was on its left side half submerged.


There's an interesting thing to check out on that photo (the center one). In the middle of the photo, slightly to the left of the sailboat mast, beyond the sand bar, something is sticking out of the ocean that looks like a large rock or rock island (sorry, I didn't have a zoom lens on my Chinese phone). It wasn't a rock; it was nothing more than a violent spray of muddy water at the point where the river encounters the ocean, both fighting for the same space. Some of those sprays reached into the air twenty feet or more - fascinating (and extremely dangerous - not something you'd want to play in or surf in).


The story I got from the locals standing nearby, despite my imperfect understanding of Spanish, was that these boats were anchored closely together off the port we call Boca Vieja ("Old Port") and the rushing river caused their mooring lines to tangle together and the three to break loose together. They all ended up on the sand bar. I couldn't help thinking: "Bad luck for those fishermen".


As I processed all the emotional elements of the scene I was suddenly tapped on the shoulder. I turned around only to see my landlord and his oldest son Brian standing there. Brian said to me: "That's our boat - the green one." That was the half-submerged one. Ooops. I've mentioned before in the Chronicles that the Madrigals are an industrious family and the mom, Yadira Segura, particularly so. When not acting as a teaching supervisor and Education "Asesora" (advisor) to the Mayor of the Canton de Quepos, she also manages to supervise a commercial fishing business of two boats and oversees the seven apartments, one of which is GG's. That's a boatload of work for anyone, let alone a wife and mother of three.


hyuThe rural areas were hard hit. On Sunday I ran into an old friend, a longtime resident of Naranjito (a town about 10 miles east of Quepos), and he told me they had been advised by the municipality that potable water in that town would be out for as long as two weeks. On Sunday evening the futsal (Indoor futbol arena) that I've talked about so often in the Chronicles was still being used as a shelter for evacuees and the Quepos Estacion de Bomberos (Fire Station) was still being used as an emergency distribution center for water and staples (photo left).


By Sunday the waters in most places had receded and the messy business of dealing with the deposited mud and water damage was well underway. Recovery began and the Pura Vida attitude was coming back. By month's end one more low pressure system moved in from the Pacific putting the country in yet another alert, a yellow one (a cautionary level), for the total Pacific coast of the country. This added water, estimated at 100 liters per square meter (about 2.5 gallons per square foot) was yet again on top of already heavily saturated ground.


Quakes from Rain? Really?

The experience brought to mind another interesting tidbit picked up in the last few years. A professor at a Florida university (USF I think) published a report of a weather study he did in which he claimed a strong correlation between major rain events and subsequent major earthquakes one to four years later. I laughed at that one until I remembered that the 50-year rain event here in 2010 was followed almost exactly two years later, in 2012, by the second greatest earthquake in Costa Rican history.


Let's hope the professor's theory doesn't hold water when it comes to this year's event.


¡Pura Vida!


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Getting Residency in Costa Rica
(An Update - October 2017)
from Golden Gringo University

The information presented here is believed to be the best available at the time it was published but rules and regulations of the Government of Costa Rica change frequently and we believe you should confirm what is suggested here with the proper government representative and/or a professional intermediary.


Golden Gringo University (GGU) is making its debut here this month.


The idea behind Golden Gringo University is simply to present topics of wide interest to expats who have recently moved to Costa Rica or might be thinking of moving here. Our hope and goal is to provide information that readers will find helpful in their efforts to be a good expat resident in Costa Rica. The Chronicles will periodically feature GGU articles covering topics of educational interest to our readers.

Despite our effort here on the topic of getting residency we don't profess to be experts in immigration policy. Therefore, as mentioned above, it is important, even crucial, before applying for residency, that individuals investigate and determine the currently prevailing government rules and regulations either by themselves, through the embassies here or with the aid of a qualified intermediary (known here in Spanish as an "apoderado"). Don't let yourself be surprised (and be careful of what intermediary you employ - more on that below).


Note: This article is unusually long for the Chronicles due to the subject matter and because GG thought it was important to tell this story all in one edition rather than break it up over several months.


General Information


Standard Tourist Visa
Visa With Cédula (Unlimited)

A North American, i.e., a citizen of the United States or Canada (GG is not sure about Mexico although technically Mexico is North America) receives a visa upon entry to Costa Rica that allows free movement about the country and typically is good for 90 days. That visa is simply a dated stamp in your passport like that in the photo to the left taken from GG's passport in 2010 before he had a cédula.


Note that the valid length of the visa has been inked in with a red pen at 90 days. You don't need a cédula to get this visa, it's a common tourist visa. A copy of the main page of your passport and the page where the visa has been stamped may suffice a tourist in many instances but if you do any official business such as banking or car rental you are likely to be required to produce your original passport if you don't have a cédula.


The lower photo left is from the same passport but five years later after I got my cédula. Note that the (green) stamp has only been initialed by the agent and does not have a time restriction. Tip: Having a cédula also gets you through the airport faster by being able to use the "citizens" line.


In either case, with or without the cédula, the visa assumes that you will adhere to all the laws of the country, whether you know them or not. Violation of any law may result in revocation of the visa or revocation of the cédula and penalties up to and including expulsion from the country.


What follows is a FAQ Section (Frequently Asked Questions) about cédulas.


What is a Cédula?


GG's Current Cédula

A cédula is plastic card that looks like a credit card and is the official identification that shows you have been approved by the government as a resident in good standing. It is issued to you at the end of the process about to be described below.


It's been five years since GG got his first cédula; a picture of the front and back of his current, once-renewed card is shown at right. The front of the card is a photo ID (hold the comments on the mug shot please) with dates of issuance and date of expiration, in this case two years after issue or 23 June 2018. It also has the cédula number, a number you will see and use so frequently that you will easily memorize it even though it's twelve digits long (not sure why it's 12 digits, we only have seven digits worth of people here). The back of the card has a magnetic strip with all your pertinent personal information.


A cédula will take the place of a passport in almost all of the official transactions mentioned above for which a visitor needs a passport. It can also be used for local buses for those 65 and over in lieu of fares and will get those seniors a 25% discount on the longer hauls. Three of our local bus drivers now know my cédula number by memory and have it recorded by the time I go up the three steps to get on the bus. I'm working on the other two drivers.


GG has a copy of his original-issue cédula because if I lost the original I'm guessing it would be a hassle to get a new one (my guess is a replacement copy can be gotten but at some significant fee). So I had an office supply store here in Quepos copy the original card, both sides in color, laminate it and trim the corners to look like the original card. Hard to tell the difference now except if you use the copy on some buses in San José or other place that still use a magnetic reader, it won't work because the mag data on the back of the card doesn't transfer to a copy. Thankfully, the bus companies are phasing out the mag readers in favor of photo readers through which the copies pass beautifully. The photo of GG's cédula shown above is actually taken from one of my copies.


I have two copies because I had another one made when I thought the first copy was lost only to have the first copy returned a week later by a bus driver with whom I had absentmindedly left it. ¡Los conductores en Quepos son mis amigos! (The bus drivers in Quepos are my buddies!)


Is There More Than One Kind of Cédula?


Yes. There are three types, or shall we say four ways, of obtaining a cédula:


A. Pensionado (a retiree or pensioner)


kolThis is by far the most common type of cédula obtained by expats. Aside from documents explained below, this route requires a minimum, guaranteed, non-wage income of $1,000 per month. There is no age requirement but the income requirement most easily fits Social Security pensioners. And the amount is essentially a family requirement as the same $1,000 works for a single person, a couple or a couple with dependent children.


If you can not establish an income sufficient to meet this requirement, and assuming the other options below are not open to you, you must resign yourself to the fact of not being able to get a cédula. You may elect not to live here permanently or to become what some call a "perpetual tourist", that is, someone that travels to the border every 90 days to obtain a new tourist visa for another 90 days. At this time the country's rules and regulations allow this repetitive behavior without restriction or penalty (but keep your original passport with the time stamp handy). There has been talk by the government in the past of charging a $100 fee or more to extend the 90-day visa for a second term but this has not instituted so far.


B. Rentista


This title is a bit misleading as it's not necessarily about renting. A rentista cédula requires a minimum, separable and dedicated $2,500 per month. This can be satisfied by depositing $60,000 (24 months x $2,500) in a Costa Rican bank's specific type of restricted account along with an agreement to withdraw at the rate of $2,500 per month. For those with the means, this is one way of getting a cédula when you don't have a pension; it's also a way of testing the waters for lifestyle here before jumping into an investment.


C. Inversionista


drtInversiones is the Spanish word for investments. The minimum investment in a business or real estate (like a home) to qualify for this type of cédula is $200,000. An exception is made for a "qualified forestry plantation project" where the minimum is $100,000. This requirement applies only to waiving the $1,000 minimum but all the other documents mentioned in the Pensionado version above are required.


The investment(s) of course are subject to an array of income and sales taxes as well, such as corporate tax (property here is bought through a personal corporation), property tax and possibly income tax.


D. Vinculo


Another way to get a cédula is through a close family relationship. Marrying a local can get you a cédula but beware, scam marriages for that purpose can get you deported or even some jail time. Other qualifying relationships include unmarried siblings such as having a Costa Rican brother or sister but with these some age and marital status limitations apply. The program does not include extended family members such as grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.


How Do You Apply for a Cédula?


juiInitial applications are made at the immigration department (Dirección de Migración y Extranjería) at their main office in the Uruca district of San José. Unless you are really fluent in Spanish and have at least a working knowledge of what's required it is strongly suggested that you use an "apoderado", a helping person or organization to assist you in the process, at least in the early stages.


Hours of operation: 7 AM to 3 PM, Monday through Friday (except for HOLIDAYS, of which there are eleven annually in Costa Rica. Holidays may get extended for one or two days in either direction so check with the office before going (506-2299-8026).


What Are the Application Requirements?


There are certain critical pieces of information (1 through 4 below) that have to be submitted to Migración that can only be obtained from government organizations in the U.S. or Canada. These are:


1) an original (non-copy) of your birth certificate issued by the Clerk of Courts where you were born. (in GG's case that was a town in Massachusetts). Fees and charges are normally your responsibility.


2) A state police report from the state you last lived in showing no outstanding warrants or felony convictions (in GG's case that was Florida). Felony convictions over 10 years old may qualify for an exemption on a case by case basis. Fees and charges are normally your responsibility.


UPDATE March 2020: A change in requirements by Costa Rica now requires the submission of an FBI report instead of any state police report. FBI report only now. This is now in effect for all types of residency cédulas.


3) Copy of your marriage certificate (if applicable).


4) Copies of children's birth certificates (if applicable).


Documents 1 through 4 must be certified by the respective Secretaries of State from where the documents originated. It must also receive an apostille, an additional certification page that's recognized by international agreement and provided by the appropriate secretary of state during the certification process. Canadians don't get certifications or apostilles, instead they get their documents "legalized" which amounts to much the same end result. Fees and charges are normally your responsibility.


tyhAnother possible requirement is the submission, in addition to the state police report, of an FBI report. The FBI report is not a formal requirement for every applicant at this time but is discretionary on the part of the Migración agent can be requested by on a case by case basis. One professional apoderado (see next section about apoderados) states that they expect this, at some point in time, to become a requirement for every applicant and that about 20% of their clients currently are asked to submit an FBI report. He also said the reason for doing so "... can be due to (1) random sampling of US citizens, or (2) INTERPOL may have shown a US citizen with a similar name as having a criminal record or other issues, and Migración wanted to verify if that particular applicant was the same person flagged by Interpol".


Fees and charges for these documents are normally your responsibility.


Note that these critical documents must be "fresh", defined by Costa Rican authorities as carrying an apostille or legalization date less than six months before the date you submit them with your application. Once submitted, that requirement is no longer a concern, they will not go "stale" while in review.


5) A confirming letter of registration from your embassy in Costa Rica which simply means that you've registered with the embassy here. Current charge for U.S. citizens is $50 (about half that for Canadians).


6) A notarized letter of application (Spanish) with your full signature stating your desire to become a resident of Costa Rica.


7) A confirming letter from the Social Security Administration or Canadian Old Age Pension (or alternate, acceptable proof of income for a private pension) translated into Spanish that your benefit equals or exceeds $1,000 per month. These can be obtained at the U.S. and Canadian embassies here in Costa Rica. Fees and charges are normally your responsibility.


8) Spanish translations of certain key documents. N.B. Since Canadian passports are not printed in Spanish as well as English like the U.S. passport, a translation of each page is required for the Canadian.


9) Fingerprints obtained at the Police Academy in the Desemparados section of San José.


10) At least eight each of passport type photos of yourself and each family member.


Also, you must show a valid passport with at least one year to go before renewal.


Who Can Help With the Process?


frtA person or organization that helps someone get a cédula through the system is called an "apoderado" (see What's-in-a-Word section below for meaning). An apoderado can be an individual, an attorney or a company set up to provide this service. Or you can do it yourself, if you like adventures.


GG had a bad experience with his first apoderado in this regard. I started the cédula process in early 2009 using a company service organization (not identified below) that was recommended by a friend here who had lived in Costa Rica over 10 years. The fee was $750, half down, half at completion, plus all the government fees which would have been nearly $600 additional if we had gone to completion. The process was still going on in mid-2011; I kept asking for progress reports but got mostly "don't worry - it's in progress". Then one glorious afternoon in August 2011 I received an email from the apoderado saying "You must leave Costa Rica within three days." Say what?


I made a trip the next day to San José with my Spanish teacher who would become my new apoderado and learned directly from Migración that apoderado #1 had ignored two warnings from Migración that documents were incomplete and consequently Migración had actually and formally rejected my application and that's why I needed to get out of Costa Rica within three days. Choose your apoderado carefully amigos; interview them, ask for references, ask for regular progress reports.


aseMigración then told me that my application file and everything in it was sealed and I would have to start from scratch and generate all new documents. I fired the apoderado that afternoon ($375 deposit lost) and spent the next few days in a mixed state of confusion and anger while I made a border run. Then I spent three days digging deeply into the process of getting the new key documents (birth certificate, police report) from the States as well as all the other miscellaneous docs (photos, deposits, letters, translations etc.).


At that point I started using a native resident (my Spanish teacher) as my apoderado to help me with filing and obtaining status reports. I paid him a daily fee for his time when he accompanied me to San José and Migración. I also paid his travel expenses to San José for the three to four trips it took to get things done (my recollection is that his fees and expenses did not total more than $300). My new application was completed in November only two months after I started. Seven months later I was notified that it had been approved and I picked up my new cédula. Read more about the process GG experienced HERE.


In addition to using a personal apoderado, there are a number or organizations and attorneys dedicated to providing this service. Here are two (of course GG is not including the one that I fired) that have good reputations for getting things done. GG does not have personal experience with either, so make your own investigation and conclusions. They also provide legal assistance if required and they may offer other services to their clients and members such as group insurance, monthly newsletters etc.:


1. ARCR - Association of Residents of Costa Rica


Tel: (506) 4052-4052;
Address: A.R.C.R., P.O. Box 1191-1007, Centro

Colon, San José, Costa Rica

Website: http://www.arcr.net



2. Residency in Costa Rica


Tel: San José Office: 506-2226-0755' Los Angeles Office: (323) 255-6116

Address: Barrio Los Yoses (near Universidad de Costa Rica)



Fees charged by professional apoderados to obtain a cédula vary from about $1,000 per person to nearly $3,000 per person. You need to ask how much of the miscellaneous costs are included in the fee as in most cases, the lower the per-person fee the more of the miscellaneous expenses or running costs you are expected to pick up directly. It's best to get a direct quote from a professional apoderado after you've explained your personal situation. Again, interview them, ask for references and ask for regular progress reports.


How Much Does It Cost?


There are fees at application time, expenses along the way of the process and completion fees when the cédula is approved. Initial costs include an application fee of $250. In addition, if you've engaged a professional "apoderado", a deposit of 50-75% of their fee is common at project inception time with the balance due on completion of the project. Costs related to apoderados are discussed above.


The costs "along the way of the process" (let's call them "running costs" are miscellaneous items having to do with transportation, overnight stays if any (I live in Quepos and sometimes staying overnight in San José is easier), photos, fingerprints, translations etc.


Currently, there is a completion or finish cost of about $423 once the cédula is approved. This includes a one-time, supposedly refundable surety bond of $300. The original intent of this bond was to provide a one-way ticket from Costa Rica to your native country in the event you needed to be repatriated for any reason but I have never heard of it being used (or refunded, for that matter).


One of the newer regulations is the requirement that you must join the Caja (Nationa Health System) after you've been approved and before you receive your card. At the time that GG got his first card my monthly Caja rate was 25,000 colones (about $51 at that time). My current rate is 44,000 colones or about $76 per month for a single, over 65 pensionado.


GG's best recollection is that I spent about $300 to initiate the process, incurred running costs of about $300 including the help of my local apoderado who provided Spanish communication and interpretation, plus the $423 finish cost for a total of a little more than $1,000 to complete the process. In this approach you personally assume the responsibility of monitoring, following and correcting the process where necessary whereas using one of the professional organizations you might enjoy the luxury of them handling it completely.


How Long Will It Take to Get My Cédula?


frtAssuming no glitches in the data, it usually takes from six months to a year after completion of the submission of all required documents before an approval is issued by Migración. The variance in approval time is usually a result of the surging of the workload in Migración. My second attempt (and first success) was done in seven months as I hit the department just after it increased its staff to lower their backlog. People recently going through the process are reporting current completion times of 12 to 18 months from completion of paperwork submission to receiving the card.


How Long is the Cédula Good For?


Renewals are required every two years and the process is described below. After three years legal residency here you will be able to apply for permanent residency. That still requires renewals but reportedly only every five years. The exact fee difference, if any, will be reported later as GG will renew his cédular next year by June of 2018 and this time I will be eligible for permanent status.


How and Where Do You Renew a Cédula?



lopA cédula may be renewed at most local branches of a national Costa Rican bank such as BCR (Banco de Costa Rica). The renewal appointment must be made in advance with the bank's Migración representative by calling a special telephone number available at the bank (by the way, you are charged for this call). You will have a new photo taken on the premises and be required to provide a "proof" of income in the form of a bank deposit record showing you met the required monthly deposit minimum.


This is one reason why GG decided to have his monthly Social Security check directly deposited to an account at BCR (currently the only banks authorized by both Migración and Social Security for this purpose are BCR, Banco Nacional and Scotiabank). When I renewed the cédula I simply had the BCR platform people print out my account records for the previous year, walked 10 yards to my appointment, presented the data and got my new cédula in the mail a couple of weeks later. Q.E.D. (see What-s-in-a-Word section below for the meaning of this acronym)


Why is a Cédula Worth Having?


Don't be dismayed by all the requirements above, they're really not complicated, just tedious in getting them done. Tens of thousands of expats have obtained cédulas over the years. If you are serious about being a resident, a cédula is indeed worth having because:


* The need for a 90 day border run is eliminated.


* The risk that the multiple-90 day rule will be changed or special charges imposed is eliminated.


Welcome to Costa Rica!

* A cédula allows you to get a bank account here (the regulation on this has varied back and forth over the years from being able to get an account with a passport to needing a cédula).


* It allows you to do online banking (like paying electric, water, telephone etc.).


* For seniors (65+) it provides discounts such as 100% for local buses (including within San José) and 25% on longer hauls. With the cédula you can also get a Tarjeta Ciudadano de Oro (Gold Card Citizen available at the Caja building in San José) that provides discounts from a book that comes with the gold card (although in retrospect GG didn't find many of these deals available outside the central valley).


* You can tuck away your passport and not worry about having to use it until you cross a border, lose it or have to renew it.


* A legal resident of Costa Rica is guaranteed by the Costa Rican constitution to have every civil right that a native Costa Rican has except the right to vote.


Being a legal resident in no way effects your citizen status in the U.S. In fact you could become a citizen of Costa Rica while being a citizen of the United States if you wanted to; dual citizenship is not uncommon.


But we'll hold that topic for another GGU course.


What's to lose amigos, get a cédula!?


(GGU is open to suggestions for future articles on topics such as the above that effect the majority of expats and their lifestyle here - send suggestions to gg@goldengringo.com).


¡Pura Vida!

¿Que es Eso? Department (What is That?)


OK, let's quiz you on your Latin. What does "Quod Erat Demonstrandum", the motto used on the new GGU Coat of Arms, mean?


Hint: This term was often seen (and perhaps still is) at the end of the proof of a theorem in algebra or calculus, usually expressed as Q.E.D. (Oh horrors GG, did you really have to bring up that stuff?)




Answer in What's-in-a-Word section below.


¡Solo Bueno!



Health Stuff

Note: The information given in this section is offered as news information only and does not indicate GGC confirmation or denial of the accuracy of the treatment or a recommendation to pursue it, nor can we or do we guarantee the efficacy of the results nor validity of the conclusions proffered.
(How's that for a disclaimer?)



More on Centenarians


A recent article on centenarians in Cuba prompted me to do some research on percentage of same by country or per capita, often expressed as centenarians per 100,000 population.


GG has been following this topic since a region in the Nicoya peninsula was declared a ";Blue Zone" by the United Nations recently, that is, one that has an unusually high percentage of people aged over 100. That designation prompted a number of studies to identify the total number of centenarians in Costa Rica as well as the common factors that may be contributing to their longevity. Those studies are still underway and conclusions in that regard are yet to be published (personally GG thinks it's the gallo pinto).


frtAccurate data also is still elusive because many countries have not yet established a conclusive count of their 100 plusers. Costa Rica falls into that category despite getting the Blue Zone designation for the Nicoya peninsula.


Another view of what's going on is presented in the table to the right. In this case only those countries that have a total centenarian population over 1,000 are included effectively eliminating many small countries including Costa Rica. The interesting thing about the second chart is that five of the ten top percentage countries are Latin American: Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.


¡Pura Vida!



Travel Quote of the Month




"Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn"
– Benjamin Franklin


Answer to Que Es Eso?


"Quod Erat Demonstrandum", often abbreviated as Q.E.D. means "That Which Was To Be Demonstrated" which is why it was at the ending of a theorem proof. In engineering school we had a simpler version of the definition of a theorem proof, namely, "Quite Easily Done).


Why did I use Q.E.D. on the Golden Gringo University coat of arms? Basically because it was the only academic sounding Latin I could remember from high school except for one other phrase, and that one is not suitable for most publications.




An "apostille" is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. A list of countries that accept apostilles is provided by the U.S. State Department and includes Costa Rica. Apostilles are added to certified copies of certain reports (numbers 1-4 in the article above) and consists of a one page document attached to the primary document with appropriate stamps, approvals and seals.


The exact origin of the word is not certain but modern use was likely derived from the French and first used as a marginal note in bible references.




The direct English translation is "representative, attorney, agent or proxy". U.S. records dating from the the early 1900's identify Apoderado as a family name, probably of Mexican/Spanish origin and concentrated in the state of Arizona.



ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

El Arado, Manuel Antonio


Location: Down the old road to Quepos, about 200 meters west of the Mono Azul bus stop.
Hours: 8AM to 10PM, Tues-Sun; closed Mondays
Parking: Some spaces next to the restaurant; other street parking available.

Reviewing ROMEOS: Alma L., Amy P., Anita M., Bob N., Bruce H., Carla L., Jerry C., Jim H.,  Lance M., Mary M.


To Review Our Rating System and Procedure, go here: R.O.M.E.O. Rating System


The inside of the restaurant has been freshly re-decorated and is more colorful than in the past. The view is basically jungle-like and there are almost constant familiar sounds from the macaws and other jungle birds that inhabit the nearby trees. Also, don't be surprised to hear an iguana scratching across the roof and occasionally a troop of Titi monkeys will play around the restaurant. I also noticed cloth table covers, cloth napkins and flowers on the table, even if they were artificial.


Our ROMEO group gave the El Arado a composite score of 4.2/5.0 sloths for ambiance/atmosphere.


The menu is quite extensive and lists seafood (jumbo shrimp, several kinds of fish fillets in various sauces and also "entero" or whole), meats (including some good beef which was above average in tenderness), pastas (including ravioli and white or red sauces). There seemed to be quite enough selections to satisfy interests of a group of ten.


GG started with a shrimp bisque (photo) that consisted of a delicate soup base and croûtons with two jumbo shrimp artfully propped up in the center. Delicious.


For the main course, GG had the El Arado version of a surf and turf, which consisted of two brochette sticks, one with jumbo shrimp and the other with tender pieces of lean beef. The dish also contained an attractive small salad and a few vegetables. Some of us remarked that the vegetables were cooked, as the French say, "au point", or just to the point of tenderness but not overcooked or overly crisp.


Other ROMEOs had a variety of fish in a variety of sauces (seafood [photo], white or bechamel, caper) and also jumbo shrimp, ravioli in red sauce and chicken with chimichurri sauce were ordered. There were top ratings on food quality from all ROMEOs and the composite score was 4.8 out of 5.0 sloths.

Value Index=119


Dessert offerings included the proverbial and locally sacrosanct brownie with ice cream as well as a coconut flan and a chocolate volcano (I believe we dubbed it Volcan Irizu). I had the latter and it was a fitting end to a good meal (always have been a chocoholic).


This is a family run business and I noticed that the whole family, i.e., the owner, his wife and three sons were all busy trying to keep up with the effort. It was also a busy restaurant that night being nearly full. The family did their best to keep up but service was at times a bit slow (or is that my gringo coming out?). In any event, our composite score for service came in at 4.1 and the average composite score for ambiance, food quality and service at came in at 4.4.


GG, as usual, had the biggest check. For the shrimp bisque, surf and turf and chocolate volcano and one mint lemonade, my tab was just over 21,000 colones (about $37). Our composite score for cost came in at 3.7$ and that yields a Value Index of 4.4/3.7x100=119 which puts El Arado in the top third of restaurants the ROMEOs have reviewed for value.


Here are some of the written comments from the ROMEOs: "Compliments to the chef", "Excellent jalapeño margarita, excellent food", "Friendly family, creative chef", "Service lovely and personal but a bit slow", "Super good food, super friendly service", "Service is nice but a bit casual", "Beautiful presentation, food cooked to perfection", "Outstanding food".


The ROMEOs can easily recommend El Arado for a very good meal at a reasonable price.


¡Pura Vida!




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Pura Vida!

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