This one was triggered by some grumbles about the advanced state of the bureaucracies of Costa Rica.

As it was once explained to me, the reason there seem to be so many bureaucracies is that often when a problem becomes insurmountable or intractable (words that mean exactly the same to a bureaucracy) then it is time to do something different! The solution may be to form a new bureaucracy to study and solve the problem. Unfortunately the new bureaucracy may be formed under or reporting to the bureaucracy that couldn't solve it the first time with perhaps members of the original bureaucracy hired in for the purpose committed to a new solution to the problem they couldn't previously fix. Hey that's just how someone explained it to me :-)

The bureaucracy though can be a great deal of fun . . . I'd publish the complete tale of our last experience getting a permit renewal except we are not DONE yet . . . we are missing a "required document".

We are also now missing one more piece of paper that essentially is a permission not to have the "required document" because the agency responsible does not know where it is. I believe part of the problem is that the Municipality is in a temporary building after the January earthquake and keep records now in places that are not accessible or not well known at least. Weirdly enough the 4th floor (where the records used to live) was the most damaged in the quake.

Before we can have such permission we need a document that proves we can legally represent the entity that needs the document. When we started the process we had such a document drawn up by our lawyer with lots of nice stamps on it. BUT this document was given already to the original agency who is granting the permit. Copies are no good (heck, no stamps) so we need to go to San Jose to get another one with proper stampage.

Since we have only been working on this for 5 weeks, I can't be sure we are done but I'm pretty certain we will be OK with the permission not to have "the document" we needed once we have the document that proves who we are and are thus worthy of such permission.

We reached this condition a few days ago. We had all this explained by the people on the Third Floor but now have to explain it all again to the people on the First Floor of the new temporary Muni building. We decided to take a break from the process after showing up in a line that said in Spanish, "no more than 3 tramites in this line". I said to my wife, there's no way this is less than 3 tramites jejeje (Spanglish for "hehehe chuckl chuckl"). At that moment the clock struck 5pm and all the Muni workers scurried for the time clock.

When we finally got to the right line a few days later at the Muni to ask for the letter that says they don't have the document, the desk person politely informed us we'd need to write them a letter to request the letter saying the document could not be produced.

So we left guffawing all the way home and made an important decision. We'd go to the original agency and explain the story just recounted and try to get them to do without "the document". Well, to our surprise it worked!

And you could not invent such scenarios (well actually Terry Gilliam did in "Brazil") :-)and then this is Costa Rica and not to be taken all too seriously eh?

p.s. little known factoid: it seems the huge new BCR migracion computer may be nothing more than a front end for a filing clerk who still retrieves the same old green folder . . .

"I thought I made an appointment by computer?"

"Yes you did. Good morning."

"Is there a problem?"

"Well yes, we can't find your file. Can you come back tomorrow?"


Full employment . . .

"Sir, you are missing a stamp on the document." (the one that proves who we are)

"Do you need a stamp?"

"NO, you do."

"How much is it?

"300 colones." (or 60 cents US)

"Could we get it from you?"

"NO, you walk across the street to the old guy with the umbrella up against the metal railing."

"Can you point him out to me?

"Of course."


Meet your neighbors . . .

"Can we wait here?"

"No, please sit over there. I will call you when I am ready."

Official has a stack of maybe 700 pages he is routing through and looks like he may get to us around the second coming. He seats us among a large crowd of applicants.

"How does he know which of us is next?"

Shrugs and sighs then opens very large book "For the Love of Insects" by the marvelous and empirical Thomas Eisner.

Some time later.

"OK, you are ready. Please go in this door."

"Hola Carlos, how are you! I never knew you worked here!"

(Carlos is our next door neighbor)