Friday, 18 October 2013

Correos de Costa Rica

Took our first visit the the Correos yesterday.

The Correos in Playa del Coco
Sorry not a great picture, but I 'borrowed' it from Google Images.

Those that know me, will recall my love of visiting the Post Office in the UK. Trudging to the Wellington Centre in Aldershotweighed down with packages from our Ebay sales; a Santa's Sack of goodies for me to post (always with a miscalculation in the postage we charged, despite using both Ebay and the Post Office price charts).

No matter what time of day my pilgrimage took place, I would without fail be greeted with a queue. I would frequently joke with my office buddy that if I hadn't returned within the hour, to send out the search parties. However, time was always put to good use in those long lines, and I would ruminate over the books and magazines WHSmith so kindly displayed to illustrate where to stand and wait: surely the passage of people was a pointer? Why go to college to learn how to be a techy, when you can stand in the Post Office track and study from the enormous display of computer publications for free? MacUser, 3DWorld, PC Format, they are all there, ready to be thumbed and thumbed again by immovable people in an inert progression.

Therefore, I looked forward to our first trip to the Correos here in Costa Rica with great anticipation!!!! How long could it possibly take to set up a PO Box, being as it took a protracted four hours to get car insurance? Why bother with a PO Box at all, I hear you ask? Well, it appears that is the only relatively safe way to receive any mail! See in Costa Rica, there is a distinct lack of street names to where mail (or ambulances and so on) can be sent. When asking for directions from the Tico's, the responses always seem to be obtuse; you are informed that  "'s opposite the red house...",  "Turn left at the big tree" or even "300 metres south of ...". Now my navigation skills are not great, but if the sun is not shining, how am I supposed to know where south is? To add to the lack of street names, there appears to be a distinct absence of postie's too; not a Postman Pat and his Black and White Cat to be seen; no little red vans, no beaten-up bicycles, no abandoned elastic bands by your front door.

How then to secure a Post Office Box? Sometimes they are available and sometimes they are not. We were told by a friend that you had to wait until someone dies before the Correos would allocate a new one to a new customer.  Someone else told us they had a three year wait for theirs. Great! 

But hey, we had a few hours to spare before we picked the kids up from school, so why not try our luck? 

Low and behold, the place was empty. No people, no queue, no lingering body odour, no random publications, no advertising flyers.  Nothing. Nichts. Nada. An enterprise of nothingness.

DH and I approached the counter with apprehension; the Hawaiian-shirted cartero did not look best pleased that we were about to disturb his busy schedule. DH chatted to him for a while, buttering him up, before asking the big question. "Ocho Semanas" he tells us. I suppose eight weeks is better than waiting three years, but ever persisitent, DH goes in for the kill and appeals to him some more. A quick chat with his superior in an antechamber and we are told to come back next week, with our passports, and they will see what they can do. What day? Another consultation with the hidden bureaucrat and it is agreed that Wednesday would be a good day to return, as it's not so busy!!

All in all, a five minute visit. No PO Box, but then no queue. Result!

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