Saturday, August 9, 2014

Life is Costa Rica for Such a Small Package!

I just finished a Skype conversation with my mother who still lives in Texas about the rules and costs of shipping the birthday gifts she purchased for Max and Sara. I tried to ask her not to shower them with gifts this year, like she usually does, but instead to get them 1 board game each. After attending a few birthday parties here for some of our Tico friends and neighbors, we noticed that the kids are totally happy with 1 gift, which is more customary in Costa Rica. However, asking my mom to do this does not ensure she will listen:) I told her that we went to a baby shower last year and gave 4 outfits as a gift. My Tica friend called us crazy for giving so much and told me "Ticos only give 1 gift". I wish we would have been more conservative a long time ago, because now my kids expect a lot more. So back to the shipping of things. We were very clear to Mom, NO BOXES OVER 2 KG (roughly 4 1/2 lbs) because anything over that weight goes directly to customs to be opened and charged duties, plus it adds 2-3 weeks in transit time. Hopefully she follows my instructions and fills out the customs shipping ledger with detailed descriptions: Birthday Gifts: board games, shirts, cards. If not, we could end up spending an arm and a leg to get the kids' gifts out of customs. She went on to ask if she could give our PO Box to my husband's sister, another extravagant gift giver. Aunt Marshia has not been able to send anything to her neices and nephew since we got on to her last year for sending about $350 worth of gifts - and that isn't what they cost on the internet, but what it cost us to get them out of customs. Mom went on to complain about Costa Rica being the strictest and most expensive place to send things and I reminded her that the rules are clear here and the Costa Rican government likes to keep spending at bay, avoiding over-importation. Costa Rica is a conservative country with agriculture and tourism being the driving work force, so why not thrive on selling Costa Rican products? The Costa Rican government also likes to profit from import duties whenever possible. I understand her point of view, she is a gracious grandmother and she misses her grand kids very much, but we came here to open a business and start a new life which means we must obey Costa Rican customs, literally. 

We have an account with Aerocasillas which allows us to shop on Amazon and Ebay if we absolutely need to order something. It also allows us to hold a Miami Florida address for Paypal and other banking needs. We also have a local PO Box in Grecia which is needed for simple mail and gifts as well as sending our Beef Jerky though out the country here when our health permit arrives. So, it is not like we do not have mail options. We do, they are just slower and more expensive if coming from out of country, but the local Correo can deliver overnight within Costa Rica. There is DHL and UPS in Costa Rica too, but like I said, only in extreme circumstances do we use them for overnight services and such. As our conversation grew to an end, I reminded my mom to pack the items as lightly as possible and label the gifts with the customs form when sending so that there is no problem in transit. In hopes that the kids receive their gifts on time and with no hassle, we said goodbye and she noticed a red flash running past me in the background. When I got up to look outside for the kids, I only found Spiderman and Flash and a Dragon running around the coffee fields. 
So, we may not have all the modern conveniences of receiving overnight mail from, but we definitely live the good life! Pura Vida!

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