Saturday, July 28, 2007

see ya Minnesota, hello Costa Rica

WOW! We did it!

We left our house in the dust this morning for the long seven hour drive to Chicago. I'm trying to wind down after repacking all our bags (twelve of them including carry-ons) so that none of them are over the 50 lbs. limit. I think I may have found the correct balance finally.

I would love to fill everyone in on more details but we need to catch the airport shuttle at 3:30 AM. Therfore, I am signing off and hope to have internet access soon. Maybe from the airport if I'm bored?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Trash or Treasure?

The past few days have been spent emptying the garage of all the items that never sold at our garage sales. I always intended to have a couple more sales but it rained one weekend and two others we were out of town or had showings of the property. Needless to say, we had a lot of "crap" still hanging around.

Tuesday evening I happened to see my neighbor and hollered over thinking that I would offer her whatever she wanted to take for free. Well, one thing led to another and soon our doorbell wouldn't stop ringing because all the neighbor kids wanted something, anything! In a way it saved us a lot of hassle because we only needed to take one van load full of stuff to Salvation Army. But at the same time, they were destroying all the order in the garage. They would actually open boxes, pull out all the contents, then decide they didn't want it, so it would be left on the ground for someone else to walk on. I couldn't watch the chaos so I left that role to Azure. She would dole out the good stuff and holler if the kids got out of control. Some kid even took my record player (which should have been worth at least $30) even though he had no idea what it was for...

Now the garage is empty (Patrick put a lot of effort into this project-Thanks, sweetie!) and we know it's time to leave. How many people actually have an empty 3 car garage?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This is Costa Rica!

We received an email from Charles Zeller yesterday to let us know our container would be delayed 2 more weeks. My first reaction wasn't normal because I wasn't surprised or upset. I figure I just need to expect these types of things now. Charles even concluded the email by stating "This is Costa Rica!" I wasn't looking forward to sharing the good news with Patrick, though. When I did finally tell him, he just laughed.

I guess our attempt to avoid sleeping on tile floors didn't quite work. I told Patrick this just means he'll have to put up our hammocks sooner instead of later. He said he planned to purchase an air mattress. We'll see who wins...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

making our list and checking it twice

I spent the majority of last weekend doing last minute things before our departure to San Jose. We found out that CarMax in Chicago will be open until 9pm on Saturday and they will inspect our vehicle and make us an offer on the spot. We have decided to do this route since the flights out of Chicago are much cheaper than Minneapolis and being able to sell our car the same day makes more sense than a rental. Since Azure starts school on Monday, we couldn't delay any longer. I purchased tickets for Sunday on US Airways to arrive in San Jose at approximately 1:30pm. YEAH!

This past Sunday I started stressing out again. Patrick and I figured it would be best to sit down together and make a list of all the items we need to finish by the end of the week and assign tasks to each day. That way we should be able to have everything done before we leave and not too much left at the end. Of course, there will still be things we forget...

The important items were making sure all statements (credit card, bank, mutual funds, etc) are paperless PLUS giving our new address to these places. We spent time making sure we will be able to access our money while in Costa Rica. Our credit union set us with a credit card that only charges $1.75 for cash advances! This should help since wires can take up to a week and the fees are steep.

I also checked in with Azure's school so they would know we aren't getting in until the day before school starts - she won't have the school polo shirt and we never turned in all the documents required. The principal emailed back almost immediately ensuring me it would be okay to just show up 20 minutes early on Monday. Great! One less thing to worry about!

I must be signing off. My list for Tuesday is quite large and I must cross items off so I know I am making progress. Later!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

the rest of the story

Ok, so some kids stole my backpack because I was relaxed and stupid. Actually, that's pretty significant because I am generally not very relaxed. I tend to be stressed out a lot and not always for great reason. Even on vacations I make the family run around and see as much possible before leaving for home. We've taken a couple of beach vacations and the one to Cozumel Azure absolutely hated because all we did was snorkel which she found too boring (I'm rubbing off on her). The point is that I need to relax more and I'm hoping our move to Costa Rica will resolve my problem since I have found it possible to relax there.

On to the rest of the story. After the guys stole my backpack, I found some policemen and reported the crime. They interviewed some of the people in the vicinity to no avail. One of the policemen spoke English which helped tremendously when it came to taking our statements but they never once asked me to describe my backpack which made it clear they had no intention of trying to find it. Patrick even drove down to the station to fill out an official report but not until after he personally made a sweep of the area checking to see if possibly my backpack and a pile of the stuff inside were dumped somewhere (we were the only ones looking around the perimeter).

The entire time he was gone, I sat at the bus station worried we would miss our bus to San Jose. Since we had an ARCR seminar to attend at 8am the next day and the 3pm bus out of Jaco was our only opportunity to be in San Jose on time it was important we catch the bus.

Upon arriving back from the police station, the English speaking cop told me they had the roads leading out of town blocked and they would definitely catch the culprits. HA! I knew already that I would never see my backpack or its contents again and since no one could give a good description of the two guys that stole it, they would never catch them either.

We did catch the bus to San Jose and then I immediately called the credit card company to report my card stolen. By the way, this is harder to do from Costa Rica than I imagined especially since the hotel room was paid for with the card that was stolen so I had to make the calls from the front desk.

Here's where the problem lies. It seems that I gave the thieves too much time before reporting my card stolen. They used my card to make a purchase at Penny Lane- $149.56 worth plus international transaction fees. Personally, I'm not sure why the card was ever accepted since it clearly was a gringo card AND I never signed it on purpose! I'm guessing a friend of theirs ran it through? Anyway, I have been fighting with Bank Of America ever since. I finally thought I had it resolved in March and then on June 13th they debited my account for $449.19 saying it is for duplicate adjustments previously made to my account. I have been furiously trying to get this resolved ever since I noticed it on my online statement but with all the time spent visiting lately this is proving more difficult than I imagined. Yesterday I expected a call from a manager and when no one called by 4:30pm I called them AGAIN. This time the call reps wouldn't even listen to me and basically hung up on me even though I was being very civil. I have worked in call centers before and I know it doesn't pay to be irate. They claim they have sent me a new statement and won't discuss this matter with me until I receive it and call back then. WHAT? I explained I am moving and need to get this handled now and they didn't care. I plan to call back every day until I get some consideration since several call reps have already agreed with me that this charge should be reversed but no one will do it...

enough ranting for today- I must relax ;-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Great disappearing act

I know I promised this story yesterday but we went to see Harry Potter. Patrick and I enjoyed the movie but Azure complained that they left out pertinent info that will screw up the next movie. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Onto the incident in Jaco:

During our November visit to Costa Rica, we decided to encompass not just the moving aspect but also get in some relaxing beach time. I planned a few days in Jaco at the beginning of the trip (but after our tour at Lincoln School) because we had been to the Caribbean coast but not the Pacific. The big draw in my mind was Manuel Antonio Park so we could see squirrel monkeys -one of only a few places in the world to see them in their natural habitat. Anyway, our car rental deal fell through and we decided to take the bus for the duration of the stay. The ride to Jaco seemed dangerous with all the steep mountain roads and the bus driver handled it well so we're glad we decided to take the bus. Our accommodations for the four nights suited us well. Clarita's turned out to be a tiny motel on the north end of the beach which served good food in their sports bar. We found a terrific bakery in Jaco called Pachi Pans that makes the most amazing chicken and potato empanadas. The bus to Quepos picks up right outside their doors so that worked out well. We didn't happen to see any squirrel monkeys but the sloths made up for that!

Back to the point of the story, the day we were to leave Jaco, we had to be out of the motel by noon but the bus didn't come until 3pm. The bus terminal was close by which was good because we had what seemed like a lot of luggage (12 days worth of clothes for 3 people). We didn't want to walk to town with all our luggage so we decided to just pick up food and eat at the bus terminal. Since we needed to purchase tickets for the bus before they sold out, this made the most sense. The bus terminal in Jaco basically is just a window in a building shared with a bank and a Pizza Hut next door all sharing a dirt parking lot. Patrick purchased tickets for us and we "camped out" on the retaining wall next to Pizza Hut. We piled all the luggage between us and started to dig into our lunch. I wasn't extremely hungry so I decided to write in my journal. A young kid (twenty-something) asked us what time it was so I looked at my watch and told him. He seemed nervous like he thought he was late and told me he didn't understand (in Spanish of course). I knew my Spanish wasn't great so instead of trying to tell him the time in Spanish, I leaned over and showed him my watch. (DUMB!) He said thanks and left. The three of us discussed what time it was in Spanish and laughed about it. I started to say the whole thing seemed weird like he wanted something from us. "It's not like we have anything to steal" came out of my mouth as I reached for my backpack - and found it missing!!! I looked at the old lady sitting next to me and she just shrugged. I hollered to Patrick "they stole my backpack" and he took off running. Of course, it was too late.

After all of our traveling, I made the dumbest mistake ever. I know not to tell people what time it is and I know that I always need to keep my hand on my backpack. I blame the whole thing on my trust of people and that Costa Rica makes me feel so at ease - unlike some other countries we have visited. Even so, we were sitting in a space that only had one access point because Pizza Hut was behind us AND a security guard was standing within 15 feet of us PLUS an elderly woman sitting right next to me. Those guys were pros! After questioning the woman, she admitted seeing the whole thing but said it happened so quickly she couldn't say what they looked like. Obviously though, she could have yelled at them or me or something. We've been told since this happened that Ticos believe it is okay to steal from gringos. I'm over being mad at them and just want to let others know how easy it is to have your personal stuff stolen.

You may be saying to yourself, "ok they took the backpack, so what? At least they still had their luggage for the rest of the stay." True. But the two guys that took my backpack knew what they were doing. We figure they must have seen Patrick go into the bank and come back out and hand me his passport (you need a passport for all bank transactions in Costa Rica). We think they were really only interested in the passport because we've been told they can be worth 10k on the black market. Plus, maybe you've guessed by now that I'm not the type to carry a purse. Everything I needed for the vacation besides clothes was in that backpack. I was even carrying some of Azure's things. All in all, they got all my money, credit cards, all 3 passports, drivers license, 2 digital cameras, 2 MP3 players, medicine, several books and maps and my car key which turned out to be one of the most important items to us. We easily received new passports the next day at the Embassy. Patrick had some money and credit cards in his pocket. Because we took the time to file a police report, our home owners insurance covered most of our monetary losses. But because we didn't have a car key, Patrick had to convince the car dealership we purchased the car from to make a duplicate key. Then we had a courier service take the key to the Park N Fly at the airport. Luckily we had just barely enough time to do this before arriving in Minneapolis because we live 90 minutes from the airport and we didn't get off the plane until after midnight.

Whew! Enough of this story for one day. Maybe I will fill in the blanks later.
Now you see you don't.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Time to organize

Please bear with me while I try to consolidate/organize my labels for this blog.

I will post my Jaco story later today (I hope).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

home again, home again, jiggety jig

We left Denver Monday afternoon around 1:30 after a delicious lunch with Sean at Tuk Tuk. I love Thai food and Pad Thai tops the list. We drove straight thru only stopping for gas and a meal to go at Sonic in Kearney, Nebraska. I'm not a fan of Nebraska but extremely happy to have a cream slushie! Anyone guess what time we pulled into our driveway in Big Lake? The winner would be the person guessing 5:36am! Obviously, we slept until almost noon....

Today, in between all the loads of laundry, we made lots of phone calls to try to get things wrapped up to leave for Costa Rica. Besides trying to get our properties sold, I have been trying to resolve a credit card issue that started back in November when I had my backpack stolen in Jaco. It's a somewhat long story that I would rather describe tomorrow since Patrick is just finishing up our dinner and I should change wash loads before eating.
Until tomorrow then...
Entire Jones Family at Red Rocks minus Sean since he was working :-( (and I took the photo)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

more waiting -we're starting to get used to it!

We're starting to get nervous about the move but not in the way you would think. We are excited to get down to Costa Rica but things don't seem to be going our way. We haven't sold either of our properties in Minnesota yet and therefore have not yet purchased tickets to San Jose. I keep finding really good deals but since we are afraid as soon as we book something the date won't work because we will need to sign paperwork, we postpone the purchase until we are positive we are picking a good move date.

The original plan was to fly down to Costa Rica the week before Azure starts school so we have plenty of time to settle in. We need to sign for the keys to our new property and transfer the name of the corporation into a name of our choice ( I think we finally settled on a name). Then we need to ensure our container arrived as scheduled and have everything delivered to our place (we haven't heard anything from Charles Zellar in a while?). Of course, unpacking will be fun! Also, Azure needs to get her new school uniform and I have to complete all the application paperwork. Then there is the matter of purchasing a car. Plus, did I mention we don't know our way around very well? I know we'll need to get things set up such as electric, water, cable, etc. and that will be an adventure all of it's own, I'm sure!

At least we are trying to relax here in Denver for the time being -we will probably be leaving Monday morning for the long drive back home.
This is a photo of the Jones Family on top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO

Thursday, July 12, 2007

more driving to visit family before we move

Since we didn't need to be in Minnesota for any particular reason, we took off early yesterday morning (Wednesday) and drove straight thru to Denver to visit Patrick's brother, Sean. We made it in one piece after only a 15 hour drive but had a close call coasting into one gas station on fumes!

I must sign off - we have places to go, people to visit, etc.

Azure typed up something in the car yesterday that she asked me to post. I don't quite follow it but here goes:

Hello bloggers,
This is a very slow day it is 11 pm and we have been on the since 9 am it is totally absurd. To me that makes no since, but driving from MN to CO in one day is just too weird to imagine. We were going to leave on Thursday, but all of a sudden (flash back to yesterday Tuesday and this morning) I got up in the morning from just getting back from WI and I hadn't seen my friend Sam for a long time soo anyways I went over to play and all of a sudden my parents came over and said that I needed to come home because we were leaving in the morning.
"Mom, why!?!?!" I asked.
"So if we leave now we can to CO then can be back if something happens." Mom explained.
"OK," and that's all I could say.
So mom was being really nice and Kirst (Kirsten my bff from 1st grade and still is). When we woke up mom was on a rampage because I forgot to put my backpack together that I was saposta put together last night. That meant I had to put it together in the morn (lest time for other stuff I needed to get done).
Now we're here and duh I should have known lots of lightnin'.
Bye talk soon,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The heat is on!

My brother, Troy, and cousin, Rob, attended Summerfest with us Sunday to see INXS. We staked out a picnic table up front for 3 hours taking turns running for water and the cool down tent where they spray mist so you don't pass out from heat exhaustion. The band put on a GREAT show which made the wait in 103 degree temps worthwhile! (JD was sporting a full beard and long hair!)

Then Troy stayed with Rob at his apartment in West Allis while we went back to the airport Radisson. We picked Troy up Monday morning to take him back to Rapids since he had rode down with Rob Sunday morning. The drive from Rapids to Big Lake is 4 hours making a total of almost 7 hour drive for the day. We eventually made it back to our empty house in time to get some of the 8 loads (or so) of laundry started! Whoo hoo!

We thought for sure our lawn would be burnt to a crisp like last year when we went to Summerfest for the week but luckily it must have rained a bit since we still had a bit of green (mostly weeds, though) and some water in the one bird bath we didn't pack. Patrick is out mowing the weeds right now. I regret not putting in the in-ground sprinkler system we discussed adding 2 or 3 years ago but obviously it's too late now.

Not much is happening with our properties here in Minnesota. Patrick has been diligently trying to get the duplex to close but the mortgage officer won't call back the buyer or Patrick. Also, the young couple we would like to sell our Big Lake home to can't get approved for the loan so we are discussing a carry-back option. It's nothing I'm excited about but we do need to sell so something is better than nothing, right?

As far as our place in San Rafael (Costa Rica), the previous owner moved out at the beginning of July and worked out a deal with the neighbor who owns the coffee plantations. He is staying at our place and we are paying him $50 per week until we get down there. It's not quite the arrangement I was hoping for (again) but hopefully it will help our standing in the community and we won't be the "awful gringos". Making friends with the owner of a coffee plantation can't be all bad! I can't wait to enjoy real coffee again (we have Yuban at home but we had plenty of crap while vacationing).

Oh, by the way, the Weird Al concert exceeded my expectations so I would highly recommend checking him out next time you get a chance! We missed the Asia concert due to a slight family melt-down and huge crowds. Cat Empire funked and jammed. Patrick and Azure thought Spoon was too mellow but I enjoyed them and at least caught "I Turn My Camera On" and "The Way We Get By" before we left.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Typical good 4th of July in Milwaukee

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July! I realize not everyone reading this blog celebrates Independence Day on the 4th but that doesn't mean you couldn't have a good day, right?

One of the Jones Family traditions on the 4th of July is to go to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. I know this may sound crazy but in Milwaukee most places are closed on Independence Day and we can always count on the Mexican restaurants to be open. Our favorite of them all is Conejitos. Thanks to my cousin Heather, we found this "dive bar" which serves the most amazing Mexican food. I always order the plate lunch. They serve rice and refried beans with beef, potatoes, and green beans all in a sloppy mess usually on a paper plate. Then you get 4 tortillas to make your own tacos. I can't even begin to tell you how delicious this simple meal tastes except to say that we crave it all year and can't wait for our yearly visit!
By the way, did I tell everyone that we actually sold Patrick's car right before our long drive to Wisconsin. Yeah. Now if only we could sell our Minnesota properties.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Another personal update

I'm thinking of changing the description of the blog since this has become very personal and won't necessarily help anyone planning a move to Costa Rica. If anyone is offended by the fact that this blog is losing focus, please let me know. Thanks.

So, on to our latest adventure: We spent some time in Wisconsin Rapids with my family. My Mom wasn't satisfied with our last goodbye in the mall parking lot so she drove down for a visit also. We had a pizza dinner Saturday night and breakfast Sunday morning. I'm glad that we had the opportunity to enjoy another get together with everyone again. The impromptu barbecue at my Grandparents will be one I'll remember for a long time. (It might be the last time I will get a real Wisconsin brat on the grill. MMMMM!) I showed everyone pictures of our property and made them all promise to visit sometime.

Monday we met my Aunt Patti, Uncle Todd, and cousins Joe and Alex for a day in the Dells. Alex lives and works in the Dells so he was able to score some free passes for the Chula Vista waterpark. The climb up all the steps killed me but coming down thru the tubes rocked so I think I managed to burn a ton of calories :-) Afterwards, we debated what to do and I guess I won because we went to Riverview Park and purchased a night pass for only $9.75. This allowed us to ride almost everything but the point of going there was for the go-carts. I love to race! I won or came in second almost every time. Maybe I took it to serious but we all had a blast! My Uncle Todd and I were racing furiously at one particular track and turned the corner to find Azure putzing along. Needless to say, she end up sideways and needed to get an attendant's help to get going again. I thought her eyes would pop right out of her head while she was spinning!

So, now we are in Milwaukee for Summerfest! Weird Al is tonight and of course we are excited. I have to sign off now so we can go swimming for a bit before we leave for the concert.


I know this picture is blurry but I didn't take it so what can I do-it's all I've got...