Monday, June 16, 2008

Replacing the muffler- vehicle inspection part 2

As most people know, if a business is busy they probably sell a good product. Patrick and I always keep this in mind especially when looking for new restaurants to try. We actually spent an entire vacation in Germany just eating from the busy street vendors instead of spending a fortune at sit-down places. But I am getting off topic aren’t I? I should be telling you about picking a place to get our muffler replaced. Every day we drive by this tiny hole in the wall shop with a sign hanging out front that says “muflas”. This garage always has cars parked outside and people pulling in and out. Therefore, I knew when we needed to get our muffler replaced that Patrick should stop by this place.

As is his practice lately, Patrick asked a couple locals for recommendations for a mechanic anyway. Both guys he asked recommended this tiny no-named garage. So, a couple days later on the way back from dropping Azure off at school, Patrick pulled up to the muffler shop and asked the guy when he could work on our car. The guy told Patrick 30 minutes so we had time to get gas and then Patrick drove me home. He left me alone about 8:35am and I figured I had some time to read and then get housework done. Boy was I wrong!

Patrick drove up to the house at 9:20am with a huge smile on his face. He made it back so quickly I thought for sure there was a problem but he said the guy actually replaced the muffler and tailpipe. Plus, he was second in line since by the time he got back to the shop a tourist bus had pulled in before him! I couldn’t believe it. Nothing ever happens that quickly here in Costa Rica. The mechanic charged him about $60 which we realize is probably a gringo price but then again probably cheaper than going to a more Americanized garage with English speaking mechanics. Patrick thinks the guy intended to also keep the old muffler to fix and then sell to another customer but he threw it back into the car when the guy wasn’t looking.

I also found out later that we have a used muffler which seems typical around here to buy used products since the hot water heater we bought back in Sept. turned out to be old also but since they are cheaper and work fine I'm not complaining!

(Not sure what we’ll do with this rusty old muffler?)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vehicle Inspection -Part One

As lucky owners of a vehicle in Costa Rica, we need to have our car inspected yearly by the MOPT (not sure what this stands for but translates into the government’s transportation dept). We’d heard stories about how difficult it can be to pass the inspection so Patrick decided to go a couple weeks early in case we fail we would have time to make the repairs and test again. Inspections are designated by the number of your license plate and ours needed to be completed by end of June.

So, a few weeks ago, we drove to the inspection center near Tibas. About a twenty minute drive through mostly rural area. I love this drive. We arrived slightly before 10:30 in the morning to find a woman sitting outside at a folding table under a canopy. She checked our paperwork against a list of license plates she had typed and attached to a clipboard. Apparently we were supposed to have scheduled a time for our visit. Despite the fact that we didn’t have an appointment, she handed us some papers and sent us into an office. We again handed a woman our paperwork and a few minutes later she handed us an inspection sheet and told us to pay at the next window. The gentleman charged our Visa about $20 and told us to drive around the building and get in line.

Once to the far side of the building, we were unsure which line we should wait in so we just picked the first (and longest line). Luckily, an inspector walked up and told Patrick to go to an empty lane (I think there were six altogether). These lines went through a long garage and appeared to have several “stations” each. I figured I didn’t want to sit in the car during the inspection so I hopped out to read a book at a nearby cement table/bench.

I hadn’t even finished reading one paragraph when I saw Patrick driving around the building. I hopped in the car and waited for him to tell me how in the world he had finished so quickly.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have good news. The car failed the very first part of the inspection –the visual part. He had been told that the car needed a new muffler and tailpipe. Also, the car’s tires were wide and needed to be covered with fenders –this posed a hazard according to Costa Rican laws.

After being told how long of a process this whole thing could be I was quite surprised that we were back home only 70 minutes later. Granted we had work to do on the car and had to go back but like I said – I love the drive!

Next time: replacing the muffler and adding fenders

Friday, June 6, 2008

Type of Tree?

I know it’s been a while since I last posted to this blog. We continue to have bad weather here. Lots of thunder and lightning accompanied by several inches of rain per day. Luckily this happens mostly in the afternoons and evenings with our mornings be somewhat “dry”. But it’s still impacting our use of the computer and internet connections.

I’m hoping someone can help me identify this tree. The branches and even the trunk are not very wide –I can almost get my hands around it. The tree is very spongy reminding me of cork yet I’m almost sure it’s not. Last month the tree started to flower and now it’s covered in tiny clumps orange berries (green when not ripe). I have no idea what this could be but the bees love the flowers and birds & squirrels love the berries. I’ve noticed in my bird book that some of the birds say they enjoy mistletoe and the photo shows them eating what appear to be these same orange berries…