Money Options When Traveling Costa Rica

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When making your travel plans to Costa Rica, it’s good to know the ‘details,’ the nitty gritty; you know, the stuff about a country that only someone that lives here REALLY knows. We love travel books and travel agents, but sometimes, they just don’t really know. Living here, we would like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about this beautiful country, and we’d love to share the information we’ve learned with you. Some of this travel information is common sensical or merely a reminder of things you may have forgotten. But some of this information... continue reading.

michael alan's Blog- Do'in Costa Rica - Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2 Money Orders sent to me, by my mother who lives in Portland Maine- one for Christmas, the other, my birthday. Just so you know- sending an envelope to Costa Rica has a much better chance of reaching its destination (intact) than sending a package. Let’s just say packages could end up under someone else's Christmas tree. Both Money Orders total a mere $300.00.

As the story continues, keep in mind:

- In Costa Rica, Money Orders can take up to 30+ days to clear. So, it’s not as if you’ll be seeing cash anytime soon. - Three years ago, upon arriving in Costa Rica, I did deposit a Money Order for $500.00 without a hitch (same bank). - It is a TRUISM, in Costa Rica, branches of the SAME BANK do not necessarily provide the same services, and even the BASE services are subjectively applied from branch to branch. - My Spanish is EXTREMELY suspect. (More on that in an upcoming post). - My bank is Banco de Costa Rica (BCR).

I take my Christmas Money Order and patiently wait in line. Now, to a Tico, waiting in ‘any’ line is a social occasion, even at the bank, and often I half expect them to pull out a picnic basket and yard darts. To a gringo here, waiting in ‘a line’ is a chance to practice what Oprah and Eckhart Tolle explain as, ‘Being ‘ONE’ with the Moment.’ Trust me, Oprah and Eckhart would have their 'oneness' severely tested here in Costa Rica. *Yeah I know, I don’t see Oprah waiting in a line either.

Long story short, it didn’t get deposited; had something to do with the date, and the fact the teller thought it was a personal check. After that, I just heard the Spanish equivalent of blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, my birthday approached and the second Money Order arrived. I had to figure something out.

Enter my friend, José. Tico, perfect English, even knows our slang. He called my bank and talked to someone. At first, they didn’t know what a Money Order was, then after talking to several people, it was discovered I needed a personal ‘Contract’ with the bank, so they could ‘except’ my ‘International checks.’ What the FUCK EVER. Even José was miffed.

José called his bank, BAC San José and asked them about the Money Orders. He’s been with BAC for like 20 years; and yes they knew what Money Orders were and yes he could deposit them in his account and give me the money when they cleared. I’ll believe that, when I see it.

We walked over. Same line, same picnic, and Oprah was nowhere in sight.

The first teller did a lot of smiling, but wouldn’t accept them as she didn’t know what they were. José insisted she call someone. Enter the manager. First, she flatly said "NO". (Whimsical Banking Bitch). Then come to find out, only one person in the ENTIRE bank could ‘approve’ the Money Orders, and she was NOT IT- ‘he’ had left 15 minutes prior and wouldn’t be back for the day. José wouldn’t let it go. He told them he was a ‘valued’ customer (which he was), he had talked to someone prior and they said it was okay, and blah, blah, blah. They refused. José shook his head, but he had some banking of his own, so proceeded to do so.

Suddenly, after José’s transaction, the original teller decided she would take the Money Orders (Whimsical *smiling* Banking Bitch). I signed and handed them over. 5-minutes into the transaction, the computer pops up that the transaction needed ‘approval’.

The Money Orders are still hanging on the refrigerator.

This is Costa Rica- 5 different tellers- 5 different answers; hence, WHIMSICAL BANKING BITCHES……………Although some DO smile.