Last week, when Kevin and I went to get our health care card (the Caja), the official said one of us would get the card first (normally the husband ... it's still a patriarchal society, but it's slowly changing ... they did give us a choice) and then the other would need to go to the health care office the following week and they would have a "dependent" form signed ... and that would be that. Well, nothing is quite that simple. That process is perhaps what happens for citizens of Costa Rica, but for foreigners, it's a bit different. When I got to the office on Monday, they asked me for our marriage certificate, which I didn't bring with me. I left the health care office a bit worried. The original documents, which have been translated and authenticated, are with our immigration lawyer in San Jose. So as soon as I got home, I emailed our lawyer and asked if it would be possible to get a copy scanned and emailed back to me. If he couldn't or wouldn't, I'd have to order another original from the government of Canada and then get it signed by Foreign Affairs and the Costa Rica consulate. This would be such a pain and more money. Our lawyer replied today and attached a copy. What a relief!
I went back to the health care office with my passport, proof that we paid the Caja fee, Kevin's health card and a photocopy of our marriage certificate. When I got there at 11:30 am there were 7 people ahead of me ... it was going to be a long wait. The person in the office left and the next person went in. After fifteen minutes, that person stepped out of the office and the other six people got up and followed her out of the building. I guess they were all family members. Bonus. It was my turn. I walked in through the door and I could have sworn I saw the guy behind the desk roll his eyes when he saw me again. (The office is no bigger than a cubicle, but with floor to ceiling walls. There are two doors, which when they're both open nearly touch. One door is for the public and the other is for the staff.) He asked me if I had the marriage certificate. I handed it to him. He scrutinized it. He was expecting an Apostille, but Canada has not yet sign the Hague treaty, so instead, he had a pile of papers: translation of the original marriage cerfiticate, authentication pages from our lawyer in Canada, Foreign Affairs and the Costa Rica consulate. He was bemused. He said he had to get his boss to approve it. He excused himself and I end up sitting in his office for the next 45 minutes. People were lined up outside his office and sometimes they'd poke their heads into the room to see what was going on. I just sat there and shrugged my shoulders. When the health care office guy came back, he quickly shut the door, which the public uses. He told me after he was finished processing my application, he was going to lunch. After he handed me my new health card, he quietly ushered me out the back door. I felt badly for all those people still who had to wait even longer, but I was thrilled that I got my health card.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
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