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Friday, November 17, 2006


While Bruce and Lisa are out enjoying the sun and surf I would like to take a moment to address some technical issues. Fun, fun.

Power of Attorney
If you are planning to be in Costa Rica for at least a year, you may want to look into giving someone power of attorney. This basically means that you authorize someone to act on your behalf legally in the United States (I have no idea how this works in other countries…). Of course, this person should be someone near and dear to you, because they will have real power and can do things in your name. Personally, I am using my dad. Having a person with power of attorney in the States can be useful for signing any documents, like your tax returns, leases etc., or for obtaining birth certificates and police records (both of which you need to apply for a work visa).
I did not designate a power of attorney before I came to Costa Rica, so I was forced to take a trip to the US Embassy in San José. I had the power of attorney form all filled out and needed to have it officially notarized, and the embassy is the only place to do that down here. After checking all my electronics at security and waiting for the cashier to open at 8am, I spent another hour and $30 to sign the document in the presence of a notary. Needless to say, this was way more complicated and expensive than in the US. So if for any reason you think you may need someone to act on your behalf in the US, designate that person before you leave. The embassy is not fun.

Since routine healthcare in Costa Rica is cheap by US standards, it is not really necessary for healthy, relatively young individuals to have full coverage healthcare. Going to the dentist can cost about $100 and medicines are cheap. Of course you should always carry accident insurance, especially with the way people drive here. I looked into some private US carriers and tried to decipher what all their cryptic plans meant, but I did understand the prices and I decided against it. Instead, I am using the local, semi-private system here in Costa Rica, INS ( They offer insurance to foreigners, both tourists and visa holders, so if you’re making border runs it should be no problem. Thankfully, I have not had to test out my policy, but I am glad to say it cost only $175 for a year of accident coverage up to $17,000 (that’s a huge amount here).

Staying in touch with loved ones back home can get expensive if you prefer talking to email, but I’d like to plug a great free service (no they’re not paying me, but they should…). With a microphone and speakers, or if you like, a headset, you can get free international calling service. If you go to you can download a program that acts much like any messenger program (IM, AIM etc), except it’s VioP (that’s voice over IP). The quality is OK, sometimes the calls drop, sometimes repeatedly, but the price is right, FREE. This is really great if you have the luxury of home internet access, but it can also work at internet cafes. I have found it’s not much trouble to install programs at many cafes; they may not be there when you get back, but security can be very lax. Also if you have a preferred place, you can build a relationship with the people that work there, they will be glad to sell you internet time while you chat with people back home.

OK, that about does it for me. One day I swear I’ll write something pertaining to teaching English. I swear.