Last August, I wrote about my trip to I.C.E. (EEEEE-say, the phone/electricity company here) and a little bit about waiting in line. Almost everywhere you go to do anything "official" in Costa Rica, expect a line and some type of number machine.
If you walk into an establishment and there’s a line, look for a number machine (and they don’t all look like this one) and take a number. If you don’t see a machine, ask the guard (there will be one: white shirt usually and always armed) and make sure you just don’t see it.
Then keep your eye on the lighted pad. They don’t call out the numbers as they pass by. You are expected to watch the pad. If you miss your number, they move on to the next number and quickly. Even if you’re reading (you learn to keep a novel in your bag), keep one eye on that lighted number.
At the last of my many trips to the "customer service" counter during my nightmare experience at customs, there was no one else in the room but the four "customer service" employees, my drunk guy and I. The room was otherwise empty.
My DG and I walked up to one of these employees and started to sit. She stopped us with a look. Then she looked over at the number machine. One of those looks where you don’t move your head, just your eyes. Yes, we had to get a number first. We got one. Handed it to her. She threw it away, just like she had all the others.
Systems in a developing nation. You gotta love it. Or you will choke something.