I can hardly bring myself to write this because my fingers are stiff with frustration and I am on the verge of tears. Tomorrow, I will feel like laughing. Maybe. Here goes.
Lucky us, we are rentistas so we don't have to leave the country every 90 days. There are assorted benefits, but that's the main one for us. There are also a couple of drawbacks. Like, once your kids are rentistas, they have to get special stamps in their passports to be able to leave the country. No stamps, the kids can't fly out, I don't care how much those tickets cost. We discovered this quite by accident on our last trip out of the country. The residency experts to whom we paid quite a bit of money to guide us through the perils of moving to Costa Rica neglected to mention this. They neglected to do, mention, complete and properly guide us through a number of New Country perils. But this is not about them.
At the airport on our day of last departure, in line to get boarding passes, the guy who checks the passports in line sent us to the migración window across the terminal. There, we were told about the stamps. Fortunately, they were able to issue temporary stamps. There was quite a flurry of activity, it took about an hour. Getting copies made was a huge event. They had to go to another building to get copies made and they had to make two trips because on the first trip, the lucky person who had an actual copier in her office, was getting a cup of coffee or something. So we all waited for her to get back because of course all the offices are locked all the time.
Costa Rican bureaucracy could be mightily moved along with a few extra copiers. The entire administration is predicated on a high number of copies for every single solitary bureaucratic event. Progress is choked by a need for copiers. At our most recent office, there were 15 stations and one copier. But I digress.
We are planning a short trip to the states this year. We need the permanent stamps in the boys' passports to replace the temporary ones from the airport so we don't have to do this ever again.
Being obedient experienced expats, we started early to get the stamps. At our last trip to migración, I'd taken the time to find the correct office for la permisión para menores a salir del país and gotten a list of all the things we needed to get the stamps. I ordered new copies of the boys' birth certificates from Vitalchek.com (where Obama could have gotten his birth certificate if he'd wanted) for $25 each. We had extra passport photos, the original passports, the cedulas [SAY-do-lahs, national ID cards], the birth certificates and money, all the things we needed.