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Living in Costa Rica Stories: A 3 Hour Trip to the Bank

The Costa Rican Times has decided to add a column where both our readers as well as our staff can share stories about living in Costa Rica.  If you go outside your house, apartment, or condo in Costa Rica, things will happen to you each and everyday that will both annoy you and have you say in your mind “Are you kidding me?”.  This happens in your day to day activities each day if you are living in Costa Rica.  Read and share your stories today!  (Submission info is at the bottom of each article in this section)

A Three Hour Trip to the Bank, An Example of Costa Rica Ineffeciencies and Customer Service

I had been paid in 100 dollar bills and needed to go change one of them into colones as finding someone to change a note of that size in Costa Rica is like finding a needle in a haystack.  I knew that if I went to the bank it would require my passport to change the bill so I had that on me, ready to present to the teller.

Since I was in Heredia, I decided to use Banco Popular as the lines at Banco Nacional and BCR were out the door.

I entered and picked up my ticket to in order to reserve my place in line, this is the same thing you get when you are going to a deli in the USA, when they say now serving 49…..etc…

I sat down with the other 30 people in the bank and waited for my number to be called.

After about an hour (this is not an out of the ordinary amount of time to be waiting), my number appeared above window 12.  I approached and gave them my passport and 200 dollars to change into colones.  The teller fiddled around for about 10 minutes and then went into the back for about 5 minutes.

Upon returning this nice fellow states I cannot change these bills, because I needed to bring him a copy of my passport. I noticed a copy machine behind him and said “well then go make a copy as there is a machine right there behind you.”

He states “Sorry, it is our rules that you must bring a copy to us, we cannot make a copy.”

I ask “So I need to go find a place to make a copy of my passport, get the copy made, and then return with the copy and wait and go through the same process again?”

Teller with no remorse “Yes”

Luckily, I as in the college area of Heredia and was able to only walk about 5 minutes before finding a copy place. After about 10 minutes I received the copy and headed back to the bank.  It had been an hour and 45 minutes since my first arrival at the bank.  1 Hour later I was at the same window again, where the same teller (who did not recognize me), finally changed the bills in about 15 minutes.

If you need to run simple errands in Costa Rica only schedule 2 or 3 tops a day and do not plan on doing anything but those errands.  You will leave your house at 8 am in the morning and return home at about 5 pm ready for a drink to try to wash away your frustrations.

Share Your living in Costa Rica Stories by submitting them to [email protected].  Stories should be no more than a page and a half in Microsoft Word.  You can submit your name if you want, if not that is fine as well.  Some people come to CR and experience culture shock and leave, lets tell the truth about day to day life in Costa Rica.

 

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3 Comments

  1. gordon said:

    When needing to change money into colonies I go to the CASINO’s.. Downtown there one give a better exchange rate and Fiesta out by the airport. Easy no hassle.

    • admin said:

      Not a bad idea as long as you are in the area, but travelling from Heredia to downtown usually takes about 1 to 2 hours in itself

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