Who knew that Costa Ricans are facsimile challenged? It all started with William’s application for Kindergarten. William will be starting school in September and we needed to send in his enrollment application. We had all the forms prepared and set off into Alajuela to find someone who could fax it for us.
I am actually kind of excited about enrolling William in school. There is an international school in the Seattle Public School district that offers a bi-lingual program. Half of the school day is conducted in English and the other half is conducted in Spanish or Japanese. Now that he has already picked up some Spanish I was really hoping that he could get into the Spanish program. He’s already growing up bilingual with us since he learns German and English. Imagine if he could continue with Spanish and grow up tri-lingual. How cool would that be?
I had seen a store in town that I thought would be able to fax something to the US for me, but when we went yesterday it was closed. Luckily there was an English language used book store across the street that is run by a drunk US ex-pat. I figured I could at least ask over there where I could fax. It turns out he had his own fax machine and offers to fax internationally for a cool $1.80/page. We had 9 pages so this was going to be an expensive fax. The hassle it would take to find someone else wasn’t worth it to me so I agreed. He started faxing, and I waited. He continued to fax and fax and fax, and I waited and waited and waited some more. Once it was done he collects the papers, shows me confirmation sheet and gives me the grand total “8 pages are 7200 colones.” Uh oh. There were 9 pages. We had no idea which page didn’t go through so he starts over, this time feeding each paper individually through the machine. I wait some more, and eventually he wasn’t fast enough with one of the pages and the connection is lost. He dials again and continues faxing each page individually. At the end he looks at the confirmation sheet, again only 8 pages. Jesus Christ! Is it really that hard? This all took about 40 minutes and he finally said he doesn’t want to try it again and I should try at the post office. Luckily he didn’t charge me anything.The next day we went to the post office. I hand the man at the counter my 9 pages, show him the number and off he goes to the fax machine. He dials the number, records the time and starts feeding the pages into the machine one page at a time. I think that maybe the fax machines in Costa Rica are just old and need this kind of babysitting. I hope he has learned from experience and that this is the best way to send a fax successfully. After a few pages I notice he didn’t start with the cover page, rather he starts with the last page. Luckily I put William’s name on all the pages and I hope the people at the Seattle Public School district office ought to be able to put them all in the right order. There is an older man at the counter next to me who is obviously upset about something and the guy at the fax machine becomes increasingly engrossed and involved in his conversation with his colleague. He almost missed the last page, but luckily he returned to the machine in the nick of time and all 9 pages went through as 1 transmission. He gives me a total of 4770 colones (about 9 dollars). I give him 10,000 colones and somehow he gave me back 8100 colones. Even if he can’t make change it appears he can at least (sort-of) fax successfully.
So now they have 3 copies of William’s application: 2 incomplete, 1 hopefully complete in the wrong order. What will happen if they try and process his application 3 times? What if they block his application because the first 2 sets were incomplete? Maybe they’ll place him in special-ed because they think his parents are too dumb to fax an application correctly. Keep your fingers crossed that William actually gets enrolled and he gets a place in the school we are hoping for.
Tags: Costa Rica, Fax