Our Japanese tin box, our mode of transport for many years, has been showing increasing signs of wishing to give up the ghost just lately thus incurring hefty repair bills.
We had been hoping to wait to replace it once Leo had obtained his certificate of disability, which gives rise to tax relief on the purchase and maintenance of a car, but his application has stalled in the works thanks to
B. Working from home due to Covid.
C. Not working at home thanks to Covid.
D. Government institutions’ websites being hacked for ransome.
E. Government unable, even if willing, to cough up.
F. Government institutions more bothered about starting a witch hunt among their IT personnel than sorting out the problems of the end user.
Had we had the disability certificate we might just have been able to afford a second hand hybrid …as it was, we could only afford second hand diesel or petrol.
Accordingly, the internet sales sites were consulted. The car had to be relatively economical – given the recent price hikes at the pumps – not too high off the ground to allow Leo to access it without gymnastics, while the boot had to be large enough to take the electric wheelchair.
That cut the candidates down to a very few options….and then the fun began.
There were two cars in a town on the other side of the Central Valley…one owned by an elderly lady, the other by a garage.
Telephoned the elderly lady to arrange to view.
All was organised and the team set up for the morrow….Leo, Danilo – to drive – and Alvarado, the local mechanic and car nut, to deal with the inspection and to obtain directions by Whatsapp.
For what follows I have the testimony of Leo and Danilo……Alvarado wisely stayed mum.
They set off at 7.00 am, heading for the lady’s town – a two hour drive away – but did not ‘phone for exact directions until 8.00 am, as she had requested. She replied, and then told them that the car was actually in a suburb of the capital….a suburb on the far side of it, and gave directions via Whatsapp.
Fine, except that by now they were en route for her original rendez-vous and much swearing ensued while they changed direction.
Guided by Alvarado at the Whatsapp they entered the capital and then Danilo baulked at driving through a notorious no go area….one where the population hook their property to the electrical supply system without the aid of official technicians who are too frightened to go in there and without the need to pay as no one is prepared to go in to cut off the supply.
Danilo….They’ll have the wheels off the car!
Alvarado…..Well, don’t stop!
Danilo…..Not even at the lights? That’s where they lurk….and we’re carrying money!
Leo………I have the cosh. Just drive.
They emerged safely, though, as Alvarado remarked, that was probably because the inhabitants were sleeping off their lucubrations of the night and did not emerge from their lairs until the pavements were aired.
They arrived at the destination in a respectable suburb to find a locked garage and no elderly lady.
One hour later she arrived, complaining at having to drive from her home to show the car, but unlocked the garage and let Alvarado loose.
Apparently there were a few dents in the bodywork, but all looked sound enough, so he prepared to take it for a drive.
Elderly lady……….How do I know you won’t just drive off in it?
The ill assorted pair drove off, to return some fifteen minutes later with the elderly lady white as a sheet. He had driven her through the no go area to pay her out for the delays.
He thought the car was a bargain at the price and Leo asked the lady…now fanning herself….to call her lawyer to arrange the transfer.
Nothing so simple in Costa Rica as to simply note change of ownership at the National Registry…no fear. As with all transactions a lawyer has to have his sticky palm crossed with silver.
Her lawyer’s office was in a suburb to the south of the city but he would not be available for another hour as he had to drive there from his home out in the country.
The lawyer’s secretary was in the office, however, and provided the group with coffee and cakes while they waited. And waited.
Half an hour late, the lawyer arrived and got down to business.
Had they the funds to pay?
Leo showed him the envelopes conatining the money. The lawyer gathered them toward him and Danilo gathered them back.
The appropriate document was drawn up, but there was, it appeared, a slight problem.
The elderly lady had taken out a bank loan and given the car as security, but, not to worry, she could sort it out with the bank once she had the purchase price in her hand and then the car would probably be available at the end of the month.
Alvarado….How do we know, Senora, that you won’t just run off with the money?
Danilo………Why did you not tell us about the loan?
Leo………We are leaving.
The which they did, to the sound of the elderly lady complaining that they had been wasting her time.
This beng somewhere near mid day they stopped at a caff for lunch and decided that, as they were out, they might as well see the other car, and so it was that they finally arrived home in the late afternoon with Alvarado driving it. The garage had been organised, even to having their tame lawyer come to their own offices, the car was fine and the price had been haggled down.
Just another transaction in Costa Rica, where surprises abound and everything takes at least twice as long as you expect. But you do get coffee and cake.