I had a bad feeling as I walked into the main office of Correos de Costa Rica.
In my hand I clutched a letter containing a couple of dollar checks, including one for $17.35 from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. That was the amount they told me I owed six months ago. So I sent them the money. They promptly sent a refund. I have no idea why.
But now was the time to deposit these miscellaneous checks in a Stateside account.
Coreos de Costa Rica has certified mail. What can go wrong?
Actually nothing, but the delay lends new meaning to the term snail mail.
That was April 19. A FedEx shipment would have cost more than the checks therein. So the nice lady at Corros, K. Gómez, prepared the certified letter. The stamp was 335 colons and the certification was 550. The total was about $1.80.
As I left the postal window Ms. Gómez reminded me that the letter could be tracked online.
“Wow, these guys are really up to date,” I said to myself.
Indeed, at the top of the Correos Web site there is a tab for rasteros that opens a window where the number on a certified receipt can be typed.
A couple of days later, I called up the Web page, typed in the certified number and learned that the letter had left the main office just 15 minutes after my transaction. “It’s on its way,” I said.
Week after week, the Web page showed that the letter had not gone anywhere.
Fortunately, there is an information desk at the main post office. That is where I learned that the letter went to Zapote but that the computers in the Zapote delivery hub are missing in action.
Day after day I checked the Web page to learn nothing.
The bank computers in the States are on line, so it was clear that my checks had not been deposited.
Stateside bank workers were very kind but seemed to roll their eyes electronically when they learned the deposit was coming from Costa Rica.
The amazing part of this entire tale is that the checks did arrive eventually. They were in transit for a month. One day, magically, they showed up in the Stateside account.
But now more than six weeks later, the Correos computer shows that the letters still are in transit.
The moral of the story: Costa Rica is great at teaching patience. But if you are in a hurry, don’t go postal.