Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I love my island

So. One of the documents we need to do business here is the "Excepcion de Comerciante." In the States this would exempt us from paying sales tax on business purchases. Here it allows us to claim a credit for sales tax (IVU) paid against the sales tax collected when we sell stuff at Ola Lola's  Without that exception, we wind up paying sales tax twice. It's a pretty useful, important document.

The Excepcion must be renewed each year. Officially, ours expired on May 14 but we have until the end of the month to renew it. I went to the local Hacienda (the tax collection department) office on May 19. Other than waiting in line, the renewal process takes about 20 minutes. they check to make sure you don't owe any back taxes, print the paper and off you go.

Oops! They found a glitch. The income tax office in San Juan disallowed a credit in our 2012 (!) income tax and said we owed $205 in overdue tax and interest. This, by the way, was the first time we'd heard about this. We have receive NO communication about this from the income tax office. Anyway, pay or resolve this debt or no renewed Excepcion.

Our choices: Pay the $205 or take a bunch o' documents to San Juan and try to get the ruling reversed. I chose to take a shot at going to San Juan. At 6:00 am on May 24, I left for Hacienda in San Juan. Whatever happened, I needed this resolve by Friday, May 27. It's Memorial Day weekend and any holiday spells doom for getting anything accomplished.

I expect this to be an all day dragged out affair. I was prepared to do battle, like Don Quixote but in broken Spanish. A note here: a friend suggested I put down my windmill-tilting lance and armor and instead smile and in a friendly manner ask for help. I did this and I think it helped. We got through the documents and the very nice lady said she would review the case and let me know the result. I asked her, "Ahora? Hoy?" ("Now? Today?") "Ah, no. Uno mes." ("No. One month.")

I explained - in Spanish - that I needed this resolved today and explained the problem with the Excepcion and paying IVU twice and all that. She told me they could give me a letter telling the local office the case was under review and to go ahead give me the Exception. Brilliant! I was out of there in about an hour! Everyone was very nice and helpful. Must have been my smile and friendly, non-combative demeanor.

On May 25, armed with my letter from the income tax office in San Juan. I got up early to be at or very near the front of the line at the local office. I was in fact fourth in line. They called my number. I went to talk to the Gate Keeper. I didn't get any farther.

I didn't need to get any farther. Somewhere sometime between May 19, when I first started the process, and May 25, when I went to (hopefully) finish it, the powers-that-be, by administrative declaration, decreed all existing valid Excepcions are good through December 31!

Nearly a week of scrambling, running around, fretting, gnashing of teeth done by administrative declaration.

I love my island!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Love is in the air...

and in the water! We have manged a few beautiful dives this month, despite the rain and crappy visibility. We've made some new friends like these two incredible sea horses. So beautiful! I love playing with horses!

You can see more photos from this month's dives on our Flickr site. Come check 'em out. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Zika - what's Zika?

"The MEDIA" made a big deal out of the Zika "epidemic" on the island.

What Zika epidemic?

Two years ago when chikungunya roared through the Caribbean, everybody knew about it. Everybody knew SOMEBODY - or a dozen or two dozen somebodies - who had it. This Zika thing? I don't even know somebody who knows somebody who knows anybody who had it. On an island where we wear our tropical diseases like badges of honor, I have heard not one peep.

Except from THE MEDIA. Apparently this is a manufactured epidemic. The conspiracy theorists are putting out that the island governor, hoping to score big $$$$s from FEMA or CDC or somebody, announced there is an epidemic of Zika.

If true, the ploy backfired big time. Not only is there no Federal money coming to combat the non-epidemic, tourists, conventions and big, high profile events are canceling and staying away. So, no new money and we're losing money that was committed.

All because of a pretty much non-event.

Is Zika real? Of course it is. For a certain segment of the population - women who are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant - it carries potentially serious dangers. For most of us catching the Zika virus is about as bad as a mild case of the flu. In fact, flu is worse.

With all the rain we've had mosquitoes are at their worst. As soon as the rain stops and the winds start to blow again, the mosquito population will go dormant until the next rainy season. Maybe all the Zika hullabaloo will dry up too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Making the best of it

After that amazing up-and-down dive-then-surf-then-dive spell, the rainy season came a month early. For two weeks it has rained - and rained hard - nearly every day. Lago de los Caballos (Lake of the Horses) in the corral and paddock hasn't been totally dry for two weeks, despite running a sump pump 24/7. We keep  trying to find dry spots for the horses to giver their hooves a chance to dry out.

There's no surf. And even if there was, I wouldn't take my camera out in the driving rain.

The rain messes up diving, not because we can't dive in the rain (sometimes that's fun as long as there is no lightening) but because of visibility. Rain, especially hard rain up in the mountains, washes silt and "stuff" down the rivers. That screws up visibility until it has a chance to either settle out or be washed out by currents.

Can't ride. Well, we could ride, but I can tell you for experience riding in the rain is not much fun. Besides, the trails are all muddy and/or covered with pools of standing water which unfortunately become mosquito farms.

That doesn't mean there's nothing to do. Lots of mopping, sweeping up, trying to keep the horses and dogs dry and clean. But that's part of life when you choose to live outdoors in a treehouse. That is our choice and we'll keep making the best of it. Anyway, when it rains here, it's still 80 degrees not 30 or 40 degrees. So that's not so bad.