12-04-2012, 05:39 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Nov 29 Into Costa Rica
Headed for the dreaded border with Costa Rica. Stories of mass confusion and complete disorganization reign and, for the most part are true. Sorry, no pics of the border - I'm actually trying to think (not always successfully) as I'm going through this process and completely forget about the camera.
Knew I was getting close to the border when I hit the inevitable line of parked trucks on the highway. About 5 KM worth, just sitting there. A number of the truckers have obviously run low on fuel as you see some of them dumping barrel fuel into their trucks and refer units. I think some of these guys must wait days to get through some of these borders. Motos just go around.
Arrive at the border reasonably early (I think this really helps the process go better) and immediately hit a barrage of money changers and helpers. They are handing me pieces of paper and I’m not sure who is legit – turns out none of them are.
Get to the barrier and the Nica Guard takes the import document (for the bike) I received when I came into the country and signs it. Then ride over to the madhouse of Nica Migracion and Aduana - on your left just before the toll booth looking things.
I was going to try to figure out this morass myself but a huge bunch of Harleys from Costa Rica pull in and I’m thinking I do not want to get caught in line behind this bunch. There was a helper bugging me, seemed like a decent guy so I decided to get this thing expedited.
First step is to find the exit Migración window which is on the opposite side of the building from where you park. Look for “Salida” or just ask someone.
Pay a buck, get a little piece of paper. Helper fills out a form for me. Hustle up to a window, get passport stamped and pay a couple more bucks.
So, I’m out, now have to get my bike out.
Back to the other side of the building. Take the paper you had when you entered and the guy at the gate signed and go find a guy . . . when I was there he had a blue shirt on and is just wandering around. He will sign the paper. Then go find the cop (transito) – was hanging around the same area. Hard to miss him, he was a fat guy pigging out on deep fried plantains and wasn’t about to be interrupted. I just stood there and stared at him and eventually in kind of a huff he takes me inside and stamps my paper.
Great. Now stand in line inside for a lady to make sure you have all your stamps and she stamps more and tells you to go. Done!
Now go over to the Costa Rica side. They will let you through the barrier or, just drive around it. Find a parking place in front of the big Migración building on the left.
Now there are two places you need to find. The first is right inside the barrier and is the Migracion office on the left and a little Aduana office on the right. The second place you will need to find is a group of offices at the end of the truck warehouse. From the Migración office continue along the road following the high fence and then coming to a large opening, go in and follow the large warehouse building with tons of trucks backed in around to the far end. It will be about 250 or 300 yards from the Migración office to these offices.
First step – go in the Migración office and get your passport stamped.
Second step – walk/ride over to the other area and find the insurance office which will say “Seguro . . . something” and is up the big ramp. Buy your insurance. Then go to the copy shop in the same area and get a copy of your insurance and the Costa Rica stamp in your passport. (If you don’t already have copies of your passport/drivers license and bike registration, get those also.)
Third step – Go back to the little Aduana building across from the migración office, the guy will give you an application form of sorts to fill out. Give that back to him with all your originals and the copies. He will type stuff, stamp stuff, staple it all together and hand it back to you.
Fourth step – Hop on your bike and ride back over to the other offices, go up the big ramp and the other Aduana is at the end of the building. Hand the bundle of papers to them, they will type on the computer, stamp stuff and hand you a little tiny slip of paper. No costo! You are done.
Fifth step – Ride away. You will then come to booth on the highway – this guy is like the Maytag Repairman – he’s so bored he’s sitting on the step. His job is to take your little piece of paper and say have a good trip.
Took me a total of 2 hours which I’m sure having the helper on the Nica side sped things up and kept me from having to stand in line behind all those nasty bikers. I've of some people getting stuck in this process for over 4 hours.
I’m in. Had a nice ride down Hwy 1 (Pan American Hwy) and there was a certain familiarity I couldn’t put my finger on. Finally figured it out. Nice roads, pretty nice houses and shops –seemed like I was riding through rural America. Quite a contrast having just traveled in the three poorest countries in Central America to one of the wealthier ones.
Heading towards either Playa Avellanas or Tamiando. Get off on one road that I thought the sign said Playa Avellanas and after my first water crossing then having to ride up a creek for a hundred feet or so, I figured this wasn’t right way to a surf beach so, turned around.
Found Playa Avellanas – few places could have been ok but kept going. Finally got to Playa Negro, found the Playa Negro Café –said they had rooms and wifi. Good enough. Not locked parking but looks fine. Got food right there in the Cafe
Wanted $45 for a room with AC and $35 without. It isn’t particularly hot (low 20s to high 20s) so took the without. Gave it to me for $30 which included breakfast.
Walk down a side road about a km to the Playa Negro Resort. Nice beach – surfing and stuff but not much in the way of waves.
These guys were chasing each other from tree to tree. Kinda interesting colors.
Good dinner at the café.
Woke up to the distinctive sound of Howler Monkeys in the distance. That brought back memories of Palanque.