Border Crossing……………….

Ah…  One of the banes of (well probably only bane) living in Costa Rica is the inevitable border crossing…

Now…. According to Costa Rica law, tourists are only granted a visa for 90 days to stay in the country.  And when you enter the country you must have proof of leaving the country within that 90 day period whether by boat, train or plane…. If you plan on staying longer as I ended up doing, you must hop the border to a neighboring country every 3 months and stay out of the country for one day for each 30 day period you want your passport to be renewed for.  For example, if I wanted a 90 day stamp again, I would have to stay out of the country for 72 hours, or 3 days…

Oh and by the way the 90 day stamp literally means 90 days, NOT 3 months… depending on the agent and how close you are to the end of the 90 days, they may bust out a calendar and count the days and if you are over 90, you could be looking at a hefty bribe, um, eh, I mean fine…

Yes… As you may have guessed by all the “……” in this particular post… lets just say things were not always done completely by the letter of the law… Every 90 days or so I would hop the border, but only for about a night and in one case only for a couple of hours….. I still managed to get 90 day stamps but again I wouldn’t say this will be the case for everyone… One of my friends in fact almost got deported because, even though he left Costa Rica and stayed out appropriately, he didn’t get his stamp back in and almost got the boot for it!

I never bribed anyone either… ok well there was the 3 coca-colas and bag of chips I bought for the Panama immigration in exchange for them stamping me back out of Panama after only a couple hours… But really, does that count?  Funny thing about that is I was upfront with them from the start, said, look I only need a stamp in and out and I can be on my way.  They said ok.  I asked if they wanted anything to which they replied coca-colas.  So off I trotted to do a little shopping and stopped in the grocery store and when they saw me come back, they invited me into the air conditioned office (it was sweltering hot outside with a huge line of tourists piling up to get in and out).  We had our sodas and chips, I showed off my shopping and about 20 minutes later they stamped my passport, we said goodbye and on my way I went!

Another quick border crossing story… the crossing itself…!!  There exists a bridge between Sixaola, Costa Rica and Guabito, Panama  since a river divides the border of Costa Rica and Panama…. This bridge is about the oldest, most rusted out, shady, wood planks falling out beneath you kinda bridge you’ve ever seen!  Walking across it was about the most nerve wracking experience ever and seeing the water rushing below as you made your way across the death trap was enough to almost topple me over!!  Oh yes…. and my favorite part was as dozens of tourists crossed the bridge praying not to fall through the planks, huge semi-trucks would pass you by…. joy of all joys!!  Enjoy the picts…  There are only a couple as it was all I could stomach to do… LOL


On to Time to Leave

Back to Puerto Viejo

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