BORDER CROSSINGS

TOO MUCH LUGGAGE
TOO MUCH LUGGAGE

click here I have now crossed eight borders on this little adventure.  I have been pleasantly surprised how easy they have been.  Of course I had the usual scam hassle leaving Mexico.  I was crossing the border with two young Canadians, and the Immigration officer told us we each had to pay $25.  I had read about this one before I left – so I just told him “No, we do not have to pay anything”.  He then said if we did not pay, we did not leave.  I carry a laminated card that I have made for each country – one side has the currency conversion on it – the other side has the contact information for the Canadian Embassy.  For example: My one for Costa Rica shows  $1 U.S. = 525 colons     $10 = 5,250 CRC    100 colons = $0.18  and on the other side is the address and tel. number of the Embassy in San Jose. I told the Immigration officer I needed his name as I had checked with the Mexican consulate before I left and they said I did not have to pay, so I would just have to call the Canadian Embassy to check on this.  Suddenly he remember we likely paid it with out plane ticket.  All of the borders were pretty straight forward until I was leaving Costa Rica and entering Panama.  I crossed at a little border crossing on the coast that is famous for being difficult. I got off the bus and by the time I was off, some guy had my pack on his back.  We had a “discussion” about this – I wanted it back.  He said he would carry it and we would discuss the price when we got to the other side. No way.  You ALWAYS negotiate the price before, and repeat it a couple of times, so there is no mistake.  We finally agreed to a price of $1.  It was + 38 degrees and I knew I would have to go up and down several sets of stairs.  Off we go.  First I go to CR Immigration for my exit stamp – they ask where is my tax receipt – I don’t have one, backtrack, down the stairs, behind the little soda shop I find the place to pay my $2, and get my receipt.  Back to Immigration, get stamp, good to go.  Cross the bridge.  On the way over my  “helper” asked for my plane ticket – and I should have just ignored him, but I told him I was going to buy it in Panama City.  I get to Immigration and all the guy will say to me is “plane ticket, plane ticket”  I shook my head “no” and he threw my passport back at me.  My “helper” then said I must go to an internet cafe buy a ticket.  Not a problem, I bought a fully refundable one.  Back to Immigration.  My ticket is to Florida – he wants me to have a ticket to Canada.  I dig my heels in and say “No”.  Finally he takes my ticket and passport and disappears for 10 minutes – this I do not like.  Finally he comes back – but now I have to go and pay some fee.  Up the stairs, across the walkway, around a corner, and I pay my $7.  The guy working there told me $10, but I knew it was $7 – so  that was all I paid.  Back to Immigration.  Get my passport, and it is stamped.  Now I go to get on the bus – where is my sticker in my passport?  Back up the stairs, go the other way – little window I pay $2 – have sticker in passport.  Two hours – well worth paying a guy $1 to follow me around with my pack. Only border where no one would speak English.  I could tell they understood – but would only speak Spanish to me. I am in Panama – and that was the goal!!

CR has normal buses - boring!
CR has normal buses – boring!
No one selling things on the street in CR
No one selling things on the street in CR
Buses have schedules
Buses have schedules

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