Visa Runs, Cheap Rum & Dental Decay in Costa Rica


Today was one of those day that I realized early on was part of this lifestyle. Not a magical memory but kinda lame and eventful in a not so cool way but all the while part of the game. My visa was done, I needed a new one so I found myself shaving at 4:50am before leaving on a ferry from Puerto Jimenez in the pouring rain at 6am, it was bound for Golifito to make it to one of Costa Rica’s border towns called Pasa Canoas. Basically I had to do what people often search called “visa run panama costa rica”.

From there I met a new travel buddy named Bob who was old school in every sense of the word. We hit up the bus for $2 and got out in Neily where for another $2 you can catch a communal cab and shave 30 minutes off your trip, good thinking Bob. Stamp out, no worries. Arrive to Panama side and the line is like 500 people from 27 different tour buses, it was madness and down right chaos aka the perfect place to wait like a sucker or make a move.
Panama Visa Run Costa Rica

This Israeli guy with a surfboard could tell I was having none of it and came and stood next to me where I had started standing about 97.352% through the line. At that moment this local lady who was quite attractive and even more vocal said “hey, don’t even think about…”, egh. She blew our cover so I went over to the “Drivers” line which had one person… Others tried to get in but the Israeli gent behind me made sure nobody cut in line, so far so good. Customs asks if I”m a driver but tell them no and I have nothing to do with this horrific tour bus debacle and just want to stamp in and out, he stamps me in.

Not long after I’m stamping back in and guess who is the guy at the desk? None other than the guy who stamped me in and the lady who busted me was still in line but appreciated the hustle. I thank the customs gent again and head to Duty Free. Let’s talk nonsense alright? For $12.75 I bought 3 750ml bottles of Ron Abuelo aka $4.25 each!? Turns out the lady working customs at the Costa Rica border was the one who checked me in originally. She remembered me and asked how long I wanted with a smile, told her 30, 60, whatever and I got a 90 day which is more than I was hoping for. Nicaragua has a $20 visa, Costa Rica and Panama cost $0 which is cool.

Catch the bus back and see the stinky slow boat so I ask the Captain who drove us the first time about Dentists. He confirmed the location someone suggested and in I went. After some debate we came to $30 for the cleaning and he did an awesome job. Awesome until he says btw, you have 5 small cavities… 5!? I’ve never had one before, but for $50 a pop he’ll do them all right now… Naturally I found myself in a chair for the next hour and a half as they drill 5 holes in my mouth then proceed to fill them. He was thorough, always say “are you sure you got it all?!” Let’s be real, now is the time and a few more flinches won’t matter.

Now, after a 30 minute speed ferry ride I find myself back on the porch with a cold rum & coconut water. I’m enjoying the feeling of being somewhere you want to be aka not in transit looking for the next cool spot and sitting on a 90 day visa. I’m really liking Costa Rica and what they say about it is true… Costa Rica really is the Switzerland of Central America aka beautiful, relaxed and really expensive compared to its neighbors.

Tips hat,

P.S: #PuraVida


  1. James Shannon

    October 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    That is pure madness RE: the rum deal at duty free … don’t get too excited and give yourself a massive hangover man … but damn, that is the best deal for hard liquor that I have ever heard of…!

    • Rob

      October 11, 2012 at 5:43 am

      Oh no, I know my limits quite well and there isn’t “enough going on” to warrant a hangover. Just a few casual drinks in the evening but we all know that can quickly get out of hand.

      I regret not buying more but reckon 3 was enough.

  2. Larissa

    October 11, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I find it strange that you’ve never had one cavity before and then all of a sudden you have 5? I think Dr. Victor pulled a fast one on you.

    • Rob

      October 11, 2012 at 5:42 am

      How dare you say such things about Victor?! Wash your dirty hands at once for typing such blasphemy!! Truth be told, I’ve had a feeling they were coming there for sometime and he spoke the best English of anyone I’ve had and the last few months have been pretty lazy on the whole oral upkeep front.

      It was only a matter of time but now I’m back, stronger than ever.

    • charlie

      November 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Yup, definitely unusual. Could be all those fructose-laden drinks though?

      • Rob

        November 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm

        I have to say that he didn’t hit an area that I didn’t already suspect something was up. That said one of them was done shoddy at best, going back to get it fixed and a new clean soon as it’s been about 2 months.

  3. Matthew Karsten

    October 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Epic. Way to sneak past the mob.
    I loved my time in Puerto Jimenez. Remember that strange-looking ferry too. A bit claustrophobic in there.
    PS. I agree with Larissa. Five??

    • Rob

      October 15, 2012 at 8:35 am

      I had never had one before BUT doesn’t mean I’m the best cleaner in the world… A few spots had been sensitive for a while, who knows.

      I always took the fast boat, heard the slow one smelt weird, thanks for confirming. :]

  4. Matt

    October 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Aaah the ole’ no cavity then you have 5 trick. I learned that one in dental school. Seriously though, I wonder how they diagnose decay in CR. Bait and switch? We dentists are a tricky sort : )

    • Rob

      October 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

      lol at the old “bait and switch”. Seriously though, I had issues in the areas he mentioned and last X cleanings have been with someone who didn’t speak English.

      I’m sure I had them and he said they were just starting….

      That or I got drilled, literally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Juggling Machetes in the Jungle of Costa Rica

Greetings, I'm writing this while sweat pours from every orifice of my tired and not so old but definitely not...