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. Couldn’t help but think maybe I should have just flown to Panama City, spent the time to find that perfect holiday in Lanzarote or book a ticket to London for World Travel Mart…
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.