October 20, 2014
Haah, was I wrong. It actually got...worse. Way worse. Beyond my wildest imaginations. I'll try to keep this short, but some details, I cannot leave out.
After Siquirres, my aim is the border to Nicaragua. I figure, I leave early, arrive at the border early, and get a nice long day of riding in, deep into Nicaragua. Only thing, like at the border from Panama in to Costa Rica, I wanted to avoid taking the same route, I had taken going south. Different border, different scenery ...different faces.
So, instead of crossing the border from Costa Rica in to Nicaragua at Pena Blanca, I'll try the border further north, at Los Chiles. An internet search tells me, the border is open Mon- Tues, 8-noon. Today is Monday, I am early. Let's go...
It's a 4 hour ride. I ride up a fairly well maintained road with potholes, when suddenly, the road is blocked off with a yellow cable. Then a fence. To the left, a guard shack with a uniformed guy. I pull up to the shack. I look at the guard in disbelieve. 'No crossing???", I ask. "No vehicolos", he says. Shit!!!! They only allow foot traffic through that border. The internet didn't make mention of that. Ok, now what? I need a splash...of water.
There are two guys, one of them around my age, the other one younger. They are waving somebody good-bye, who just crossed in to Nicaragua. I talk to them about my predicament.
"There is a boat that crosses on river in to Nicaragua. They can take you and your bike. It leaves from the next town." They drive ahead, I follow. The town is close, we stop at a small building that houses Customs and Immigration. The older of the two, his name is Chacon, also is going on the boat to Nicaragua. Something to do with having a passport take the boat, not having a passport, cross by foot. I can't figured out those rules. Frankly, I don't give a damn at this point...
The ticket lady, wearing hat and sun dress, sitting on a lawn chair and picnic table with a sun umbrella in front of Immigration, tells me, the fare for me and my bike is US$ 74.00. I say ok, ready to hand her the money, because I want to get on that boat.
But first things first. I have to meet with the Customs official. He asks me for a paper, Import Permit, or something. I hand him a document. Wrong one. "You need THIS form." He pulls a sample out of his desk drawer and shows it to me. Don't have it. Was never given one. "Where do I get it?" "Panama!" Not very friendly, this dude. "You have to go back to Panama.", he says. Now he makes jokes! I feel slightly insulted.
Nope, no joke. He wouldn't process my bike check-out out of Costa Rica, until I produce that...magic piece of paper. And that would mean, according to him, I would have to ride a full day, most likey two with overnight, back to the Panama/Costa Rica border. I don't feel comfortable with that...at all. In other words, Bullshit!
I approach him again. "Can you help me with this?", ready to offer him a "tip". "No", he says, turns around and walks toward the river. "You should've walk right into the river, and sink. Asshole!", I am thinking to myself slightly annoyed.
There is NO way in hell, I am going to ride back to Panama. And I am not. Instead, I am riding to Pena Blanca, my original border crossing. Chacon explains a short cut to me. I would not have found it otherwise. It definitely saves me milage, but I don't think, it saves me time. For the most part, it's dirt and gravel, many potholes, uphill, downhill...on a road that doesn't seem to end. Easy does it. But, I am awake and alert. It helps keep the rubber down. Oh yes, how can I forget, it starts to rain about half way through the bumpy trip. Would be odd, if I'd arrive at a border dry for once.
I can tell, Chacon, feels bad for me and hands me his phone number, before he walks onto the boat. " In case, you'll need some assistance with translations." I appreciate that! Thanks for your mental support, Chacon. It somewhat eases the pain.
I arrive at Pena Blance border crossing from Costa Rica to Nicaragua after another 4 hour ride.
The usual, Aduana and Immigration to check out of CR, then Aduana and Customs to check in to Nic. It's sounds easy, but there's more to it. There is fumigation ($3), there is now a health check ($2), there's is an exit fee. And on the other side, more paperwork, more waiting, more fees, double checking passport and exit documents. Redundancy...??? Big time!!!
But here's the kicker. I give Mr. Aduana my paperwork (the one the asshole said was the wrong one). I hold my breath. He processes everything like...normal. No, "where is this form" or "this is the wrong form" or "you have to go back to Panama. WTF!!! . I can't believe it!!
I must be dreaming. Forgotten is the extra 4 hour ride to Pena Blanca. Forgotten is the fact that I rode many miles today, but barely covered any ground.
Man, I must've had a smile on my face from one ear to the other. Imagine...I would've ridden back to the Panamanian border, only to be told, "There is no other form needed."
I think, I would've punched somebody...