So…we had to do our border run a few weeks ago. If you’re doing one, I highly recommend crossing at Sixaola, Costa Rica. Why? Read on dudes…
We live in Pedasi, so doing our first border run was going to be a chore regardless of how/where/when we went. Since we had the time, we opted to make a vacation out of it. We took a bus to David, spent the night and then caught a morning bus to Bocas (Almirante actually). After a couple of cold, rain-filled days in Bocas, it was time to do our border run…Dun, DUN, DUNNHH!!!
If you haven’t done a border run at Sixaola, you should. Why? Because I have absolutely zero baseline for comparison, that’s why! But if for any reason, just for the experience of crossing a rickety, wood trestle train bridge and finally understanding how the fat kid from Stand By Me felt.
And yeah, yeah, I know he has a name, but let’s be honest – everyone knows who you’re talking about when you say “the fat kid from Stand By Me”…except kids under 30, evidently, because when I said to the kids crossing with us “This is like the movie Stand By Me, anybody know when the next train is coming?”, they gave me this look:
Oh, and before I forget, if you want to cross the border to Costa Rica at the Sixaola crossing then check out Randy Hilarski’s blog post about it. We used it as our guide and it’s more accurate than Robin Hood’s archery skills (Kevin Costner Robin Hood of course. Not Russell Crow or Rocket Robin Hood).
After crossing the bridge, we visited the Costa Rican immigration office, got pulled aside into a small room and had people inspect our privates for buried treasures…you know, the usual border crossing stuff…Just kidding. Immigration was a pretty quick and easy process.
Once across, we caught our bus to Puerto Viejo…and we were soaking wet and cold because it was raining the whole…fricken…time. Which sucked a-noose, because we didn’t bring:
b) rain coats
c) garbage bag ponchos
d) all of the above << correct answer
And we didn’t bring those because:
a) we’re stupid
b) we’re used to Pedasi’s dry season – it hasn’t rained since December 14th, 2014.
c) we’re stupid
d) a and b, but not c << correct answer
After a few fun days in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica we had to return to Panama. The way back was bright and sunny though…and much busier. There’s always confusion as to what you need to have for entry back in to Panama. We got asked for return tickets home. That’s all.
There was a nice feeling that came of the immigration experience. And that knowing that Panamanians are working. In fact, at the two immigration windows there were three workers; One dude at each window to process everyone, and one dude in between those two dudes. His job? He would slide the stamp across the table between the two immigration dudes. I would have taken a picture, but we didn’t want to end up in a room getting the rubber glove treatment.
And with that, we successfully made it back into Panama, caught a bus in Changuinola to David…only that bus didn’t get us to David. A quarter of the way there we ran into a protest. So, after 20 minutes of sitting on the bus wondering “gee, what’s happening”, we and several others got off and walked to the other side of the protest to catch a bus.
Wondering what some of the bus costs were in Panama? Here’s a per person breakdown.
Chitre to Santiago = $3
Santiago to David = $9
David to Almirante (Bocas) = $8.40
From Bocas, we took a cab for $20 to take us right to the frontera. Somtimes, you just get tired of the bus. We did do a little bonus journey to Puerto Armuelles though.
David to Puerto Armuelles = $3.60
Got any funny border crossing stories? Tell your tale in the comments!