So Many Different Stories…What will our story be?


Boy oh Boy! Tomorrow we’ve been planning to do our Costa Rica border run to renew our tourist visa, and I gotta tell ya there are so many different stories going around about many different experiences! These are first hand stories from people who have just today and yesterday, gone through the border to renew their tourist visa. On friend kept us posted via FaceBook today and I was so sad to hear that it didn’t go smoothly for her. There are two different borders to choose from . One is called Paso Canoas and it is the bigger of the two, located just about 1 1/2 hours from us on the main road that goes through David. Paso Canoas has multiple gates to choose from and is a much busier place, so Ive heard, I have obviously never been there so I’m just repeating what I’ve heard. The other border is about 2 hours from here in Vocan and it’s called Rio Sereno. This crossing is a much smaller, quieter area. Not as many big tourist busses go this way and there is only one gate ( I think). We had planned to go to the quieter one but are now reconsidering. Like I said , our friend went there today and turned around to come back home because they were enforcing the 48 hour out of Panama thing and they weren’t prepared to be gone for the whole weekend (I wont say “Law” because it is unclear if this is just a recent whimsy of the officers or an actual law) . Yet another person says that he went through Paso Canoas yesterday and it only took him one hour! Sheesh! Our biggest concern isn’t the possibility of a weekend in Costa Rica, it’s what do we do about our car? Shoot, a weekend adventure is right up our alley, that’s no problem at all, pack a backpack with our swimsuits and our toothbrushes and we’re good to go! But our car sitting for two or three days is a bit disconcerting to us. We’ve decided to go ahead and go to the busier crossing because we think that if we stamp out of Panama and then into Costa Rica and just go have lunch somewhere and then attempt to stamp back in at a different gate with hordes of other tourists, they may not remember us and it could possibly be smooth sailing. So the latest decision , after a bit of wine….screw it…let’s just drive, park the car in as good a place as we can and walk on through. We know we could take the bus early from Boquete, but we are just not willing to miss school. I know, crazy, but if we were going to miss class we would have needed to notify them today and we didn’t. We’re probably a little crazy to leave the car but , what the hell! There is a slim possibility that this could be no big deal. Stay tuned!!


About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

8 responses »

    • Besides being unsafe there are many complicated issues like insurance , those who have been here a long time and have gone through this have told us its a really bad idea to take your car.

  1. oh holly! don’t be too flippant about your border crossings! you’ve invested a lot for the honor of living in panama, and if you start getting flags on your passport, that’s not good! i lived in costa rica for a long time, and the laws changed a lot. i had one agent tell me if i stayed one day too long, i could risk being deported for up to ten years.. that’s costa rica… i have an attorney friend in cr who helped me when i made my 72-hours out in nicaragua one year. i had planned to go down the san juan river and have one of his guides meet me on the costa rica side near the end of the river. somoene had told me to go on down the river, go to my friend’s lodge, then when i was in sjo, to go to immigration to get my stamp. (there were no crossings on the river)… dan said, ‘lisa, they’ll be looking for people like you doing the perpetual tourist thing and they are going to take one look at t your passport and escort you right out of the country.

    in ecuador i have been told before by an immigration official that it was fine to leave the country for four hours and return and get a new 90 days.. that was about four years ago.. i was out for almost three months, returned and was given only 4 days.. i had 86 when i left, so they did the math and said 86 plus 4 equals 90 and you have to leave for 90…

    i was told by another agent that that one was probably having a bad day but they had to honor what he’d stamped into my passport.. i was finally able to get the 90 days,but it took a lot of work…

    don’t risk messing up your future.. know what the law is and do what you have to do.. school will be there.. you could always take all of your car’s paperwork with you and drive over the border and have an overnight somewhere… many times there are secure car parking areas near borders/fronteras…

    anyway, i do know know what the panama laws are, so i don’t know what your options are.. if your residency paperwork is in progress then have copies of that with you…. if not, do you have a bus ticket or something to show that you’ll be leaving panama in 90 more days.. or a one-way ticket itinerary that shows you’re leaving by november 20th?.. it never hurts to be on the offensive and ready…

    and remember, those people are just doing there job… some like the power of their job, and sometimes it depends on how good their day has been… most likely they’re going to love you!

    the last time i came into panma via that border, my friend and i were on a minibus shuttle to david, and we were stopped by police check.. roberta and i were asked to get off the shuttle (it was after dark) and we were questioned more then allowed to resume… we gave the right answers, thank goodness!

    how many days do you have before your 90th?


    • Oh my goodness, I didn’t mean to sound “flippant” about this crossing. Just venting and hoping we are being organized about it. We have heard so many different stories, it’s really hard to know what is what. We have booked a “refundable ” flight out of Panama and we have extra copies of our passports and they want each of us to have $500 cash on us,which I’m not comfortable with but , oh well. I totally understand that they are just doing their jobs but according to so many other people who have gone before us, the requirements change from day to day and from person to person. Yikes! We have been told that taking our car is a really bad idea and one more thing we just aren’t prepared to deal with. We have actually spent a lot of time preparing for this because we just want to do whatever we are supposed to do, given the fact that we dont know exactly what they will require, we have done every single thing so as to be ready for anything that they decide they want us to do. Bag is packed and if we have to spend a few nights in CR, we will do so happily.

      • that’s good.. i always enjoyed my 72-hours out in costa rica.. i stayed longer than 72, mainly b/c i was usually working hard up to that time and needed a timeout… when possible i checked airfare to the usa and airfare to ecuador then weighed those costs against a border crossing into nicaragua.. then i made my decision…

        i hope that you’ll be able to write about your crossing if you end up spending the night or weekend!!!!

        buena suerte!


      • Thanks! We will surly have an adventure and will enjoy every moment of it, good or bad, easy or hard. I love hearing about your experiences, you have so many and your knowledge is incredibly valuable. Cheers! šŸ™‚

      • hey
        i went back to painting, and i thought, ‘i need to write her once more…’ i did not mean to be critical with the word ‘flippant’ – perdon!

        you two have been so positive with your experience, and we all want you to continue with those great stories, and none tainted with bad experiences!

        have fun!


      • Thanks Z, I never mean to portray negativity, sometimes my sense of humor can come across a bit sarcastic but that’s me trying to be light-hearted! Cheers!!!:).

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