A trip to Houston Texas to personally deal with getting documents notarized and authenticated as well as getting our new set of fingerprints for our new FBI background check, was a success. And it was also time for our border run so we got that out of the way at the same time. Mind you, we already went through this whole notarize, authenticate, apostle process once before and we knew from experience that mailing it all would take way too much time. Not to mention we were in serious need of a little shopping spree! (Insert Happy Dance Right Here!) So Flying into Houston and walking over to the Panamanian consulate to deal with it all in person was a much more efficient way to do it. Getting our fingerprints done there was also much easier although the ‘runaround’ that we went through was very reminiscent of Panama. Before we even arrived in Houston we had gone online to Google maps to locate the nearest Police station to go for our fingerprints. When we got there the guy told us we would need to go to the Main Police Station downtown Houston….Okay. Off we went to the Main Police station. After searching for a place to park and paying $10.00 for the precious spot, we went into the building only to be told by the friendly man at the reception desk that we would have to go to the Permit office in a different area of town…..Okay….off we went AGAIN, laughing all the way because it’s not just Panama that makes you pull out your hair! Hah! At least it was all in English so even though we were getting the ‘runaround’, we felt just a tiny bit less clueless just understanding how to get someplace and what we were supposed to do. After finding the permit office we again had a “Panama” moment when we were told to take the elevator down to the basement then the guy down there told us to take the elevator back up to where we had already been to pay at the window and then come back down to the basement! HAh!!! Okay…..down, up , down again… We had to laugh at how similar to Panama some parts of our trip turned out to be. Of course, finding your way around a strange place when they have actual street names and addresses on buildings is an amazing experience! No problem! Oh! And GPS is a dream come true! YEA for GPS!! The smartest thing we did on this trip was to rent a car from the Hertz office in the hotel for a day. We had planned to take taxi’s but Sheesh! The taxi from the airport to the hotel was $45.00! We’re not in Boquete anymore! The rental car was only $65.00 for 24 hours, not bad. We were really glad to have it, especially given the fact that we ended up doing so much running a round. Read the rest of this entry
We rolled back into Boquete yesterday morning (Sunday) by 9:45ish and were on a mission to find a good breakfast and some much needed caffeine(mostly Caffeine)! We had started our morning off first thing with a stroll to the border to finish our border run. Costa Rica side first, BAM! I love the Costa Rica side…they really have it down! No problems, no politics, just fill out the little piece of paper, stand in a short line that moves along quick and BOOM, stamp in our passports and we’re on our merry way. Off to the Panama side to stamp back in….SKREEEEETCH! Then the bureaucracy begins and slow motion sets in, oh, my goodness, how my Tranquilo wanes! Why oh why Panama? Why do you have to make it so unbelievably difficult and (seemingly difficult, Cuz’ what do I know, maybe there’s a perfectly good reason for all the BS ) unnecessarily complicated to get into the country? It seems to me that Panama should be trying to encourage tourism and they would want to encourage people to cross their border…well, in my mind, (which I’m certain is not as bright as the ‘rule-makers’ in Panama) . All I know is that the requirement that each person entering Panama have a minimum of $500.00 cash on them seems a crazy thing, if only for safety reasons. They were making people actually count out the cash at the window right in front of all to see! Really!! Now, the Frontera is a very busy place, crowded, confusing, and I’m sure there are ( not so honest) eyes watching that cash and waiting for an opportunity to relieve people of their hard earned money. I saw young and old, Costa Rican, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Indigenous, American, European….all being asked to take out the money they have on them and count it, Sheesh!! To many of those people $500.00 is a life savings! . It just seems like there could be more important requirements for coming to Panama than showing all to see that you have $500.00 CASH on you when you walk across the border. But that’s just me….what do I know? After satisfying all the different questions from the man behind the plexiglass window who really didn’t seem as though he were in any hurry to stamp our Passports, he eventually ran out of things to ask for because we are pro’s after all. Yes, we were prepared with an airline ticket out of Panama, (refundable of course!), our bank balance on a withdrawal receipt , which has worked the last two times as proof of our financial solvency, but this particular guy wanted to see the actual $500.00 cash, which I had tucked away in a money belt, so I reluctantly and not happily, brought it out and counted it for him….Grrrrr! After satisfying the guy, he finally, and very slowly stamped our passports and off we went. Good to go for another 90 days…maybe our last one? It could happen. Read the rest of this entry
Yet another border run for us…
Yes, it’s that time again! It’s amazing how fast 90 days flies by when your havin’ fun. Last time we did the border crossing at the Rio Sereno border which I really liked. Sadly, that border is not quite so easy to do a quick, one night run. It would require having a bit more time than we have at the moment. Given the fact that Scott is a full fledged ”
jefe” right now with four full time employees depending on him, we need to make this next border run a fast one. So It’s back to Paso Canoas, darn it! The good thing is that this time we know what we’re doing and already know where to stay,(Hotel Canarias), where to park our car and hopefully there wont be any new surprises. You just never really know what new and totally random requirement they may decide to throw in the mix. Our plan this time is to leave Boquete after Scott finishes working for the day on Saturday. He usually works until 4:00 but he’s planning to call it a day at around 1:00 so we can get outta town on the early side. Then, if all goes well, we will get up bright and early, and go back to the border to check back into Panama when the border opens up first thing. My fingers are crossed that it goes smoothly, let’s hope I don’t’ fall down again! (eye roll!) I’m just kidding!
(The next Day) Well, here I sit, comfortably ensconced in our hotel at the Frontera. We’ve checked out of Panama and stamped into Costa Rica and now we are happily chillin’ in the hotel for the night. Scott’s watching TV while I play on my ipad. We’re officially in no mans land here at the Frontera. The border area is a very popular place where the local Panamanians enjoy shopping. There are all sorts of stores and malls here. We haven’t done a lot of exploring because its just so darn hot! Whew! I know we’re total whimps! So after we got ourselves checked into our hotel and parked our car in their private lot we left our things in the room and set off on foot to get those stamps in our Passports. Easy breezy when you know what to do and where to go. Last time we were here it was a much different feeling, not knowing what to do or where to go was a little disorienting. This time, we’re ahem’ ‘seasoned’ border runners! 🙂 No need to be nervous, we just marched right up to the window got our stamp and went our merry way. I’m hoping the worst part of this particular border run will be stepping in a huge hunk of bubble gum which somehow jumped onto my ankle and unbelievably wrapped itself completely around my ankle!!! Geesh!! (Looking up to the sky and wondering…why meeee??LOL!)
Last time we did this we were hoping it would be out last time….well, here’s to hoping ‘this’ is the last time we have to do this. Maybe in the next 90 days we’ll have succeeded in the completion of the ‘never ending’ collecting of all the required documents for our permanent visa. For now, we’ll just enjoy our wine and our cheese and crackers that we brought for our ‘Hotel Picknic”! In the morning we’ll walk back to the Costa Rica border and check out then check back into Panama then we’re home sweet home!! Back to Boquete and the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival!! Cant wait to sit it the fresh, cool Boquete air and listen to some good music, who knows maybe even get a little booty shakin’ in??? It could happen!! 🙂