When you are here as a tourist (which we are until we get our Pensionado), you have 90 days before you have to renew your tourist visa. That is if you are driving. Otherwise, it is 180 days. I didn’t have a problem but Mike did, so we had to make the Border Hop.
We talked with friends to find out about the process, where to go, what paperwork you had to take with you, etc. It had been really simple process in the past. People could go to the border, get their passports stamped go across the border, eat lunch, turn around and come back after lunch, get passport stamped again showing their return airplane ticket and that was that.
Not so simple for us. Of course, it would change when we needed to get our visas renewed. AND we couldn’t find out exactly the procedure on line. So off we go on the adventure. I literally threw some clothes, medicine, paperwork in a plastic sack (just in case we had to spend the night, which we heard was required now). Our friends told us that Rio Sereno was much easier to do all of this, small town, no waiting in lines, etc. Rio Sereno is not too far from Volcan so that sounded good to us, especially since we had no idea what we were doing (An adventure). When we got to Rio Sereno, where did we park? On the Costa Rican side. That’s right: across the border. Not a good start. We got out of the truck and was going into the Panamanian office where we met a family coming out (Luck was on our side). They told us we couldn’t park there because it would be towed away. They then asked where we would be staying the night. WHAT? I had no idea where we would stay. Rochelle (finally introduced ourselves) said she would contact the place they were staying and see if there were any vacancies. This by the way is exactly how our life in Panama has been. Every time we need help or advice it appears.
We proceeded to the Costa Rican side and went thru the process there. Mike moved the truck to a place in front of a house we hoped would be safe. Then we met up with our new found friends that happened to be from Newfoundland. Rochelle informed us we had a place to stay in San Vito. YEA!!! We boarded the bus and was so very thankful it was a coach bus and not a school bus!! Rochelle told us that George would pick us up at the park when we got there. Well, no George was to be found. No problems though, after contacting George, he said to grab a taxi and he would pay for it when we arrived. Rochelle knew Spanish so she and the taxi drivers became quick friends. He took us up to the Wilson Gardens so we could see how close it was to where we were staying.
None of us knew exactly what the lodging would be like. We were definitely surprised. It was beautiful.
Cascata Del Bosco Cabinas was a hidden gem. As George, the owner, took us to our cabins we were in awe of the landscaped grounds. Bamboo was everywhere. The flora was beautiful. The cabins were just as beautiful. The main room looked onto the rainforest. Mike was in heaven. A place to sit and relax. That night we just rested. The next morning George cooked the largest breakfast I had eaten since I have been here; pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit, toast, bacon, carrot/orange juice, coffee. Wow!! I was stuffed. Oh and grilled bananas!!! George offered to take us into San Vito to catch the bus. We wanted to see some of the town anyway. It was a quaint town and we definitely want to visit again. After walking around, we caught the bus back to the border. Went back thru the Costa Rican office and made our way over to the Panamanian office.
What an adventure: made new friends, found the hidden gem, and got our visas renewed. I would deem it a successful trip!!!
Costa Rican Border
Costa Rica parking lot–we had already moved our truck!
Road to San Vito. Only 5 miles of dirt road before turns into pavement.
Hidden Gem–B & B where we spent the night
Ceiling of the cabin
looking out onto the balcony
Mike loves the bamboo but you sure couldn’t tell it
Beautiful flowers in garden
Beautiful flower–looks like wax