With a bit of a hangover and only 3 hours sleep I packed my bike and got ready to go to Costa Rica. Locals told me it would take seven hours to reach San Jose, so at 7am I was on the road. Even with no traffic on the road, exiting Granada was a challenge, roads often just ended without warning or ended with some kind of donkey trail leading to God knows where. With the help of a local drunk, I was finally back on the main highway leading to the border. No traffic and a very direct route made reaching the border very easy.
As I approached the border more “helpers” jumped from behind a building waving for me to stop so they could drain my pockets of any remaining cash. One day I am going to come back to Central America and teach some marketing techniques, Lesson 1 – jumping out from behind trees or buildings and flapping your arms is not a way to attract foreign business. I exited El Salvador easily enough without any help, now it was off to Costa Rica. I have read on other blogs that Costa Rica is a time consuming border, but since it was still very early I felt in no rush.
What makes Costa Rica so time consuming is that the nothing is in the same place or even clearly labeled. First, immigration for the entry stamp, easy enough, but they don’t know where I get the documents for my motorcycle. I find another window that says something about vehicles, BINGO! I get the forms but I need to pay a fee, back 200 meters the way I came. I paid my fee and was given another form, back to the vehicle window, where I was told I needed a copy of my passport with the immigration stamp. The photocopier is back at the building where I paid the fee for my bike. With copy in hand I return to the vehicle building only to be told that I need a copy of my vehicle receipt, back another 200 meters to the photocopier. Finally all documents are copied multiple times, fees have been paid and I am handed a stack to papers all neatly stapled and was told that I was finished. They fumigate my motorcycle and I pay another fee. I approach the gate ready to enter Costa Rica. The guard at the gate spoke really fast and I understood nothing, until he said “another stamp” in English and pointed for me to return back the way I came. I went from window to window only to be pointed to the next window, I felt like I was getting nowhere and just going in circles. Finally after walking through a parking lot of transport trucks I came to another set of windows. After waiting twenty minutes in line I was told to go to the next window, fifteen minutes later I was given another stamped form, Can I really be finished? Back at the gate the guard smiles and says “Welcome to Costa Rica”.
It is not a good idea to take photos at borders, officials can get suspicious, but I felt brave enough to take this one.