Today we started our first border run to Costa Rica. For the last three years, this has been a half day process – according to everyone who has been doing this for a while. We went with Scott, our neighbor, who has done this numerous times. So frequently, in fact, that he is familiar with the border agent on the Panama side.The plan was: 1. leave early 2. cross into Costa Rica 3. Cross back into Panama 4. Have 90 more days of driving privileges. Reality was: Not going to happen. So close to the border.
In Panama, visitors are allowed to stay 180 days but a driver’s license is only good for 90 days. Until our pensionado is approved, we have to leave the country. Officially, the law states that you must be out of the country 48-72 hours, depending on who you ask. But Panama has allowed us gringos to go across the border, have lunch and then return. Two weeks ago the government of Panama issued a statement that the law would be followed. The agent at Rio Sereno followed the new procedure.
The drive to Rio Sereno is beautiful. It takes about two hours to get there through mountains, farmland, coffee fincas and waterfalls. It is also much cooler than using the main border control at Paso Canoa. We got to the border but the agent said he would not allow us back into Panama that quickly. It is an easy border to use as not many people go there. But it also means that they don’t have hotels and restaurants where you would want to spend 48 hours.
We drove back, stopped for lunch and were home by 1. We still have about 2 weeks to drive so we will go again. This time we have a plan. We will go to Paso Canoa and plan to stay in Costa Rica a few days. Playa Zancudo is known for its beautiful beaches and very close to the border. This is low season so there are plenty of rooms. It’s near two national parks filled with monkeys.
We have so many things on our calendar and finding 2 nights was a problem. We must cancel our trivia night, reschedule our hot stone massages, and plan dinner for another night. Life his tough, but we will somehow struggle through and spend three days at the beach.