Days 131 to 133 May 2024

Posted by The Madbiker on Tue, May 21, 2024

Day 131

I set off from the city of Granada at about 8 o’clock in the morning and it was hot. I took the NIC-4 South in the direction of the border crossing at Pena Blanca. I stopped after about an hour for some breakfast at a roadside restaurant and then again about 20 miles from the border at a spot where the road ran close to the lake.

I arrived at the border at about half past 10 in the morning and as usual I got stopped at the entrance to the border area, I had my passport checked and I was given my customs declaration form to complete. I parked up outside the main building and then went in to start another episode of the border pantomime.

I completed the customs declaration form and then I went to immigration to get my self stamped out of the CA-4 visa area. I got the exit stamp in my passport, paid my 3 US Dollars tourist tax, and then I had to unload all of my bags from the bike and carry them in to the main building to be X-rayed.

Once this was done I needed to go to the customs to have my Nicaraguan TIP cancelled. However, on the other side of the x-ray machines were the customs desks but there was no-one manning them, I asked the operator of the X-ray machine where the customs staff were and to be honest I would have been better asking the X-ray machine itself.

This idiot directed me to another building about 100 yards away from the main building where I saw a huge queue of people waiting to be dealt with.

There were 5 windows but only 2 were manned and then I spotted that the 5th window was manned so I spoke to the woman at that window. The woman customs officer had her nose buried deep in to her mobile phone and when I spoke to her she could not contain her disdain for me interrupting whatever that she was doing on her mobile phone.

The woman told me to go to the other windows. As I stood and looked at her in bewilderment, she paid no attention to me, she just quickly buried her nose in her phone again. As I looked at her I thought to myself “Why is it that all obnoxious and surly women are fat and lazy?” I pondered this question as I walked to join the large queue but the answer never came to me.

Anyway, I asked the guys in the queue if I was in the right place and I was quickly ushered to the front of the queue to ask my question. After about 10 minutes or so I spoke to the woman at the window and she told me that as I was a tourist, I needed to go to the customs widows in the main building (you know, the unmanned ones) as this particular customs office was only for freight.

So I trotted back to the main building but by mistake I entered the “Entry to Nicaragua” side instead of the “Exit from Nicaragua” side that I had previously been in. Lo and behold, the customs desks on the “Entry to Nicaragua” side of the building were fully staffed. I then got my TIP cancelled at no cost.

I then went to the police for a stamp on my customs declaration form, then once obtained, I went back to the customs who signed the it. I then got on the bike, went to the actual border, handed my customs declaration for to the customs officer there and I was then allowed to leave Nicaragua and enter Costa Rica.

I parked up at the main building on the Costa Rican side, the time was now half past eleven in the morning, the exit procedure from Nicaragua had taken 1 hour.

I went to immigration and got my entry stamp as no cost. I then went to the customs on the other side of the road to see if my previously suspended TIP could be restarted. No it couldn’t, I would have to get a new one, well what a surprise! So, the woman in the customs office banged away on her computer keyboard for 5 minutes and then gave me 2 bits of paper and to me to take them to another customs building 100 yards or so further down the road.

I got on the bike and rode to it. There a customs guy took the 2 bits of papers and then filled out my TIP on his computer. Then he gave me another 2 bits of paper and told me to give the small one to the customs guys at the actual border. I got back on the bike, rode another 100 yards to the actual border where the small piece of paper was taken from me and then that was it. I was allowed to enter Costa Rica.

I stopped just after the border to sort out my bags and to take the obligatory border crossing photo on my entrance in to costa Rica.

What a pantomime! It was now 12 o’clock, mid-day and the whole thing had taken 2 hours but at least it was all over and I could now head South. As I rode away from the border all I saw for about 5 miles were articulated lorries parked at the side of the road obviously waiting to enter Nicaragua.

The large queue of people that I saw was apparently lorry drivers who were fortunate enough to be in the border area and were waiting to be processed. so if you think that my time at these borders was stressful enough, just think how long a lorry driver at the end of a 5 mile queue needs to wait and how stressful that must be with no access to toilets or somewhere to wash and eat!

By 2 o’clock in the afternoon I was getting near to Puntarenas which I wanted to have a look at so see if it was worth spending the night in, however as I was about 20 miles away a huge thunderstorm hit and I got absolutely drenched. As I was already wet I decided to continue to ride in the rain but it got so heavy that I needed to pull off the road.

I stopped at a tyre repair place that was obviously an old petrol station that had the roof covering the area where the petrol pumps used to be. I stood chatting to the tyre repair guys waiting for the rain to stop but it never stopped. Thunder and lightning banged and flashed overhead and all around me, however after 3 hours of waiting for the rain to ease or stop, I decided that I needed to get to a hotel before it became dark.

I got back on the bike and headed for Puntarenas. The rain continued to hammer down, the roads were swimming with brown coloured water as the rain washed the soil on to the roads. I eventually got to a hotel, 60 US Dollars for the night is usually way too expensive for me, but on this occasion I gladly paid it.

Like a drowned rat, I went to my room, had a shower and then hung my wet bike clothing up in the shower to let the water run out of it.

Day 132

I rose early and headed out to have a look at the beach as I had been unable to do so the previous evening due to it being dark and still raining heavily. I took a couple of photos of the beach and my hotel and then set off for my last stop in Costa Rica before getting back in to Panama.

I left Puntarenas at just before 8 o’clock in the morning and I took the road from Puntarenas to San Jose, road number 23 which turned out to be a toll road, however when I left it to take road number 24, the coastal road, I only had to pay 300 Colones (60 US Cents) for the short time that I was on it.

I then rode South and when I reached the town of Jaco I got some spectacular views of the coastline.

Just after I joined road number 34, the main road to the border with Panama, I passed lots and lots of palm trees that were being obviously grown for something or other, I don’t know what the crop was but these plantations decorated the roadside for about 30 miles or more.

I continued South on the main road and I crossed a bridge over a river that was in full flood and a rich chocolate brown colour due to the heavy rain of the previous day washing the soil from the hills down it to it.

The previously clear blue skies were now starting to cloud over and I was keen to get to my accommodation for the evening before I got an other drenching, so I continued to ride South and about an hour away from my destination I encountered a police and border patrol check point, I was allowed to pass but they were stopping almost every vehicle on the Northbound side of the road and because of this a huge queue of vehicles had formed.

as I was nearing my accommodation I crossed another bridge but this time the water was clear and the river was not in flood.

so either this part of the country avoided the torrential rain or the hills above are mostly rocky with very little soil to wash in to the river, it was very picturesque in any case.

I reached my accommodation at 3 o’clock in the afternoon just as it started to rain. The place that I had booked was a small “Hospedaje”, which translates as Lodging, for 30 US Dollars for the night. I was one of the best places that I have stayed in so far.

Day 133

I left my accommodation the following morning just after 10 o’clock and headed to the border with Panama at Paso Canoa which was about 30 miles away. I reached the border shortly before 11 o’clock but as Costa Rica and the rest of Central America are 1 hour behind Panama, it was nearly midday by Panamanian time.

I parked up at the Costa Rican immigration and customs building which is a couple of hundred yards away from the actual border and I then went across the road to pay my 9 US Dollars exit fee from Costa Rica. Then I went to immigration with my passport and exit fee receipt, and then my passport got the exit stamp put in it.

I then went to the customs to have my TIP cancelled, I was given a form to fill out with all the usual stuff, then I handed it back with my paper copy of my TIP. After a few minutes of bashing away on a keyboard the customs guy came out from behind the desk and went to look at my bike. On this occasion, no checking of numbers other than the registration number and that was it I was free to return to Panama.

I then parked up under the big canopy at the actual Panamanian Corsta Rican border and went to immigration.

There were no issues with my return to Panama and I got the entry stamp in my passport. Then I spoke to the customs guys who were standing under the canopy. They needed to see the permission to leave the country form that I had obtained from their colleagues in Panama city some 6 weeks previously. They scanned the form with a hand held device and shook their heads.

Apparently because of the length of time I had been out of the country I needed to get my bike sprayed with posion (fumigated) before I could be let back in to the country. So I went over to the fumigation window and paid my 4 US Dollars, the guy then came out and sprayed the bike with some toxic shit.

I then gave the customs guys with the hand held scanners my fumigation receipt and permission to leave Panama form which they retained and that me. All done, and then I rode back in to Panama.

I had arranged to visit some friends who were living in the town of Volcan which is very close to the border so I headed there. However, as I got in to the mountains on the way to where they were staying, a thunderstorm broke out. I sought refuge in a bus shelter from the torrential downpour which lasted for over an hour.

I waited till it was over and rode 5 miles further till another downpour had me hiding in a second bus shelter for about 30 minutes. Eventually I reached my destination where I stayed with my friends for a couple of nights before making the 300 mile long boring, speed trap infested, ride back to Panama city.

I arrived in Panama city early in the afternoon, thankfully dry as it had not rained during my ride, to bring this part of my RWT to a close until I head off to South America, hopefully at the end of this year.