Panama/Costa Rica Border crossing

Trip Start Jan 25, 2009
Trip End Jun 2009

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Flag of Panama  ,
Friday, February 27, 2009

I visited Panama City the weekend of Feb 13.  I was visiting a friend there.  I took a bus to the city from San Jose.  Its a 13-14 hour ride, but this took  like 17 hours, blah.

I travelled with the company Tica Bus.  It travels through all central America and the south of Mexico.  I left at 11pm from San Jose.  I was lucky enough to sit next to an American woman, Rachel.  She goes to Panama 2 a year to study the stories of the Embera, a native tribe in Panama.  She records their stories in their native languages then has a man translate them to Spanish and English.  Very interesting woman.  She lives in Monteverde on a reserve in the rainforest.

We got to the border at around 5:30am.  The Tica Bus people collected everyone's passport.  Apparently, Costa Rican office at the border does not have computers.  So it was faster for the Tica Bus people to turn in everyone's passport at once.  Soooo, we walked to the Panama office.  In between the two offices there are a few houses and a lot of small restaurants.  After using the bathroom (had to pay for toilet paper), I waited in the line at the Panama window.  I filled out customs papers as I waited. 

Also, I had no idea that I had atually crossed the border.  I thought i was still in CR.  There's not big dramatic line just at some point you're in Panama, lol. 

Let me tell you, very irritating.  We got there at 5:30am, but the office didn't open until like 7:30am.  So all we could do was wait....and wait...and wait.  Finally I got to the front, even after the opened it took forever.  At the front, I realized why.  They dont' have computers either, so they take down all the information by hand.  After that, I had to buy a tourist visa for $5.  This meant I had to go to another line.  Out of the 50 people on the bus, only 7 of us needed to buy a visa. 5 of us were American, one guy was from Canada and another girl was from Japan.  Here's the catch, something i still dont understand.  The office to buy the visa was closed. ????  And the worker didn't show up for around 2 hours.  We were all fairly upset.  Rachel, would traveled the route many times said no one is ever there at first, they always have to call a worker to come to the visa office.  But she admitted it had never taken the worker so long to arrive.

I still dont understand.  I'd imagine enough non-costa rican and non-panamanian tourists must come through the border for someone to be in the visa office all the time.

THe lady finally came, we got out cards and we were off.  YEh!!!
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