What? No Air conditioning?

Trip Start Nov 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
German and Rosa's House

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Heredia,
Sunday, January 16, 2011

After a six hour bus ride across Panama - from Panama city to David, a quick sleepover in the last available Hotel room in David and then an eventful morning trying to get out of David (which included a taxi driver who told us he was calling the police on us after trying to rip us off for an extra 50 cents.....bring it on!) we finally found a bus to take us to San Jose Costa Rica.......well.....the bus we found made the Panamanian shaker look luxurious.    This one had no air!!!!  and it is really hot....and the bus ride was to take up to 9 or 10 hours.....are you kidding?  no air, no toilet and 10 hours?  Problem was we needed to get out of Dodge, well, actually David,  and didn't know about all the stuff it didn't have until we were rolling for the border.  OK, maybe not so bad - border only an hour ahead and loads of room on the bus to at least spread out for the journey.

As we approached the border we could see the lineups.  Uh! The bus pulled in, we followed the driver's hand signals to get off and collect our bags and join the masses in the sweltering heat.....really long lineups and the melting cranky old ladies who were coming out of the building stopped to tell us how lucky we were because they had just waited nearly three hours in the sun.  Seems the Panamanian staff had taken a two hour lunch break and had just closed their side - now the office was open again and these sweaty seniors told us to think of their hardships as we moved along.  Hmmmm, moved along?  Seems the two hour lunch break and subsequent reopening was very temporary because as soon as we joined the long que, the wicket closed again and we stood, and stood and stood.  We could go up front and look at the officials sitting behind the windows visiting each other, - didn't see anyone eating - guess they were full from the previous couple of hour lunch break.  Everybody in the line was furious - it was Sunday afternoon and most were Costa Ricans on their way home after a weekend in Panama.

The border town was the same as most border towns:  dirty, dusty and chaotic.  Big semis parked in their ques and private vehicles with exasperated drivers trying to find someone to stamp their documents.  We waited in the midday sun for over an hour before the line started moving and finally got our exit stamp after another 45 minutes or so.  Then haul the bags back onto the bus, drive about 100 metres into Costa Rica, claim  our bags off the bus and get back into a line.  All good until we found out Costa Rica is one hour behind Panama and the lunch break was just starting here - one hundred metres from the last one.  Ahhhh - they closed off their wickets and same same - just looked at us through the window for another hour!!!

By the time we found our bus, it was clear that all that legroom was a thing of the past.  Not only were we soaked, without AC, the bus had now a massive lineup of new folks who were joining us here on the Costa Rica side.  I got a window seat and hung my head out like a dog.  We were completely full but that did not stop the drivver from stopping and picking up more passengers until it was standing room only for a couple of folks.

It never ceases to amaze me how a few hundred metres across a border changes everything but, just like every country I have been, the feel and the landscape and I just can't figure it out, but it was obvious we were no longer in Panama.  Immediately the landscape turned lush and far more dense and the mountains got higher.  Very beautiful.

We didn't stop for another three hours or so and by that time the whole busload was bursting......the rest of the trip was uneventful - lots of weekend traffic and we pulled into San Jose around 10:30 pm.  We were so lucky to have received a message from Louise's friends that they would pick us up at the bus station.  We had planned, because of the late hour, to find a place in San Jose..with the help of a new guy Louse met at the border.  Instead he used his phone to contact German and Rosa and they graciously were there to load our sweaty bodies into their van.  San Jose is not a place you want to hang around in the dark so I was very very happy to see them waiting for us.

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TheresaCalgary on

Whew, what another adventure Deb! Just reading your 'border' entry made me sweaty ;-) Hope you enjoy San Jose. I have relatives there - though have only met them in their visits to Canada (many years ago)! Take care and keep on keeping us up-to-date with your travels. Hugs.

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