January 15, 2009
Gringo Costa Rica
I left Granada early, as usual, and figured it would take me about two hours to get to the border.
Flat. Hot. Agricultural. the wind started to pick up.
And now it was a steady force to be reckoned with…
I passed swanky Nicarauga…the whole area “felt” rich…rich grassland, rich ranches, etc. I had not seen too much “rich” in the countryside of anywhere in Nicaragua.
I filled up my gas tank with my last colones and rolled to the border.
After dodging a bunch of “helpers” and paying a $1 “exit fee”, I now needed to get into this line… was it a line? Not so much.
oofa. That was going to take some time. So I got OUT of line, and decided to exit the bike before exiting ME from Nicaragua, hoping that the line would go down.
So I figured out what building to do the bike paperwork in, and stood in line. Get tot he window, the lady tells me I have to have my little slip of paper stamped. Where? “Afuera.” (outside) Who? “Afuera.” (outside) Where? “Afuera.” (outside) Who? “Afuera.” (outside) Finally a trucker in line behind me told me I had to find a guy with a blue shirt to stamp and sign the papelito. Outside, I find an official-looking man in a blue shirt. NO, the other type of blue shirt.
I go all over the place looking for another type of blue shirt, find him, and he tells me that I have to have the other guy in the blue shirt stamp and sign it as well.
OK, I figure it’s the FIRST guy I talked to, so I find him in a different location, chat him up, get my stamp, and go back to wait in line to deal with the bitchy lady in the booth.
By the time they are done exiting my bike from Nicaragua, I have 7 stamps and signatures on my little piece of paper, AND NOT ONE OF THESE PEOPLE HAS SEEN MY BIKE! No VIN checks, no visual, NOTHING! All these double checks…DOUBLE CHECKING NOTHING!!!!
So I get back into the migracion line that has not slimmed down at all.
Oh and by the way, there are these guys and gals coming around offering up the papers that you need to have filled out when you reach the window. I ak the lady in line behind me if I need the paper, she says yes, and that they expect a “tip”. I say I will not get one, now the paper guy is pissed, the lady behind me is pissed (because it means she will have to wait longer), but I hold my ground.
I look behind me, and I see this big sweaty guy. Tall, about a head over everyone else, so I figure he’s a gringo like me. I cock my head, look at his pants, and smile. Boots, too. BIKER! he smiles, I smile broader, he jumps the line and comes up with me. he is JP, also en route to Tierra del Fuego (wherever travelers like us ultimately end up).
JP holds the place in line while I cut ahead to the window, get us two papelitos, and we chat in line and the line (seems) to move quickly.
We ride together to the Costa Rican side, and see a line even longer than the one on the Nica side…so big, it stretches in a serpentine around the parking lot, in the hot sun, for about 100+ people. And as JP holds the place in line so I can pee, I see another “mirror” line to migracion out the OTHER side of the buildiing!!
After about an hour in line we finally get to migracion, where the guy stamps my passport SO FAST that I think he has not done it and I argue!
well, shoot, still not done, now we have to import the bikes into Costa Rica.
After they do all the paperwork, no, we re not done yet, we have to ride to yet another building to get the official stamps officially stamped.
NOW we can leave.
Here are the poor truckers trying to get IN to Nica…the line extended for about 4 miles…
It’s fun to see someone else in my rearview mirror…
(the cord is my camera lanyard so I do not loose the camera)
We consult each others plans (I have none) so I follow him to the Coast.
Playas los Gringos Cocos
Well we divide and search for hotel rooms..Me? $150 shared room with no bike parking. But JP has the touch…Private room with private bath AND bike parking $20 each. BEACHFRONT! Sold. I end up spending two nights there…