Picture of the day:
(click to enlarge)

Grrr... go away!


Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

Wanna see all reports? Click here

Day 62: In Line for Paradise

April 10, 2006

The road from San Juan del Sur to Peñas Blancas at the Costa Rican border was short and uneventful, if not to mention the encounter with Hitchcock's birds - turns out they are not imaginary!! They're alive and dwell around the Pan-American Highway! (for those who think we had too much to drink the night before, the video material is enclosed, 5.7Mb).
But who cares about some Hitchcock's birds when we are about to hit the country which has thousands of exotic birds living in perfect harmony with poisonous frogs and snakes, nasty crocodiles and caimans, lazy sloths, and sneaky monkeys that never miss a chance to steal a hat, an ice-cream, sunglasses or even the wallet from an absent-minded tourist. Judging from what we have read and heard, Costa Rica is almost paradise, and voila! - the long awaited country is just minutes away.

The border guides are already there, traditionally annoying. As for us, we traditionally pretend we know everything. Experienced border-crossers like us do not need any assitance! :)) So we keep driving inside the Nicaraguan customs territory carefully following the signs, until our heads start spinning and we realize that we are circling around the same customs offices (bet you the nasty border guides intentionally dislocated some of the signs!). Oh boy, is this really going to be the first time we'll have to ask for assistance figuring out this confusing customs structure? Well, even it's meant to happen, it will not be the border guides helping us out, that is the matter of principle :)
An hour or so later (and with a little help from the official customer service clerk - they actually have one in the Nicaragua!) we finally succeed to leave Nicaragua. It was around noon when we got our passports stamped in Costa Rica for legal immigration, and went straight to the line for car papers. There was a four-person line, so we estimated a half an hour wait.

Whoever said that the Costa Rican border was tourist-friendly must have been joking! Four hours after noon we are still in the same line with the same 4 people in front of us, having made zero progress. There are two officers on duty, one sitting at his sterile empty desk and doing no more than periodically yawning; and another one, who seems to be doing everybody's but his own work. Instead of processing the paperwork for the waiting vehicles, the guy is running around the customs inspecting the incoming buses and the passengers' luggage (50 tourists per bus, and every single one of them has to go through the check!), organizing parking order in the customs territory, constantly giving commandhs to somebody over the phone and ineffectively searching for something in a huge chaotic pile of papers on his desk. Then suddenly he leaves "for 15 minutes" and… reappears just before 4PM. Needless to say, the drivers in the line have saved some nice words for him :) (according to the information on the map of Costa Rica, the immigration offices at Peñas Blancas close at 4PM).

Several minutes left to 4PM our car finally gets inspected (the actual inspection took no longer than 5 minutes!), and we are granted the permission to proceed… to yet another well-hidden building, where we stand one more line :) An hour later we receive a temporary car importation document, identical to the one we had gotten from the previous officer, only the latter is a print out of an electronic document, while the former was completed by hand :) The mandatory (free of charge) insecticide spray follows, and at 5:30PM our car is finally all set for the roads of Costa Rica.

Thanks to the well-organized customs and impressively bad roads, the night fell way before we reached the beach resort of Playa Tamarindo, where we had initially intended to camp. (we had heard about the bad roads of Costa Rica but didn't think they were THAT bad. It took us no less that 2.5 hours go get from Santa Cruz at Panamericana to Tamarindo on the Pacific coast) However, it was too dark to look for a camp site, and all we could see in the nocturnal town were lots of fancy American chain restaurants and glittering hotels. The cheapest sleeping establishment we managed to find was Cabinas Roda del Mar (right at the entrance of town), a pleasant place for USD22 (but outrageously overpriced for the travelers used to the lovely USD 7-12 hotels of El Salvador and Nicaragua!). Well, from the first sight it certainly looks like the dollar-holders have found the way to Tamarindo :)

Tip #1: Before getting into the line for temporary vehicle importation papers, force your way into the aduanas (ignore the grumbling officer, who doesn't like anybody stepping in without his permission) and ask for the application form. Then go back to the immigration office. There is a window at the entrance where you must buy the mandatory vehicle insurance (Poliza de seguro sobre automovil, USD13 for 30 days). Once you have the receipt from the insurance office and the completed application form, you are set to get into the line. Otherwise you'll end up standing the line twice: first they'll give you the application form and will send you to obtain insurance, and the second time you will be able to submit the papers). It's a very slowly-moving line, so you definitely want to avoid standing it twice.

Tip #2: For more on Nicaragua - Costa Rica Border border crossing refer to the Tips for the Road page.

Observation of the Day. It is a well-known fact that Costa Rica stands apart from its Central American neighbours on having no armed forces. But did you know what happened to those who were supposed to join the army? They all went to work for the national police! We got stopped by the police at least 5 times, within the first 15-mile stretch in the country! The most surprising thing, however, was their attitude: all they wanted to know was who we were, where we were coming from, where we were going and why, if Lithuania was a beautiful country, what language we spoke in Lithuania and how we liked Costa Rica… Having found out enough they would just wish us a safe trip and let us go. Only one out of 5 policemen actually asked us to show the documents. (Has anyone told the Costa Rican policemen how curiosity killed the cat? :))

Click on the pictures to enlarge

Good life on the main street of San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Vaizdelis is pagrindines San Juan del Sur gatves

Hitchcock's birds are back!

Pan American Highway, Nicaragua, close to Costa Rica border

Hickoko pauksciai sugrizo!


Welcome to Costa Rica

Sveiki atvyke i Kosta Rika! Maloniai kvieciame stoti i keturiu valandu eile.

Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

62-oji diena: Ilga eile prie rojaus vartu

2006 m. balandzio 10

Nuo San Juan del Sur iki Costa Ricos pasienio nuvaziuojam greitai, be nuotykiu (isskyrus netiketa pauksciu antpludi vidury greitkelio, kurio video klipuka pridedam prie aprasymo, 5.7Mb) ir labai nekantraudami pagaliau pamatyti unikaliaja sali, kuria dauguma vadina paprasciausiai rojumi - nepakeiciama vieta laukines gamtos, gyvunu ir pauksciu gerbejams Tuo nedristame net suabejoti - gi beveik 30 procentu salies teritorijos yra grieztai saugomi draustiniai ir nacionaliniai parkai, kuriuose knibzda daugybe egzotisku gyvunu: krokodilu, kaimanu, ivairiausiu varliu ir gyvaciu, driezu, bezdzioniu, papugu, tropiniu pauksciu, didziuliu vandens vezliu, lusiu, jaguaru… o bezdziones ten, atseit, tokios bebaimes ir izulios, kad reikia budriai saugotis - kitaip vidury parko gali netekti spalvotos kepures, skareles, sokoladuko ar porcijos ledu, o kartais net ir krepsio arba pinigines!

Costa Rica taip pat unikali tuo, kad jau beveik 60 metu neturi armijos. Tuo metu, kada kitos Centrines Amerikos salys masiskai ginklavosi ir gasdino potencialius turistus politiniu nestabilumu, nekontroliuojamais banditu ispuoliais bei ginkluotais skurstanciu pilieciu sukilimais pries valdzia, Costa Rica sugebejo likti politiniu intrigu nuosaly. Didzioji dalis finansiniu ir zmoniskuju resursu buvo paskirti gamtos prieziurai bei turizmo skatinimui, ir rezultatai buvo stulbinanciai teigiami - tuo metu, kada kaimynines salys pesesi del zemiu ir valdzios, kostarikieciai linksmai soko salsa. Turistai pludo, ekonomika augo kaip ant mieliu. Taigi, ne salis, o stebuklas - todel ir negalim atsidziaugti, kad pagaliau ten vaziuojam.

Rojaus vartai, deja, atsivere ne taip greitai, kaip tikejomes. Apie vidurdieni privaziavom pasieni (Penas Blancas, per 10 minuciu gavom I pasus po imigracijos anspauda ir is karto stojom I eile prie masinos importavimo dokumentu. Pries mus lauke tik keturi zmones, taigi paskaiciavom, kad uz pusvalandzio jau turetumem linksmai riedeti Costa Ricos keliu. Deja, deja!
Per KETURIAS VALANDAS nepajudejom I prieki nei zingnio! Sitokios betvarkes dar neteko matyti nei viename pasieny. Poste sedejo du uz masinu importavima atsakingi pasienieciai. Vienas is ju, zemo ugio riebuilis, tiesiog rymojo prie svaraus tuscio stalo, reguliariai nusiziovaudavo ir kartais vis trumpam ilisdavo I tarnautoju kambariuka, is kur labai laimingas grizdavo toliau sedeti ir ziovauti. (tikriausiai vis uzkrimsdavo ryziu su pupomis - suprantama, reikia palaikyti dailias apvalias formas, jei jau dirbi sedetoju del grozio!). Sedetojo kolega, aukstas ir kudas kaip virbalas, atrodo, dirbo uz visa muitine - be perstojo su kuo nors kalbejo, kazkam vadovavo, nerezultatyviai kuitesi po padrikai paskleista popieriu susni ant darbo stalo ir stalciuose, grieztai draude keliautojams uzeiti I jo maza kambariuka, nes jam nuolat truko oro, bego inspektuoti I muitine ivaziuojanciu masinu, o kartais net isbegdavo is posto pareguliuoti eismo muitines teritorijoje - vien I ji beziurint sukosi galva! Galiausiai "trumpam isbego"…ir grizo 4 valanda po pietu.
Grizusiam teko isklausyti, ka apie jo ir jo kolegu darba galvoja 4 valandas eileje prastoveje ir kantrybe prarade vairuotojai (net uz musu stovintys zmones jau buvo prarade savitvarda, tai ka ir bekalbeti apie tuos keturis, stovincius pries mus!?). Nezinia, ar labiau padejo - ar "komplikmentai", ar faktas, jog muitines darbo diena smarkiai artinosi prie pabaigos (Penas Blancas pasienio postas 4 val. uzsidaro), bet kudasis pasienietis staiga eme ir… visiems isake laimingai vaziuoti! Kad bent butu paaiskines, del ko tada mes keturias valandas stovejom.

Pagaliau ivaziuojam I Costa Rica, ir netrunkam patirti, kas atsitinka armijos atsisakiusioms salims. Visi potencialus kareivukai eina dirbti I keliu policija!! 20 km pasienio ruoze policija mus sustabde gal 5 kartus. Idomiausia tai, kad jie - garbes zodis! - stabdo is smalsumo!! Kaip kitaip pateisinti tokius klausimus: "Labas, is kur atvaziuoji? Kur toliau vaziuosi? Ka veziesi? Ar jus abu lietuviai? Ar Lietuva tokia pati grazi salis kaip Costa Rica? Kokia kalba ten kalbate? Kaip jums patinka Costa Ricoje?" Patenkine smalsuma, palinki gero kelio ir atsisveikina. Is penkiu pasnekovu tik vienas bent paprase parodyti dokumentus! :) Jeigu ir toliau kas 4 kilometrai stosim paplepeti su pasienio patruliais, siandien toli nebenuvaziuosim.

Nutolus nuo pasienio, policijos sumazejo. Taciau toli vis tiek nebenuvaziavom - sutemo, o keliai Costa Ricoje - labai prasti. (apie tai buvom girdeje, bet netikejom, kad tokioj pazangioj saly keliai butu prastesni nei likusioje Centrineje Amerikoje). Panamericana greitkelis - puse bedos, bet vos tik nusuki nors kiek i sona, prasideda duobeti sunkeliai. Vienu is tokiu labai velai vakare privaziavom Playa Tamarindo (kurortas prie Ramiojo vandenyno, dvi valandos (nakti - minimum trys) purtymosi bjauriu sunkeliu i vakarus nuo Santa Cruz). Tamsoj nedaug ka pasiseke iziureti, bet vienas dalykas paaiskejo is pirmo zvilgsnio - ne be priezasties Tamarindo neretai pravardziuojamas "Tamagringo". Puosnus restoranai, "zvaigzdeti" garsiu vardu viesbuciai ir aukstos kainos sufleravo, kad si pajurio kurorta yra pamege amerikieciai, o ju dolerius - tamarindieciai :)

Archive of Daily Reports



Costa Rica



El Salvador



Copyright © 2006 Go-Panamerican.com
Web site designed by www.thomaz.org