Saturday, March 28, 2015

Camping with Bomberos in Costa Rica. Oh, and we crossed another border ;)

Africa Twin x3

We were just behind Shannon, Mike, Cisco and Wayne (who we met up with again on Ometepe), at the border. Things were going quickly until two more Africa Twins being ridden by Dutchies rolled up, and then I simply stopped timing this border crossing.

Jeri and Dagowin are posting about their ride from Argentina to Alaska on TwinWayAmerica and so as you can imagine, Roel and the guys enjoying exchanging information in their native language while I was getting us through the Nicaraguan side of the crossing.

I’ll put this information here with the caveat that it may not be 100% correct as it was a bit of a marathon and my memory may not be 100%. But, I map a diagram that I hope helps to make clear what I've written below:

Ummmm, yea... good luck!

Nicaraguan side

1. Stop at gate and show elderly gentleman in uniform your bike import docs and passport. (I can’t remember if he writes something on them or just looks at it - sorry!) He gives you a customs declarations document.

2. Proceed to the left (not straight, as that is for trucks) and you will come around one building and see two buildings across from one another. Refer to diagram. Find the man in the white tee-shirt who will review your bike paperwork, the customs declaration document (I think he needed this - I just tend to hand over everything and let them figure out what they want and hope they find it in the pile of papers I give them) and look at your passport and is SUPPOSED to look at your bike. He didn’t look at mine - only asked for confirmation that mine was out that in the mess of dual sport bikes parking in front of the aduana.

This is where Steps 2 & 3 take place

3. Go to window on the building on the right side of the road (this should be just to the left of where you encountered the guy in the white shirt). I believe this is the Aduana. Hand over bike documents, passport, etc.

4. Go across the parking lot to Migracion. You will have to stop at a little booth and buy a ticket for $1 to go to the Migracion window. Waste of friggin’ paper.

5. Go to Migracion window and hand over documents. Pay $3. Get a receipt. (Now, on costs, I can’t be 100% sure if I should have paid for two tickets to get to Migracion or only one and maybe I should have paid Migracion $6… I could be wrong here, but I’m not going to break my head over a difference of a few dollars.)

6. Go outside again and around the corner to the “Police” office where if you’re lucky the police woman might actually acknowledge you when she stamps your customs declaration document.


Go to the Costa Rican side…

7. Stop and show your paperwork to the guy in uniform who will tell you if you can proceed (or, like in our case, if you are missing a stamp).

8. Go to Migracion on the left. You will need to fill out a Customs Declaration document and they will stamp your passport with 90 days (Roel waited with the bikes and then had to go in himself- they wouldn’t let me do it for him.).

Good luck weaving through trucks to find your way to the Aduana!

9. Now you need to find your way through the maze of trucks that obscure the road that goes off to the right towards the Aduana/Insurance peeps. (Shannon gave us the tip that we should get our bike import paperwork ahead of time so we could be filling it out while we waited for the insurance lady to fill out or documents - there is a little hut across from Migracion, and this is where we got that paperwork.) Provide bike paperwork and I think copies of everything, too. MANDATORY insurance is $25 each.

In the very middle of this photo you can see me at the Insurance window

At this point, Mike, Shannon, Cicso and Wayne were on their way!! Roel's little "chat" with the Dutchies put us about 40 minutes behind them.

10. Go to copy place next to this building and have copies made of the stamp in your passport from Costa Rican Migracion and your insurance receipt - MAKE SURE THE COPY SHOWS ALL NUMBERS ON THE RECEIPT. (Again, learned this the hard way after waiting in line for 40 minutes a few steps later.)

The guy in the yellow shirt is standing at the copy office

11. Go back to the small hut across from the Migracion building and give them your bike paperwork, the documents you filled out for him, the proof of insurance and copies of the stamp in your passport… and of course, he needs all of the originals, too. He will provide you with a stack of paperwork that you need to bring to the Aduana office that is in the same building as the insurance office.

On the right side of this photo is CR Migracion and on the left is the little shack where you get your vehicle import documents.

12. Back to the Aduana and wait until he checks your documents. If anyone is going to give you trouble about any aspect of your paperwork, it’s this guy. He wasn’t happy about Roel’s first initial being on his ownership papers instead of his full name, and the copy of my proof of insurance was missing one number so he sent me back to the copy place for another copy. Ugh. Eventually, he handed over the temporary import papers for both of our bikes and we were off!!

Pura Vida, Baby!!!!

The bad news was that the sun was setting (yes, I feel like it’s groundhog day given that we had the same experience crossing into Nicaragua). The good news was the the roads where great and in a matter of minutes we were in La Cruz.

We looked around for a place to stay, but the only hotel/hostel that was available wanted $50 for a dodgy smelling room that didn't look too clean. Um, no thank you. Outside, we met a local guy who told us that he could show us were we could camp for free on the beach but said "I have to be honest and tell you that the last couple that camped there was robbed in the night." Um, DEFINITELY no thank you. So I went back into the hotel and asked if we could camp in their parking lot (hey - the answer is always “no” if you don’t ask). Indeed, she did say no. BUT, she told us that we could go to the Bomberos and camp there. SWEET! I love firemen!

Can you spot the NEMO?

So we arrived at the nice and very new looking fire station and asked if we could pitch our tent there for the night. No problem, and they wouldn’t even accept our offer of a donation. The next morning, we went to thank them and say goodbye and they had us sign their “guestbook” - awesome!


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