Back in Costa Rica heading south
Reunited with Phyllis in Costa Rica, we are super stoked to be back on the road. Paul and I flew down from the west coast and were expecting to find the truck in ruins. We were setting ourselves up for the worst, but found her fairly intact and much less mouldy than our vehicles at home will be after a winter of outdoor storage on Vancouver Island. Part two of the Pan-American journey starts this week. Over the summer, we had our doubt that we could make it happen financially. A slow fire season and significantly higher costs of living in South America made it tempting to head back to Mexico, though it felt like unfinished business. A late fall saved our bank accounts, and we are back on the road a month later than expected.
As promised, here is the detailed process for getting a truck out of government storage in Costa Rica:
1. Get your insurance. You will need regular old Costa Rican car insurance that can be purchased at the INS (institution nacional de seguro) office in Alajuela. It is super close to the airport and pretty straightforward, though you will need to take a cab. We ended up paying just under 20 dollars, but our permit is good for six months. Maybe if you request less time, the price will be lower.
2. Get your import permit. This has to be done at the Aduana Santa Maria (airport customs office). You definitely need your old cancelled papers, along with your passport, drivers licence, the vehicle title, and insurance papers. This should probably be obvious by now, but the vehicle owner must be present. We were helped out very promptly upon arrival. Mario, the super cute vehicle customs guy, started work at 10am when we arrived. He is without a doubt the friendliest and most helpful government worker we have met in our trip to date. He speaks great English, and is ‘the man’ around the office. Try to connect up with him if you can.
3. Go get your vehicle! Make sure you have all your papers for this step. They will need to see your permit, your insurance, and your ID. After paying the bill, we were directed to another counter where a man inspected our papers and gave us a ‘permission to leave’ paper that you give at the gate upon exit. We found Phyllis in a different spot than we left her. I am not so sure how anyone managed to move her without disturbing the contents inside or the tarp covering her, and without a key. Nonetheless, she was ready and waiting, and nothing inside her was too mouldy. Paul went to start her up, and she was quite reluctant. After a few minutes of coaxing, she roared to life, and the six odd employees cheered for us. We drove her back to Alajuela, and celebrated.
More to come in the coming weeks.