A Travellerspoint blog

November 2012

Costa Rica

Every shade of green

I had always assumed that a place like Costa Rica, which is incredibly developed for tourism, would be fairly predictable to travel. It is good to know that a place like this can still surprise you. Costa Rica has wild and inaccessible sections like any of the other Central American countries we’ve traveled. We beat up our truck pretty hard on the Osa peninsula, floating it through a river once, almost getting stuck another time, and enjoying (almost) every minute of it. We headed down the Pacific coast from Alajuela, enjoying camping in incredibly hot and wet weather. We are still very much in the midst of the rainy season. No matter the weather, we are stoked to be back on the road having spontaneous surprises and enjoying the company of quirky people.

Last week, Paul and I arrived in a small town called Puerto Jimenez. We drove around a bit looking for a place to stay and eventually pulled into a campground run by a very friendly man named Adonis. Upon checking in he informed us that “hay crocodillos”. Ok… there are crocodiles. I didn’t know what to make of that. Is it a warning? A threat? The price was right, so we decided to stay. We settled in and visited a local mechanic trying to source a new pin for our brakes (the mechanics in Alajuela, though cheap and fast, were a little bit smashy breaking an integral piece of our braking system and doing a very poor job of repairing it. Phyllis was now creaking and whining over every little bump in the road). We got the part for fairly inexpensive and decided to chill out and celebrate with a beer. Just as it started to get dark, Adonis came over to our campsite and informed us that it was time to feed the crocodiles. Another German roadtripper (also camping at Adonis’ site) had bought a large bag of meat, and we were told to follow them into the woods… with flashlights. A little nervous, I decided to follow expecting to find crocodiles in cages. Nope. Adonis started calling out to the crocodiles (both Cayman and American) and called them by names. “que linda” he says (how beautiful). All I am thinking now is- there are 20 odd live crocodiles five feet away from me. I am most definitely out of my comfort zone. Adonis starts breaking off chunks of meat and feeding the crocs, he tells us to stand back since the American and the Caymans fight over the meat sometimes. I wanted to climb a tree. In the end I was relieved to be back at the campsite, surprised at the turn of events that evening, and fairly impressed that I didn’t crap my pants.

large_P1000057.jpg

large_P1000058.jpg

large_P1000070.jpg

large_P1000054.jpg

large_P1000053.jpg

large_P1000043.jpg

large_P1000040.jpg

large_DSCF1534.jpg

Posted by SusieMiller 10:36 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (3)

On the Road Again

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.

Posted by SusieMiller 18:53 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]