Our First Couple Weeks in Costa Rica

Published: July 25th 2012
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We’ve been in Costa Rica for about two weeks. I don’t think we did a lot, but we have done a few things.

We left Panama City early last Tuesday morning. We wanted to drive as close to the Panama/Costa Rica border, spend the night in David, and drive on to our new home in Heredia, Costa Rica, just north of San Jose.

Because McDonald’s was closed early Wednesday morning, we couldn’t get our morning coffee. We should have taken that as an omen. We thought that, since we were going through the same border, it would be easy. Not so! We got to the Panama border at 8 and it was about 10:30 before we were finally done. 2 ½ hours to go through Panama – the time we budgeted for going through both Panama and Costa Rica borders. As we were leaving, we saw a couple that we had met in Boquete – talk about a small world!

We got to the Costa Rica border, had our passport stamped, and then proceeded to check our car in. We got the insurance and copies and went to the window. The lady took our paperwork, started to type
Botos LagunaBotos LagunaBotos Laguna

A beautiful lake, located in a second crater.
the info into the computer, and then the problem arose. If you were to drive out of Costa Rica and then drive back in within three months, you should check the “suspend” box. Apparently, when we left Costa Rica to go to Panama, we checked the “terminate“ box instead of the “suspend” box. Big mistake! I think the Aduana were only doing their job, but we were held prisoners for seven more hours! We spent close to 10 hours doing what should have been a two hour border crossing. We could now no longer drive to Heredia, as it was 4:30 pm. In fact, we only got about 10 miles up the road because it was now pouring. Nice!

Early Thursday afternoon we drove to our apartment in Heredia. Perhaps it was the border crossing, perhaps it was because our last apartment was so nice, but we were quite disappointed when we first checked in. We noticed, after we already paid for the apartment, that their website said ‘Photos are for illustrative purposes only.’ I guess there are some things that shouldn’t be “illustrative purposes only.” We’ve gotten used to it, but suffice to say we’ll be a LOT
Costa Rica JungleCosta Rica JungleCosta Rica Jungle

We didn't see any birds - just a spider and a few mosquitoes!
more careful when renting apartments.

We’ve gone to a couple of National Parks since we’ve been here. The first park was called Poas National Park, which houses Volcano Poas. It was a beautiful ride to the top of the volcano, driving through coffee plantations and cow pastures. We got to the top late in the morning, just in time for the fog to roll in. It almost seemed like San Francisco! There were several tourist there and it seemed quite funny watching them staring into the gray, foggy abyss. We walked on the trail that led to Botos Lagoon, a lake in the middle of a second crater, hoping to see it before the fog. We barely got there and saw the lake before the fog rolled in. It was really quite beautiful.

The second national park we visited was called Braulio Carrillo National Park, north of Heredia and San Jose. The park had a highway that connected the state capital of San Jose, located in the Central Highlands and the country’s largest port, Puerto Limon, located on the Caribbean. The park itself was quite lush, tropical, and beautiful. We went on a hike at the Quebrada Gonzalez
Volcan Poas, in The CloudsVolcan Poas, in The CloudsVolcan Poas, in The Clouds

There's a volcano behind me - honest!
ranger station; the trails were well maintained and we got there a little late to see the birds, but did see a corn spider, as well as quite a few mosquitoes.

Sunday we took a drive to Alajuela, a town half an hour east of Heredia. There was a band playing in the Central Park, old people dancing to the music, old men playing checkers, and clowns making balloon animals for little children. We sat, soaking in the mellow ambiance while making friends with an adorable puppy. It was a pleasant end to the day.

The rest of the week was rather quiet; going to the park, grocery store, etc. David got his haircut, which was still only $4. We do have a butcher shop right across the street from our apartment, which is pretty convenient. There’s also a small grocery store diagonally across the street. And David loves using our ‘semi-automatic’ washing machine! We had a flat tire; the first in 15,000 miles. It cost $4 to patch the tire. While David was changing the tire, a man came over and helped him out. When he tried to pay him, he refused. I guess this neighborhood wasn’t
Hanging up the LaundryHanging up the LaundryHanging up the Laundry

David's favorite thing!
as bad as we first thought.

We also spent a lot of time researching and renting an apartment in the Yucatan, in the city of Merida. Because of our car, we have been staying in countries for a month for the last six months. We will be heading up to Mexico, where we can stay for six months. We’ve also been updating our car insurance. We're trying to figure out how to get the Central America policy extended for 10 days and then get the Mexico policy for six months.

So, while we thought we really haven’t done a lot of stuff during the first week, we went to two national parks, hung out in the park, got a flat fixed, got a haircut, went to Alajuela, got car insurance for the next six months, and rented an apartment in Merida, Mexico. Not bad for the first couple of weeks!


25th July 2012

Ok, that was a painful boarder crossing. Hey-- if all you encountered went well you would not have great stories to tell. You are safe and the laundry is clean. Love the spider.
28th July 2012
Botos Laguna

gas price
I have seen a few of your posts but don't remember you saying what the price of gas is in mexico and different central american countries.
28th July 2012
Botos Laguna

gas price
Hi Tom. It's just about the same as it was in California, maybe a little higher. Its challenging because when we pull in to a gas station, we're not sure if they use liter or gallons. A couple of differences are: 1. cash only, no debit or credit card; and 2. there is an attendant in almost every country.

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