In the perhaps foolish quest to have authentic experiences everywhere we go, you sometimes have to make unpopular decisions… Such was the one to take a 15-hour bus across the Costa Rican border into Panama, instead of the 1-hour plane.


Of course, the bus left at midnight from a terminal in what was described to us as “not the best part of town…” which, after having driven that day from the beautiful countryside and given up our rental car, left my family a bit, well, bitter. Nonetheless, good sports that they are, they filed in, half asleep, for the first leg of this new adventure…

The real surprise came at 6am when we were woken up from pretzel-position sleep in order to go through the actual border, lining up along a government building that makes Beirut look like Rodeo Drive, being offered some “breakfast’ by a local entrepreneur.



As expected, the children were ecstatic!


An hour or so later, it was finally our turn at the exit Costa Rica window and everything went very well, allow me to thank the kind staff, their families and pets.



We were of course expecting to get back on the bus and be on our way; we were sadly mistaken… Instead, we were told, us strangers in a strange land and without any proper direction or signage, to walk, yes WALK, about half a mile from Costa Rica to Panama where we guessed the bus might be waiting for us with our luggage?…

As you see our journey in the video above, I can now confirm that the force is strong with us and WE MADE IT!

IMG_0570 wide

Entering Panama, you have to show 2 things, a ticket out because no one wants you here longer than you have to be and $500, so they know you won’t be a burden to their well-organized social structure. Most people simply take out an ATM receipt with their balance on it but we showoffs didn’t know that and I took cash out to show the officer. You can’t imagine how nervous I was to flash $500 in the middle of nowhere in front of a few busloads of people who already look at you like an alien, what with your shoes and headphones and matching backpacks…


After that, we were all taken into a room and lectured about how to fill out the entrance form before being adequately searched. Good times.


Shortly thereafter, it was back on the bus for 7 more hours during which we finally got to have our first taste of our second destination, just lovely…


…as well as confusing as to why we were served McDonalds for lunch…


Around 5pm, we happily hit Panama City where we were surprised by Gina’s cousins (who live here) and came to get us at the bus terminal! Awesome.


Let’s see what happens here!

2 Comments Leave a reply

  1. chandra
    Permalink to comment#

    Oh My!..Remember the nice passage i told you about ? coffee plantations and colorful indigenous people..??…oh well…:-))

    • stefan
      Permalink to comment#

      Yes, we would have LOVED to go but I think my people would not have taken to any further detours kindly…

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