Yikes my Visa is about to expire!

When you enter Costa Rica, if you are from another country they will stamp your passport and this gives you a tourist visa. Now in the past they would usually give you 90 days. This is not so true any more my friends. One time last year we were coming back from a trip the the United States and the gentleman behind the desk stamped us. He had noticed that we had been here a couple times and gone in and out. So I don’t know if he was just upset that day about something or just being a smart ass, but when we looked at our passports he only gave us 30 days. Oh and did I mention he smirked at me when he gave them back? Yes he did.

You may ask why does this really matter? There are a couple of reasons it does, but only if you are living here. Myself like many expats have decided to live here in Costa Rica. You hopefully get a 90 day visa and at the time your visa expires you must leave the country. So every 90 days you have to make a trip out of the country. It can be a hard and long day and sometimes very expensive to keep doing this. I personally do not understand why anyone would not submit their paperwork to become a temp residence. If you do this you no longer have to leave the country every 90 days.

Well that is if you don’t want to drive in Costa Rica. See here they right hand doesn’t always know what the left hand is doing. So they changed a law and now you can’t get a Costa Rica license until you have your cedula (Residence card). In the past before the law changed you could go and show your passport, a valid drivers license from some other country and a medical exam and there you have it a Costa Rica license. Now in addition to all that you need your cedual. Here is the kicker, if your visa expires than you can no longer drive on your out of country license. If you have insurance on your vehicle it is no longer valid either. Everything you do is tied to that visa. Just my luck the law changed just before we moved here. So as soon as we could we submitted our paperwork and now we wait and continue to leave every 90 days and hope we get 90 when we come back in.

They have also begun to impose very strict rules on going back and forth across the local borders to try and get people to stop being what has been coined as, “Perpetual Tourists” I totally get that, but if they really want to stop it then they have to approve people quicker. Their own law says they have to have it done within 90 days. That never happens, unless you have a big corporation you work for that is bringing in a lot of dollars and is hiring a lot of local people. You can then have it pushed though in a matter of weeks. We submitted our paperwork in June of 2013. We arrived here in Feb. of 2013 and the only reason it took that long is we have to go back to the states to get more paperwork that was needed, because again they changed the law just before we got here.

So why am I telling you all this? Just to give you some background so I can do a review of a border run. Now we have done a few of them since we moved here. We went to the Nico border and we have gone to the Panama border. Our very 1st border run was terrible! We went to the Nico border with a company that said they could get us though. The drive from Atenas was long and some of the roads lets just say were typical Costa Rica roads and you really need to make sure you go pee before you hit any of those roads. 🙂 It was a very long day as they all are when you drive from Atenas. You leave very early in the morning about 5am and you won’t get home until about 8pm maybe a little earlier if the traffic Gods have decided to smile upon you. Nicaragua and Panama are very hot compared to what we are use to in Atenas, so be prepared for that. There are also rules now that were not in place when we 1st got here. You have to have a plane ticket to your home country. You have to have proof that you have $500 per person in a bank account. You have to stay out of the Costa Rica for 3hrs min. and upto 3 days. Depends on what you do while you are out and what the boarder patrol says you have to do. It gets very complicated and if you do that long drive and have not check on the current rules and are missing something you are in trouble now. There is no, “but I didn’t know” in these countries. You just won’t get your visa. So you will have paid all that money to drive here and not get your stamp and have to do it again. Not a good deal at all. 

So now you have the Why of this review and its time to get to the review. We recently went on a trip for a border run and it was the best trip we have done to date. We still had to get up early but we were home by 1 pm. There were a few things I didn’t like, but they are my issues not the company that hosted the trip for us. I don’t like to fly, but do it because I know I have to in order to get to certain places. Part of this trip you have to fly. Now part of this trip you also have to take a boat. Yes I am one of those people who get seasick if I even look at the water! Its terrible. I did find a really good medication that helps. Its called Zofran. I love it! I can take a cruise and do just about anything on the water when I have this in my system. Check with your doctor to see if you can take it before trying it.

So the trip is done by a resort called The Rio Indio Lodge Just click on the name and you can see their website. It is a wonderful lodge with some really good food. They fly you into an area called Greytown. Then you take a boat to the lodge. They usually give you a little boat tour of the local area and tell you about the history of the town. It is very interesting and I will let them tell you all about it when you go visit. 🙂 So as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are some pictures of the trip to the lodge.


The plane

Now I am told this is bigger than the one they usually fly in. YIKES! I may not have been able to do a smaller plane this one was small enough for me. We just had to fly out on a day where the winds were really bad. I pretty much kept my eyes closed and kept thinking good thoughts the entire flight which was actually very short.

the boat

The boat that takes you to the lodge 

the airport in nico

The airport

The boat ride was not bad at all. Since I took my medication it wasn’t a problem. The little tour through the town was nice and giving us the history of the area. Not sure if they do that all the time, as we were running early and I think they needed time to get supplies back to the resort for lunch. If they don’t do the tour all the time make sure you request it before you get on the plane. Here are some random pictures from the water tour.

riohouse riohouse2 riotown riotown2 the place towerrio

Oh and did I happen to mention that no one owns a car here. That is because in this town there are no roads! Nope none. You must travel by boat to get to any place in this town.

So this was just a short trip for us so we didn’t stay at the lodge overnight. We did have a wonderful buffet lunch of fresh fish and lobster along with rice and veggies and an assortment of other items. It was all good and I am a bad foodie as I can’t find my picture I took of the buffet bar. 😦 So you will just have to trust me on this one the food was excellent.

So here are some photo’s I took of the Lodge. It is so beautiful. This place was put together by some people with really good and expansive taste. You will love these pictures.

lodge1 lodge2 lodge3 lodge4 lodge5 lodge6 lodge7 lodge8

 I did not take any pictures of rooms. We had to rush and get back as the winds were picking up and they didn’t want to have a major issue and I am so glad they thought of us in that regard. You will need to go to their website to see pictures of the rooms.

The cost of this trip was about $250 a person. There were some border fees and such that is not included and you need to take cash in US for these fees.  They will go over all that with you when you book the trip.  Now both our trips to the Nico and Panama border with hiring a vehicle and then all the border fees and “TIPS” to get you there we would spend about $600 a trip. That did not include food so that was extra. So all in all this trip saved us money and it wasn’t a hard trip at all. Our 1st trip to the Nico boarder was painful. We had to stand in lines and it was hot and a lot of walking. It was not fun at all. This one was fun! Denise my wife and I plan on going back for a long weekend. It was a really great place.

Lets wrap this up. Great trip, friendly people, less expensive than our other boarder run, good food, great lodge, fast. I would say that if you have to do a boarder run this is the way to go without a doubt! So I give them 5 seashell out of 5!

Pura Vida!

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