Friday, December 9, 2016

Costa Rica Recap : Post 8 : Punta Uva & Panama


Check out my other posts about our trip to Costa Rica! Everything from penny-pinching flights ($250 round trip from MN!) to our Car Rental, to our Accommodations, to the places we visited. Scroll to the Costa Rica Section of this page for more!


After road-tripping the west coast of Costa Rica & stopping in the middle of the country, we made it to the east coast! Our Airbnb was in Punta Uva. I was so proud of our car for making the jungle trek all over the country. But, as they warn you, watch for pot holes. On the last leg of the trip, after climbing mountains & storming through goat-path-roads with a Kia Picanto, we finally wore our girl out.

In Puerto Viejo, just before arriving to our Punta Uva home, we hit a huge hole in the road & our tire went flat. Honestly, I wasn't even mad about it. After all this Kia went through, this was nothing! James put the spare on & we found a guy in town that put a new tube in the tire. The next day, however, we awoke to the tire flat again. So we called our car rental agency & they brought us a new one. Thank goodness we took out the full coverage! I do want to say, however... if you plan on renting a car in Costa Rica & are only staying in one or two towns, full coverage might not be necessary. But, go with your gut.

Thank goodness our Punta Uva home was a place of solitude & relaxation, as James got a little stressed, dealing with the tire. Our place was steps from the beach! It took us about a 3 minute walk to get to the sand, but the view was stunning. We could see the water from our balcony!

And our balcony room was a perfect jungle retreat. We felt so comfortable in this open air room.

There was a mosquito net on the bed, so that would help with mosquitos, but we never encountered any in Punta Uva.

The attached, private bathroom was open to the outside through the small window openings. It was so neat!


Again, our view from the balcony was amazing! The water looked piercingly blue.

The view INTO our room, from the balcony.

We had lunch at a place down the beach from our place. The service was super slow, which made Jim mad enough not to eat there. I did, though, & enjoyed a pizza & water. The pizza was really good! I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant, but it was right on the sand, if that helps at all...


After lunch, we checked out the BEACH! And boy, was it stunning!



It seemed to be more of a locals beach, but it was great!

This was the path we had to take from our house to the beach, going northwest.

Our neighbors house - so colorful!



And back to our place. It looked rustic, which I loved.

For dinner that night, we drove into Puerto Viejo & ate at the Krazy Lobster. We had this little kitty with us all dinner. The restaurant was right on the beach, but the food was just okay.

For after-dinner drinks, we went to Kaya's Place Hotel & Brewery as our host was playing with his band that night. His band was GREAT but the beer was again, just okay.


It was so cool watching them play, & knowing someone in the band. (He's the guy on the far left.)




The next day we decided to do something really dumb - cross into Panama.

We were already near the border, so we took a little drive to the country line. There were a lot of people going in & out of the country, using the bridges. (This one was out of commission.)



For anyone wondering "Hey, should we just cross the border to see what it looks like?"

Don't. 

It is a dump & there is nothing right there worth seeing, except garbage & rude people. 

Let me explain.

When we got to the border, everyone & anyone was just walking across the bridge. No one was stopping anywhere or talking to anyone. They were freely walking to & fro. So we did. No one checked our passports, no one stamped anything, no one asked to see a thing. We crossed the border in a herd of people. We checked out a store that sold all name brand stuff, but were not interested. We walked around for about 10 minutes & decided it was nothing worth seeing, so we made our way back to Costa Rica. 

BUUUUUUUUUUUT.

Jim decided it would be cool to take a different path back. It's not like there are a ton of options, but he seen a walking path that led to a bridge & wanted to take it. Whatever. So we took it. There was a tiny booth there, with a woman out front. She asked to see our passports. Okay, I guess now they care. So we gave them to her. She spouted something off in Spanish & told us we needed some kind of slip & she could get it for us, for $5 each. So we paid her the colons worth of $5 each. Then, before she gave us our passports, she said some more things & pretty much told us we needed to go to immigration. The immigration office was right next to the name-brand store I talked about earlier. Whatever. So we walked back over there. 

There was a man working & I gave him my passport & told him we are wanting to go back into Costa Rica. He looked at my passport & angrily asked "Where are you from?!" I told him we were staying in Costa Rica on vacation. We crossed the border, & now want to go back. He shouted many things at us. Then he shouted "WHERE IS YOUR STAMP?!" I said "What stamp?" He said "THE ONE YOU GET WHEN YOU COME TO PANAMA!" I said "We were never stopped coming into Panama, & there didn't seem to be a place to get a stamp, so we just walked in." He shouted "YOU JUST WALKED IN?! YOU WALKED INTO MY COUNTRY ILLEGALLY!" Then he threw my passport onto the ground. Mind you, he was in his office, behind bars & a glass window. There I stood, shocked & confused, staring at my passport on the ground, that I could not get. 
He ignored us for awhile & helped other people. We just stood there & waited, frantically wondering if I'd ever get my passport back. Wondering if I was going to get in trouble. Wondering how I was going to get out of the country, back to Costa Rica, and back home at the end of the trip. We were so confused.
Once he got through the line of people, he glared back at me, grabbed my passport off the ground, & went to his copy machine. He scanned a copy of my passport & held the copy up to me and said "I HAVE YOUR PICTURE, I HAVE YOUR PASSPORT COPY, I HAVE ALL YOUR INFORMATION. I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU IN MY COUNTRY AGAIN. GET OUT!" He slid my passport under the glass, I took it, & we sped-walked all the way back to Costa Rica. Again, no one was there to check anything or ask us anything. What a wonky border security procedure. We got back to our car & closed the doors. We finally felt like we could breathe. Still, Jim practically spun the tires & got the hell away from the border. 

And all this wouldn't have happened if we would have just taken the path we took coming into the country, & avoiding the woman in the booth. We could have walked back with the herd, just like we walked in with it. 

And I have no idea if I am allowed back in Panama ever again. I am just going to assume I am and that I was just in trouble for the meantime. Let's hope.

Walking back over the bridge, back into the safe arms of Costa Rica.

After that stressful day, we came home to Punta Uva & enjoyed a watermelon. We ate the whole thing. If you ever go to Costa Rica, buy a watermelon. They are the best watermelon you will ever eat. They will ruin all future watermelon for you, however. I haven't enjoyed a watermelon since being home, like I did in Costa Rica. Jim agrees.

Our place had two dogs, who were super friendly.


To de-stress, we went back to the beach!









We went back to Puerto Viejo for dinner at Outback Jacks. What a crazy restaurant! The decor was insane!


We watched the Super Bowl at a bar in Puerto Viejo. The place was PACKED!

The next morning, we headed to the beach for one last time, as we were heading inland soon. We could not have asked for better weather for our last swim sesh.



Someone made this guy.


























Our time in Punta Uva was amazing. We chose Punta Uva because it was a little bit farther away from Puerto Viejo, which has a bit more rowdy/younger scene. If you head this way, I suggest this Airbnb! Katie & David were wonderful hosts. Their place has 3 rooms for guests & was full when we were there, but was spacious enough to allow for privacy. It was neat hearing the others' travel stories. 
We also had use of the kitchen, & having that space to cut up watermelon was nice. It was a gated property, so we felt safe. We fell asleep to the sound of waves at night, & woke up to the sounds of birds & monkeys in the morning. Jim seen some monkey's, but I didn't. 
This location was great for beaching it up, wonderful for partying, & good for food. I wish we had had more time to explore the area! When we go back to Costa Rica, we won't try to fit so many places in at once. I would suggest to future travelers to do, at most, 1-2 locations per week, especially if there is a lot to see, like in La Fortuna or Tamarindo. 
Onto our last destination in the next post. This is the place we stayed at the night before flying out! 

Love,
Ash 

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