Costa Rica and Panama

After a nice stop in San Juan del Sur, it was time for another border crossing. As we were relatively close to the border we did not get on the road until 10am, this time it was into Costa Rica. It took about an hour and half to travel to the border, passing a long line-up of trucks waiting to cross the border, this seems to be standard procedure for these truckers. The crossing was straight forward and took about 2 hours. We decided to stop not far over the border at Born to be Wild Eco Resort, we would be stopping for two to three days as we had been travelling faster than we normally would and were ready for some down time.

The drive from the border would take around 4 hours, we stopped about 20km/12miles over the border for some lunch at a place called Baloa’s, this is a restaurant that is run by a Dutch family, they allow campers to stay on the property which we considered, but decided we wanted to continue into Guanacaste.
We needed to fill up with diesel as we had not filled up since just before we left Guatemala, we did this on the way through Liberia, then continued on to Born to be Wild.
Born to be Wild Eco Resort is owned and run by a very nice Hungarian family, they have rooms to rent but also allow people to camp there. We had the place to ourselves so parked right in front of the hotel/rooming house. We had access to the pool but did not use it as it was raining and not very warm relative to temperatures we had become accustomed.

While we hung around here just taking it easy, catching up on business and updating the blog we installed the Costa Rican flag on the back of our home.

It finally stopped raining by midday of our second day, the sun came out and the temperature went back up to normal. We started planning our stay in Costa Rica, we would only stay around two weeks as we had been here many times and seen most of the countryside.
After our third full day we set of towards the coast in the area of Los Pargos.

We planned on visiting a piece of property we own on the Nicoya peninsula; we had already relisted it for sale with the developer but wanted to call by to see it again. We passed through Rio Seco but thought we had missed our turnoff and had pulled over to check the map as our GPS device was tell us to go straight, which we knew was wrong.

While we were pulled over on to the shoulder  a pickup truck that had been following us for a couple of km/miles pulled over about 100M/yds in front of us, the driver got out and proceeded to walk back to us.

As it turns out the guy (Michael) was from Edmonton and had noticed our rear Alberta plate. After chatting for a short while he invited to park at his Condo development, located at Playa Junquillila, which was a stone throw away from the beach. This being off season there was nobody there and we could park/camp on the property for a couple of days if we wished. Anyway, to cut a long story short that’s what we did. Michael is a super nice guy, we ended up have dinner together a couple of nights while there.

When we left here, we were heading all the way to Ojochal in the south of Costa Rica.

We had been in this area few years year’s back and liked it; it was also on the road to Panama. But the main reason for heading this way was to visit Catherine’s sister Judy and her husband Jim who were renting a house while they wait for their own home to be completed, as they are building.

Parking at Judy & Jim’s rental house.

Judy & Jim had just moved to Costa Ric for retirement from California. While here we visited a couple of beaches and a local brewery.

Right to Left: Catherine, Stewart, Judy & Jim.

We had a nice few days catching up with Judy & Jim, then it was time to continue south, we said our “see you later” and continued on.

Next stop would be the Costa Rica/Panama border.

Our destination was Volcan in the Panamanian highlands.

Our long-time Canadian friends Susan & Darrel moved to Volcan for retirement about two years ago from Bermuda.

Susan & Darrel

Susan & Darrel wanted us to stay for a couple of weeks but our timeframe was only 5-6 days. Upon arriving we installed the Panamanian Flag on the rear of our home. While here we visited Bouquet and Volcan Baru National Park, and a coffee Finca amongst other things/locations.

At the Coffee Finca they had found Mayan artifacts on the property.

The flora in the Panamanian highlands was in full bloom.

We had a good visit as usual with Susan & Darrel in their lovely home in Volcan, but now it was time to leave.

We will be returning to Canada.

This decision was actually made while we were at Born to be Wild in Costa Rica. We continued on because we had committed to Judy & Jim and Susan & Daryl that we would visit them while passing through.

It was 6th June when we set off back to Canada, we had committed to our daughter Victoria and her boyfriend Ryan that we would be back in Calgary to dog sit while they went to away starting on the 3rd July.

We set off for Costa Rica and planned on stopping in at Ojochal to see Judy & Jim’s again to spend a night and have another quick visit.

From Ojochal we set off at 9:30am next morning to head back to Playa Janquillal to visit Michael again for two nights. We had a nice sunset while we were here.

Back in our spot.

We left Playa Janquillal on day 4 at 8am and headed straight to the Nicaraguan border, we arrived at the border around 10:30am and had cleared and were again heading north by noon. The plan was to get to the truck-stop in Somotillo where were had stayed on the way down, about 20km/12miles before the Honduras border.

Next morning, we cleared the border again by 10:30am. When we arrived back at our vehicle at the border to leave there were two more Overlanders vehicles parked next to us, we did not meet these people as they would have been in the process of arranging their visa and TVIP for Honduras.

Again, our plan was the drive through Honduras without stopping and go straight to El Salvador. There had been public demonstration in Honduras over the last couple of weeks since we originally come through heading south. Well, as fate would have it, we were held up by one just outside of Nacaome about 35km/22miles from the El Salvador border for 2 hours. They had blocked the bridge on the main highway over a river. As we were waiting  the other two Overlanders caught us up and we managed to meet them as we waited for the road block to be cleared.

Once the road was clear we all made a dash for the border, there was a new border guard on at the El Salvadorian side who had not completed TVIP before, this took us about 3 hours to cross this border, the only saving grace was that he did all three TVIP’s at once. When we finally got on our way we all decided to head to a restaurant where we new we could stay at for the night with 24hr security. This restaurant was located about half way across the country to the Guatemalan border. We all had dinner together catching up on our travels, telling stories etc.

One of the couples was from Spokane in Washington State. Michelle was American and Jorge was originally from Columbia. They had shipped from Miami to Columbia then driven all the way south and back and were heading back to Spokane.
The second couple Sylvia and Saul, both from Uruguay,  having driven south then turned north, were now heading to Alaska before shipping back Uruguay.

We all had breakfast next morning together then set off for the Guatemalan border. This crossing was a non event and everything went super smooth.

We all pulled off the road after crossing into Guatemala for a photo.

Left to Right: Saul, Catherine, Jorge, Sylvia and Michelle. Front: Stewart.

Once back on the road we all travelled to Antigua. We stayed at Vagamondo Campground as we wanted to empty our tanks and fill up with water, while the other two couples had reservations at a B&B.

Next morning the weather was clear and we had a good view of one of the local volcano’s puffing smoke which was covered in cloud the last time we stayed here.

Later in the day we strolled over to the Tourist Police compound where we visited with Matt, Stacey and the boys.

Rafael, Gabriel & Django.

After our visit with Matt and Family we went into town to meet up with Jorge and Michelle. Saul and Sylvia had left already, they decided to continue on to Lake Atitlan for a day, before crossing into Mexico. We all met at an English Pub called the Londoner where we had a drink before continuing to dinner.

After dinner we said our “see you later” to Jorge & Michelle then retired back to Vagamundo’s for the night.

Later next morning, day 8, we were back on the road to another border crossing, this time it was back into the old familiar territory of Mexico. As we had cancelled our Ten Year TVIP when we left Mexico last time thinking we would not be back in this vehicle we had to jump through all the hoops again and get new TVIP and visitor visa’s. Catherine was not feeling well this day so we did not drive to far after leaving the border, we headed to the nearest Walmart which was in Tapachula for the night where Catherine went straight to bed.

Our plan was to drive as quickly as possible through Mexico. Next day we managed to make it to a town called Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf Coast again staying at the local Walmart. This town was an industrial port town and did not have a good feel to it, we did not feel threatened it just had a different vibe.

From Coatzacoalcos we continued north along the Gulf coast on highway 180, making it to Finca La Mancha located about 30kms/20 miles north of Tampico.Tthis was a small hotel resort with room for one or two rigs to stay the night. As Catherine was still not feel great, we decided to stay for two nights and enjoy the pool.

Before leaving we again emptied our tanks.

From here on day 12 continuing north we made it to Cuidad Victoria, again staying at the local Walmart for the evening.

Next morning it was on to another border crossing, this time at Brownsville and into the USA. We crossed without too much problem, they searched the camper and had the drug dogs give it the once over (standard procedure all RV’s).

We continued on to Corpus Christi, where we found a Texas Roadhouse for dinner and stayed in the mall/cinema parking lot behind the restaurant.

Day 14 we made it to San Antonio for lunch, continuing on to Sweetwater arriving early evening, again staying at the local Walmart. We ended up going for a beer and pizza at Pizza Hut.

Next morning, we set off again, this was going to be a long day’s drive as we wanted to make it to Colorado City, Colorado which was 530 miles/850kms away. Staying the night at the information center, in the truck stop area.

Day 16 we would be driving through Pueblo, Denver and Fort Collins, this just appeared to be one long city. We made it to Casper, Wyoming where we found a Himalayan restaurant for dinner. Not having Indian food in months this was a great find. After dinner it was on to Walmart for the night.

Day 17 continuing on this time to Hardin, Montana where we found a campground and walked into town for dinner. The following morning, we emptied our tanks, filled up with water and did our laundry.

We were on the road just after noon, only driving to Butte where we stumbled across the Freeway Tavern which had great fried chicken, they also allowed us to stay in their parking lot behind the building.

Next morning we headed over to McDonalds for breakfast and internet before setting off for Kalispell to pick up a package for Victoria before making it to Browning where we stayed in the casino parking lot for the night, having dinner in the casino.

Next morning, we set off for the Canadian border at Caraway, this was Day 20. We had planned on staying at Chain Lakes for a day or two but when we went there all the nice sites had been taken or reserved. After some discussion we continued onto Calgary to Victoria and Ryan’s home.

After spending over two years on the road travelling, we have driven approximately 75,000 kms/47,000 miles driving through 9 counties. From all the way up at the Artic Ocean (Tuktoyaktuk), to the most westerly point you can drive to in Mainland North America being Anchor Point, Alaska. From our lowest point at -282 feet/-85.8 metres below Sea Level in Death Valley to our highest point at an elevation of 10,222ft/3116M, which was in Colorado, to the most southern and easterly point of our trip being Boquete in Panama.

Now we are back in Canada, this will be our last blog of this trip, having decided to sell our rig.

We are going to spend a couple of months in Alberta then go out to Vancouver Island to visit some friends all while figuring out what’s next.

Next: To Be Determined

4 thoughts on “Costa Rica and Panama”

  1. Jeniffer Ferrell

    What an epic adventure! My husband and I would be very interested in purchasing your rig. We have actually been in touch with OEV for a similar build.

    1. Jeniffer,
      We will be selling our rig complete in the coming weeks. We can be contacted on our US cell. 424-312-5502 if you have any questions.
      Stew & Cat

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