Border Run to Panama at Paso Canoas

With my time at Puerto Viejo finished 🙁 it was time to make the border run to Panama at the Paso Canoas border.

San Jose

Of course all roads in Costa Rica lead through San Jose. Since I was just staying a night there, I picked a cheap, but really nice, hotel on the outskirts of San Jose – Hotel Posada Canal Grande.




The people hear were really nice and they actually had a nice restaurant in the hotel.


My next stop on the way to the Panama border was Jaco. I had heard about Jaco, the beaches, and night-life. Unfortunately, it rained or threatened rain most of my time there.

The beaches were a bit disappointing to me. But still not too bad 🙂





There were a couple people with motorized kites flying about. I am sure there is an official name for them that I’m not aware of.



I stayed at a cool hostel in Jaco called Hotel Buddha House. Like all hostels it seems, the people there were very friendly and informal.

I ended up with a private room in the corner. So relaxing just sitting outside.



Coming back from a walk at night. My motorcycle was sleeping 🙂



My last stop before hitting the Panama border was the town of Neily.

It was a bit of a long ride to the town but with some nice views.


At one point I was looking for a coffee place to rest a bit. There was nothing until out of the blue I saw a coffee shop called Sibu. It was strange in that this was a extremely nice coffee place in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t see anything like it on my ride.

Of course I had to stop.



My hotel in Neily, Hotel Fortuna Verde, was basic for sure. And there was anything around within an easy walking distance. However, the people got some beer for me ha ha ha to add to some snacks I had stached …. and there was a place to park my motorcycle under a shelter. I guess those are the 2 most important things ha ha ha.

Panama Border at Paso Canoas

The day was finally here. Another border crossing. I actually don’t mind them too much, except for the fixers and heat. Otherwise, it is fun for me being able to talk to people and solve the problem of getting through it. It is a stretching exercise for me as I have to push myself through all the steps to finally find the answers and get through them. The Panama Border was no different.

Here is the border and steps that I will explain.

Free Zone (4)

I had done some studying beforehand. It turned out a lot of what I studied was dated. So I was confused at first as I attempted to exit Costa Rica.

#1 on the map was paying the Costa Rica Exit fee at the bank located across the street from Immigration.


Next at #2 was going through immigration on the right in the photo.


The last step to exit Costa Rica was Customs at #3. It is located just past Immigration around the corner and through the glass doors.

The whole process of exiting Costa Rica was really simple and quick! It was now time to ride a short distance to the Panama Border to enter Panama.


Under the canopy at the Panama border I parked my motorcycle in a line of other vehicles.


I first went to immigration that you can see just ahead of my motorcycle. There I was approached by an older gentleman wearing an official looking name badge. He told me I had to get insurance first. Oh great … thanks. I thought that would be the end of it … but no. Turned out he was a fixer who now hung onto me. I wasn’t in the mood to fight him so I just let him drag me around through the process.

#4 was getting insurance. The insurance booth on my side of the road was closed so we went to the one on the other side of the complex.

After purchasing one month worth of insurance, it was to immigration.


This was the usual basic stuff, except that they took fingerprints.

Next was Customs at #5 just down from Immigration.


There I handed in all my motorcycle documentation while they took their time adding it on a computer and printing out another form.

#6 was the difficult part of the crossing. The Customs agent at the window said to find another Customs agent out there somewhere to inspect my bike and sign the document. So off my fixer and I went to find this guy.

After searching for a while, we found him but he was busy on a bus. To save some time we went to the Fumigation booth and paid for fumigation. Then it was back to finding the Customs Agent again.

We finally corralled the agent and guided him to my motorcycle. The agent made me open my panniers and top case. It touched a few of the contents but that was it. Then signed my temporary import permit for my motorcycle.

It was onto my last stop, #8, to get my motorcycle fumigated.


After that was done I paid my fixer $10 US. He didn’t look too happy with the amount, but I didn’t care at this stage. I was through the border and now about to explore Panama!

My Route on September 21, 2017

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My Route on September 22, 2017

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My Location on September 23, 2017

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My Route on September 24, 2017

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My Route on September 25, 2017 into Panama

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Costa Rican Independence Day in San Jose

I left La Fortuna for San Jose where I happened to catch the Costa Rican Independence Day. The original plan was to ride to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. However, the cost of accommodation was really high on the weekend. The people at my hostel in La Fortuna said it was because lots of people go there for Independence Day to party. So instead of riding east, I chose to ride to Punta Arenas on the west coast and then to San Jose to spend the weekend.

Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas wasn’t that far from La Fortuna so I road around Lake Arenal first. It was a relaxing ride with great views of the lake. No pictures though 🙁 Sometimes I just get wrapped up in enjoying the ride that I just forget to take photos.

As I arrived in Punta Arenas and searched for my hotel, I began to wonder what I got myself into. The area wasn’t that nice. Lots of dilapidated houses and businesses. Luckily, the hotel I booked, Hotel Mar y Mar, was an oasis amongst all this. My corner room was small but with a nice balcony I relaxed on.


Across the street was a beach with not a soul on it.




Hotel Adversity

The next day I left early to hit San Jose before the afternoon rains started. A common occurrence now, and I’m getting tired of it.

In San Jose I booked a hostel near the park I enjoyed the last time I was in the city. Plus it was near a Starbucks ha ha.

I got there early and popped into McDonalds for something to eat before going to the hostel. It wasn’t long before I saw some rain falling. I quickly got on my bike and rode to the hostel. By the time I arrived it was now raining.

It wasn’t check in time yet so no one was around at first. Finally a guy came out and looked for my reservation. He couldn’t find it! I looked at the confirmation I had and it turned out I had inadvertently booked it for a different date. No problem though as he said they did have a room for me. The only problem was that they didn’t have secure parking and the owner of the hostel didn’t feel comfortable with having my motorcycle just parked in their parking lot. Great! If the owner didn’t feel comfortable then I wasn’t going to feel comfortable either. So there I sat in the lobby of the hostel, looking at the rain outside, cancelling my reservation at the hostel, and searching for another hotel in San Jose.

After some searching on Expedia and I found a hotel downtown that was a bit over my budget but a good deal considering the location. Plus it should be good for any Independence Day celebrations. Off I headed in the rain. By the time I got to where the hotel was located it was raining hard. As luck would have it, I couldn’t find the hotel. Finally I parked under an overhang at a parking garage so I could get off and search for it on foot. I didn’t feel terribly safe leaving my motorcycle there, but I needed to get out of the rain.

Walking around but still didn’t see the hotel. I asked a person at a store and they had never heard of it. Not a good omen. As I expanded my search in the area I finally found it tucked away.


Back to my motorcycle I went and rode it into their underground parking lot.

The hotel itself was different for sure. I had a windowless room. I guess that is why it was a good deal.


Outside on each floor was a lounge.


Independence Day

The next day was Costa Rica’s Independence Day and I was looking forward to seeing the celebrations in the Capital City.

As I walked around the city I found the parade route and got a good spot to watch it.









Now, it was nice, but it seemed to be one school group after another. I walked to the start of the parade route to see if there was something else besides school kids.






Nope … it was all school groups. I thought it was a bit strange for an Independence Day celebration in the Capital. It was still nice though.

As the afternoon approached, so did the rain.


San Jose

The day after Independence Day I just walked around looking at the sites.









My Route on September 13, 2017

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My Route on September 14, 2017

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My Location from September 15 to 17, 2017

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La Fortuna – Adventureland Costa Rica

I was soooo happy to be back on my motorcycle again heading to La Fortuna after a month in Alajuela Costa Rica. It had been a month since I was last on the road.

Nahua Chocolate

Before getting too far, my first stop was Nahua Chocolate. Why there, you might be saying 🙂 Well, my oldest son Mike did his Masters of Business Administration at Cambridge University in England. Part of his coursework was a group project to attend San Jose Costa Rica and do a consulting project with Nahua Chocolate.

I was excited to go to the coffee shop and have my morning coffee and share in my son’s experience.

I saw the store from the freeway and it took a few drive bys before I broke the law and exited the freeway off of a entrance ramp. It seems to me that motorcycles are allowed to do anything here so I was taking advantage of that.

The entrance to the small mall where the store was located had a gate across it and a security guard. The guard wouldn’t let me cross to take a picture.

Back on the freeway I went and found a place to pull off. Risking my life ha ha I ran across 6 lanes of freeway to get this picture.


Arenal Hostel Resort

The road to La Fortuna was awesome. It was full of curves and little villages. Too bad it was a short 2 hour ride. I really do need to take more photos of my rides. Sorry.

The place I booked in La Fortuna was the Arenal Resort Hostel. At the reception I met Jenny. She was so friendly. I am finding that about hostels. I like it. People are friendly, both the staff and the people staying there. Perfect for a solo traveler, even if it is a younger crowd.

The hostel was like a little resort. I got a free drink upon signing in and went to the poolside bar.

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Because I reserved a room with a private bathroom, my room was across the street. But all the action was in the bar area of course. People hung out at the bar and on the hammocks. Well …. the few people there were that is. It is the off season right now.


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My motorcycle had secure parking as well. Perfect location!

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La Fortuna

La Fortuna as a town was not very charming. It mainly consists of adventure companies trying to sell tours. It seemed like every second business was a tour operator. Just not a place to walk around. The focal point of the town is the Arenal Volcano.

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The one exception to the unremarkable town was the central park. It was well manicured and beautiful flowers were blooming.

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Basically though, La Fortuna is a home base for adventure tour companies.


There is lots to do in La Fortuna. Everything from rafting, horsebacking riding, hiking, ecological cruises, swinging bridges, and zip lines. The one catch is that they are ALL very expensive! If I were on vacation I would have done several of them.

As I have mentioned several times before, on a vacation you save up and then when you go you have a great time doing all sorts of things and eating at nice places. When it is your daily life like it is for me, you can’t afford to do all these things. So I need to pick and choose just like I would if I was living at home.

La Fortuna is also famous for their hot springs. I decided to do that. Even that was expensive. It cost $45 US to get into the hot spring and have a dinner.

Baldi Hot Spring

Jenny said Baldi Hot Springs had the most pools and was the busiest. That is what I chose.

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The pools were on a hill and the further up the hotter they were.

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At the top was a kids area.

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I would love to take my grandkids there!

Most of my time was spent in the jacuzzi afterwhich I went to the poolside bar for a coke before dinner.

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So how much did the can of coke cost? Well ….. over $6 Canadian!! For a can!

My “cheap” Hot Springs ended up costing me over $80 Canadian including the taxi to get there.

La Fortuna is a place to spend money on adventures. I enjoyed it there but I would have enjoyed it more if I had the money to go on all the adventures available.

My Route to La Fortuna on September 10, 2017

alajuela fortuna

My Location on September 11 and 12, 2017

Fortuna map

San Jose Costa Rica

After 3 days of enjoying the beach life, I rode to the big city of San Jose Costa Rica. The main purpose of going here was that I had booked a flight home for 2 weeks. Also, unlike a lot of adventure motorcyclists, I enjoy looking around the big cities.

TRYP Hotel

The one thing beach resorts and big cities have in common is that accommodation is expensive. San Jose was no different. I decided I would find a hotel deal on Expedia, and use the Expedia points I had accumulated to even get a better deal on my hotel. The result was a nice hotel far below my budget.

As usual, I arrived at the TRYP Hotel early. As a result my room wasn’t ready yet. When it was I discovered they put me in a Premium Suite!

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It had been a LONG time since I had accommodation this nice. I really didn’t want to leave the room so I could enjoy it as much as possible.

So as to not to venture too far away the first night, I went to the bar in the lobby for happy hour. What happened next I’ve had various opinions about.

OK …. it was 2 for one beer and appies in the bar. They even had a happy hour menu with the 2 for 1 stuff. So I ordered a beer and meatballs. Not long after they came. When I finished my beer the second one came. But for some reason when I finished my meatballs the second one never came. I patiently waited for them. They never arrived. Finally I asked my server about my second dish of meatballs. She said I never specifically requested a second one. What?! It was 2 for 1 appies. A debate ensued. Both of us stuck to our positions. She said I never ordered a second one and I said it was 2 for 1 and I ordered off of the 2 for 1 menu and I got my 2 for 1 beer so why wouldn’t I get the second appie. And why would I just order one when it was 2 for 1. She replied that Happy Hour was now over anyways. I HATE confrontation but I did it anyways here. Finally she said she would check with the chef. I got my second dish of meatballs. I ate them quickly though. I just wanted to get out of there. And “classic Dad” as my kids would say, I would never return to the bar because of the experience.

However, I did enjoy two awesome nights in my room on what seemed to be the most confortable bed I have ever slept on.

Exploring San Jose City

I had one day to explore the city. First, I walked downtown down a pedestrian mall.

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There really wasn’t much to see so I walked around looking for things of interest. Huuuummm a museum with Mickey and Minnie Mouse outside. That was interesting!

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I did find the main plaza which is generally the hub activity.

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The church on the plaza didn’t look like much from the outside. But sure nice on the inside.

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I continued to wander around looking at the buildings and street art.

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While walking back to my hotel I found the main market.

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Not sure if these were for eating or for pets huuuummm

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As I approached my hotel I saw this store. Now I’m not sure if it was a misspelling or perhaps a clever double meaning.

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La Sabana Park

By the time I got back to my hotel there was still time left in the day to do more exploring. So I headed the other direction to La Sabana Park.

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I thought it would be just a leisurely stroll through a park. But it turned out to be the highlight of the day.

As soon as I entered I saw lots of soccer fields. On one of them a goalkeeping school was taking place.

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Funny watching the younger one learn the skills. This guy had a few problems.

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I continued walking in the park past the police station where their horses were feeding.

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In another open area there was a band playing with kids dancing. It looked like it was going to be a Girls Scouts jamboree.

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On the other side of the field was the National Sports Stadium.

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It was then I saw something I’d never seen before. Truly amazing and shows anyone can play the “beautiful game.” There were a group of amputees playing soccer! I just stood and watched.

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Loved it! So cool.

With that I headed back to my hotel to enjoy my last night in luxury ha ha.

My Route on for August 11, 2017

Tamarindo San Jose

My Location on August 12, 2017

San Jose Map

Crossing the Border at Penas Blancas into Costa Rica

Little did I know as I packed up to leave San Juan del Sur that crossing the border at Penas Blancas into Costa Rica was the most frustrating border crossing to date.

Leaving San Juan del Sur

It turned out my studying was of minimal help and even Google Maps was, and is, out of date.

Leaving Nicaragua

I arrived at the Nicaraguan side of the Penas Blancas border crossing and was confused right away. The building I was looking for wasn’t there. Well … it was … but I guess they must have redone it because it looked nothing like the picture I had studied. Now it had all glass walls on the outside. To make matters worse, there were no signs on where to go.

So, of course, I ended up going into immigration to enter Nicaragua! And I had to pay $1 US to do it ha ha. I was soon directed to the back of the building labeled #2 in the picture below. There is a door for immigration and one for customs that are not signed. Of course I did things backwards and went to customs first.

Costa Rica Border

Once at the back, the customs officer wanted a form. What form???!!! I was told to go outside and look for a police officer to get the form. The police officer could be anywhere outside!

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I walked around aimlessly looking for a police officer. Finally I found one at a shack at the far end. It is labelled #1 on my picture below. However, don’t count on a police officer being there again.

He gave me a form to fill out. I was being badgered by fixers outside, and it was hot, so I went back inside the air conditioned customs/immigration building to fill out the form.

Now you would think a completed form was enough. But oh no … I had to go back outside and find the police officer again to have him sign it. Then I also had to find a customs officer outside to sign it as well. Once again, they could be anywhere outside.

I headed back to where I saw the police officer last. He wasn’t there. I walked around the parking lot and across the street looking for a police officer.

Following me was a fixer who wasn’t saying much. No badgering like most of them. He told me to follow him and he located a police officer in the parking lot.

This police officer was not the friendliest and didn’t speak English. He asked me a couple things in Spanish which I didn’t understand. The fixer translated for me and the officer signed my form. I now had to find an immigration officer. At this point I was hot and frustrated and agreed to hire the quiet fixer.

The fixer, with me in tow, looked around for a customs officer. We finally saw one getting off of a bus parked in the lot. He walked with us to my bike where he looked at my VIN and looked in one of my paniers before signing the form. Back to Customs I went.

Finally, after providing them with copies of my documents, Customs approved the form and stamped my motorcycle permit to exit Nicaragua.

Since I ended up doing things backwards, I now needed to go through immigration in the same building at the back.

I handed the immigration officer all my documents and she wanted $2 US and didn’t have change! Back out I went again looking for a money changer. They are everywhere so that wasn’t difficult.

The fixer wanted $10 US for his trouble. Pretty pricey, but at this point I didn’t care. I just wanted out of there. Off I went to tackle the Costa Rica side of the border.

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Entering Costa Rica

As I approached the Costa Rican side of the border I was sure hoping things would go smoother.

The first thing I needed to do was go through fumigation at the fork in the road labelled #3 in the picture below. However, when I turned down the road I was told by the “fumigator” to turn around and go down the other road. When I did that, an immigration officer said to go back to fumigation! Here we go again. With hand expressions I told the immigration officer that fumigation had sent me this way. Finally he smiled and waved me through. Phew. Onto the next hurdle.

The immigration building was as I had studied. Finally!


I waited in line inside the building labeled #4 in the picture below, only to be told when I reached the immigration officer that I needed to fill out a form. At least she gave me the form and didn’t send me outside searching for a police officer.

With the form filled out, immigration stamped my passport and it was on to the first customs.

Yes I said the “first” customs. It was right across the street.

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I have labelled it #5 in the picture below.

Here I handed in copies of all my documents along with the originals. THe customs officer gave me 2 forms to fill out and said I also needed a copy of the passport page where immigration stamped it. Next door a woman said she would copy it for me.

After filling out the forms the customs officer gave me a document and I was onto the second customs building labelled #6 below.

Once again my studying DID NOT pay off. I went to the building where others before me had went but it was now vacant! I had no idea where to go. I did see a new building down a path towards the main road and walked down there. At the first entrance I was told to go to the next entrance.

Costa Rica Border 5

I knew motorcycle insurance was required in Costa Rica and the booth for that was on the right as I entered the building. $30 US later I had insurance. The main booth in the building was the second customs office. I have no idea why there are two customs. Perhaps I could have done everything at this office. I don’t know. Anyways, I handed the customs officer my passport, insurance, registration, the first customs document and everything else I could think of. After a lot of data entry onto his computer he handed me a temporary import permit for my motorcycle. I was finally done and riding to the beach at Tamarindo!!!!

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My Route for August 8, 2017


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