The longest left break in the world.
I spent the previous night camped on the beach in Pavones, Costa Rica next to what is meant to be the “worlds longest warm water left breaking wave”, you can ride it for over a mile! It’s a bit tricky to get to and despite its reputation the extreme southern location keeps away the heavy tourism felt elsewhere in Costa Rica. Despite all the hype this world wonder may have been lost on me & my non-surfing, land lubbing lifestyle as all I noticed was the hippy tent colony that was taking up prime squatting space on the beach and salty ocean waves out front. I opted to stay a little more out of town and ran into some chatty Brazilians on a rushed drive up to Alaska for the summer. I love meeting up with people who are on multi-continent summer road trips.
Don't 'F' with the military.
In the morning I had my usual pre-boarder crossing day oversized breakfast and organised snacks and drinks as these crossings can sometimes be a little demanding on ones time and stress levels. Once I set off I opted to take the scenic route, my preferred routing through small towns using the less traveled gravel roads & to avoid any backtracking. Like usual the GPS and I were fighting over routing options and I decided she could win the turn through the farming community, however once we got through I wasn’t going to back track on the highway like she suggested. In the end I took several side streets through the little town of Canoas Abajo, came out of an alley near the main highway and opted to cut across the grass from the alley to the highway and head towards Panama. Shit, if that little five foot grass shortcut didn’t put me on the fast track to illegal immigration.
Some fifteen or twenty kilometers later, making great time I might add, I was flagged down at a random military checkpoint. Upon request I handed over all documents I had related to Costa Rica and still they kept asking for more. Unable to produce any more they asked where I was headed?
Panama I said.
They asked where I was?
Then I asked where I was??
Then the lady called over a couple more large men in camouflage who then asked me to park the bike out of the way and answer some more questions.
It was here I realised they had “Panama” stiched on those cute camouflage jumpsuits they were wearing and my broken Spanish, charming smile and elaborate hand gestures jumped into action to explain on my two inch phone map what had happened.
That crap Spanish followed with over enthusiasm usually worked for getting drinks after the bar closed or asking cute locals to teach me some funny Spanish words. Not so much with the boys in multicoloured green.
The bike was parked, the boss was called, and no one was smiling in my direction. Hummm looks like I’ll need to work on my “I’m a dumb tourist” cuteness a little…
Chauffeur to the boarder? Yes please!
The boss rolls up with a couple of his crony sidekicks in a little yellow and white immigration truck with his AC on high, hair freshly gelled wearing and out of place white collard shirt that’s unbuttoned a little. He looked more like my accountant then a guy who uses a machete to shave like I was expecting. To my delight he’s all smiles and shakes my hand while I attempt to explain the problem again. He doesn’t care & asks if the officer can search my stuff. The girl opens my main luggage box inquiring about my tent and pulling out and electric razor. The tent was easy however she certainly wasn’t the first person to ask why the hell I felt one of my top necessities was an electric razor???
Manscaping my friends, it’s a hot sweaty country that is better deal with under a little manscaping.
They found no drugs or guns and it turns out I now have a personal escort back to the boarder, through the traffic and to the front of the line. A few strange looks from the officials about why the hell I’m doing everything backwards, then I’m legally out of Costa and back into Panama in record time. Well not including the time I spent looking like I was going to jail.
Welcome to Panama, next up breakfast with a river otter and my Tim Hortons camping commercial photo.