This was our first non-weekend border crossing and we were slightly nervous this would mean the end of our luck painlessly hopping borders. Making our way from Pavones to Paso Canoas took about three and a half hours, setting our arrival time at noon. While we were examining the signs on the Costa Rica Aduana window explaining they had been closed the previous two days for a conference, an armed guard emerged from the bank next door to lock up for the two hour lunch break. Uh oh. We would not be the first travelers caught in a shady border town waiting out the lunch hour(s) in the heat of the day. Fortunately we had no use for the bank in Costa Rica and we quickly made our way to the Panamanian immigration building.
The few helpers who stuck around for the lunch hour followed us at a distance, waiting for the moment when we’d scratch our heads and furrow our brows. What a difference a few countries make. In Mexico and Guatemala we’re certain we acquired a few tiny dents from the helpers banging on the truck, anxious to provide their services. Fast forward to Costa Rica and the slick haired, Ray Ban wearing assistants calmly offered their services for $20 and left us alone when we said no gracias. When we finally did scratch our heads wondering where to obtain the vehicle permit stamp, they pointed us in the right direction free of charge.
The process took about an hour from start to finish and getting to David (for a propane fill up just east of town at Tropigas) and Boquete was a piece of cake. This was the easiest border crossing yet and we hear it only gets better in South America.