Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica – Pure life

The emigration from Nicaragua at border crossing-point Peña Blanca is a bit long-drawn-out, but done in half an hour. First we have to pay 1 $ pp special charge for whatever (we get a receipt) at a pay station at the entrance, and another 2 $ for the emigration stamp. Behind the building where we park, the Aduana man roams about and checks that the exported vehicle corresponds to the papers. This has to be confirmed by the police. The officers roam around; we have to somehow get hold of them. Leaving Nico-territory passports are checked again and the import paper withheld.

The so civilized Costa Rica has the – until now – worst organized border crossing with completely missing signposting and not selected courtesy. There is a lot of running a round, but we make it in 90 minutes. We pass the disinfection sluice gate (5 $) and as a result miss the insurance agency which we wouldn’t have identified anyhow due to missing signs. The customs officer in his cottage sends us back on foot. It is a bit confusing since he mixes left and right (a Central American disease). Beside the office of the nice insurance agent (14 $ for three months) we get the copies requested by the customs officer. Just back the man sends us to Migracion to get the immigration stamps and back to the copier since he also needs a copy of the stamp (apparently only of the vehicle owner). We use our own copier this time, that’s faster.

Then we have to fill a form where all drivers have to be mentioned. For the first time a customs officer enters our camper cabin, but not for long. Do we have a laptop? Sure. No refrigerator? Oh yes, but the content isn’t interesting. What is behind the door? The bathroom, but he doesn’t want to see it. The Aduana building is a bit remote to the right. Here it emerges that the second driver has to produce a passport and stamp copy as well, but there is a copy station right on the opposite side. The temporary import paper is handed over to us and a small handwritten piece of paper. Don’t throw it away, it will be collected when exiting the border area where passports and importation certificate are checked again. This officer is of the friendlier kind, he greets us with the country’s motto „Costa Rica – pura vida“, pure life. The complete procedure was complimentary.

Road conditions of the Pan Americana improved significantly since our last visit about 15 years ago. The attractions are a bit remote, so that we quickly retreat to also acceptable side roads. In Nuevo Arenal at Lake Arenal there is a recreational area that’s administered by the town council where pick-nicking, swimming, fishing and camping is without any costs. The gate is locked between 6 pm and 6 am, then the site is guarded. View to lake and mountains are dreamlike, although Arenal volcano is not visible from here (N 10°32’13.7’’ W 84°53’36.6’’).

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