Border Run!!

23 Jan

Today was set for a ‘border run’. To explain….tourists used to get 90 day visa’s to visit the country. This was changed a few years ago to 6 months. However, in their infinite wisdom, the powers that be did NOT change the drivers license usage to match. It used to be you had to leave the country for 3 days to get a new tourist visa every 3 months. But now a visiting tourist can only drive for 3 months, while they can visit for 6 months. So if you drive you have to leave the country, which involves passing thru immigration for an official ‘stamp’ to leave the country. Enter another, usually Costa Rica as its about an hour drive. Then turn around and ‘exit that country’ to ‘re-enter Panama’. It’s still in the law for a 3 day time period but has been largely ignored. While Panama is trying to clamp down on this, correcting the law to match driving and visiting times would eliminate half of their problem. Another lady staying here at Isla Verde was arranging a trip out, and Cleo overheard her, so I was able to ‘pair up’ with her, and her taxi driver, and split some costs. The driver is quite experienced with this, and still said he had not seen the border crossing as busy as today. Bus loads coming and going to/from Costa Rica and Panama. I won’t get into details, but we found some help with a young man who is a facilitator with a friend in immigration. For some tips $$ for him and the agent, we were able to jump line and eliminate probably 4-5 hours of standing in line waiting. Didn’t take any pictures today of the process. For any interested YouTube has several videos about the Paso Canoas border crossing.

Have taken a few pictures of housing as we walk down into town. You’ll see examples of resolute poverty standing next to gorgeous homes with manicured landscapes. The comparisons can be quite stark! Don’t forget you can click the photos for a larger view to better see details.

These pictures are just on our 2-3 block walk to town center:

Two side by side wood frame homes.

Two side by side wood frame homes.

These wood frame houses are painted only on the front facing the street. Corrugated roofing is typical, even in newer construction. They are tiny, patched and repaired but occupied and livable. Notice the sign on the right. It follows in the next picture.
The newer construction sits next door.

The newer construction sits next door.

Here's a closed view of the newer home

Here’s a closer view of the newer home

This home is owned by a North American, and by the sign, she paints artwork for sale, bakes, and cans food for sale. A motorized gate completes the fenced privacy of the property.

I’ll add a few more photos of other homes in the immediate area of where we are. Real estate ranges from what you see here, to multiple millions of $$’s.


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