Second Passport


U.S. Embassy Sam Jose Costa Rica

We renewed our passports last year and they are good for another 10 years. That ought to be more than enough for this trip.

However, a couple of weeks before leaving, I discovered that the State Department allows for a second passport, limited to two years.

The value for us is that:

1. We have back-up passports in case we lose one.
2. Some countries are picky about where you have been. Israel is an                example of a country others don’t like.
3. Should we need to present a passport for a visa and return later to                pick it up or have it mailed to us.

I set appointments with the embassy in San Jose and confirmed via email what they needed and that they could process the application. They responded and also said we could pick them up in 7-10 days and that they would hold them for up to three months.

Update: We picked them up May 23 and they are good for two years! We did have to remind them not to void our other passports.




Weather Shift

The trade winds off the Caribbean are pushing these clouds over the continental divide toward me. They are usually moving pretty fast and disappear quickly as the humid air is absorbed by the dry Pacific air. The rain we get is mostly mist and when we are close to the divide, we can see the rain moving over us, putting us into a rain shadow. This rain is what makes the rain forest here special.

On Sunday I noticed that clouds were moving in the opposite direction, off the Pacific:

Now with the wind shift, the sun is out more and temperatures have risen.

We were spoiled with the cooler days, although most of the days are still very nice.

First Stop Alajuela

We spent three nights In Alajuela to just settle in and make sure that we bought our bus tickets for Panama. The bus station is in San Jose.

We blew it going through customs. Lindie went into the restroom and I followed suit, but she did not know that’s what I did. Poor communication. While I waited outside the restrooms she went to find me in the customs line. Meanwhile two or three flights arrived and by the time we got back together we were way back in the line. Fortunately customs was easy and we went off to find our Uber ride which became a no show. A valuable lesson to reinforce early in our travels.

We found a taxi and gave him the directions to the Airbnb. Costa Rica names their streets but alas, there are hardly any street signs. Directions are from a known place with instructions like go to the bottom of the street, turn left, go 30 meters, it is the house with three garages next to the kindergarten. We did get there but the taxi driver took us up and down several extra streets.

We are happy with Airbnb. It really helps that visitors and owners leave reviews so that we can expect a place to be safe. Plus there is the possibility of visiting with others. I do like that.

Proof of Paid Exit Transport

There is the requirement that you have proof of exit transport when entering Costa Rica. I had put off dealing with until two days before our departure to Costa Rica.

I thought that I could get an online bus ticket from San Jose, Costa Rica to David, Panama. Nope. I could not even get one by calling the bus company. It has to be in person and you show passports.

My initial solution was to buy a plane ticket from San Jose to Panama City, Panama. This would at least move us in the direction we want to travel. What a surprise to find out that Travelocity would allow me to buy the tickets and then cancel them, at no charge, within 24 hours.

At the Southwest Airlines boarding gate desk in Houston, they did check our documents to verify that we had exit transportation from Costa Rica. At customs in Costa Rica, they did not ask for proof, so the airlines monitor it.

We flew to Costa Rica, cancelled the flight to Panama City, and the next day went to the bus station to buy our tickets in person.

In the future, I will figure things out a little quicker, as I do not expect to fly again until we leave South America. Panama to Columbia will be by sailboat or ferry as there are no roads connecting the two countries.