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Friday, February 29, 2008

Costs Rica: Border Informalities

"That was way too much," I thought. I had just agreed to pay a wizened (always wanted to use that word) old man 1000 colones to pedal my big pack the dusty kilometer from the Los Chiles bus stop to the dock on the Rio Frio. I hiked along with my day pack, getting just a quick glimpse of the town.

When we neared the river, he stopped and pointed at the immigration building. I mentally calmed myself about leaving my pack with a stranger, and joined the short and slow line to get stamped out of Costa Rica.

When I walked out, he waved me to the porch of the building next door. There I added my name and age to the manifest, and tucked the 7 of hearts into a pocket of my purse. The card was my ticket.

Once again I was waved on, this time to a man two porches down, who took $5 from me and gave me a receipt. I turned and looked for a yellow shirt and waving arms. This time my little old man pedaled onward to the bank of the river. When I asked about bathrooms he sent me back toward the buildings I had just left, patiently gesturing right, left, and no until I got it right.

Finally he hefted my bag out of his pedi-something (pedi-truck? pedi-cart) and I handed over the 1000 colones. A real bargain.

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