Viajando a Panamá

Apr 07, 2011 in

con el autobus

“Tracopa” doesn’t come from “traer una copa” (bringing a cup) but from “Transportes Costaricensis Panamenos LTDA” and is the name of the bus company in which I wrote this story into my notebook (yes, it´s a book!). As you can probably derive from the name, I was on my way to Panamá to meet up with Senana.

My travel started in Montezuma at 6 o’clock in the morning in a minibus. After a few hours on only partly paved roads and changing the bus, we took the ferry to Puntaarenas.

Waiting for the next bus in Cobanó

Ferry to Puntaarenas

From Puntaarenas, the bus went on to San José. My original plan was to catch the bus to the border in San José at 1 o´clock but well, that didn’t work. Not really because the bus was late – the busses here are surprisingly punctual (so far), sometimes they even leave earlier than scheduled – but because the whole bus station was gone! You must know that the busses here are all run by individual companies and most of them have their own bus stations, leading to that the stations to the different cities are scattered all over town. Or well, actually most of the bus stations are somewhere around the Coca-Cola bus stand so after all, San Jose doesn’t have a bus station bus a bus station district.
As the taxi driver who drove me to the new bus station explained, Tracopa’s bus station was moved two years ago to Calle 5, Avenida 20. This is about 15 minutes away from the Coca Cola bus stand by taxi.

By the way, the same company has the most complicated logo I have ever seen :-D

So yeah, I missed the bus to Paso Canoas (border crossing to Panamá) by 15 minutes and instead went on the bus to Palmar, a city that is halfway to the border so that I can get to Panamá early the next morning. The Interamericana to Palmar leads through the mountains where the temperature suddenly dropped below 20ºC only to change into a suffocating heat once we were out of the mountains.

Rest stop on the way to Palmar

Palmar is also called the “heart of the South” by my travel guide, which is absolutely true temperature-wise. Fortunately it began to rain heavy that night so it was halfway possible to sleep a bit in the dosshouse (by Western standards) I stayed that night.

Palmar at dawn.

From Palmar, I went to Ciudad Neily and from there to the border in “local” busses. The funny thing is that they really stop for everyone. I mean, not just at the bus stops. People who got their house or whatever directly at the Interamericana will just be picked up and dropped directly in front of their house. This goes so far that some people will just take the bus to get a short lift for a few blocks. And these were busses which drove from city to city, not local busses :-). Reminds me of India.
There is always a second person on the bus apart from the driver who remembers exactly where you got on the bus and where you want to get off, sees to that you are dropped at that point and collects the appropriate amount of money from you before you get off. Man, I like that … I already see myself trying to jump out of the local bus right in front of my house when I am back in Germany :-).

The procedure to cross the border to Panamá was… more disorganized and complicated then I expected. To make is short, I spent about two hours to run from A to B and back to A and actually back to B again (I omitted the C, actually) plus well, waiting in lines. And on each way I was asked by taxi drivers where I want to go, grr. Below impressions of half the way from A to B ;-).