Since we moved here (and even before) I have heard about a place just across the river in Panama that sold all sorts of items for substantially less than what we can get them for in Costa Rica. Tales of a case of beer for $9, good wines for under $5, and electronics for next to nothing were told over and over and the items were said to be obtained in Chase, Panama. The sole reason for existence of Chase, Panama was to sell these goods and hundreds of other things, to people in Costa Rica. All you have to do is drive to a spot in the river on the Costa Rica side. Then you get on a canoe conveniently supplied by some Costa Rican entrepreneurs and motor across the river to go to the stores that have everything you ever need for cheap, cheap, cheap.
So this morning Tom and I, along with friends Sarah and Rene, popped in the car and headed to this most amazing place. We did make one tiny mistake which was that we didn’t have the exact directions to the place on the river where you cross to Panama. Because of this little misstep, we ended up driving to the very end of the road which was many, many kilometers past where we should have turned. The road was so bumpy that we all are still experiencing sore butts, but I have to say the trip was beautiful! When we got to the very end of the road and arrived at a town called Shiroles, we asked where the boat crossing to Panama was. A wonderful Tico tried telling us where we needed to head back to and finally drew a map in the dirt to help us better understand. The key word was “tunnel” and since we knew that there was only one tunnel on the road we had just traveled, we were able to find our way back to the place where we should have turned. For future reference (although I don’t plan on going back to Chase, Panama) it is important to take a left turn at Soda El Paso in Chase, Costa Rica This will get you to the river where you cross. The most exciting part of the trip was when we encountered a bus on a very narrow piece of road and the driver just kind of plowed on through – we thought we were going to end up in the creek!!! It was quite scary……….
We finally arrived at the point in the river where we could cross. We parked our car and headed to the canoe that we take us across the river. It took about one minute to cross and then we climbed the hill to where the shops were. Only there was only one shop. We had understood that there were several shops, each with different types of goods. Still, we headed in with great expectations but all we saw were some electronics and lots and lots of clothes. No beer, no wine, and the electronics were not nearly as inexpensive as we had thought. It was quite a disappointment but now at least we have “been there, done that”. We did pick up some Christmas lights and Rene and Sarah got a couple of items so we do have items to help us remember the day
After wandering around the store for about ten minutes, we crossed the river back to Costa Rica, and drove to Bri Bri for lunch. Then back to Puerto Viejo to be greeted by the dogs and then an early evening and off to bed. Quite a day!!