maria.parkes85 Check-Ins

Date Place Comment
March 10th, 2020 Purificadora Sanber

Water, good quick and cheap. will fill own containers or garafons.

February 29th, 2020 BELIZE TO MEXICO

Easy border, and very organized and professional compared to most in Central America. Immigration on both sides very busy on a Saturday morning, long waits.

1. Park on right opposite Belize building. First desk as you go in you pay, BZ 40/person, can pay on card. Then immigration at next desk. To cancel TIP go through double doors on left side, marked authorized persons only, to far end of corridor, exit left to the aduana on the incoming side of building. They cancel TIP (free). Exit and drive to next booth.

2. Show passports again and continue. Turn left at roundabout for Mexico, or go via free zone (you have to pay to park in the free zone, not sure how much, we turned around).

3. Drive across bridge into Mexico. Park on first lot on right. Get immigration card from guy there.

4. Go to second building and the Banjercito window. Pay 575 pesos per person. Get A4 printed receipt (make sure you get this!).

5. Go to immigration for stamp.

6. Get TIP from Banjercito - not sure of process as we already had ours from previous visit.

7. Drive through first checkpoint, looking for fruit, veg, eggs, rice etc. We had hidden ours and got away with it, but they were thorough with the other food we did have out, even tins.

8. Drive to next barrier. Cursory inspection on right.

9. Drive to fumigation, pay 95 pesos.


February 8th, 2020 Laguna Verde

Spent a pleasant night here, quiet, cool, no problems. Bought a couple of beers when we arrived but otherwise didn't pay anything. Locals running the shop were friendly. Police didn't come, as a previous poster mentioned.

Road is fine with 2wd, steepest sections are paved.

February 8th, 2020 Puma Glas station card scam

Filled up here (only 32 usd fortunately) and paid on credit card. After entering pin the attendant said it hadn't gone through - it looked like it hadn't so tried again. Same again. Paid in cash.

Checked my bank and both payments were in pending transactions. My bank stopped them but I don't want this to happen to others! Avoid.

Didn't take it up with the attendant even though we're still here as my spanish isnt good enough unfortunately.

February 8th, 2020 Los Asuelos

You can enter for free 100m down the road towards the main junction, on a well used local trail.

Totally worth the detour from the main road!

January 29th, 2020 Attempted robbery

We walked from Aras into Pearl Lagoon at around 6pm as the sun was setting. We should have known better, especially as Raby had asked what time we'd be back and looked concerned (but when directly asked if it was safe to walk, he'd said yes) and a local guide in Awas tried to get us to pay him to walk us, but we refused.

We were initially followed and approached by a teenager simply demanding 'give me your money'. My boyfriend insisted we had none while I kept walking. He left.

A few minutes later the same guy came back with his friend and cornered us in on the boardwalk section. They tried to grab my bag, I resisted as it seemed they were not armed, all 4 of us scuffled and I managed to keep hold of the bag by lying on it. At this point another group of people approached and the guys left, and we ran into town.

We went for dinner anyway assuming we'd find a taxi back after. Struggled to find a taxi but fortunately some friends of the Queen Lobster owner offered us a ride.

Together with a robbery in Awas too (see entry on there) and some general verbal abuse and bad feelings, we left Pearl Lagoon much sooner than we'd planned. This is the first time in 3 months in Central America we've had any problems. Disappointing as the town is beautiful and has huge potential for tourists, and Raby and his family are amazing.

January 29th, 2020 Awas

Also worth adding that the road is mostly paved from Rama and in great condition. A couple of small sections under construction. Don't be put off by the first 2km of really bad dirt road out of Rama, it improves soon!

January 29th, 2020 Awas

Raby and his family are lovely! I have nothing but good things to say about them and their hospitality whilst we were there. Raby is going to school soon to train to be a teacher, but his father Guillamet and mother will still be there.

A great grassy site right by the water with a palapa. Amazingly cool air. Bar nextdoor open in afternoons but closes at 6. Raby didn't specify an amount but we gave him 200 / night. All the family speak great English. Cute dogs and inquisitive kids (be prepared for an audience!)

However, Pearl Lagoon was not great. See other entry on here about our attempted robbery whilst walking to town. After this Raby agreed it was not safe even in the daytime. Drive or take a taxi.

We were also robbed at Raby's place, whilst lounging in hammocks a guy came up offered coconuts and being generally weird. Eventually he left but not before grabbing my phone. Fortunately we noticed and my boyfriend chased him down and rugby tacked him. We got the phone back. Raby was furious and really went for the guy.

Raby recommended we take our kayaks up the nearby river. As we were leaving it again another local shouted something to the effect of we'd 'go to prison if we paddled on his river' and was generally aggressive.

Unfortunately I can't recommend Pearl Lagoon. We'd hoped to kayak out to the Pearl Keys but didn't feel comfortable either going out there or leaving our van. In 3 months in Central America this is by far the most unfriendly and dangerous place we've been - we haven't had any worse than a scamming gas station attendant until now.

Full marks to Raby & family though. So sad that their town is so unwelcoming to tourists. There is an obvious drug problem.

I'm sure that anyone staying in town in a hotel would have a very different experience, but unfortunately we did not.

January 26th, 2020 Pull out

Just a pull out off the side of the road, but great for a night. No one bothered us and it's nice and cool after the heat of the coast. In the cloud forest.

January 25th, 2020 Hotel Tico Aleman

Big and secure parking lot. 15,000 for a double room with aircon and private bath (shower was cold). Didn't ask about sleeping in the vehicle as we really needed aircon (!) but you possibly could as there's a toilet.

Lots of macaws!

January 15th, 2020 Panama to Costa Rica

No info on the other entries on going Panama to Costa Rica.

Easy, quick and free! Park before the bridge in Panama (tricky!). Walk down side street to Migracion and exit Panama. Walk to bridge and enter containers down and right of bridge entrance for Aduana. Cancel TIP (no paperwork given back).

Drive across bridge. Officials will inspect passports and vehicle.

On Costa Rica side, pass through fumigation then drive up and left and through cones and park. Walk down to shops then back to bridge. Migracion is first in a white container, then Aduana is opposite.

We only reactivated CR TIP but I'm sure getting a new one would be just as easy. You'll need to purchase insurance if you don't already have it - not sure where. No copies required.

Everyone friendly, easiest crossing yet from Canada to Panama.

January 7th, 2020 Speed check / police stop

Pulled us over here claiming we'd done 90 in a 50 limit. Seemed to be a 100 limit as far as we could tell and everyone else was doing the same.

They asked for cash. We refused and said we only had a credit card, no cash, and pretended to speak no Spanish (which isnt hard to do for us!!). Eventually they got bored, gave our papers back and let us go.

January 5th, 2020 Volcano view

This is blocked off with small rocks now, implying the locals don't want vehicles taking up the turning space! We didn't stay.

December 26th, 2019 tap

Tap by the road, free. No idea if it's potable water but we drank it and were fine!

December 20th, 2019 Road side

Couldn't find anywhere to sleep in town so came out here. Wide shoulder on a quiet road next to fields and a few houses. We didn't have any problems. Quiet until around 5 when the cockerel, dog and moto alarm starts ;-)

There's a narrow squeeze on the road in, no problems in Ford van but a big rig might struggle.

December 17th, 2019 Hotel Athena

Basic rooms but clean and nice. Air con (essential for us... we needed to escape the humidity and sand flies of a few nights camping at Punta Sal), private bathrooms, good wifi. Large parking lot across the street.

600 lps for 2 people in a room that could sleep 7.

December 14th, 2019 Restaurante Mis perlas

Lovely place! Ishmael and Erica and their kids are really nice and very welcoming.

We put our tent on the beach (our van was too hot and sand flies were getting through our netting) one night, and then left our vehicle with them for 2 more nights while we were kayaking at Punta Sal. Paid 200 lps for the 3 nights, plus one dinner with the family for 70 lps each.

Safe, quiet and friendly, though sand flies are a nightmare!

December 11th, 2019 Paseo del Lago

A small park with lake views. The lovely policeman on duty, Freddy, watched our van for us while we were at the climbing area and let us stay the night there (he was guarding the entrance all night). We cooked him dinner and spent hours practicing our Spanglish together, super friendly!

Note: this road doesn't go through to the north, despite what Google says! only passable on a motorbike.

December 10th, 2019 Tienda Lolita

The friendly family here allow parking in their large lot for 30Q day. We used this whilst hiking the volcano, and also stayed a night, no problems. Relatively quiet at night, felt safe to leave our vehicle here.

Small shop and delicious tostadas! (3Q each)

November 22nd, 2019 Road blocks

Not here now, 22nd November. more words to make up 40 characters....

November 22nd, 2019 Fake toll or aduana

Still there. Guy with a name badge but normal shirt tried to flag us down motioning a square shape and pointing at our TIP. we slowed down but kept driving, he banged the window but nothing else happened, road workers after just waved us through. No one chased us!

Weren't stopping any local cars - no other vehicles stopped.

November 22nd, 2019 Pemex scam

Asked for 1000 pesos. Guy stopped it at 200 and pretended he'd misheard me, then kept pumping to 800 without zeroing the meter (I watched carefully). He then tried to charge me 1000, claiming it was 200 + 800. I only paid him 800, and eventually he accepted it.

November 22nd, 2019 checkpoint

Official checkpoint, but weren't stopped heading towards Guatemala today.

November 18th, 2019 Mexcaltitan

Parked here for the morning. Busy with locals and felt safe, you could probably sleep here. BaƱos 5 pesos, dirty. We have kayaks so can't comment on boats, but there were plenty coming and going to Mexcatitlan. Town is worth checking out for half a day, shrimp are delicious.

November 18th, 2019 Parque La Primavera Campamento El Pedernal

So nice to not be boiling! only came here as it was just dark and we needed somewhere before the pemex ( and traffic), so glad we did. huge site all to ourselves, toilets, cold showers, free firewood. 50 pesos per person. would be good for tents too. quiet, cool, feels safe.

November 17th, 2019 PEMEX near Ruiz, MEX15

Stayed here before going to Mexcatitlan. No one bothered us, felt safe. didn't use the showers. Boiling, humid, raining and mosquitoes but that's not the pemex's fault ;)

November 15th, 2019 Cabo Pulmo (formerly An RV Park)

As described. Didn't get a beachside spot as all were taken by locals and snowbirds, but the large main area was fine for one night. More secluded spots further north up beach. No facilities but quiet. Lots of spikey plants all over, no bare feet! Short walk into town, dinner there good but tourist prices. Road from north is fine. From south we did it in a rwd Ford van, good clearance, but wouldn't have liked to have been in anything bigger or less clearance. Lots of potholes, dips, one very steep dip that big rigs wouldn't make. Bad sections mainly in first 15km of road.

November 14th, 2019 San Pedrito

Unfortunately currently inhabited by a stuck up arsehole who won't share, despite asking nicely having turned up in the dark. Went north to the beach instead, lovely there.

October 30th, 2019 Playa Los Cocos

Loved this beach so much that we drove to Loreto, then came all the way back for another few nights at 'our' palapa. Great kayaking (we have our own but I think a guy was renting some). Quiet, only 2 other parties on beach. 200 per night.

If the gate is locked if you roll in late, knock on the big rig BC plated camper opposite the entrance, they have the key.

October 26th, 2019 military check

temporary checkpoint. checked us fairly thoroughly though no problems.