Costa Rica

3/10/12

We had heard from a number of people that getting into Costa Rica could be a 4-5 hour project especially on the weekends. It took us a total of 90 minutes to get through with the bikes. This is a much more organized/official process than any of the other countries w/nice facilities as well. It cost $30 each in total. That is how much the bike insurance cost. No other fees at all.

The road was nothing spectacular upon entering CR. Mostly desert with sporadic palm trees and lots of road construction. After an hour or so we stumbled into Liberia and 3 recognizable signs popped out; MacDonalds, Burger King, Papa Johns. My stomach is still in knots especially when low on food and we hadn’t eaten yet today. A burger is not exactly tickling my fancy by I opt for a whopper value meal anyway…..it was delicious.

Thirty miles later we turn off the main road toward Lake Arenal. I short while later it turns to hard pack dirt with a bit of loose gravel on top. The landscape is rolling fluorescent green hills with ominous clouds passing overhead. The flowers are bright crisp colors accented by the clean cut fields that the cows are roaming on in the background. This is postcard perfect Costa Rica. I have yet to visit a country that actually looks like the flier….truly breathtaking.

We arrive at the lake, the dirt fades to concrete, but the view gets even better.

Slowly cruising around the lake we stopped and grabbed some coffee at a café with a beautiful view. Best cup of Joe I have had on this trip…period. The prices aren’t exactly where I would like them to be but so far I LIKE COSTA RICA.

Backside of my new favorite coffee joint

We checked a few hotels but nothing working for us. Then we stumbled upon some property lots for sale after driving up this hill. This is us parked on one of the lots. We strongly contemplated camping here but thought twice about it being our first night in CR, the land is not public, and with all the leaf cutter ants on the ground who knows what else comes out at night (yeah we’re big pussies).

Leaf Cutter ants blazing a trail

Moving along we found Toad Hall about half way down the edge of the lake. Asked for room price, didn’t quite fit the budget so the nice lady starts explaining where in La Fortuna we should be able to get a place. After a little more friendly conversation she decides to give us their 3 bedroom house rental for about half price. Sweet! Really friendly folks, great view, nice place, good food, and really cold beer all at Toad Hall on Lake Arenal (more shamless plugs to come).

A Toucan up in a tree at a distance

This little guy wasn’t quite so wild

And in the evening we grabbed an awesome pizza and watched the A-Team while creepy crawlers surrounded the place.

Our fire roasted pizza was awesome

One of the least creepy of the crawlies but more photo worthy than the rest of the scary bastards

3/11/13

Today was fantastic. Gorgeous ride around the lake. Even saw some wildlife on the side of the road.

As many of you know I am part of an online group of adventure riders and a few months back made contact with a gentleman named Greg in Alajuela, Costa Rica. So the plan today is to crash at his pad. He also gave us some good routes of off-road to get to his place from the lake.

Obscured view of Volcan Arenal

Some of the off-road was intense slippery rocks with an added bonus of a sheer cliff and no guardrail. Shot some good video which hopefully I can put together in the next few days.   Unfortunately I do not have any photos to add of the offroading.Here is one of Al’s.

Reaching the end of a long dangerous trail

Shortly after the above photo was taken I dropped my camera doing about 50mph….needless to say it did not work anymore. Luckily I am overly prepared and brought an identical backup but it was buried in my bags so it would have to wait. Now if I can figure out a way to get another camera shipped down here because I’m anxious as all get out with only one camera left.

Made it to Greg’s place just in time to meet him coming home from work. Greg and his wife made us a superb meal of steak, fried fish, broccoli, rice, and rum & coke. I can’t thank them enough for the hospitality.

And then made us gallo pinto & eggs & fantastic rich & bold coffee for breakfast. Yay!

Greg with the family bird…Layla

And the whole family

 

3/12/13

Again, Greg and his wife went above and beyond with a great morning start (BOLD coffee, eggs, gallo pinto, plantains, & watermelon). Then time for a family photo.

Greg’s rare Suzuki RS

Then hit the road and head for the Caribbean.

Once we made it through San Jose the surrounding forest enclosed us with dark green vegetation with mist in the air. Unfortunately, much of the ride had limited visibility due to the thick forestry making it somewhat dull. Then we dropped into banana country where Del Monte and Chiquita both have large operations near Limon. The best part of this ride was probably the half a dozen or so bridges that we crossed. I now have my camera tethered closely to my body so the pictures aren’t great.

It is bloody hot on this coastline.

Al heard about the “Sloth Sanctuary” from our Dutch riding compatriots so we had to make a pitstop before arriving in Cahuita.

Another 10 miles down the road we made a B-line for the hostel that we are going to meet Marnix and Lisan at. At first glance it seemed reasonable. An eccentric Dutch woman shows us around and mentions that she highly recommends we lock our door prior to going to sleep…….oooooooooooook.

This town (and coastline) appears to be quite “Rastafarian” in nature. Lots of drums, dreadlocks, and dope. Not exactly my style but it is cool to see a completely different face of Costa Rica.

Al picks up some rum & coke and by the time it is half gone and we are thinking about the worst for M&L they finally roll up shortly before dark. They had bike trouble (electric start not working) and more KM’s than anticipated. Quickly make them a drink and start to catch up since our separation in Antigua.

Had dinner at a Pizzaria/Hot Sandwich shop owned by a French couple that was superb. Also snagged a CR sticker next door….not what I wanted at all but at least I got one before our departure tomorrow. While sitting at a pizza shop and sloth comes swinging down the power lines moving quite quickly. Surprised to say the least.

Hanging from the powerline grabbing some leaves for dinner

3/13/12

Miserable sleeping conditions. Waking up every hour in a puddle of sweaty stench. But hey, I’m in Costa Rica on the carribean coast with my dirt bike about to ride into Panama. Hell Yes!!

Up early and walked down to a national park where there is a trail that supposedly hosts a lot of wildlife including sloths, monkeys, caymans, snakes, and a variety of birds. Our mile hike produced a lot of ants, a raccoon, one Guinea looking thing, a couple caymans, some birds, and this cool looking mini-dinosaur lizard thing.

 

Back at the room I find tiny almost invisible ants invading my luggage even though all there is is stinky cloths. Get packed up and ready to go I see Marnix starting to take apart the bike and ask if he needs a hand….”sure if you know anything”. Basically you push the start button and nothing happens. I grabbed his multmeter and checked the kill switch….good contacts….checked starter button….good contact….listen to starter relay…nothing. I say I can check it if you have a wiring diagram and sure enough he busts out the Hayes pdf and I go to work. Wiring to and from ignition/starter buttons checks out okay….I jumper over the relay and the bike starts….bad relay. We could rig a switch to the bike to bypass the relay at which point Alex jumps for the opportunity to install a door bell as he has done on automobiles back home.

Al goes returns from town 5 minutes later with a nice plastic doorbell and I grab my wire and a few crimp connectors I brought along and VIOLA! Door Bell starter button!!

Now it is time for us to get on the road. All geared up and sweating fiercely Al hits the button with no go. Dead battery…crap. M&L get busy and push him down the road to no avail. I jump off mine and join the crowd and we get it running. Haul ass out of town and hit the highway where my auto air-conditioning kicks in.

A short ride to the border the Costa Rican exit is conveniently located right in front of the border bridge and we are stamped and exported out in no time (didn’t cost a dime).

9 thoughts on “Costa Rica

  1. You look skinny-mini! Better go to Burger King a few more times…Glad to hear you’re loving CR! Looks beautiful. You better wear socks to bed with all those bugs! Hope your gut is doing better- never a good thing to have the scadaddles when you’re on the go!

    • Funny you mention that because the other night I believe some ants feasted on my right foot….it looks strange now. You’re crackin me up Kel

  2. Hey Andrew! How lucky that Marnix has such a handy buddy to jump in and get that bike back in action! I am loving your blog and keeping up with your journey. I would LOVE to be on this trip with you…..except for the mode of transportation, the snakes, the oncoming bus in your lane, the ants nibbling on your toes, the con artists at the border towns, the guy being tortured in the desert, etc. But give me those dusty little beach towns with palapa roofed bars and a crowd of locals to strike up a conversation with–I’m there! What an adventure. Your mom and I are in Bend with the Abby, Mae and Katie. They ate a bunch of deer poop on their walk and want to lavish us with their kisses! Safe travels, Buddy.

    • I think you may keep up with it more than my folks! I figure by the end of the trip I will be able to pick and choose the good spots and leave all the crap behind. Don’t get my mother in trouble over there Kim!

  3. The adventure continues. How far are you going with Marnix now that you are his personal mechanic. Have gotten 2 small packages for you in the mail

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