We passed through the border into Costa Rica smoothly. No official at the border wanted to know our occupation, nor even cared as it seemed. We were prepared – Tony was a baker and I an accountant – the least threatening occupations we could think of. Once safely through it was time to cash up. Tony withdrew the highest figure he had ever done from an ATM in Liberia – 400,000! Actually that was only worth around USD600.
Our first impressions of Costa Rican roads was good – wide roads with plenty of shoulder. That lasted for about 1km before the road narrowed and we lost our shoulder. One thing we soon learned about drivers down here is they drive aggressively and are impatient (a little similar to drivers in NZ). We headed straight for the Nicoya Peninsula for a circumnavigation around the Peninsula. It was Easter Weekend and we took our lives into our hands on those mad busy roads to get to the north end of the Peninsula. Once we hit the gravel the traffic dried up thank goodness!
We then hit the coast and it was well worth braving the madness. Our first night was wild camping on a beautiful beach with white sand and crystal blue water. The best part was as soon as it got dark we had the whole place to ourselves.
But it wasn’t all white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. On day two we hit some rough gravel roads and lots and lots of steep sharp climbs. Added to that was the constant traffic blasting by showering us in dust. Not only that, it was HOT! We were both suffering from the heat and felt like we couldn’t drink enough of our tepid tea like water to keep pace with what we were sweating out. In order to cool down we resorted to putting ice in our water bottles. People were zipping passed us on their ATV’s or SUV’s wearing bikini’s and boardies looking like they were having lots of fun as we were slogging along the hot dusty roads.
We decided it was time for a day off and time for us to enjoy some beach time. We parked up at Montezuma Beach and stayed in a hostel right on the beach for a couple of days.
We also did a short bush walk to a waterfall in the hills and swam in the fresh water at the bottom of the falls…
When it was time to leave I found a small hitchhiker on my bike.
We then headed back to the mainland and through San Jose toward the Carribean Coast. We left San Jose on a Sunday and there were heaps of other riders riding mostly mountain bikes. Many of them talked to us, wanting to know where we were going and where we were from. That’s when we met Mario who took a video of us for his club MTB Cartago Costa Rica Las Tuercas. Here is a link to what he put together. It pretty much sums up what people think of what we are doing.
We hit the hills and the rain hit us. We hadn’t had any rain since the 7th of February, but we were making up for it now since it rained in biblical portions for the next three days. We got soaked, but at least it cooled things off, but was warm enough not to get too cold.
On the way to the coast we rode through the Banana Plantations near a place called Zent. There we stayed at a Warmshowers with Rafa and Sonia who fed and watered us and taught us a new card game called ‘Mamot’. They also grow bananas in their small plantation and have great plans for eco tourism in their plantation in the future. It was really interesting talking to these two and hearing about their plans.
Sonia and Rafa.
Riding through the banana plantation.
We hit the Carribean Coast and it was very lush and wet. It was also my birthday (a big one this year – half a century old) so it was time for Tony to spoil me rotten at a swanky cabin in Cahuita.
Our first glimpse of the Carribean.
Home made hamburgers for my birthday dinner.
In the days leading up to this I was aware my mum was having an operation on her leg back home. While in Cahuita we heard the operation didn’t work and now she faces losing a leg at the age of 82. This is devastating news for her and for my sister and I. I wanted to go home to support her. Tony and I talked about it and we decided to finish our journey together in Panama City. From there I would fly home and Tony would get in a months worth of quality training for the Tour Divide he is racing in June. (No excuses now Tony). So our plans to ride in Cuba have been postponed for now.
So now it was time to head to Panama – but first it pays to check our shoes before taking more hitchhikers with us.
So why ‘Back to the future’? Costa Rica is very much a first world country from our point of view. It appears very affluent, and as a reflection of that, expensive. We almost felt like we had stepped into a tropical part of the US (there were enough McDonalds and KFC stores to think that). We would totally recommend Costa Rica as a great place to go for a holiday. The nature and the beaches are ideal.
Here’s where we’ve been: