Published: December 2nd 2009September 26th 2009
motorbikes dont have to take the 10 mile diversion they can just ride over the flimsy little plank
Costa Rica is totally different to all the other Central American countries. In the first 100 miles we have passed car rental compound for all of the major car hire companies plus a load extra I've never heard off, outlets for all the well know fast food chains (rumour has it that some of our group stopped at a MacDonald's) plus load extra I've never heard off, condominiums, beach resorts, signs in English etc. etc. - its like we have gone though a time-warp and are back in the US again.
From the coast we are supposed to head up into the highlands on a dirt road but heavy rains have yet again conspired against us to wash the road away - I think some of us are secretly quite pleased and quite happy to be riding on tarmac. But even this wasn't simple; one of the lasting memories of this trip will be the road sign “DESVIO”. This sign always means there will be something exciting in store around the corner. In this case the man at the desvio sign happily waved us on down the road saying that we didn't have to take the desvio. A little confused
snuffling in the undergrowth and looking cute
we carried on down the road to come across a work gang repairing a small road bridge. There were two 6ft gaps across the road at either end which plummeted down several feet (certainly far enough to swallow a BMW 1200GS & rider). But it was all OK as the workmen had put a plank of wood over the gap so they said we could just ride across. This might have been alright for the little 100cc bikes that scoot around but looked a bit dubious for a very heavy 1200 complete with luggage. None of the workmen saw this as a problem and were quite amused when I got off and walked across.
Cost Rica is more about scenery and rainforest than ruins and pre-colombian civilisations. We drove up to the continental divide, round Lake Areneal and stayed right under Volcan Arenal.
Being rain forest territory the roadsides were lined with splashes of colour from all the different flowers - Edwin was too busy swooping round the bends to stop and let me take photos. He did have to stop on one bend when we came round the corner to find a troop of coatis snuffling in the
that's smoke coming out of the top not clouds
undergrowth looking very cute with their tails up in the air and noses waggling. Volcan Arenal sent out a few trickles of red lava overnight (perfectly normal) but there was no big eruption so we were able to carry on heading south the following day. We were supposed to go up to Volcan Poas but it had its head in the clouds and refused to come out. Then we were supposed to drive past La Paz. Waterfalls, which you can walk underneath, but the road no longer exisits as its been taken out by an earthquake and even the locals on bikes cant get through - this meant a 100 mile detour to get to our hotel which was just on the other side of the waterfall. But then we had to detour off the detour due to road works so in the pouring rain we negotiated a steep hillside with hairpin bends on a freshly laid mud track. Costa Rica is not being kind to us, that's 7 hours to get into the country and 3 failed expeditions in 2 days.
The next day, after being woken up at 5:00 by very noisy howler monkeys, we abandoned the
its hiding somehwere in those clouds
bike and went off exploring the rainforest on foot at Selva Verde. Just abound every step we took sent a load of poison dart frogs hopping off in every direction. If it wasn't frogs it was fer-de-lance snakes curled up on the side of the path looking for all the world like an innocuous animal dropping but waiting to bite anyone who trod on it (you have 2 hours to get then anti-venom if bitten - guess how far away the nearest hospital is? Yes more than 2 hours). The night walk was the most fascinating - all sorts of insects were out and about and easy to spot with their eyes glistening in the torch light. The red-eyed tree frogs were particularly cute posing on leaves just like you always seem them in pictures.
And we stood and watched a chunky spider for at least 5 minutes as he went round and round in circles making his web - it was incredibly fast and efficient.
Having started our time in Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast in the north we finished on the Caribbean Coast in the south at Cahuita. This is not a tourist spot so the
desvio no. 2
we'll just spread some more fresh mud on the road before you ride over it.
beach was deserted. As we walked down there we somehow acquired two exceedingly friendly golden retrievers who made it quite plain that they expected us to throw sticks into the sea for them to retrieve. Spent a happy hour or so splashing in the waves, just the two of us and two dog, before retreating to the small hotel to drink cocktails in the pool - its a hard life this adventure motorcycling.
Tomorrow is another border and a new country - we head into Panama, our last country in Central America.
There are more photos below