I knew there were two bridges on the way, I knew they were going to be bad, I had planned a strategy to get help, or a truck, but I was onto the first one almost before I realised it and besides, there was no-one around and a line of cars not far behind me, spur-of-the-moment time….skinny rail tracks on shaky sleepers, shee-it…..I rode on.
On each side of the tracks were planks, two wide (about 350 mm total) rough-cut, unfixed, splits, cracks, uneven heights, nasty gaps, all balancing on randomly placed and spaced sleepers….….on my right was the rail track with a six inch drop to the random sleepers, to my left the random sleepers and the remains of a “safety” rail, wouldn’t have stopped me from plunging over, it is simply, a railway bridge, the facility for pedestrians and vehicles, a temporary afterthought by desperate people.
This bridge must be a kilometre across, sweat blinding my eyes, shaking and stuttering, trying to keep enough momentum to go straight but slow enough to avoid the cracks and broken planks, trying to find footholds on the sleepers, my mouth is so dry, jaws clenched, no two ways about it,
Some of the locals
Puerto Viejo - Costa Rico
I am shitting myself, pure terror, the drop off to the left is inconceivable, eventually I miss a sleeper with my foot and drop it, luckily across the tracks, there was absolutely nothing on the left side to have stopped me and the bike going over. Magically, there’s a guy standing right there!…he waits all day in a little set-back directing traffic from one side at a time to cross, he helps me get the bike up but the front wheel is across the track…we try to lift it across, I’m shaking so much I can barely hold the bike, the cars and trucks are backed up, some horn work!…finally one of the drivers comes up and we lift it across onto the planks…I am really doubting if I can go on, I ask them if they can help me walk it across, only another 500 metres!…they can’t, the traffic is getting stroppy, no choice….they hold the bike while I get on and continue, shaky, swerving, luckily finding something when the feet go down, then it’s the last couple of metres, I gun it and make it…I have to pull over right there and get the gear off, still shaking,
Little guy on his statue
Puerto Viejo - Costa Rico
I can’t believe I just did that…..there’s a line of vehicles waiting to go back and the drivers give me various signs of acknowledgement, some pissed off that I’ve held everyone up but others who I think recognised the death defying stupidity of what I’d done…..Jesus wept!
10 kms on and there’s the actual frontera. To cross, you take the side road, leads up onto the old rail line and heads for another, similar bridge…omg…I stop at the cops and customs, get cleared to leave and wait, I walk a little way out onto the bridge, looks almost as bad but at least the safety fence might slow the fall…..I ask around to get some help to walk it across, there is no way I’m going to be able to ride it, I don’t care, call me chicken but this is serious shit…..can’t find anyone!…nor a truck or ute, I’m waving serious money around….nada…I keep looking across the bridge, the longer I look the worse it gets, and it’s about 38 degrees and 110% humidity, I am soaked, still a little shaky….OK, enough is enough, on with the armour, helmet, gloves…and off I go, swerving, shaking, shitting bricks, people
Puerto Viejo - Costa Rico
jumping out of the way, I can hardly write about it, maybe my sub-conscious has thankfully applied the blank over-ride that keeps us from remembering really awful things.
On the other side, surreal, everyone just going on with their lives, they have no idea what has just taken place…I’m drained…..following the interminable backwards and forwards of centro americano frontera procedures, like in a trance, sweating, still shaking, trying to fill in forms, down to the insurance office, back to the farmacia for photocopias, back to migracion, all a bit of a blur, then off free…
Here I am by the pool, in the hotel, in Puerto Viejo, smiling benignly on the faux rastas, bead selling hippies, drug dealers, good luck to them all…just hand me another beer. I catch up with Grant and Mary who had done this yesterday, Grant and I can’t get over this little adventure, we agree it’s probably one of the worst, for me definitely the scariest, and don’t worry, there have been contenders for the “scariest ride” award along the way. There is no way in the world I would do that again, truck it, walk it, anything, but I would never ride it!
Now, to back-track…the night before….I’d had confirmation from Grant that the 2 bridges were as bad as we’d heard but this was not going to stop me. I pushed thoughts of the bridges aside with the assistance of G&Ts, beer and red wine. I pigged out on the snapper I’d caught the previous night. Mike cooked it up, it was indescribably fabulous, go on, drool all you like, nothing quite like fresh snapper, grilled, an asian sauce with my personal, high, chilli level, piquante, other diners in the restaurant looked on, horrified, as I tucked into the huge platter, a little Oz red to wash it down, another banquet from Mike’s kitchen.
And despite the looming terror of the bridges, it was genuinely hard to leave such a pretty much perfect place as Bocas, I’d met some really nice people and had some great times, maybe next time as well.
Desultory is the word for Puerto Viejo, I think I used it last time I was here too, very slow, people move, ooze, cruise around like honey.
Here in my little cell, no, it’s a room, of course, the ceiling fan gyrates disconcertingly, threatening to tear out it’s support and plunge, spinning wildly, onto my sleeping body, another relaxing ponderance to make sure I sleep like a rat, where’s Rita? There’s a light in the centre of the fan, the globe seems to be affected by the wobbling and goes into strobe mode every few minutes, two thin chains hang down with carved wooden knobs on the end, they jiggle hypnotically, looks like Minnie Mouse doing a tap routine, I’m trying to work out if the two knobs are actually in synch or not.
Later, I’m hanging in the hamaca, if I lie diagonally, as you do, I can maintain a slow, faint swing by my breathing, sort of like the way breathing controls your depth with scuba, fascinating, such profound thoughts and it’s only 7am…sitting in the hamaca, a cooler 30 or so degrees, even a light rain, won’t be enough to lay the dust, thunder off to the east so maybe there’s more about….time for a bitter orange juice, god I love it tart, maybe this is one of those post-near-death-experience highs?
Tiny perfect hummingbirds float and zip around the extravagantly tropical foliage, little bodies with long beaks, encircled by the vague outline of their wings, a blurry aura, one lands on the fence wire, first time I’ve seen one land, then another, it’s mum feeding her chick, but they are the same size….an extraordinary array of lizards, frogs, crabs and other life forms abound in the gardens once you stay still enough and watch, the most bizarre colours and patterns, and the bird calls….raucous, melodic, simple and complex, an orchestra.
Out on the street, big, black, evil looking turkey buzzards strut arrogantly from rubbish heap to rubbish heap, they have gruesome skin covering their entire heads and necks like greasy leather helmets, easier to clean, I suppose, than feathers after poking their heads into the sorts of places they do....
Hey, but on a pleasanter note...it's all GOOD
I dropped the camera just before leaving Bocas, did a Ted and let it slip off the bed, nothing working, fcuk!...however, with the little Swiss army knife, some moves that would have the Nikon people passing out, voila!...a little scrathed around the lens but I've got it out....new career possibility, yeah right....
Still slow so maybe only a couple of pix....chau...
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