Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thoughts on Costa Rica

Angela writes:

Yesterday we left our sleepy little beach town in Nicaragua and 100km later ended up in the commercialized little beach town of Tamarindo, Costa Rica.   We embraced the "cultural differences” of our new country by having Church’s Chicken for lunch and then Subway for dinner! The beach also offered some beautiful waves, a dramatic orange sunset and a hot pink sunrise.

Our 7th border crossing of the trip occurred at the only land border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.  All vehicles passing between the two countries – long haul tour buses, cars, semi-trucks you name it, have to complete their importation and customs paperwork at this location so we were expecting total chaos. Actually it ended up being an uneventful 2.5 hours.  We simply rode by the lineup of all the waiting transport trucks (this is what all buses and passenger cars did as well) to end up at the front of the line, and the waiting fixers who wanted us to pay them for their assistance took a firm “No” for an answer.  After crossing into Costa Rica we paid a bit more attention to the plight of the waiting transport trucks and realized that their lineup was miles long. The drivers were actually sleeping on hammocks hung underneath their trucks, to catch any stray breeze and take shelter from the beating sun. Near the end of the truck lineup Daryll stopped and asked one of the guys how long a wait it would be before he would able to cross the border and he replied “3 days”!  We’re not sure if this was because of the time of year or of the political tension between Nicaragua and Costa Rica as they are fighting over some land currently, but this made our crossing seem like a piece of cake.

On our way to yet another capital city in Central America, San Jose, we rode through the rainy cloud forests near Volcan Arenal where parts of the road were washed out by rivers and the cliff-side-driving offered beautiful but foggy views of majestic Lake Arenal.

Once in San Jose we were warmly welcomed into the home of native Costa Rican – stunning Emelia – whose motorcycle boyfriend Norman had found us on the HUBB and invited us to stay with them.  Norm was kind enough to meet us on his massive Valkyrie motorcycle (which has a car tire for a back wheel!) at a local hotel so we would not have the trouble of navigating through the chaotic streets of San Jose. Emelia’s home was all decorated for Christmas with a tiny little lit up village and a nativity scene – it reminded me of how my Mom’s home would be decorated at this time of year. We arrived just in time for a yummy pasta lunch and a parade of cold beer. The house was alive with conversation thanks to Emelia’s two daughters and a friend who had just arrived from Spain. Emelia and Norm’s genuine hospitality and valuable insights were the highlight of our stay in Costa Rica.

For our last night in the country we headed back to the Pacific coast because the PanAm highway, which runs through the middle of the country, was partly closed due the rain and landslides that have plagued Central America in the last few months. After riding through hours of rainy, potholed mountainous terrain we arrived on the hot, humid shores of the ocean. Before it started to rain again we had a few hours to admire the colorful birds and crabs.

We left Costa Rica after only 4 days due to the relentless rain and high prices. Apparently the weather is much better at other times of the year.  I suspect Costa Rica as a destination would be much more appealing and fulfilling if we actually  lived in the country, if we arrived in the non-rainy season and/or if we had more room in our budget for discretionary spending.

Photos of Costa Rica added to the photo album.
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  1. Hot and Humid!

    It was 28 degrees F in St Louis MO this morning. I'll trade you places. You guys ROCK!

    Ride Safe!

  2. Hot, humid and lots of rain. We can do without the rain as it is becoming a pain riding in the rain day after day after day.

  3. Greg writes..great pics as usual. Jill and I will be a little closer to you as we are leaving for Playa Del carmen Thursday morning so if you would like to take a short trip back we can meet up for a beer LOL! ride safe. Greg and Jill

  4. I would so love to meet you guys in Play Del Carmen! Have a great trip!

  5. Traveling in Costa Rica and so many other Central American countries sounds like an amazing experience! Nice Cdn flag, by the way...