• Costa Rica

    Posted by Murray on February 23, 2011

    Arriving into Costa Rica was a breath of fresh air. Literally! Oh, hang on, maybe because we had our first clothes wash for many many days. The country is beautiful! But first, one can’t help but share some more border crossing experiences….

    From Nicaragua, we approached Costa Rica border early in the day, ready for action. The wave of fixers parted and we pulled up at the first gate where guns were involved. Hmmm…. we presume this is the country exit immigration…. Oh look, there is a grated window with a gun beside it. Hop off the bike, walk to the port-a-loo type structure with a small grated window and suddenly a hand juts out. I look quizzedly at the man with the gun, back at the jutting hand then back to gun man. He somberly holds up one finger. I dig out 1US dollar and dump it in the hand and the hand disappears. Moments later it reappears with a sticky-note complete with a cancelled stamp. Then it retracts again. I stare down at my newly acquired bit of paper quite proud of the fact I was now cancelled out of something I didn’t know I had in the first place – all done by the mysterious faceless hand….. We move on to the next phase, 10m from the port-a-loo where a uniformed man was perched on a chair, his aging paunch showing through 2 popped buttons whilst the others screamed for release. He holds up one hand to stop us charging passed him and after some discussion (so… how was your lunch mate?), scrawls his signature on our bike documents officially letting our bikes leave his country and then waves us on. I take off only to have Loren call up on the radio to come back. Upon return, another official, located 3m from paunch man, also had to do something to something, maybe to check whether we had hanging or attached earlobes before waving us on to exit imigracion. We lined up with hordes at immigration, some entering, others like others us merely wanting to leave. After paying for that privilege and attempting to ride to Costa Rica immigration (500m away) we wandered aimlessly around the many sprawling buildings looking for a man in a blue shirt and a man in a white shirt to sign another bit of paper. We had extracted this valuable information by the policeman slucking on a weird drink in a bag who told us to go to the carpark and look for a man in a white shirt and a man in a blue shirt. We found a man in a white shirt and he signed our paper and said that the other department was at lunch, so just hurry up and wait. After some time a man in a blue shirt arrived on a tiny motorbike and yep, it was the blue shirted policeman himself, having finished his drink. The photo of the vehicle permit says it all. Yippee, we are now legal to leave Nicaragua.

    Up the road, the entry into Costa Rica was generally quite orderly, however due to large numbers of tourists and locals, we finaly left there several hours later. Happy campers :)

    The stark contrast between the previous three Central American countries and Costa Rica was astounding. Immediately the landscape transformed into lush rainforest, agriculture was being conducted in a measured efficient way, cows munched happily in manicured paddocks, irrigation channels transported water to acres of sugar cane and banana crops and the temperature dropped to a blissful 28C. We spotted the first garbage truck for many weeks and this was a key factor to the beauty of the country. The tirade of domestic rubbish which had become the norm after Mexico, suddenly vanished and the natural beauty of the Costa Rica could be appreciated.  Accelerating into and out of awesome sweeping curves on hotmix roads with stunning scenery all around certainly put smiles on the dials. Combine this with real coffee and spending time with some friends (thanks Marlene and Alan, you are great hosts) on their coffee plantation in the hills above San Jose made for an excellent experience in Costa Rica.

    Riding around Laguna de Arenyal was absolutely stunning! No other words for it. A man made water reservoir for hydroelectricity in the 1970′s after a nearby volcano eruption, it now hosts an abundant ecosystem of birdlife, fish and a myriad of rainforest plant species. Lock that one in for one of the great places to live in the world. Viewing it from afar up the mountains in an impressive cafe was a good way to pass a few hours.

    Thanks to Marco and his crew at San Jose BMW for extraordinary service on both our bikes (you guys were great). Loren’s bike received it’s 10,000km and mine the 20,000km service.  In additional to the required filter replacements, the fuel systems were cleaned due to poorer quality of fuel down here and a replacement gasket kit was fitted to my engine top cover to alleviate some oil leaks that had appeared through the factory gaskets. The lads then gave the bikes an excellent wash and polish. Riding back to our friend’s place that night we encountered our first rain for over a month, which was kind of fun to have water trickling down your neck in the evening heat whilst negotiating peak hour traffic.

    We left San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital of 4 million, with the aim to finally have a swim in the famous Caribbean Sea. The winding road through a lush national park and long straights sections passed acres and acres of banana plantations made for a fantastic ride across the country. Having eaten Costan Rica bananas back in Australia it was great to see where they are grown and to comprehend the scale of production here. As we approached Puerto Limon, the number of refrigerated trucks increased , all loaded with bananas for export.

    Our sole contribution to Puerto Limon was about $20 to old mate at the fuel station and we pushed on to find a decent beach. Our first siting of the Caribbean was celebrated by high fives over the radio (fine tuned to perfection now) as we fanged along the coast road dodging potholes and looking out for escaped sloths from a nearby sanctuary. Adding a 3 toed sloth to our roadkill statistics wasn’t high on the agenda but we were very keen to spot one. Arriving at Puerto Viejo, we rolled into a beachside hostel, dumped out gear in the room and hit the beach. Surprisingly the Caribbean surf was big and some good body bashing was had with both of us being dumped a few times.

    Reflecting that evening from a thatched beach restuarant, enjoying tasty fish tacos and coconut curry chicken, we both agreed whole heartedly that it was a great day at the office.

    Tomorrow – ride from the Caribbean Sea in Costa Rica to the Pacific Ocean in Panama!

9 Comments | Leave a Reply

  1. Bec on February 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Great pics, is that a ‘beware of the sloth crossing the road’ sign?

    • Loren on February 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      There was a blue rinse sloth tour for $75 next door. Think it was more advertising than crossing. I had been thinking, as slothes don’t move, they could be just sticking stuffed animals up the trees.

  2. Number One Fan on February 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Yay! New blog updates! It’s looking gorgeous… love the tropics!

    • Loren on February 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      have fun with them. We are now up-to-date!

  3. Anna B on February 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Wow, Costa Rica looks gorgeous… adding that one to the list! :)

  4. Anthony McNab on February 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Awesome pics fellas. C.R. sounds and looks amazing. Good to see the maintenance being kept up on the steel horses. Gotta look after the machines.

    • Murray on March 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks mate, yes the maintenance is number one priority! Oh, hang on…. that is after finding a good espresso of course

  5. Anthony McNab on February 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    P.S. Did the BMW rep give any advice for servicing and maintaining the bikes on the road when away from a dealership. I know a bloke who rode through a desert using only duct tape to patch and repair. By the end of the trip his bike was 25kg heavier – but it did make it.

    • Murray on March 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Oh really? Duct tape? Needed for a BMW?