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Costa Rica

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Hey everyone We’re baaack!!

IMG_0624After a week checking out Costa Rica the Motobrothers are ready to roll again! Meat on the seat this morning heading for Panama.

We did allot of fun stuff. We started with a couple of days in San Jose. A very large and somewhat boring city. Dan and Carmen split off from us and went for a bike ride and rode up Irazu volcano. My wife Lynn, sister Mary and I rented a car and headed down toward the beach city of Jaco. They had very nice beaches and your typical coastal town. We hung out there for a few days. Did some hiking and also did the canopy zip line. That was allot of fun, Mary our sister is a little afraid of heights and the guys running it had allot of fun at her expense. she did great though and we all had a great time. 

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Carmen-zipDan and Carmen headed south from Irazu and cut down to the coast at Dominical – then took what could be the worst road we’ve ridden on since leaving home to go north to Quepos. They spent a couple nights at Si Como No resort and then a night in Jaco – before heading back north to meet up with John/Lynn/Mary.

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We then headed inland to Arenal Volcano. This thing is pretty damn cool. It is one of the most active in the world. While sitting on the deck at the Observatory lodge I was watching house size boulders roll down the face. Then at night you can see bright red lava coming out of the cone. We had a great time bumping around La Fortuna. That is the city close to the volcano. We hiked down to a 600 foot water fall. Just kinda hung out. We hooked back up with Dan and Carmen. Had a nice BBQ, a few beers you know the story…

We spent a couple days hanging around Arenal and enjoyed the hot springs in the area – Baldi and Tabacon – both highly recommended.

Great to see all the girls and hope they had an awesome time in Costa Rica. After we dropped the girls off at the airport in San Jose Dan and I are back in San Jose and ready to roll south again.

Thanks to Motos Suzuki and Emilo J. Quiros, our bikes are ready to roll with new back tires and fresh oil. Emillo was great as we didn’t communicate to well and he worked with us to get the service dept to  understand what we needed. Thanks Emillo!!!!. If you ever in San Jose and need anything for a Suzuki check with Emillo at www.motos-suzuki.com – the shop is easy to find and the service was great!

Thanks to Lynn for lugging the tires to the airport and checking them as baggage. Thanks to Matt at Cycle gear for getting the tires for us and packing them up for Lynn. Thanks  to Carmen for lugging some other goodies as well – As you can imagine a trip like this is allot easier when you have great folks behind you helping out… Dan has a buddy Carlos Barrios working on the logistics on getting the bikes from Panama to South America, Thanks to him as well

Thats about it. Its 7am and  we are ready for breakfast and to get some MOTS (meat on the seat!)

And in the rain department….. Nada – no rain since leaving on Jan 13 – amazing stuff…

I think we’ll ride south…

P1000681We got a relatively early start after a nice breakfast at the Hotel Aranjuez in San Jose. Both of us were anxious to get back on the road and out of downtown San Jose.

Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country but the city of San Jose isn’t all that nice and if you’re riding a bike there you feel like a steer in a stock yard – your time to be slaughtered will come. The taxi drivers are extremely aggressive combined with the busses who definitely own the road and then there are the trucks who occasionally have working brakes. Dan was bumped a couple times riding around the city and John doesn’t like riding in cities in the first place.

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We headed south out of town on CA2 the “main” road. This road snakes its way up along the ridge of mountains down the spine of the country. As we climbed up into the mountains there were clouds stuck on them and we both chatted back and forth that it was going to be cold and wet. We climbed and climbed – reaching over 10,000 feet and the moisture was getting “thick” and we were starting to freeze… We kept talking about how long this would last, is it rain, is it just foggy moisture, etc… When we got up to almost 11,000 feet and it was definitely raining we broke down and pulled over to put our rain gear on… on Feb 20 at about 11am we ended our no rain streak  of about 39 days of travel without rain came to an end… we rode on in our rain gear trying to warm up and in about 15 minutes as we descended down thru 8,000 feet the rain stopped and out came the sun. By the time we hit San Isidro we were riding in sunshine and mostly dry on the outside, but soaked on the inside due to our stubbornness of waiting too long to put our rain gear on. I think the point at which we decided was when John complained of water running down his leg into his boots getting his socks wet. Looking back thru the comments in the blog it appears the closest guesses are on Feb 14th –  by John’s wife Lynn!!! and by mtrcycllvr – so we will figure out a prize for you guys….

Gassing up in San Isidro we got to chatting with a guy about heading south – he suggested we go out to the coast to Dominical and ride along the ocean instead of down the inland route. It was a very good call – the coastline was spectacular and we had a great road almost all the way to Palmar Norte and enjoyed some nice riding without playing pinball with the trucks.

Working our way into the afternoon we debated whether to hit the border crossing today or not – it would be about 3pm when we got there and it looked like about 45 minutes to an hour ride to a town after the border. We decided to try it – as we pulled into the border a few of the “fixers” came swimming out of the urchin tanks to attack us. They wave you into a parking spot, but we have learned to just weave thru them and choose our own line/parking spot. Which establishes right away who is in charge.

Dan worked the border exit from Costa Rica while John watched the bikes. The exit from Costa Rica was not difficult – just took some time waiting in lines – get your immigration stamps and the exit for the bikes – took about an hour to get out. Entry into Panama was a little more mysterious – stand in line for your immigration stamp in the passport, then be told that you need a $1 sticker stamp from some dude walking around, then back into the immigration line – “oh, no Senor, you need the tourist card ok, go find the mysterious tourist card from some other office – only there is nobody there – wait for a while, wait some more, finally he comes back – $5 each for these papers and back to the immigration line… another 15 minutes waiting for the immigration guy and I’m thinking “ok, let’s see what he can find wrong now” – get up there and he looks it over and stamps our passports and says “Belcome to Panama!” – now, the bikes need to get their papers… over to the vehiculos “department” – more lines, more $5, etc… I start to head to the bikes when one of the fixers tells me that we need to go thru customs …. yea, i know that but where is it? – several of them point to yet another unmarked room – I go in there and there is a chubby little guy with a fancy hat, official shirt, picture id hung around his neck and a sign on the wall, in english and spanish, that says “All services in this public office are free”. He looks over the passports, the tourist cards, the vehicle papers, writes some notes on the vehicle stuff, and then says “$5 for each bike”. I point to the sign and say “gratis?” – he says in very good english “you want to have bikes “inspected” or you want to whiz right through?” – I pulled $10 out of my pocket and the customs machine resumed full speed operation spitting out 2 more gringos and motorcycles onward into Panama.

IMG_0758We got out of the border around 5:15 or so – a little over 2 hours total which wasn’t too bad. We headed down to Puerto Armuelles because it was the closest city and it was down on the ocean. About 35 kilometers (little over 20 miles) and the road was great. We got stopped about 5 miles out of town by some cops to look at our papers but otherwise just zoomed out there. Then we began circling and circling the town trying to find a hotel – it was surprisingly big and but we couldn’t find anything. While riding around a local guy on a played out Suzuki DR125 or DR175 pulled up next to Dan – revving his engine and popping the wheel off the ground a bit – he was excited to see us and checking the bikes out – Dan pulled a big wheelie for him and he lit up like he had fresh batteries installed in him. We stopped to talk to him for a second and Dan asked him where a hotel was – he signaled to follow him and he tore off like he was set on fire – weaving in and out of traffic, down one way streets the wrong way, thru stop signs, thru red lights, eventually taking us back out on the main road the way we had come and pulled into an unmarked and mostly unlit building that looked to be not that nice. His name was Franklin and he knew the owner who came out and gave us a nice welcome – $30 later we had a decent room with running water, A/C, 2 channels of staticy spanish TV, and a couple very nice beds. In the room a sign pointed to the pool and we thought sweet! Lets go for a dip in the morning…. P1000675The bikes went straight into the lobby for safety and we went walking up the road about 50 meters to an outdoor rotissarie chicken place… the food was incredible and John said it was the best rotissarie chicken he’d ever had – only problem was they didn’t have cold beer – they didn’t have ANY beer…. but it was $9 for both our dinners and drinks.

A few games of cribbage and we hit the sack early so we could hit the pool in the morning!! John barely hanging onto his lead now with only 15 points ahead.

Cheers….

Here is a shot of the pool in the morning – John still wanted to swim but I thought the green slime might leave a permanent mark … we decided to hit the road without a swim….