While i'm getting my life back together, please look at a fine selection of my photos:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Costa Rica - Pura Vida!

Costa Rica! It's national slogan is "Pura Vida!" (pure live). An oasis of peace and abundant nature in the poor (yes), dangerous (no), hostile (no) and dirty (so-so) rest of Central America. That's in short the marketing strategy of the government of this lovely country. And it sure is a beautiful and divers country.

I'm here for about three weeks now, and i love it. Particular Orosi, a nice village in Valle de Orosi.
A beautiful spot which isn't too much overrun by tourists (yet).

The part i explored so far is Lago Arenal, Fortuna, Orosi and surroundings, Nicoya peninsula (Montezuma, Samara, great gravelroads all over!!) and the pacific coast all the way down to Quepos, where i stayed at Manuel Antonio national reserve. It's HOT in this part of the country. Nice after all the rain i'd seen, but too much for a Dutch guy, and i returned to Orosi to recover from the combination of heat and humidity. I'll stay here at least another week and decided to take a week of spanish classes. Although i made huge progress, which usually shows up after a few beers, i feel the need to improve my grammar.

In the time i spend here i met many interesting and good people, foreighners mainly, who live and work here.  It has my interest, learning how 'extranjeros' try to fit in and live their lives here. The more i see, the more Holland looks like a boring place...


Lago Arenal & Fortuna: My first week in the this part of the country was rainy. Not fun on a bike, no problem for the mainstream tourist which usually ride around the country in small 4x4 cars. Lake Arenal and surroundings are beautiful and lush.

Lake Arenal

Bridge. (duh!)

Orosi as seen
from the hills. Nice.
The village lies in the Valle de Orosi, surrounded by hills with coffee plantations.

I didn't know about Orosi, actually, and if i didn't ran in to Freddy (see below) on my way to the pacific coast, i probably never would end up here.

Random street in Orosi.

There are a lot of luxurious cabins in the hills around Orosi. This one, owned by Jenny is very, very special.

She used to be a cook and started this small scale hotel. The two cabinas are gorgeous and have all luxury, fireplace included!


Daytrip around Orosi. Nice dirtroads in the mountains with Freddy, swiss guy with motorcycle rental business. (http://www.costarica-moto.com/). Francine, his partner makes excellent bread and marmalade. All natural of course...

Freddy rents out Yamaha XT's and XTZ Tenere's ('96-ish models) and does guided tours.

Being a swiss guy, he takes maintenance very serious.

Too me, if you like biketravel, this is an excellent way of exploring Costa Rica and get a feel for central america.

Unpaved roads through sugarcane plantation.

Sugar factory.

Nicoya peninsula.

Caretaker of camping in Montesuma. She's a real sweethart.

After crossing from Puntarenas to the Nicoya peninsula it is a 40 km ride to Montezuma. A tourist place, but small scale. Hotels are expensive, but there is a campsite. Camping on the each is free. Spend a few days around shoestring travelers amongst some free spirits - my term for weirdo's ;-)

Interesting. D.,you definetly do not fall in this catagory!

Waiting for the ferry in Puntarenas, really, the only reason to be there is to take the ferry, believe me, i met Rob on his rented Harley. Canadian working in San Jose in my field of work. Spend some time with him and his family.
Cheers guys, thanks for the beers! To bad i haven't got a picture of you.

View of the campsite.

And yes, even bikers too need to wash their clothes every now and then.

Typical view for the whole coastline at the pacific side of Costarica.

From montezuma you can take gravel/dirtroads following the coastline. Here and there are rivercrossings. This was the longest, other side is the sandy spot above the helmet. In this time of year waterlevels are low.

Pleasant supprise: I 'obtained' a topographical map of costa rice from the internet which proved to be very accurate! Not routable, but the majority of the gravelroads are on it.

Although i have dualsport Pirelli MT90's tires, riding on gravel and this type of rivers is no problem when running on 1,6 bar tirepressure. Amazing how much difference in traction that makes compared with normal pressure.

Downside of doing this stuff alone: No action shots, and if you tip over, you're f*cked. Fortunately i had no problems. I checked every crossing by foot wading through it.

After 9 months my boots are no longer waterproof i noticed ;(

I did reached the limit of traction with these tires though. Did a 180 gr. turn uphil somewhere where it was a bit sandy. If all goes well, you start playing and go faster and faster till...you get it. I managed to control the bike (barely!!) and had a nice big blue spot on my right leg.  If the bike was heavier i probably would have  lost it. Light is Right!

Pretty view.

It looks all pretty cool doesn't it? In reality, although remote, there's quite a bit of traffic, since this road is the only one from Montezuma to Samara. So help is always near by.

This coastal road, and, as i found out when i left Samara, the interior of Nicoya contains lots and of gravelroads connecting numerous small pueblos.

I'm quite suprised i didn't see more dual sport bikes here.

Imagine the fun without luggage and a set of MT21's!!

Samara is a smallscale tourist place, although quit a bit larger than Montezuma. Again with camping. Two couples from spain and france were my neighbors.

We celebrated Bruno's (young guy) birthday. He turned 20. His travelpartner was 18.

Seeing all those young kids travelling sometimes makes me feel old and regretful that i didn't start traveling when i was that age. Not much though. Everyone follows his/her own unique path in live, therefore there's no wrong here.

Besided that, the idea to go from busstation to busstation doesn't really apeal to me anyway...

I left Samara and after playing on gravelroads for a while i took the highway following the pacific coast to quepos/ Manuel antonio national reserve (nice). Made a stop in Jacó (big mistake, springbreak).

Again, camping available. Manuel Antonio is pretty, although not special. Had a good time with people at the campsite, hiked through the reserve (more wildlife at the campsite than in the park...). It was too hot to do really anything.  Fed up with the heat, is returned to Orosi to recover.

So far, Costa Rica is great. Next week spanish classes again. Look forward too it!

Pura Vida!

Monday, March 16, 2009


I didn't spend too much time in Nicaragua. Mainly i visited Granada, a very nice city and packed with tourists, and a couple of days at the beach. Mainly reading and catching up with my spanish, hanging out with people in the hostel. Finally met some dutch people to practise my own language again!

Boy, this post is really unneccesary.

I do want to post a few pictures though, just to show you what it looks like around here.

The main tourist strip with all trendy bars and such.

View from the hostel, late afternoon.

Tha Plaza:

San Jun del Sur. Good surfspot, very touristy.

Nice bay, too bad the winds are ALWAYS strong here, gets you a sunburn and sandblast at the same time.

Good beachrestaurants and bars. Some clubs. Partytown.

That's about all about Nica, i'm affraid!



The bordercrossing from Guatemala into Honduras at El Paraiso is a pleasant experience. No helpers, few moneychangers. Eay procedure. I needed to change all my Quetzales to Honduran-whatevers (start loosing track of all money names), so i asked one of the moneyguys to show me the right order of the various steps in the whole proces. In changed what i got left of my Quetzales with  him. I forgot to check the exchange rate and asked it at a french guy who was about to enter Honduras with his van.  He did this before andhe confirmed that the offered rate, 2 to 1 was ok.

The whole procedure took about an hour. Nice. I do think i didn't pay too much, but then, you never know do you? ;-)

From the border it's a short distance to Copán, much to my suprise this turned out to be a friendly, but touristy town. After sleeping in a dormitory i thought i earned a proper hotel, which i found for eur. 8,- per night, with cable tv, hot shower and more important,safe parking for my bike. View from balcony:

The copan ruinas where beautiful, although not as impressive as Machu Pichu or Palenque. One of the main differences with Mayan art in the stone carved ornaments is the very high detail of the carved caracters. In the museum there's a large collection of ornaments.

Next stop was  Lago Yojoa, a beautiful lake with plenty of exclusive lodging. The road wasn't without obstacles though. A truck missed a corner, crashed and burned down completely. Driver included....

Shortcut dirtroad though the mountains from San Juan to Esperanza, saved me about 2 hours.

More great sceneries on the way to Lake Yojoa:

A bit from the lake, just outside Pina Blanca there is D&D, an american guy with his own miscrobrewery. Funny, smart too, he build the whole brewery in a freightcontainer, shipped the whole thing to Honduras and put it in his backyard. Then he made a nice little hostel/restaurant frequented by lots of backpackers. Good business model. All you need is a good reference in the lonely planet and your in business, it seems.

Pricey though, unless you have your tent with you, then it only costs 40 Lempiras, a double room was 200. I hadn't used my tent for weeks, and i needed to save a bit of money to make up for the hotel expenses in Copán. Good idea. But not when your in a tropical rain forest kind of environment. And although its not rainseason, i was treated several days with lots of rain. Good test for the tent though.

So far i used my Vaude ultralight tent only at beaches and good weather.  It proved watertight ;-) Although i think, when exposed to rain AND wind, the too short rainfly will not protect rain from blowing inside. Oh well. Probably, by the time i enter Chili/Argetina i will replace this tent for my rock solid Hilleberg again.

Anyway, nice place. Although a bit remote. There's a big waterfall nearby, go can go there just for a walk or hire a guide who takes you in and behind the waterfall. Pretty intense, good experience.

Fun at the playground with Yoshua and Ada. Funny, Yosh bought the cheapest chinese bike possible (200cc engine!!) in Mexico and plans to go all the way to panama. Just with a backback. Cool.

You can hire a rowboat for a trip on the lake or, if you are into it, and who isn't, you can hire a birdguy to do birdwatching.

For some reason i didn't take much pictures between Copán Ruinas and here, Granada. At this point, after about 9 months on the road i felt a bit bored, if that's a good expression. It all starts looking the same. This 'mental condition' has a big influence in the way i perceive my environment. Maybe i should take a break. Or i should start venturing outside the beaten path. Don't feel to comfortable about that though. My intent is to get to TDF in one piece, preferable with this bike.

I met a american guy the other day, coming up from South America on a KTM 950 adventure with 134000(!) km on the clock. Drove without forkoil since salt in Bolivia eroded the frontforks. His rear suspension was dead to. The engine however stil ran  pretty good, although a bit rough. We exchanged stories, money and maps. One of them was a map of whole south America. Impressive. Big. Intimidating. So far i ignored the complete picture and took it day by day. That makes it all easier to deal with. But the whole continent in front of you... So much covered so far. And totally clueless about the road ahead.


Leaving Honduras was again a fairly easy event. Or was it? I crossed at El Paraiso / Los Manos. This time i did use a helper. Or rather, they used me. Looking back i think i was ripped off. To leave the country i had to pay, about USD40,-. Reviewing the whole event i think, but i'm still not sure if paying for leaving a country is really neccessary. It was all very nice and friendly though. But Still, looking back my gut told me it wasn't genuine what happend. And i ignored it. I really should listen to my gut more offen i guess. But at that time i couldn't pinpoint exactly what was going on. And going with the flow is easier. A bit expensive though.

One tip: If you use a helper and after immigration he takes you to de Adouana were you have to pay to leave the country, with your bike check if there a network cable on his computer and look at the screen what happens. The guy might be playing patience. I didn't and till today i'm wonderig...

Not that i mind it too much, but having read so much stories about people getting ripped off at orders i thought that i'm smarter than them. I guess not ;-) 

Main thing is with crossing alone that you have to divide your attention between watching your bike, keep the helpers away, try to understand what people are saying, watching your papers and money, figure out what the procedure is, and try not to be ripped off. It's just a bit too much at the same time. That is what makes you vulnerable.