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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Costa Rica - Pura Vida! part II

Just last week i finally left Costa Rica. For some reason i kept finding excuses to stay in this pleasant country.

I ended my last post with the promise to take another week of spanish in Orosi. But first i followed the pacific coast from Samara down to Quepos/ Manuel Antonio. Except from the excellent dirtroads in the Nicoya interior, not really, really not actuaally, interesting. I made the mistake to stay in Jacó, a tourist dump and a favourite spring break destination. Ugly, Noisy.

The Manuel Antonio national park is a touristy area and luckily there's a cheap campsite where i stayed between artisanos and shoestring travelers. By now, this type of travelers are my favorite public. You meet the most interesting people in the cheepest lodging in my experience. The beaches are excellent.

But, to be honest, i saw more wildlife at the campsite than in the park, but hiking through the park was good.

The road from Quepos via San Isidro back to Orosi was spectacular. From sea level and tropical environment up to a max altitude of 3300m and back to tropical in about 2 hours. It was wet and damn cold up there!
Pretty extreme.

Back in Orosi i took spanish classes again. I really forgot a lot. Staying at tourist places doesn't help a lot. Luckily there were still people i knew and had again a great time there. After this week i needed to go away, the itch returned. Needed to be back on the bike. I thought i was done with CR and headed to the Caribean cost and planned go to Panama from there.

Stayed a couple of days in a Dutch owned hostel in Cahuita, a laid back beach town with nice caribean vibe, great beach and hikes through jungle.

After that my plan changed (as my plans usually do). Someone kept telling me that Nosara is a beautiful place to stay. So i went back to the other side of the country to Nicoya peninsula. One stopover in Santa Ana, at friends i met in Montezuma the previous time i was on the Nicoya peninsula. Rob and Cristin just moved from Canada to CR to live and work here. They are in the process of moving into their new house, start a new job and get settled in in this new environment. Quite stressful times for them. I really appreciate their hospitality knowing they have a challenging period in their lives. I wish them strength and wisdom to make this venture a success.

Here awitness to my efforts to stay upright on a surfboard. Fun and hard work. I liked the strugle to go against the waves and the joy of actually manage to surf for a few seconds.

Nosara is a great surfspot. It is close to 30km north of Samara and you can only get there by 30km dirtroad.
Very hot there, as all of the Nicoya peninsula.

There's plenty of rich gringo's US citizens and Tico's living there in big houses. Which gives a nice mix of big houses and expensive guesthouses.

Tourism as such is fairly small scale though which gives it a good vibe.

80% of the time is spend doing this though. Of the remaining 20% about 50% is a good surf. Which makes above picture a lucky shot ;-)

But soooo much fun!

And then there's 'Solo Bueno' a really cool surfers hostel. I settled there and had a really great time.

Main reason to stay there was surfing, because there's not much else to do to be honest. For a week i spend the days with surfing, reading and hanging out.

I can relate very well to the surfers lifestyle i must admit...

Kimberly, hostel owner and certified looney ;-) Inge en Andrea ready to go Surf!

Every day the sunset in Nosara is beautiful. Every day. And it neve gets old for some reason.

After having enjoyed the (very) basics of surfing for a week it was time to leave and continue my trip. Colombia is calling and Panama is yet to be discovered!

Not before a visit to Monte Verde though. It was still on my list and one of CR's highlights. Jungle/mountain area with all sorts of outdoor activities.

It was on this route that for the first time in 10 months (!) i got pulled over by the police. Because of speeding! I probably was, to be honest, most likely even, since the Panam highway in that area changes from 60kph to 80kph all the time. Police with lasergun signed me to stop and asked papers. I gave them copies with the excuse the originals are well hidden in my luggage. Then the told me i was speeding 22kph too fast. One guy wrote the amount of money on his hand, not actually telling me how much it was. When that happens it's usually not genuine. He asked USD40!! This seemed a bit much. For me anyway... Eager to have a good story on my blog, i started explaining i haven't got this much money with me and that i wanted a ticket. Weird, he kept on asking if i was really sure about wanting an official ticket. I kept insisting and very fast the amount dropped down to USD20. I decided to push it a bit further and kept saying 'No tengo dollares' (i have no dollars) and kept saying 'Necesito Ticket'. After talking to his collegue he waived that i could go. So that was good huh, tr that in europe! They were all friendly though. Most interesting, i think, is that it happened in Costa Rica, a country which supposed to be one of the most civilized in Central America. Oh well, $40 straight to the beerbudget!! ;-)

The road to Monte Verde is a 35km dirtroad through the mountains. Again a really beautiful ride.

Didn't do any of the touristy outdoor activities though. Got the flu. Fever. How the hell did i got that around here! Much be the excessive excercise on Nosara...

The flu kept me busy for a few days. Sleeping, reading, watching some movies i downloaded earlier. After i recovered i decided to leave. The touristy stuff is expensive anyway. If i want some exitement i go ride my bike, don't need a $45,- canopy tour for that.

Leaving Monte Verde, i returned for the last time (at least this year...) to Orosi. I had a key i wanted to return. Paid a visit to my friend Freddy and cleaned my bike after the dusty environment of Nosara and Monte Verde. I wash my bike regularly. Not that i mind its dirty, but to have a close look at it to see if stuffs about to fall off. So far. All is well.

From there i went of to Panama, via Cartago, San Isidro, Paso Real and San Vito, aiming at a small bordercrossing in the mountains: Rio Sereno.

Also this part is a real pleasure to drive through.

...and toilets everywhere.....

Great scenery from the small winding mountainroad.

..and more

Bordercrossing at Rio Sereno into Panama.. And serene it was. I think i heard the leaves fall from the trees here.

Oh, from the main road there's really NOT ANY sign telling you where the 5km (dirt)road to the border is, funny. Looks like Costa Rica doesn't want to know if its there. Based on my experience with the indifferent and uninterested attitude of the officials here, is think it might be a sort of place where disfunctional personel is promoted to.

Crossing was free though, except for $1,- fumigation. And it took a long time to do the whole excersice because of a slow internet connection. I think this crossing was the longest by far, so far considered that in the 2.5 hours i was the only 'customer'...The modern world...

As soon you cross the border the road at the other side is new pavement. I'll show you in the next post why i think they should have SuperMotard races here...

So far in a nutshell part two of my travels through Costa Rica. I definetly will return here, maybe for work, maybe to just enjoy the beachlife. We'll see....

Dont forget to check my photowebsite of all pictures of this part of my trip!!

Next: Panama, where beer is cheap (finally) and nice suprises are plenty.