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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Savant

Dark Roads

Updated: Dec 7, 2020


From La Fortuna, Maryna and Paul left early for Dominical on the southern coast, Adrian and Andrea headed out a different direction shortly after, then we took off for a hotel a little north of Dominical. We chose a longer route around the lake both to see what we'd missed coming in a couple days before and to skip the traffic near San Jose. As we dropped towards the coast it was brutally hot and humid, and though our ride wasn't difficult the heat really took its toll during the day.

Stopping for lunch took its toll as well, though financially. As warned, it's just as expensive as the USA. I don't know how the locals afford to live paying prices like we do. The non-tourist "sodas" are less expensive but no where as cheap as the other countries. After lunch we crossed the long "crocodile bridge" where the salties congregate.

One thing I've learned, especially amplified into a visual in my motorcycle travels, is that the harder roads and difficult, even terrifying, storms that I've ridden through have led to seeing some of the most incredible, almost supernatural sights and experiences of my life. Difficulty is often a precursor to something very good.

Today, on a less dramatic scale, our little group consisting of Jules St-pierre, Christine Harel, Charlie Qian and myself had a long, tiring, ride south from La Fortuna, Costa Rica along the coast. The distance was only a couple hundred miles but the incessant heat and road conditions drug out the day. The last couple of hours were in heavy rain and we were soaked.

It was close to dark when we tried to find the hotel for the night. The road headed off into the jungle a bit, on a path not on the detailed GPS maps, and started up a very, very steep handmade concrete road covered with water and algae. It was very slick and as steep, if not steeper, than the streets of Guanajuato. Once committed there was no stopping or turning back, however a 4x4 coming around a steep switchback stopped us. Having lost momentum, we struggled to get the bikes stopped and on the edge of the road.

We eventually got all the motorcycles up the steepest part, bikes sliding on the slick stuff, to the entrance which then dropped off down a muddy road into the jungle darkness. I scouted ahead on my bike and found the hotel, completely dark. The owner came out with a flashlight and his English was as bad as my Spanish, but he informed me the electricity was out. I was soaked in sweat and water, exhausted and looking forward to getting someplace cool and dry. It was a real downer and I hated to return and tell the guys, but it was dark, we had a terrible road back down to the main highway and the prospect of riding farther and trying to find a place was more than I wanted to face. They were disheartened to say the least when I rode back in the dark to tell them, and to top it off the news of the bad and muddy road to the place was icing on the cake. I saw the last bit of energy drain out of their faces.

Christine was physically exhausted, so I volunteered to ride her moto up the difficult road and climbed aboard quickly. My voice raised several octaves as I squished down into a space half the width of my bike and I was wedged in like a nail. Jules followed me up the steep road and down into the parking area, where I struggled to get off Christine's moto. I was stuck hard and struggled like a fish until I finally was able to wiggle off and fall to the ground. Behind me, Jules was laughing so hard he could barely breathe. He and Christine are very gifted in yoga and watching me get off the bike was just to good of a show.

Christine arrived and walked down behind me to the dark patio of the place, while Jules and Charlie grabbed their gear. I introduced Christine to the owner and his daughter and within a moment they all burst out in French excitedly.

The owners were from France and were very excited to have French speaking guests. Jules, who only speaks French and has for months only had conversations with his wife Christine, was happy to have others to converse with. In short order we were told they would fix us a little something to eat and we peeled out of our wet gear, then Charlie and I found the infinity pool to cool off.

As we all sat in the darkness, candles were lit and a wonderful dinner was placed on the table, made by hand in a kitchen with no electricity. It was so delicious and we were so happy. Then to our surprise a dessert of crepes filled with passion fruit, bananas, caramelized citrus butter and salt with handmade dark chocolate sauce was placed before us. It was truly one of the better things I've eaten in life, made richer with laughter and recounting memories of the road with friends in the cool evening air and darkness. Our host told us they make their own chocolate from local beans, their own breads and much of the food is grown on their property. Just as we finished our candlelit meal and began talking, the electricity came back on.

I don't want to sound trite, but sometimes when you're tired, you just need to walk a little further down that dark road, because the ending may surprise you.

Costa Rica has been the prettiest of all, and it's easy to see why so many are attracted to living here. Besides the beauty, people are friendly, the roads are generally good and the absence of trash is noticeable.

We really enjoyed our time with the French owned boutique hotel. The food they prepared for breakfast was amazing and we happily paid for dinner. Absolutely the best food I've had in years and I never expected it to come in a rainforest.

It was very relaxing, and something I and the others are beginning to need. I can't speak for them, but I hit a wall and some longterm fatigue has caught me. It's not the same as exhaustion, just a dull sense of needing to rest, certainly mentally more than physically, but it manifests as wanting to just lay around and do nothing.

The heat, rain and daily travel has caused me to set aside the cameras a bit and just be a tourist for a few days. I'll admit that the small amount of luster Central America had for me has worn off and I'm ready for South America. The constant rain, humidity, damp clothes and accompanying smell has reached a zenith, not to mention the border crossings, and I'm ready to get to higher elevations and borders that can be crossed every couple to three weeks rather than couple or three days.

Our last day at the little hotel, we got an email from the captain of the Stahlratte that our sailing date would delayed 5 days due to the propeller, shaft and bearings being replaced in Colombia. It was a bit of a disappointment since we had to delay and spend more time now in either Costa Rica or Panama which are far more expensive, and some of the guys had tighter schedules to make for shipping bikes back to Europe, but things happen.

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