La Fortuna, Costa Rica
The next day was for the border crossing from Nicaragua into Costa Rica, one we'd heard would be a bit easier than previous experiences.As soon as you step outside you're drenched with sweat.
Charlie, Jules and Christine
Bas accompanied us and the Peñas Blancas crossing ended up being one of the worst. Getting out of Nicaragua was ridiculously difficult, as there was no real signage, many buses, an insanely ridiculous amount of people and fixers, and some of the silliest organization I've yet seen. We'd all agreed to slam any fixers that came near and they felt it, leaving us alone for the most part. The process took a very long time, as the officials were unhelpful in every way, simply saying no and leaving you to figure out the next move, which involved finding one man wandering the crazy parking lot with forms, then finding the "official" police station which consisted of an officer standing half hidden between two tin sheds, who then required a copy of something, then getting multiple stamps and finding the parking lot dude to check the vin, etc. I'll just say it was close to two hours of utter confusion and heat exhaustion to simply check out of Nicaragua.
The beginning of the process and it goes downhill from there...
Costa Rica was far easier to enter, but still took an hour. We caught up to the German and Australian couple who'd left much earlier than us because they had to wait to buy insurance for over an hour because the lady went to lunch early.
The heat, stupidity, confusion and frustration just knocks your ass out. Bas had gotten a stomach bug the night before and was feeling very bad. By the time we finally got our insurance in Costa Rica and were ready to ride, he was looking very much like he was about to black out. I got him a Coke and water at a little roadside restaurant where we all sat and tried to get refreshed for the road. We'd left the hotel at 9 am and it was now 3 pm and we'd barely made it past the border a mile or so.
La Fortuna was the destination for the night, which was approaching fast. I need to qualify that statement, however. It gets dark at 5:30 each day and the sun comes up about 5:30 in the morning. By 7 pm we can hardly stay awake. A weird experience. Also the rains come in the afternoon definitely, and really anytime during the day. In an effort to save time, we got Garminized and took a road that went to hell pretty fast. Many miles of it were rough dirt and potholes and the crew was getting nervous and tired. Eventually we hit pavement again and finally La Fortuna at dusk. The hotel we'd booked along with the Aussies and Germans was not easy to find, being off a side road that was all dirt and rock. I rode down to try and find it, and found a building that appeared vacant and abandoned, with no lights or sign. I turned around and rode back to the guys and said it wasn't there, just as Charlie saw a guy running up the road with his cell phone flashlight. Turns out it was Adrian who'd heard the GSA and knew the place looked empty.
We hit the cabana tired, wet and hungry. Paul and Maryna, the Australian couple, and Adrian and Andrea told us to see them at the pool, where they all had brought us drinks and any food they had. It was a great evening.
Breakfast with Adrian and Andrea, Christine and Jules
The next day we four took a walking tour to a rainforest area with multiple suspended bridges near the Arenal Volcano, a beautiful and almost perfect cinder cone mountain.
The walk was great and we saw a fair amount of fauna including monkeys. The drive in was a bit fun as our taxi van died on a hillside from over heating. We sat on the road until it cooled enough to start and the driver made it up another hill to a spot with a water spigot. We watched as he put 3.5 1 gallon bottles of water in the radiator. Being a diesel it was amazing the block didn't crack or warp a head.
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 it's toll during the day.
Stopping for lunch took it's 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.
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.
Our afternoon and evening are summed up in my previous post about dark roads, but we really enjoyed our time with the French owned hotel. The food they prepared for breakfast was amazing and we also 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.
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 and I'm ready to get to higher elevations and borders that can be crossed every couple to three weeks rather than days.
Our last day at the hotel, we got an email from the captain of the Stahlratte that our sail 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 stuff happens.