The Ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula

Tuesday morning I woke up in Puntarenas bright and early because my plan was to take the 6am ferry across to Cabo Blanco, and then bike to Nicoya. There was a lot of rain the night before and the morning was cool, calm, and soft in the gray light.

The passage across the water was really nice. I was glad my friends gave me the idea of taking an early morning ferry because if I had landed over there late in the day, there might have been a problem finding a place to stay. It is a beautiful place, but not exactly a tourist destination with hostels and cabanas.

All good things come to a close. We docked, I walked my bike off the boat and proceeded on my ride of the day. This part of Costa Rica reminded me more of Panama. There were a lot of open spaces, agricultural farms with rice and cows, and a lot of the vegetation was very familiar.

The ride went well, though it was long and pretty hot by the time I rolled into Nicoya after just over 47 miles. Nicoya isn’t an especially interesting town, IMO, just a working town with the usual essentials. I was lucky to find a really nice place to stay though for 1200 colones (about $22.50).  I showered, had something to eat, spent a bit of time on line, and fell into bed about 8pm. Before I went to sleep though I took my tablet out by the pool and enjoyed this beautiful evening sky and then the rising full moon.

image

.

Posted in Costa Rica, travel | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Exploring Jaco, Costa Rica

When I land somewhere for the night, I am usually too tired to do any exploring or anything not essential. In Jaco, however, I knew I was facing a couple major climbs so I decided to take the day off and bus to the next destination. This allowed me some free time to look around the town and take my time. I also needed to find some inner tubes for the bike.

I like Jaco. It is obviously a destination for tourists, but it is an attractive town with lots to do and lots of fun things for visitors. I biked down the main drag, and then headed down a side street leading to the beach.

After the beach, I biked through town a bit.

I learned there was a bike shop it town, but it didn’t open until 9:30. When I arrived, the guy was just unlocking the shop and starting his day. He didn’t have the size tubes I needed but he directed me to another shop nearby. When I arrived that guy was also just arriving. Thankfully he had exactly what I needed, and I bought three just to be sure. He was a really nice guy and we ended up talking for almost a hour!

After I bought the tubes I headed back to the hotel, where I was told the bus would be by around 11:15. I think I have very bad bus karma! I waited, and waited, and waited…..   Another family arrived at the bus stop about 12:30 and said the bus was expected at 1:00. There was no covered bus stop and I got sunburned. But, I also got to watch the spectacular macaws. They were in the trees making quite a racket and occasionally flying around. When they fly they are fast and only silhouettes against the sky, and when they are in the trees they are hidden in the leaves. But, one time I was lucky and spotted a pair I could actually see!

Eventually, at one minute before one, the bus arrived, my bike was loaded underneath, and we were on our way. When I saw the couple long and high hills we had to climb I decided the wait for the bus was well worth it. This was the first day I didn’t bike and I (and my sore seat) needed the rest, and with the bus I would easily make my destination in time for a good night’s sleep. And, I had a lot of time to watch the wild macaws which was a real treat.

 

Posted in Costa Rica, travel | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Costa Rica, going to Jaco

I was in Quepos under orders to take a rest day. I spent the evening there doing pretty much nothing, but woke up early the next morning feeling much better. By 7AM it was clear that I wasn’t getting back to sleep, and I could not see spending a day lounging around. I was anxious to get back on the bike and figured if I really did need a day off, I could rest at the next destination.

It wasn’t long before I found myself peddling past miles and miles of palm trees.

I was getting tired and thirsty, so I was happy to see this ahead. When I got close though, I could see there was a lot going on! There were horses outside and tied up across the street, some of them with guys on them, women were arriving in their best cowgirl outfits, live music was inside, and the place was packed!

imageThere is a Playa Hermosa just before Jaco, another tourist oriented beach area. Do you see the sign in the middle for the Katlin Hotel? Right above that you can see two bird silhouetted against the sky. They are scarlet macaws! They are hard to photograph because they are fast in flight and hidden trees when still, but you sure can hear them. They are very noisy, and very spectacular if you can see their colors! I will keep working on catching them with my camera.

image

I left the macaws behind and peddled on, climbing higher and higher. Once I saw the views from up there I was happy to have done the work. It was gorgeous with a number of different lookout points!

I like this area a lot, and I liked the town of Jaco. I need to go fetch photos from the camera and put something together about it, so stand by for more.

 

Posted in Costa Rica, travel | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Costa Rica, Uvita and Quepos

We got up in Playa Tortuga (whatever morning that was) with plans to cycle to Dominical and maybe Quepos if we were up to it. Little did I know what lay ahead. At this point I had cycled about 135 miles in three days, more than I had ever done before. Today I learned the importance of carefully checking the route ahead on the handy site http://www.cycleroute.org. If you see something like this with all those red spots, you are in for a difficult day.

image

But, as we set out I was blissfully ignorant. I pushed up the first hill, and the next, but soon there was no pushing except on foot and even on foot they were challenging! After each uphill there would be a hair raising downhill (please no blown tires!) followed by another climb. That last climb at about 10 km, I think that one did me in.

We straggled in to Uvita, Elsa tired and me totally spent, sweating so much my clothes were literally dripping. We sat in front of the supermarket to regroup for a while and then decided in the interest of me surviving the day, I was to go on by bus to Quepos. First though we went all over town looking for inner tubes, to no avail.

Recovering at the supermarket

Recovering at the supermarket

So, Elza left me at the bus stop and headed down the road. I waited at the bus stop, and waited, and waited….  One bus was only going to Dominical and told me to wait for the blue bus. After I’d been waiting more than two hours another came, not blue but saying Quepos on the front. He said he didn’t have room for a bike though. Not underneath in baggage??  Oh, ok. He opens the back compartment, perfect for the bike, loads it up, and off we go. At least my clothes had dried by this time.

Quepos is an interesting little town, definitely tourist oriented for the Manuel Antonio Park nearby. My first objective was to find inner tubes for my bike.  As I was riding around following various directions I had been given, I rode by a nice looking hostel. All I really wanted was a shower and sleep so I was happy to book a room there.

I should have taken some pictures of Quepos but I was too tired to think of it. I bought some bananas and coconut water, about the only things that sounded appealing. I had no luck finding inner tubes. It was Saturday afternoon and one shop was closed already. Another didn’t have what I needed but they would be in on Monday. Maybe there were some at a hardware store? But, I was too tired to look any more or understand half of what was being said to me.

ELza made it in not too long after and we met in a bakery down the street. She was going to stay with the bomberos, but also stopped by to visit me on her way to turn in for the night.

I was having second thoughts about going to San Jose. I didn’t really need to go and it would extend my trip by a few days, no big deal except when you have a husband at home who you look forward to seeing again soon. So, it was decided that I should rest a day in Quepos and then proceed up the coast. Elza would take off the next day so she could get to San Jose in time to see the head guy at the orphanage she was planning to visit before he left town.

I enjoyed the WiFi to catch up with some things but didn’t get much else done before I couldn’t stay awake any more.

Posted in Costa Rica, travel | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Playa Tortuga, Costa Rica

Our cycling trip through Costa Rica continues. On the road, the days don’t mean nearly as much. Which day is this of our trip? What is the day of the week? The date? Who knows!

I have been falling behind on posting anything. For me this is a challenging trip and most nights I want to touch base with family and go to sleep. But, little by little I have been sorting photos and putting things together.

By the time we rolled in to Playa Tortuga it was afternoon, and I was very tired and about melted. Elza got a lead on a cabaña so we went to look. It was fine, $20, had a bed, water, electricity, and WiFi. What more does one need? Well, maybe WiFi that does need a cord connection that didn’t fit my iPad, but he let me use his computer to at least get a message home.

We couldn’t be this close to our first beach area without paying it a visit, so after we showered and rested a bit, we set out for the beach. It was definitely worth the trip!

Unfortunately it seems my patched tire wasn’t holding air very well but I was too tired to do anything with it, so we ate and went to bed. The next morning I put in my spare tube, pumped it up, and it promptly went flat. We got some water and couldn’t find anything leaking. We did find a small leak at the patch of the repaired tire though. I hoped the new tube lost air because I had left the pump attached, so I put it back on and hoped for the best. Thankfully it seemed to hold. I am getting enough practice at changing tires! Since this was my last tube though and there were none to be had in this town, I couldn’t afford to have any trouble with it.

Bikes loaded, tires adequate, we set off stopping at a gas station on our way out of town to get my tires inflated to proper pressure, thankfully. I’m sure it didn’t help yesterday that I was peddling in that heat on a tire that was low, which takes more energy to peddle.

Hopefully today would be better. Little did we know!

Posted in Costa Rica, travel | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

On the Road in Costa Rica, Day #3

Here we are again, cycling through Costa Rica. We were lucky last night to find a simple but charming little cabana which even had air conditioning! We were so tired that we went to bed early and woke at first light. We ate a couple plantains, packed our stuff, I put on my still wet biking clothes and hit the road. It is definitely better to get out early because afternoons get so hot.

There are so many palm farms in this area. This field of young plans caught our eye because it was so pretty.

Today, our goal was to reach the beach. The ride started out fairly smooth but after a while we were going  up and down hills again, not bad ones but enough to make you work.

Eliza spotted some great coconuts by the road

This pretty field was across the street, and the cow didn’t give us much of a look,

Pretty coconut tree

There has been a lot of traffic on the roads at times, and a lot of big trucks. Thankfully they are polite and move over when they pass. For a while the roads were heavily patched and bumpy in places, but later we had great roads, smooth and wide enough for everyone.

We continue to pass palm farms, some beautiful and tall, and others green and open with young trees.

Elza’s sharp eyes spot some huge mangos on a tree.

There were only a couple usable mangoes on the ground but they made a delicious snack for us

Elsa goes for a panoramic shot

When we pedal in to Coronado, Oso, we know we are getting closer to our goal of the beach. This beautiful river runs into the ocean not far from here.

This is the view as we cross the bridge into Coronado, Oso

We spend a bit of time in Coronado at the Movistar office. I bought a chip for my iPad with some internet time, but my tablet was showing no service for a while. I could get an explanation for how much data or time I had bought so I figured I might be out of time. The poor gal at the shop had such a hard time! They can deal with phones, but they don’t know how to recharge a tablet that doesn’t make phone calls. Finally after another guy did something on his phone, and we put the chip in her phone to call it in, the put the chip back in my tablet, things were working again! But even then as we pedaled along Internet has been very spotty. It works in some places, but unfortunately hasn’t been working where we spent the night last night or tonight.

So anyway, we we’re finally on our way after losing some valuable cooler morning time. The terrain seemed to change now with less farms, more natural areas but vegetation that was generally shorter than it had been before. The road was very nice and fairly flat for a while too.

We pedal on going west towards the beaches

After 2 1/2 hours of peddling and not much breakfast we figured we should stop for a break and something to eat. Elsa got out her nifty little beer can stove, mashed some papaya we had picked up with some plantains, cooked it with some oatmeal and it was really good. As she was cooking though we heard a pop and a whoosh and my front tire blew out, just sitting three in the grass, for no apparent reason! Thank goodness though, rather than when I was sailing down some hill.

I spent part of break time patching and changing the inner tube.

We didn’t spot any wonderful break spots by rivers or other scenic spots so we decided to just use this spot under some big trees.

Elsa spots some likely papaya trees along the road

We did find a couple fallen fruits that look like they will be ready tomorrow. Then, we pedaled on but it was getting into the afternoon, and it was getting seriously hot. I was starting to feel very wilted and we hadn’t been able to inflate the tire to full pressure so it was hard going. I made it up the smaller hills but walked any of the bigger ones.

We finally pulled in to Playa Tortuga and that was as far as I was going to go for the day!! Today was only 35 miles but it felt like as much as the other 50 mile days. We were lucky to find a nice cabana though, and after a cold shower, a few liters of water, and a bit of rest I was feeling more like myself. We set off in search of air for the tire so we could fully inflate it, and then we went to the beach.

There is no internet here so I am writing off line again, and now it is late and I am going to bed! The beach was lovely though and there will be pictures coming soon.

Posted in Costa Rica, travel | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

On the Road in Costa Rica, Day #2

We stayed with the Bomberos last night, and woke up early this morning. It got light. My air mattress slowly deflated itself during the night. And, we were anxious to get going knowing it only gets hotter with each passing hour. I grabbed a banana and water, and off we went only to find out we we’re locked in. But one of the sleepy guys answered our ring and unlocked the door for us.

The bomberos are really good guys

The start of the day was very pleasant, cool, and quit flat. We passed a lot of these palm farms growing palms for oil.

There are so many of these palm tree farms for Palm oil

Elza is always on the lookout for something yummy along the road. She spotted this coconut tree with coconuts within easy reach. The home owner said he has lots and they don’t usually do anything with them so he was happy to let us have as many as we wanted. We each drank a couple and filled our water bottles with coconut water. Not only is it really good, it is really good for you and especially good for hydration.

Elza cracks open the coconuts

 

Then the pro brought out his machete and opened as many as we wanted

After refreshing ourselves with coconut water and filling our water bottles with it, we continued on enjoying some gorgeous scenery.

Beautiful scenery

Just after I snapped this photo, Elza noticed her back tire was flat. She had the tire off in a jiffy, the hole patched, and everything out back together so we could continue on our way.

Stopping for a tire repair

The upside was the wonderful scenery!

Beautiful views

We crossed a lot of rivers and they looked so inviting. Most were too far down to be accessible but relaxing nearby is good too.

Water break by a river

Really pretty scenery

By now I was starting to feel really tired and I was walking up the bigger hills. It was a good thing here or I might not have noticed the cacao trees.

The fruit hanging on the tree trunk is the cacao fruit filled with fruit and those seeds that eventually become chocolate.

By now we were pretty warm so when we saw this river with a road leading down beside it, we had to go check it out!

Elza cools off in the river.

The dogs cool off in the river

There were some women and children on the other side of the river enjoying the day

We could have stayed at the river all afternoon but it was time to move on. We got back on the bikes and peddled on. Elza was ahead of me on a hill when I heard her holler excitedly. There was a plantain tree (at least we think so, or it could have been an unfamiliar type of banana). It had fallen over and the big stalk of ripe fruit was lay by the side of the road! Elza had bee dreaming of finding bananas ever since she started her Central American trip.

Look at all that fruit!

Elza is thrilled with her find! Some of it was past its day but a lot of it was perfect and ready to eat.

Many had perfect white, sweet, delicious fruit

This fruit was really good for me. I had been really dragging and the hills were doing me in. I had three plantains and more water and started to feel better almost imediately! I hadn’t had much to eat and didn’t even think about the body’s need for fuel when asking it to do so much activity.

We pedaled on with more enthusiasm and speed helped by the food and the decrease in hills to climb. Of course when we saw more coconuts we were not about to pass them up.

These coconuts were amazing, full of lots of juice and it was sweet and wonderful!

Right next to the coconuts was a tree loaded with star fruit. It was just a little tart and really good.

I should also mention the mamonchinos that are ripening everywhere. Elza had picked some which we enjoyed eating. It wasn’t long after this rest break that she spotted some nice red ones. The home owner not only gave us permission, he came out with a rake to grab more fruit than she and I could fit on the bikes. My front basket was overflowing with them!

A pretty spot where we took a rest break

We continued to find some hills but not as many as earlier in the day and of course the scenery continued to be beautiful. We were getting tired though and there was very little on the road except the homes of the local people. When we saw a sign for “Cabanas, Waterfall Lodge” we went for it. Down a dirt road we found this charming little place, $10/night.

Waterfall Lodge, our home for tonight

We crossed one river getting here and we’re told that there is access to the river farther down the road, so we went out for a walk.

Another very pretty river

The guy apparently rides through the river to get home.

The beautiful butterfly was by the river

This huge grasshopper was also by the river

We walked through here on our way back from the river

Some of the neighborhood homes

Across the street is another palm farm

It looks so free, pretty, cool and peaceful in there

These are some of the seed pods that are harvested and processed in to oil.

So, that is the news of the day, and we have a great spot to spend the night. We even have air conditioning! We don’t have Internet though, and access with my iPad chip is minimal. I have written this post with an app that saves it for uploading later which is why it looks different. It feels strange being out of touch but I did get a few messages home to let Joel know that all is well. Apologies to everyone else who have had their emails, messages, blog comments, and everything else ignored. I’ll catch up one of these days. Meanwhile, time to get some sleep before we hit the road again.

Posted in Costa Rica, travel | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

On The Road, Day #1

Today we biked from David to Cuidad Neily, Costa Rica which according to my bike computer was 50.15 miles. We got an early start which was really necessary because as the day goes on it gets hotter. It was a day of blue skies and bright sun so no coolness today.

We we said goodbye to some friends on the way out of town, and stopped in Boqueron for a rest with our friend Richard who had come down to see us. We pedaled on knowing we would continue climbing until we reached Concepcion, but unfortunately the climbing continued well past there. Finally though we headed back down and were able to enjoy some miles of mostly downhills.

We stopped at the checkpoint where most of the cars were being waved though, but the guard asked for our IDs before wishing us well and waving us on. The border crossing was unbelievably easy. We were sent to the luggage inspection room which was great because we had to wait for awhile in the cool air conditioning. Then the guy got to us he asked if we had any children in those bags, and when we said no he laughed, wished us well, and waved us along.

The gal at the window who sent us to inspection now took our photos, stamped our passports and we were done. There was no line when we arrived and only a few people when we returned so we were through there in minutes. The Costa Rica side was equally easy. Fill out the paper, take it to the window, stamp passports, and done. She didn’t even ask us one question and here too, there was no line.

From here we pedaled down the road a bit to get away from the trucks and traffic, found a shady spot under a tree, and had some lunch.

Our friend Karen had given us pancakes rolled around sausage and eggs. Very yummy!

Our friend Karen had given us pancakes rolled around sausage and eggs. Very yummy!

Elza, my biking partner, is an expert at finding treats along the road – mangoes, oranges, lemons, and coconuts.

Now, we figured we had maybe 15 miles to Cuidad Neily, which seemed a reasonable goal. It was very hot in the sun but a lot of the way was easy downhill riding so it wasn’t long before we reached town. We had heard the bomberos (firemen) are good people to stay with, so we asked around until we found them. They didn’t have a dormitory with a bed but we’re happy to let us have an empty room. This was great! We had mattresses so all we needed was floor space and it was wonderful to have a shower, electricity, and a safe place to stay.

Even though we also have use of the kitchen here, after riding in the heat I only wanted something cold. We headed out and found the chip for my iPad that is allowing me to post this, and then we went to the supermarket for some tuna, tomatoes, bananas, and a green pepper, oh and some limon flavored mayonnaise. We made a great tuna salad with some orange juice from one of the found fruits, and it was excellent. Then it’s time to check emails and relax before calling it a night.

We plan to get up early tomorrow and set out for another day of biking through this beautiful country! I’ll leave you with a couple photos of some of the scenery we saw today.

 

Posted in travel | Tagged , | 30 Comments

On The Road Again

Tomorrow I start a new adventure and new version of “on the road”. I will be starting my first extended bicycle tour with Elza of Generosity on Wheels, my cycling partner.

We plan to ride along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and then up to San Jose. From there we will make our way to Nicaragua to see friends on Ometepe Island. After that, who knows. I am not sure how it will go until I am out there. Maybe I will wear out in three days and want to come home. Maybe I will love it and want to travel on. We shall see.

I will only take my tablet so the blogging won’t be as fancy. I am looking forward to cycling through the beautiful country of Costa Rica though, and being able to look and stop anywhere we choose. I think it’s going to be amazing.

A lot of people think I am crazy for doing this. Maybe I am, but I have been very interesting in bicycle touring ever since I heard about it. The day will come when I am no longer able to do things like this. I don’t want to look back and regret the things I didn’t do and the opportunities I let slip by. I feel like I am well prepared as I can be, we will travel through populated areas so help will be nearby, and we will keep our goals sensible. I think it will all work out.

So, tomorrow, I will be peddling down the road. No, Joel isn’t coming with me on this one. He has other things he enjoys doing more so he will be keeping it together on the home front, playing his guitar, and following me on line.

See you from the road!

 

Posted in travel | Tagged , , | 38 Comments

Visiting a High School

Last week was English week at the high school where my friend teaches. We were invited to judge the singing and dancing competitions. It was a really fun afternoon and we saw a lot of amazing students!

The first event was a modeling event, something I hadn’t seen at the school before. The students were doing it for the experience and there was no judging. I was surprised to see more boys than girls participating, and the boys got a lot of cheers, more than the girls!

Joel was asked to sing a song, so they brought him up next. It was really fun to see the enthusiastic response from the students!

The singing competition was next and soon got under way. I was supposed to be paying attention and rating the students on a number of aspects of their performances, so I didn’t take many photos or videos. Here is just a little bit of a couple singers I liked.

In the middle of the singing competition they took a break to watch a performance of a dance group that was really excellent.

Then, it was back to finish the singing competition.

The final thing was the dance competition. I was very impressed and really enjoyed watching the dancers, and I did take a bit of video of each group. The students has obviously worked very hard on their performances! The group at the end of the video was the winner.

This was only one of the things that happened this day, my birthday. When I returned home my cycling partner had arrived. I had to dash off to art class though so conversation waited until I returned home again. I also had a lot of phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages. How wonderful to have so many people think of me on my birthday! And if all this wasn’t enough, I checked my bank account and my social security money had arrived early.

There will be a lot more about my cycling partner and our upcoming travel plans, so I will be writing more about that soon.

 

Posted in culture, Miscellaneous, Panama | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments