Monday, 18 June 2012
PURA VIDA – COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is a small but very beautiful country. There is a lot of natural jungle, but in areas there are also large oil-palm plantations, which remind me of the South of Thailand (the Costa Rican flag even looks a lot like that of Thailand). After crossing the border from Panama, I was surprised by Costa Rica in more than one sense. Firstly, the place seemed to be even more “tropical” than Panama, with lots of protected jungle areas of indigenous forest, coconut palms on the coastline, and incredible beaches. The country is a popular surfing tourist destination, and there are also many other foreign tourists and ex-pats. English is commonly spoken (American accent) – and Tamarindo, the “Enless Summer” movie surf spot of years passed, has turned into a bit of a touristy monster referred to by locals as “Tama-GRINGO”. In Costa Rica Leana and I have been cycling along the Pacific coast, and we took the ferry from Puntarenas to the Nicoya Peninsula so that we could stay along the coast and visit all the beautiful beaches in the area. Yes, it is incredibly beautiful, with Congo monkeys high in the trees above our camp sites waking us at dawn. But, if you want to cycle in this area then be warned; The roads on the peninsula are often unpaved and in poor condition, road signs are either non-existent or just blatantly incorrect, and hills are so steep that we have had to help each other push the bikes uphill. It is also interesting as we have had to “wade” the bikes through deep-ish rivers, and in this rainy season we arrived here in Tamarindo coated in mud (and the bikes sounding like rock-crushing machines). We are taking a break here today, and tomorrow we will head inland towards the city of Liberia and then North in the direction of the border. By all accounts the cost of living in Nicaragua will be somewhat cheaper, as we have found Costa Rica to be very expensive. Oh yes, I have something which I need to get off my chest; Things were stolen off my bike the other night – some of those things have been with me all the way on this trip for more than 5 years (helmet, sleeping bag, and such like items). Luckily the bikes were locked (right outside the room door under a bright light). However, we have been warned in various places not to take valuables to public places such as the beach, as locals have been stealing from the tourists. Getting back to cycling, some of the daily cycling distances don´t look like much, but it has sometimes been a battle to make headway on poor roads and VERY steep hills! Since my last report from David in Panama distances have been:- Paso Canoas (Costa Rican border) 54 km; Palmar Norte 95 km; Playa Uvita 46 km; Dominical 23 km; Quepos 47 km; Jaco 70 km; Puntarenas 76 km; Tambor 29 km; Montezuma 21 km; Playa Coyote 40 km; Pueto Carillo 46 km; Ostional (“Robberville”) 51 km; and Tamarindo 67. So far we´ve cycled 631 km in Costa Rica, and the total distance I´ve cycled so far on this trip in 5 years and almost 3 months is 94 720 km.