May 14, 2012 – 47.4km
I got a late start today as I went to the dentist and had to get 2 fillings. Her husband is related to the owners of the hotel that I was staying in. Although Costa Rica is expensive the dental bill was $140 which would probably be about half of what it would be in Canada.
On my way to Canas as I was shifting up my chain got jammed. I had been working on it without success for about 10 minutes when a fellow riding a motorbike stopped to ask if he could help. After he tried for a couple of minutes he suggested we break the chain. I got my chain tool out to discover it is not compatible with my 9 speed chain. At any rate we managed (mostly he) to move the wheel forward and spring the chain down on smaller cogs on the freewheel and it popped loose. His name is Diego and he lives in Canas. We met later at my hotel and he is going to go with me to a bike shop in the morning where I hope to get a new chain and maybe a proper chain tool as well. Tonight we talked on the phone with his sister who teaches English and she acted as a translator. She told me she felt very lucky to have such a wonderful caring brother.
After he left I stopped at a roadside fruit stand and ate almost a whole watermelon and took a mangoe with me to eat later. The last 10 kilometers were tough as it poured buckets and there was lightning. I stopped for a while until the lightning abated but it was a very wet ride even with all my raingear on.
May 15 – Rest Day Canas
Went to the bike shop at 7 in the morning. Diego knows the owner Tony and asked him if he would open an hour early. Needed a new chain and handlebar tape. By the time I went to the shop twice and had a quick breakfast it was 9:30 and I wasn’t sure I could ride 80 km to my next destination in the heat and before it started to rain. So took a rest day.
May 16, 2012 – Canas to Roble – 78 km
Well it was quite a hilly ride with quite a few 8% grades and a lot of traffic. I am now on the new highway going down to the coast and it has a bike path for quite a few kilometers. The view of the Nicoya Pennsula and the sea with the mountains in the background are lovely. I was looking for a place to stay and found Boca Barranca right near the sea. As I was checking in 5 guys from Los Angeles who had been surfing dropped in to eat and we had a great chat. Still no rain at 3:30 as I write this. Maybe tonight. Tomorrow I hope to go to Jaco a famous beach town.
May 17, 2012 Roble – Jaco - 67.5 km
Today was very mountainous. The hardest climb was about 2 km and 200 meters of ascent – I ended up walking most of it in extreme heat. I was exhausted, but then had a wonderful fast descent to Jaco by the ocean. In total I did about 2000 feet of climbing in 67 kilometers. Some of the views of the Pacific and Bay of Nicoya were spectacular but I was too tired and hot too take pictures. Tomorrow I will rest and enjoy the town and the beach.
As soon as I arrived in Jaco, a famous surfing town I headed for the first café I saw for espresso and a cinnamon bun. There were two women sitting at the table next to me and as we began talking it turned out that April manages a hostel. For a reasonable price I have a suite all to myself as there are no other guests. April also told me about a bike shop (Condor) as I needed some work done. Gerard has been a mechanic with the Cannondale cycling team in the US and I think also the Costa Rican Olympic team. Needless to say he is a fantastic mechanic. The new chain I had installed in Canas was not installed correctly – the pin was sticking out and catching and my gears were slipping. He added some extra links to accommodate my big 36 tooth low gear, made some other minor adjustments and viola everything is perfect. He looked over the bike and amazingly after 7600 km the wheels are true. This is one tough bike and I have had only 1 flat, day two in the Yukon. He worked on my bike for a good hour and charged me $3.00. And I got a new saddle with the slit down the middle for $17!
May 19 – Finca Amanecer near Quepos – 82.3 km.
Today the ride was very easy to Quepos, a nice funky little beach town. I headed to Café Milagro, where they roast Costa Rican coffee beans. This is very unusual as most good coffee is shipped out of the country. After a delicious espresso and some banana bread I headed to Finca Amanecer- http://fincaamanecer.com/. It was over 10 kilometers of very bad gravel road that took me about an hour and a half, but it is very quiet and rustic here as the rain pours constantly down. This is the rainy season and the typical pattern is to start to rain mid to late afternoon for several hours, but usually it is dry in the morning and early afternoon.
As I was riding to Quepos I met an Argentinian couple who are riding to Alaska. A photo is in Flickr. And just before arriving at Amanecer I met Brita who has toured from Vancouver and was leaving for Panama after staying for a few days at Amanecer. This facility is part of www.warmshowers.com, a group of cyclists who open up their homes to people who are touring. One can do volunteer work here and help out with communal cooking.
May 20 – 16.5 km Londres - Quepos
The smell of Jasmine is incredibly strong, almost overpowering. The rain has cooled things down to a comfortable but humid 20 C. Everything is very fresh. Fresh fruit is everywhere – you don’t even have to pick it - it just drops down on the ground – starfruit, mango and avocadoes - in amazing abundance.
I headed down the bumpy gravel road to Quepos to try to escape the bugs. My body is covered in bites. I don’t do well with bites. Trying Apis to see if that helps. The town was very closed down for Sunday and the hotel I found said they had wifi but it wasn’t working. Everything is very expensive – a Mexican dinner of quesadillas was $16 - $5 tops in Mexico. Breakfast this morning (typical eggs and pinto) with a cappuchino was $10. Panama is apparently a lot less expensive, probably similar to Nicaragua - $30-40 per day. Columbia is $20-30 per day.
May 21 – Quepos rest day.
I moved to another hotel with air, pool and wifi. My legs were feeling quite tired so I decided to stay another day before heading to Hatillo and Albergue Alma de Hatillo, a place I stayed in when last here in Costa Rica. My teacher Xenia used to take students on yoga retreats there. I will go tomorrow and stay a day or two.
May 22 – Quepos – Hatillo – 46.6 km
This was probably the easiest ride I have had on the whole journey. It was flat as a pancake. I love the cabins here. They are beautiful, with artwork on the walls and designed with high ceilings and open screens at the top to allow the heat to escape. No need for air conditioning – I had to use a light blanket last night.
May 23 – rest day in Hatillo with a side trip to Dominical for Thai food
Breakfast consisted of huge quantities of fresh fruit – papaya, banana, watermelon and pineapple. Juice was fresh mango with a little water. Sabina makes her own jams here – coco has a white pulp around the bean and makes a tart, sour jam, coco itself into delicious chocolate, mango all on whole grain healthy breads.
There is a beautiful yoga platform with roof and ceiling fans. I first learned about this facility through my teacher Xenia who brought students here for yoga retreats. Sabina has asked me if I would come to teach from mid-December until mid February. I might fly back from Argentina or Chile. I am also thinking of offering a one week yoga/meditation retreat – cost would be about $750, not including transportation. If any of you would be interested, please email me to let me know of your interest. Format would be early morning practice, breakfast around 8 or 9, free time during the day to visit waterfalls, parks, zip lines, etc., late afternoon practice, supper, and then an evening program. One night Dennis Gaumond from Guelph, but who is building a retreat centre here would come to do crystal bowls and sound healing. Here is the link to her website: www.cabinasalma.com.
Went to Coconut Spice in Dominical for Thai Red Curry – simply delicious! On the way back I met a couple touring – they had started in Guatemala and are heading to Panama City. Edgar is from Guatemala and Zandra from Germany. They plan to fly to Germany to work for the summer then ride back to Guatemala from Panama. Like me they are finding Costa Rica very expensive and are thinking of taking a bus to Panama.
May 24 – Hatillo – Palmar Norte – 69 km
The climbs were difficult, but the waterfalls and scenery magnificent.
May 25 – Palmar Norte – Rio Claro – 60 km
There were many beautiful waterfalls along beside the road. It was so hot and humid that my arms were dripping sweat. I have never experienced that before.
May 26 – Rio Claro to Paso Canoas – 33.6 km
I am Panama bound tomorrow morning. The seedy town of Canoas is right on the frontier and has more hotels than I could count. While getting some $US dollars at the bank I met Santiago from Panama City. He gave me his card and invited me to contact him for help or information. He is an avid cyclist himself and was intrigued with my dynamo hub and recharge unit. He said that southern Panama is hot and even more humid than Costa Rica. He warned me to carry lots of water.
Click the link below to see where I am located:
Central America: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyzgLfC