31 May - Paso Canoas – Palmar - 95km
It was our first day on the road in Costa
Rica and what a stunning cycling day it was. Although hot and
humid it was scenic and not as hilly as expected. In fact it is
hot and humid that they even grow rice in this part of the
world. The forest along the road was thick and dense and utterly
enjoyable. We took our time and cycled on to Palmar.
The tiny river town of Palmar Sur is the home
of the mysterious granite stone spheres that date back to Costa
Rica’s pre-Columbian period. According to researchers, these
spherical granite stones date back thousands of years. While the
largest stones can weigh as much as 13,000 kg, some stones are
as small as bowling balls. The mysteriousness of these stones is
mainly because scientists are baffled as to how perfectly
spherical they are. I still have no clue what they were used
1 June - Palmar – Uvita - 45km
We followed the coastal road, and although
it did not run next to the coast it was a beautiful ride with
plenty of ceviche roadside stalls. When we reached Uvita we
turned into this small village and found a rather interesting
hostel. The dormitories consisted of mosquito-netted beds in
tree-houses under huge mango trees. It had a pleasant kitchen
area where everyone gathered and
the many mangoes which fell off the trees.
We pitched our tents under a cover of sorts which prevented
mangoes falling on our tents. The beach was just down the road
and was a flat sandy beach which stretched for miles down the
coast. It was so nice that we stayed 3 full days. A slack-rope
in the garden provided hours of fun but no one seemed to quite
master the art.
5 June - Uvita – Dominical - 23km
Costa Rica is unique in that it does not
military. It must be one of only a handful of countries in the
world that does not have an army (very clever if you ask me). I
hope that it is a
sign of a peaceful nation. Costa
are known as "Ticos" and the Costa Rican currency is the colón
(plural colones, approx.
500 = 1$), named after Cristóbal Colón (Christopher
6 June - Dominical – Quepos - 47km
We cycled past huge Oil-Palm plantations.
Although it has always been a common cooking ingredient in parts
of Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil, it now seems to be
planted just about wherever it will grow. The demand for palm
oil has increased tremendously due to its lower cost. Many
processed foods contain palm oil as an ingredient, as it is a
cheap substitute for butter and other vegetable oils, especially
in the making of pastry dough and baked goods.
Palm oil also has the environmental
activist groups going. The removal of forests in order to make
space for oil-palm plantations has resulted in huge losses of
natural forests. I, however, dislike them for a totally
different reason. They
always seem to be planted where it is very, very hilly!!!
7 June - Quepos – Jaco - 66km
It was another
day on the road. The road was flat and again
next to the coast. In Jaco we found a rather dilapidated
campsite but at least it was close to the beach. The coast is a
paradise as the waves are good and the
water warm. We ate from the soda stand outside the campsite, the
most economical eateries in Costa Rica. You pay per plate and
can choose from a variety of dishes;
amongst them there is always the ever present rice and beans.
It was incredibly hot and virtually
impossible to lie
in the tent. We
sat outside until it started to rain and were forced into our
own private sauna. While
sweat dripping from
me, I could think of many more comfortable places to be.
Eventually I crawled out to see if there was not maybe a breeze
outside. There was,
however, none and the mosquitos were so fierce that I had no
option than to crawl back into my tent. I could not wait for
morning so we could pack up and get back on the road.
8 June - Jaco – Puntarenas - 76km
Looking at the map I thought that it would
be a nice ride along the coast. Boy,
was I wrong!! It was a very scenic ride but it came with a fair
share of hills. Again the heat was intense and I swear to God I
did not know my body contained that much
The sweat even ran
out of my clothes
to such an extent that one could easily think I just had a swim.
We eventually arrived in Puntarenas, a
strange town situated on a narrow and flat peninsula. We found a
room in a rickety wooden building right on the
edge. Across the road was the pier where the fancy passenger
liners docked. There
obviously people travelling in more style than us.
9 June - Puntarenas – Tambor - 29km
First thing in the morning we cycled off
to the small harbour
where we waited for the ferry across the Golf de Nicoya to
Paquera, situated on the Peninsula de Nicoya. The peninsula is
known for its beautiful beaches and tropical rain forests and we
wanted to explore!
A quick ferry ride brought us to Paquera
and it was immediately evident that it was not going to be an
easy ride. Not only was it humid and hot but the narrow winding
road lead straight up the mountain!! It´s not that it was that
just that the gradient was impossibly steep. I pushed my bike up
the steepest bits and arrived in Tambor dripping with sweat.
We decided to stay put for the
10/13 June - Tambor – Montezuma - 21km
We saddled up, and again the road was narrow
and steep in places. About 12km down the road we spotted a sign
for Montezuma beach. We turned down, to see what was at the end
of this potholed dirt road. After about 7km we reached the tiny
beach village of Montezuma. Hidden away amongst dense forests it
is a true paradise and home to surfers and hippies alike. In
fact it is so laidback that it has become known as Montefumar (fumar
- Spanish for smoke). I think I´ll follow suit and hang in a
hammock for a few days.
little as possible, read books that were available at
hostel, swam in the ocean and even took a walk to the nearby
14 June - Montezuma –Puerto Coyote - 40km
We finally headed up the hill back to the
“main road”. The road out of Montezuma was incredibly steep and
I had to push my bike along the steep and
road. Eventually we reached the main road
which was paved but that did not last very long. The road soon
became a dirt road which was fine;
it is just that it deteriorated to such an extent that soon we
found ourselves on a muddy jeep track.
rivers where we had to push the bikes across, and although the
river was flowing
fairly strong, it was not so deep that we could not get through.
goodness my bags are waterproof. The road became fairly steep,
mudded and rutted to such an extent that we had to help each
our bikes up the steep hills. We hardly encountered anyone along
the way, the only person we saw was a guy asking us for
After what felt like hours and hours, we
reached the most idyllic beach one can picture. We set up camp
on the beach amongst the palm trees, went for a swim and watched
the sun set over the ocean.
15 June - Puerto Coyote – Playa Carrillo -
Little did we know what was in store for us.
The road continued to be hilly and got worse as the day
progressed. We pushed our bikes up muddy and rutted roads (two
to a bike) and could not believe that there was no end in sight.
The hills were so incredibly steep that we slid downhill as we
struggled to push the bikes up the gravelly road. Not much one
can do but push on.
It felt like we were getting nowhere and
on the sign boards seemed to increase instead of decrease. I´m
quite convinced that we were on the wrong road. Eventually we
reached a tiny settlement and asked
In true Costa Rican style we were told to go back down the road
and turn left where
the sign indicate right! Fortunately it was not far, again we
pushed our bikes across a river and low and behold;
a paved road on the other side! We were
so happy that we took a room at the first opportunity!
16 June - Carrillo – Ostional - 51km
A paved road
past Samara, a rather touristy beach. Again the road sign
indicated that we should turn left but this time we were clever
and asked one of the locals. As we expected, we were told to
turn right! Not long after leaving Samara the paved road came
to an end and we were back on a dirt road. The day
to be much easier and although the road was bumpy it was at
least without the steep uphills of the previous day.
passed numerous beaches along the
way, one more idyllic than
the other. On reaching the tiny settlement of Ostional we called
it a day and found ourselves a nice room for the night. It
rained all night and I feared that the road would turn into a
17/18 June - Ostional – Playa Tamarindo -
On waking up we found that most of
Ernest´s stuff he left on the bike was stolen;
sleeping bag, etc.!!
Not life essential stuff, fortunately, and if they knew what
they were doing they would have taken the tents which, to me, is
much more important. In this part of the world we do not even
use our sleeping bags. Ernest´s sleeping mat
holes in it and
actually of no use anymore. Fortunately the bikes were locked!!
The road kind of leveled out and although not
pan flat it was a much easier day than the previous ones. From
time to time the road ran next to the coast and we cycled past
some wonderful surfing beaches. Then it would head inland over
the hills and through thick and dense natural vegetation.
On arriving at Playa Tamarindo we were
surprised to find a rather touristy village. The surf movie
Endless Summer 2 was shot in the area and it firmly put
Tamarindo on the map. Development took off at an alarming rate,
to such an extent that Tamarindo lost its Blue Flag status. The
sea turtles are long gone but at least development seems to have
slowed down, partly due to the recession and partly due to more
control over new developments. That all said and done, it’s a
beautiful place and it offers a convenient tourist
infrastructure. I enjoyed staying in a hostel with Wi-Fi,
fast-food and all the other things that
19 June - Playa Tamarindo – Liberia - 79km
We saddled up our iron horses and headed over
the hills to Liberia. The road turned away from the coast and
headed slightly inland. We were happy to be on a paved road and
the day was without the usual steep hills. We reached Liberia in
good time, found a room and relaxed for the rest of the day. We
found some typical food at the nearby restaurant consisting of
rice beans, meat and a small bit of salad.
20 June - Liberia – La Cruz - 60km
We were back on the
highway (not that it is much of a highway) and headed North in
the direction of Nicaragua. The road ran through the Parque
Nacional Guanacaste, which meant it was hilly but the abundance
of trees gave some protection from the heat. We arrived at La
Cruz around midday and decided to stay and cross the border the