Category Archives: Costa Rica

CENTRAL AMERICA

ALMOST 6,000 MILES ON THE ODOMETER. OUR SPRINT THROUGH CENTRAL AMERICA WAS A SHORT ACTION PACKED THRILLER WITH RAIN, TRAFFIC, MUD, BEACHES, VOLCANOES, ONE VERY LARGE FAMOUS CANAL AND NEVER-ENDING CUSTOMS PROCEDURES.

MONDAY JUNE 24TH – DAY 19 – PALENQUE, MEXICO – HUEHUETENANGO, GUATEMALA (CONTINUED)

First impressions of Guatemala..Similar to Mexico but everything is twice as old, everyone is twice as poor, the mountains are twice as steep and the roads are twice as crappy. Mexico has an upper class and a lower class, it seems like Guatemala only has the lower class.

The border turned out to be a lot easier than I imagined. Everything was straight forward. We got back our $300 deposit on our motorcycles, stamped out of Mexico, got our bikes fumigated for a few bucks, paid a couple bucks to enter ourselves and another 20 for our bikes. Again, not a very popular border crossing. No one wants to go to Guatemala apparently. In the hour and a half we were there, we didn’t see a single car or bus pass through. haha does everyone know something we don’t?

After the crossing it was almost dark and we broke the cardinal rule of driving at night for about an hour. At one point I asked a police officer how far to the next town. His response, “Well, it depends on how fast your motorcycle is.” haha No speed limits. Good to know. We found the first city Huehuetenango and we soon realized… we like Guatemala! We paid $3.98 each for a private hotel room and then $4.50 for a dinner sufficient for a 400 lb. lucha libre wrestler. The family that ran the restaurant didn’t know where California was but they knew how to throw together a GIANT bowl of chicken soup.

Side note: The tortillas here are fatter and DELICIOUS!

We went to bed quite content.

changing out pesos for guatemalan quetzals. This dude tried to pull a fast one on me when he counted 12 pesos as 10. Not happening to this Gringo! I did the rest of the counting.
changing out pesos for guatemalan quetzals. This dude tried to pull a fast one on me when he counted 12 pesos as 10. Not happening to this Gringo! I did the rest of the counting.
The picture doesn´t get close to capturing the size of the steep cliffs on both sides of the highway.
The picture doesn´t get close to capturing the size of the steep cliffs on both sides of the highway.
First meal in Guatemala. Biggest and cheapest yet!
First meal in Guatemala. Biggest and cheapest yet!
$3.98. don´t mind if I do. The downside was the questionable bodily fluids all over the wall next to me.
$3.98. don´t mind if I do. The downside was the questionable bodily fluids all over the wall next to me.

TUESDAY JUNE 25TH – DAY 20 – HUEHUETENANGO, GUATEMALA – JALPATAGUA, GUATEMALA

We woke up the next morning and returned to our new favorite family restaurant for some big cheap eatin’. Then we hit the road for the El Salvadorian border. We soon realized how daunting a task this would become. Crappy roads, construction stops and thousands of unexpected speed bumps kept our speed down to a crawl. The terrain in Guatemala was not as I expected though. It was for the most part it was extremely high mountains with loosely populated indigenous villages strewn about all over the place. Our one detour of the day was visiting Lake Atitlan, we didn’t have much time to appreciate it though. Chase and I both agree that of all the Central American countries we would have liked to have had more time in, Guatemala takes the cake. There’s a lot to see. After our bodies couldn’t take anymore speed bumps and an approaching thunderstorm threatened our warm-blooded bodies we pulled over to find a hotel. $6 each for a private room and found good food across the street for $1.50.

Cruising at 9,000 feet
Cruising at 9,000 feet
Getting ready to go through the clouds.
Getting ready to go through the clouds.
Oh.. the road is closed. That explains why the whole town came out to the highway to sell drinks, treats, and trinkets during the 30 minute wait.
Oh.. the road is closed. That explains why the whole town came out to the highway to sell drinks, treats, and trinkets during the 30 minute wait.
Arriving at Lake Atitlan through solola
Arriving at Lake Atitlan through solola
Lake Atitlan. Two volcanoes and a huge lake surrounded by cities named after the twelve apostles.
Lake Atitlan. Two volcanoes and a huge lake surrounded by cities named after the twelve apostles.
Another angle of Lake Atitlan
Another angle of Lake Atitlan
Our first river crossing of the trip. A success.
Our first river crossing of the trip. A success. We discovered that my GPS wasn’t exactly accurate in Guatemala the second we left the highway. It had all sorts of roads that didn’t exist and we ended up taking some roads less traveled by.
A typical Guatemalan city
A typical Guatemalan city
Guatemala City coming into sight.
Guatemala City coming into sight.
Looking out on some of the prettiest scenery we've seen here in Guatemala.
Looking out on some of the prettiest scenery we’ve seen here in Guatemala.
It started pouring rain and flooded our first room. So they upgraded us to the nice room.
It started pouring rain and flooded our first room. So they upgraded us to the nice room.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 26TH – DAY 21 – JALPATAGUA, GUATEMALA – EL SALVADOR – CHOLUTECA, HONDURAS

Getting on our bikes in the morning, we were only 15 minutes away from the el salvadorian border. The plan- complete 2 border crossings and travel all the way through El Salvador in one day. The border crossing was a little longer when there were “problems” with Chase’s paperwork. We arrived on the El Salvadorian side to pay $10 for insurance. When I asked what it covered, the stoic government lady simply says, “if you die, your family gets $4000.” hahaha oh. GREAT! I tried to not laugh out loud at her response, but I couldn’t help it.

My observations of El Salvador are as follows. Lots of Volcanoes, lava rock fields, great roads (the panamerican highway is well developed in El Salvador, If there is a Panamerican highway in Guatemala, we never found it), and lots of farmland/deforestation. The highway is littered with Papusa shops, we stopped at a cafeteria and ate their 1/2-inch thick tortillas. DELICIOUS!! They also use the dollar, that’s nice too. We made great time on the highway and within several hours we arrived at the honduran border.

From here I’ll go into what a typical Central American border crossing is like. I’ll describe our El Salvador-Honduras experience, but all are about the same.

For about 1/4-mile leading up to the border there’s people sitting around. Sometimes in shops, sometimes on the streets. When we come into sight, half of these people perk up and start waving their arms wildly for us to come talk to them. For the most part they are “border helpers”. At the beginning of the 1/4-mile frenzy a guy practically throws himself in front of my bike. I have to swerve to avoid him and then watch him sprint the 1/4-mile in my rear-view mirror. hahaha. When we make it to the government customs building generally we are immediately swarmed by people offering to do all our paperwork for a small tip or by people who offer to change out the old currency for the new one. When the sprinter finally arrived at the pack I felt kind of bad for him, he couldn’t even get his words out because he was so winded. Then I have to sternly say to all of them “we don’t need help! We’ve done this before, thanks but no thanks, go away please.” Some don’t believe me and they start guiding us through to the right buildings. I have to tell them things like “I promise you, I’m not going to pay you anything, don’t waste your time.” They usually give up after a few minutes when they realize we’re competent gringos. First we stamp ourselves out of the country we started in, cancel our vehicle permits and then stamp in to the new country and get new vehicle permits and/or insurance.

During the process there’s a series of 20 police/border agents that check your stuff along the way. Just as we get to the bridge to cross into Nicaragua a Honduran police officer starts pointing at dates on Chase’s motorcycle title that relate to his old registration that were expired. He was a worthless excuse for a human being. he grabs the title and says “Oh if you don’t need it then i’ll keep it.” So I had to explain how California titles and registration work. This thug thought if he could catch us doing something illegal he could force a bribe out of us to get the title back. His little scheme failed. When I didn’t back down he finally relinquished the title and then asked me to give him my boots. haha I wanted to throw him off the bridge.

Assaulted with more helpers on the Honduran side and slow moving border agents we spent $35 to enter with our motorcycles and hit the road for the nearest city. We arrived in Choluteca and since we needed money for dinner, a hotel and breakfast the next morning we took out $10 each. 🙂 love it.

My observations of Honduras. Similar to other Central American countries in most respects. As poor as Guatemala but without all the indigenous culture. Roads were the worst we’ve seen in the whole trip and maybe for the same reason, NO ONE has cars, they all walk.

We found a hotel that fell within our $10 24-hour budget and hit the hay.

45 minutes waiting for a "problem" with Chase's paperwork to be resolved. For about 44 minutes I thought we might not make it to El Salvador..
45 minutes waiting for a “problem” with Chase’s paperwork to be resolved. For about 44 minutes I thought we might not make it to El Salvador..
The El Salvadorian side of the border
The El Salvadorian side of the border
Chase'n volcanoes
Chase’n volcanoes
Volcanoes everywhere!!
Volcanoes everywhere!!
Crossing through "the savior"
Crossing through “the savior”
Lava rock fields
Lava rock fields
Smog regulations aren't really mandatory. This isn't even a bad smoke cloud.
Smog regulations aren’t really mandatory. This isn’t even a bad smoke cloud.
My arms after a few days without a shower and getting stuck behind the aforementioned smoke clouds. My hands were freshly washed and my arms are no less tan than the part of my arm on the far right. The dirt in every one of my poors and stuck to all my hairs could only have been appreciated in person. I wonder what my lungs look like..
My arms after a few days without a shower and getting stuck behind the aforementioned smoke clouds. My hands were freshly washed and my arms are no less tan than the part of my arm on the far right. The dirt in every one of my poors and stuck to all my hairs could only have been appreciated in person. I wonder what my lungs look like..
El Salvador.. typical sight, big green stuff and volcanoes.
El Salvador.. typical sight, big green stuff and volcanoes.
Passing into Honduras. We'd seen those little trike taxi-cabs were all over the place in the small cities since Puerto Escondido.
Passing into Honduras. We’d seen those little trike taxi-cabs all over the place in the small cities since Puerto Escondido.
This photo makes Honduras look pretty. It wasn't.
This photo makes Honduras look pretty. It wasn’t.
On the way to Choluteca, Honduras
On the way to Choluteca, Honduras
Chase's helmet after a 15 minute bug-mine-field. I had my dark visor mounted so I had to wear my light sunglasses to see in the dark. I couldn't wait for a picture to get the bugs out of my face when we stopped.
Chase’s helmet after a 15 minute bug-mine-field. I had my dark visor mounted so I had to wear my light sunglasses to see in the dark. I couldn’t wait the extra 5 seconds for chase to take a pic of me.. I had to debugify right when we stopped.
Stopping for directions and a horribly drawn map to navigate the city.
Stopping for directions and a horribly drawn map to navigate the city.
Treating ourselves to something nice for a job well done.
Treating ourselves to something nice for a job well done. Fried egg, beans, chicken, rice and cheese w/tortillas of course.
$5 each for a room the size of a 3 car garage.
$5 each for a room the size of a 3 car garage.

THURSDAY JUNE 27TH – DAY 22 – CHOLUTECA, HONDURAS – NICARAGUA – LA CRUZ, COSTA RICA

Waking up it was an hour or so to the Nicaraguan border. Another day. Another 2 border crossings and one entire country knocked off our list.

We both recognize that at this speed we can’t ‘truly’ appreciate a country. It’s true. But in this way we’ll have more time to appreciate South America.

Our grand exit from Honduras was marked with 2-foot-deep pot hole mine fields littering the highway. I felt like a skier going through the moguls. It was pretty interesting to look ahead and see oncoming semis swerving left and right into your lane to avoid the potholes. Crossing into Nicaragua was pretty uneventful. Similar to all the others.

My observations of Nicaragua. The people have enough money to buy bicycles, Honduras NO. More Volcanoes, more green stuff everywhere, and big lakes. We didn’t make any real detours through Nicaragua. In part because we were stopped on three occasions by corrupt police officers pulling retarded infractions out of their butts. I was so annoyed, I just wanted to get to Costa Rica. The first stop was just a “routine stop” they held us while they thought of something we did wrong but they came up blank. The second stop was for chase following the car in front of him too closely. I didn’t get all the info from the cop BUT I WAS IN FRONT OF HIM. The cop started out at $100 and then I came back to see what his deal was. I laughed at him and threw him a $20 and we got on our way. The third stop occured when I saw our fellow travelers we met on the Baja Ferry on the highway. I pulled up nearer to their SUV and honked my horn; in my excitement I wasn’t watching for the freaking POE-POES. $10 and a whole bunch of stern warnings and fake threats from the cop and we were on our way. I was glad to get to Costa Rica. $35 for insurance and we were set loose in the country. We stopped at the nearest city and soon discovered, everything is practically American prices. This is the worst country of them all! Chase and I reminisced about our beloved Guatemala after paying $12 each for the crappiest hotel of the trip.

Getting swarmed with the local "bike watchers" at the Nicaraguan border before I could even get my helmet off.
Getting swarmed with the local “bike watchers” at the Nicaraguan border before I could even get my helmet off.
The smoking Volcano Masaya
The smoking Volcano Masaya
Standing on the shores of Lake Managua
Standing on the shores of Lake Managua
Standing on the shores of Lake Nicaragua
Standing on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, ..pretty similar to Lake Managua but BIGGER
Standing in the doorway of the Police Outpost awaiting the jury...a short, fat corrupt nicaraguan cop.
Standing in the doorway of the Police Outpost awaiting the jury…a short, fat corrupt nicaraguan cop.
Meeting up with our fellow traveler friends we met on the ferry to Mainland Mexico.
Meeting up with our fellow traveler friends we met on the ferry to Mainland Mexico.

FRIDAY JUNE 28TH – DAY 23 – LA CRUZ, COSTA RICA – JACO, COSTA RICA

BEST first half of the day followed by the WORST. First thing in the morning we took a road prohibited to all vehicles except those with “extreme off-road” capabilities. We traveled 10 miles through the santa rosa national park to the a surf spot called “witch’s rock.” We didn’t have surfboards, so it was the off-road journey to the beach that motivated our quest. A few hours traveling through the jungle and swimming in a pristine and isolated beach was a fantastic detour.

We got back on the road only to get caught in a never-ending downpour. It started out uncomfortable in the warm weather but by the second hour it became a mind game of blocking out the pain. Our original plan was to make it to a beach where we could camp, but the rain soaked our camp gear and with it our hopes of camping comfortably. At a gas station we decided to call it quits and headed for a nearby coastal town called Jaco. It turned out to be a great stop. Jaco is a little surf town that seems to thrive entirely on foreign surfers. We got a cheap hotel and I paid $5 bucks for a board to use the next morning.

On our way to Witch's Rock
On our way to Witch’s Rock
Costa Rican Jungle cruisin'
Costa Rican Jungle cruisin’
One of several river crossings
One of several river crossings
Paving a new path around the trees
Paving a new path around the trees
Lovin the mud after thousands of highway miles.
Lovin the mud after thousands of highway miles.
It was a lot deeper than it looked. Thanks to the park ranger and his ATV we survived
It was a lot deeper than it looked. Thanks to the park ranger and his ATV we survived
The swamp that got me.
The swamp that got me.
Staring down a dinosaur. These Iguanas were all over the place.
Staring down a dinosaur. These Iguanas were all over the place.
Chase (Iguana Hunter)
Chase (Iguana Hunter)
All to ourselves. This is one of the beaches where the turtles show up in thousands to lay their eggs.
All to ourselves. This is one of the beaches where the turtles show up in thousands to lay their eggs.
After almost 2 hours of riding through the "rain" forest.
After almost 2 hours of riding through the “rain” forest.
Checking the conditions for the morning surf in another luxurious hotel.
Checking the conditions for the morning surf in another luxurious hotel.

SATURDAY JUNE 29TH – DAY 24 – JACO, COSTA RICA – DAVID, PANAMA

I woke up to glassy head high beachbreak and surfed for about 3 hours with just one german to keep me company. The waves were great, but the water was a little dirty from a river dumping poop a few hundred yards away. That might have been my undoing.

After Chase slept in and I had my fill of waves, we set off for Panama. The road was beautiful! The highway curved along with the Costa Rican beaches on one side and the jungle on the other. Other than that nothing of special importance during the ride. The Panamanian border crossing was the longest and most complicated yet. Somewhere during the border steps I felt my stomach feel funny. And then I knew. The next few hours or days would be unpleasant. We stopped in David, Panama and got some street hamburgers and spent the night at a hostal. I dreamt that I was sick and I woke up the next morning to see my dream come true.

Cruisin down the '1' of Costa Rica
Cruisin down the ‘1’ of Costa Rica
Costa Rican highway
Costa Rican highway
ONE second before the deluge
ONE second before another deluge
They call cheap little eateries "sodas" here in Costa Rica.
They call cheap little eateries “sodas” here in Costa Rica.
Getting our bearings during one of our many construction stops.
Getting our bearings during one of our many construction stops.
Palm trees for dayz
Palm trees for dayz
Checking out of Costa Rica
Checking out of Costa Rica
The beginning of our 3 hour Panamanian entry
The beginning of our 3 hour Panamanian entry
Rainy border crossings aren't any fun... unless you've got a cocunut.
Rainy border crossings aren’t any fun… unless you’ve got a cocunut.
Chase sporting our team's warm-ups (new rain gear).  We stopped at the 'free trade zone' between panama and costa rica and paid $13.50 for these bad boys. They work better than our 'nice' jackets.
Chase sporting our team’s warm-ups (new rain gear). We stopped at the ‘free trade zone’ between panama and costa rica and paid $13.50 for these bad boys. They work better than our ‘nice’ jackets.
Panamanian street hamburgers. DELICIOUS!
Panamanian street hamburgers. DELICIOUS!
Our luxurious dormroom accomodations
Our luxurious dormroom accomodations

SUNDAY JUNE 30TH – DAY 25 – DAVID, PANAMA – SANTIAGO, PANAMA

That morning we went to Church, just 10 blocks away from our hostal and then I felt like the grim reaper had me in his clutches. Extreme fatigue and achiness, accompanied with the usual intestinal problems. I had a gnarly fever too so I went back to the hostal to take a nap. Waking up, I felt surpisingly better but everytime I exerted myself in anyway I felt like crap. We got on the road anyways and made it to Santiago, Panama when Chase’s bike started trembling under acceleration. It should have been an easy diagnosis but in my sick and exhausted haze it took me awhile to notice that his rear sprocket was totally obliterated. So there we were…on the side of the road in the rain. Changing a sprocket (We brought an extra, because boyscouts are always prepared) while my body felt as if it suddenly aged 70 years. It’s a memory I will hold dear to my heart. We got everything sorted out and had to spend the night in the same city.

some panamanian splendor
some panamanian splendor
more panamanian splendor
more panamanian splendor
and more.
and more.
and more.
and more.
Out with the old & in with the new.
Out with the old & in with the new.
Badly beaten with sickness and motorcycle problems. Our disgusting chinese hotel was harder to enjoy.
Badly beaten with sickness and motorcycle problems. Our disgusting chinese hotel was harder to enjoy.

MONDAY JULY 1ST – DAY 26 – SANTIAGO, PANAMA – PANAMA CITY

Feeling just as crappy as the day before we set off for Panama City. We needed to get another spare sprocket now for my bike which looked like it only had a few hundred miles left on the sprocket. Poor chain maintenance had cost us a bit. We crossed the Panama Canal and took a little detour to get as close as we could before we entered the city to begin our hunt for a sprocket for a bike that isn’t really sold outside the US. It was quite a hopeless endeavour but we found one that was almost identical except it didn’t have 8 screw holes, it had 6. So we went to a machine shop to get it redrilled. We stopped later at La Casa de Carmen, a well-known hostal here in the city. Most of the guys here are from Jamaica or the Carribean. More than anything it was nice to have a place to lay down while in my sickly state.

Onwards to Panama City
Onwards to Panama City
Quick pit stop at an eastern facing Pacific Ocean beach. no waves.
Quick pit stop at an eastern facing Pacific Ocean beach. no waves.
the pretty sand on the same beach.
the pretty sand on the same beach.
30 mins outside of Panama City
30 mins outside of Panama City
The Centennial Bridge crossing over the Panama Canal
The Centennial Bridge crossing over the Panama Canal
Crossing over the Panama Canal!
Crossing over the Panama Canal!
The Canal in action. The locks were a little further to the left.
The Canal in action. The locks were a little further to the left.
Coming into Panama City
Coming into Panama City
Part of our neverending search through the city for a sprocket.
Part of our neverending search through the city for a sprocket.
We found some random dude that was willing to take us to the Kawasaki Dealership. It was a little difficult to keep up. Here he is zipping through same tamer streets on his 150cc motorcycle. Chase is getting pretty good at taking action pics on the bike!
We found some random dude that was willing to take us to the Kawasaki Dealership. It was a little difficult to keep up. Here he is zipping through same tamer streets on his 150cc motorcycle. Chase is getting pretty good at taking action pics on the bike!

At the moment I’m still trying to get the sprocket thing fixed on my bike; the guy that drilled the holes did a poor job and I need him to re-do it. We hope to leave for Colon, Colombia today to find a boat captain to take us to Colombia for a cheap price. It is the second day here waiting on sickness, sprockets, other random mechanical problems and boat captain responses, etc. Aside from that we’ve just been chillin with the Jamaicans and Carribean Islanders that live here.

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