Day 38 – Monteverde, Costa Rica

I’ve only been in Costa Rica three days, but I’m already considering moving here.  Like most places, there is a shortage of doctors.  I could see myself practicing here for a few years after I finish my training.  The country has so much to offer.  There hasn’t been a dull moment since we got here.  I am constantly blown away by the scenery.  Several times each hour I think to myself: “Goddam that’s so cool”.  Whether I’m looking at the idyllic beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, the lush leafy jungle that frames the roads, or hot rocks spewing from Volcan Arenal, there always seems to be something to dazzle the eye.

Costa Rica has given me a number of firsts.  Here I crossed my first river (and my second, and third…).  I saw my first monkey in the wild.  I rode across a swaying pedestrian bridge hanging high above a river (for a moment I thought the bike was going to tumble into the river below).  I saw Volcan Arenal throw red hot house-sized boulders down it’s flanks and blow a column of ash into the sky.  I swam in a volcano-heated mountain river gushing through the rainforest.  Tomorrow I am going on a canopy zip-line tour of the cloud forest at Monteverde.

I have always wanted to visit Costa Rica.  I had high expectations, but even so my expectations have been wildly exceeded.  This is what adventure motorcycling is all about.  It is so fantastic here that it will hurt to leave.  I could easily spend the rest of the summer here.  Alas, Machu Picchu calls.

In addition to these, while in a remote part of the Nicoya peninsula, on a dirt road between river crossings, I lost all power.  A fuse had blown.  The spare fuse.  So I had to get my bike going with a piece of tin foil wrapped around the burned out fuse.  Definitely a first.  You know you’re on a motorcycle adventure when, soaking wet from riding through rivers, you have to start your bike with a piece of foil from a cigarette pack.

I would also like to thank Kike (our friend from Guatemala City) for his advice to cut the hoses on my bike.  He found out the hard way that if the water level rises above the bottom of the hoses (as he demonstrated by pinching them) the engine cuts out.  Not something you want to have happen in the middle of a fast flowing river.  My bike did not stall.  Although on about the 4th or 5th crossing I rode it right into a bank.  What can I say – it’s hard to turn in the water.

The ride to Monteverde from Volcan Arenal was a lot of fun.  The road around Lake Arenal was a great way to start the day.  It was a twisty paved road with great views of the lake and volcano.  Closer to Monteverde, things got a bit more hairy because it was raining heavily on the dirt roads we were on.  One section of road (which was actually within sight of the hotel we were aiming to reach) was covered by a thick layer of mud.  I saw Ted’s bike slide out, sending him sprawling into the gunk.  (Why is Ted always leading when we hit impassable sections of road?).  We struggled to get Ted’s bike up and in a position where he could ride it out, both of us getting covered in mud in the process.  His bike was stuck in a deep rut on the side of the track and wouldn’t start.  At one point, Ted considered leaving it there until the next day, when hopefully it would be drier.

There was no way I was going to try to get my bike down that section of road.  A local on a motorbike who came down the road said there was an alternate route to the hotel.  After turning my bike around on the slippery downslope, I left Ted standing in the mud trying to get his bike out of the ditch and followed the local biker on a 5 minute detour.  Unfortunately, the mud extended about the same distance past the hotel entrance coming from the other way as well.  I didn’t want to try and get through, especially since another weld had broken on my luggage rack and I thought I would likely lose the entire rack if I dropped the bike. 

Meanwhile Ted had gotten his bike started.  The owner of the hotel had come out (in his loafers and cream coloured slacks) and directed Ted to another entrance to the property.  The road was so slippery that Ted slid past the entrance and got the rear tire stuck in a pit.  It took both the owner and another guest of the hotel to lift him out.  I ended up parking my bike at the hotel down the hill.  If my luggage rack wasn’t in such bad shape, I think I may have given the muddy slope a go just for kicks…


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