Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Torrential rains…

The wet season had finally began… and properly too. Up until now the worst rain I had seen in my life was in Wales… since today that has changed. What we saw coming down along the west coast of Costa Rica is hard to describe. A waterfall maybe, but waterfalls don't tend to be 360 degrees all around you. It only took an hour and a half but the amount of water that came down was unbelievable.

Still, we were in luck again. The owner of the campground we were staying on had directed us towards a big palapa and we had wisely followed his suggestion. It wasn't 100% waterproof but sure was a lot better than parking your tent in a waterfall. It was a little bit higher than the surrounding area too, which as we found later, was just as well as the rest of the campground flooded in 20 cm deep water.

We were also quite happy that we had not taken the campground we had found earlier, Rancho Remos. The steep dirt road up there had now become a mudslide. After the downpour we took a short walk to the nearby restaurant for a couple of great pizzas made by Scot, an ex-American who has now made his home in this beautiful part of Costa Rica. Scot rides a motorcycle himself, so guess what we were talking about :-) 

Getting to El Tecal, just south of Uvita, had been uneventful. A winding road past the ocean, nothing to write home about :-) The only unfortunate thing is that quite a few of the towns along the road are completely over commercialised. Places like Quepos have all the ingredients to become something spectacular, but they are unfortunately nothing but tacky tourist traps. We rode in and rode out again. A bit further on we wanted to stop to get something to eat, only to be confronted with a terrible road. We looked at it, saw all the tourist trap around us and realised they just wanted our wallets without bothering about our bikes or broken bones… and left.

About halfway we found a stranded motorcyclist with an Aprilia… not the most common bike here. It has the same engine as Mike's Yamaha XT660. The owner was a 17 year old local chef who had tried to get up the hill to work but the chain had come off… which had something to do with a chain that had never been adjusted in 17.000 km!

As tacky as Quepos had been, so friendly was Uvita and El Tecal. We decided to stay another day and found that in the afternoon it rained just as hard as it had done the day before! We were better prepared though, we had dug a couple of trenches which meant no more flood water threatening our tents.

A family matter meant we had put the trip on hold for a while, or so we thought. It turned out a bit different… As Costa Rica doesn't allow foreign vehicles in the country for longer than 90 days, and we had no idea how long this was going to take, we had no option but to ship them to Europe as well. We rode back to San Jose to find a shipping company that could ship from Limon to Europe… and found one! They ship bananas and other fruits but were willing to take a couple of motorbikes too.

So we went north towards San Jose. A beautiful winding road took us through the mountains and gave us a last glimpse of how rugged Costa Rica is. It is a beautiful country. It also took us over the Cerro de la Muerte, or Mountain of Death. The road climbs its way over a more than 11.000 ft pass and used to be a 3 day journey on foot. Many ill-prepared travellers succumbed to the cold and rain, which is how it ended up with the name Cerro de la Muerte. On the bike it was cold too, and we had rain as well, but no-where near death. It was going to be the last rain we had on the bikes in Costa Rica and Central America. 

In Cartago we witnessed the local Joe Bar Team, of course on 125cc motorcycles. They fooled around a bit. Performed stoppies and wheelies… and then found an undercover police squad was having lunch at the same parking area…! They weren't happy. The bikes were scrutinised and as they were somewhat modified, the Joe Bars had a lot of explaining to do :-)

From there it was a leisurely ride to Orosi where our GPS had found a good campground. Well, we thought we had found a good campsite… It turned out much better than that!