Costa Rica

May 30, 2014

By the time we reached Costa Rice we had put around 6000 miles (10,000km) on our bikes since leaving Texas. That means its time for a service. Luckily, back in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, we met Ricardo by chance. Janell was standing on the balcony of our hostel in San Miguel checking out the view with Skyla when a gentlemen yelled from bellow “Are you going to Manaus?” followed by “come downstairs” so we did and introduced ourselves to Ricardo. He invited us to take a walk around San Miguel during which time we exchanged stories and he sold us on spending a few days in San Jose, Costa Rica, where he knew a good mechanic if we needed any work done.

We arrived in San Jose late on 14 May 2014. In fact it had been dark for some time and lightly raining. We had only a street name to find our accommodation and after riding around for some time with no luck, decided to go to McDonald’s to get wifi and contact the owner for more specific directions. A somewhat ironic situation unfolded as Janell got lost, missing a turn that Stu had taken. Without any navigation and a spaghetti of one-way streets she gave up trying to backtrack and went in search of the McDonald’s. No luck there either, she stumbled upon a Pizza Hut. No-one spoke any English but they seemed to understand "lost" and "McDonald’s" so one of the delivery guys very kindly hopped on his motorbike, beckoning Janell to follow, and escorted her all the way to the nearest McDonald’s. He even blocked 2 lanes of traffic so she could get in to the very challenging car park. It was not the McDonalds Stu and Skyla were at but both ends had wifi and were able to use google+ locations to see each other on a map and work from there.

At 10pm, wet and weary, we finally pulled in to our accommodation that we had arranged through airbnb. We stayed in a family home in Heredia with a lovely lady who works at the university teaching cooking. Over breakfast the next morning we discovered that she usually rents rooms out for two to three week periods to adults who want to come to Costa Rica, take Spanish lessons and do some sight seeing. Opportunities like this are out there if you're brave enough to try something different. Some Spanish lessons definitely wouldn't go astray if you're travelling through Central and South America.

While our stay in Heredia was lovely it was a little out of our usual budget and not central so for the next three nights we stayed at the top of a mountain at Hotel Paradise Costa Rica, $35 a night total including breakfast. Check out the view we got to enjoy...

Costa Rica has a very interesting modern history which has resulted in a prosperous country that is quite different to its neighbours. In 1948/49 there was a civil war in Costa Rica that resulted in the abolishment of its military and today, there is still no military. San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and remnants of the war are visible if you go looking. We were told that San Jose also had the first McDonalds outside of America. We counted 9 MacDonalds during our transiting around the city with a population around 300,000.

First on our Costa Rica to-do list was getting the bikes serviced. Work before pleasure is really important on a trip like this. Ricardo met us at Hector Bujan's motorbike workshop (HLBujan Taller de Motorcicletas - at 8am and it took all day non-stop for Hector to get all the work done for us. Ricardo had given Hector a heads-up about us prior to arriving in Costa Rica so he put all his work aside for the day to get our bikes done asap. To speed things along even more and keep the cost down, Ricardo drove us around to different shops to get various parts for the bikes.

So Janells bike had:
  • oil change
  • new chain and sprocket
  • replaced factory air filter with a K&M filter guaranteed to last 1 000 000 miles (that should make it around the world)
  • new right blinker, not a BMW part but does the job
  • new front steering bearings
Stus bike had:
  • oil change
  • air filter clean (Stu's bike had a K&M air filter already so it just needed a clean)
  • new right blinker, also not a BMW part

With the 'work' out the way, the next day Ricardo took the three of us to see a volcano, Parque Nacional Volcan Irazu, at an altitude of 3432m. Skyla really enjoyed the car ride and it was cold on top of the mountain so she was happy to stay in the car while we took a walk around. It was a perfect day thanks to Ricardo. Had a coffee at the top of the volcano and bought some local coffee liqueur, stopped at a unique restaurant with business cards everywhere for lunch on the way down, bought some local produce to munch on and took lots of photo's.

On a clear day, from the top of the volcano you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. We didn't have a clear day, in fact we had lots and lots of clouds but it was just as spectacular standing on the mouth of the volcano above the clouds. Before returning us to our hotel Ricardo took us for a drive around San Jose to seem some of the highlights including a Church that his great grandmother funded.

Our three days in Costa Rica were so productive and enjoyable thanks to Ricardo. We accomplished a lot and could not have done it without his help. Thanks again Ricardo

Coming up next we have to get from Panama to South America.

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