My Short tour of Costa Rica

January 18-19, 2010

Costa Rica is so Americanized they’ll accept US Dollars or Colones.
$1 = ~550 colones
It was some strange math to wrap my brain around.


The room at Playas del Coco was clean, inexpensive ($20/night) and beachfront, and since i was still thinking I had plenty fo time to get to Panama, I decided t stay another day. I was also trying to get in touch with Dr. Monica in Liberia, as well as a couple I met in line at the Costa Rica border–an American couple that operate a tropical fish farm in Costa Rica who’d given me their phone # and invited me for a visit. It sounded like a great thing to do, and I knew they were somewhere close.

While sitting on the porch waking up, JP and I visited with some other folks at the hotel a latvian/american woman, her child, her Costa Rican husband and her Latvian mother. Cute kid! But soooooo serious. The Costa Rican fellow looked over maps with JP and I, and gave us advice for things to see in Costa Rica.


The beach in front of the hotel in the daytime (It was Sunday morning and a tour bus pulled up in front of our hotel and unloaded about 50 beachgoers at 6:30 am!!


People sit in the back of *any* moving vehicle to get around

I was not able too make contact with the fish farm people, but I connected with Dr. Monica, so on Monday I headed to Liberia.

First stop, a German Bakery where Andreas told me I had to stop–he’d befriended the baker on his rride through Central America. Joe, the baker, was not there, so I snapped a pic for Andreas and left.


Remember how I called it Gringo Rica?




New Country, new terminology: I learned that a ‘gasolinera‘ (gas station) was called a ‘bomba‘ in CR.


Dr. Monica runs the Santa Monica radiological center across from the hospital in liberia, Costa Rica. Her “specialty” is radiology, but her personal passion is breast cancer screening. The funny thing is, when we were introduced by email, we did not know we had that common thread. She read on my web page that my ride to South America was an awareness / fund raiser for breast and ovarian cancer cures, and so we decided we HAD to meet and see what we could create.

I met Dr. Monica at 2:00, and the TV crew came to interview us about my ride/ her services at 2:30.

They interviewed me first (I was so nervous! and worried about my Spanish) I got to relax and take pictures of her while they interviewed her.

The lovely Dr. Monica




After the interviews and Dr. Monica saw a few patients, she invited me to dinner.

A quick tour of downtown Liberia on the way:

The old church–I was disappointed it was not open so I could see inside.


Liberia is in Guanacaste province, and she drove me by this tree to show me an example of a Guanacaste tree–and also told me there was a community project to save the tree–as the city grew–and the tree grew– the tree turned out to be in the center of this street. The townspeople fought to save it, and now wveyone just drives around it. The tree is hundreds of years old.



I got up early the next morning and walked to a small cafe across from the emergency room of the hospital, and had breakfast. Um, I am not sure what everything was, but it was good, and thankfully not too expensive (I think about $5). By the way, Costa Rica is EXPENSIVE! I was in wallet shock. Yeah, it seems liek the $20 beachfront hotel was an anomaly…in Playas del Coco JP and I went out for dinner together…a medium pizza, 2 beers and a soda was $26!!! (I’d been paying $3.00 for big plates of food in Nicaragua!)


Next day I was off and riding through some of the most spectacular countryside

Rich farmland


Rolling hills



Remember I said people ride in all manner of strange places on the roads? Can you see this guy in the middle of the garbage heap?


I’d been told that Monte Verde was great, so I decided to head there.

This sign cracks me up: the road is not well marked in this town, so instead, they made a sign to tell all the people who missed the missing sign where to go: Yes, I had to do a U turn myself. Thank goodness for the sign, telling you what you missed when the othe sign was missing!

By this point I had goose bumps. I was also at pretty good elevation, so rather than riding in 9000 degrees, it was only about 80.

Oh and about the missing sign place the road changed to gravel

And even more spectacular

Past some coffee cooperatives

Check out this restaurant built around a tree…cool idea…and too bad I was not hungry…

Just incredible

I’d asked for directions to the southern roads, and the fellow I asked turned out to be a local tour bus operator…he told me not to miss the crocodilios.



Yeah, quad tours in the Pan American Highway

A few miles later I pulled over to take a look at the map.

I smelled gas. Stinky. That rots because I’d been having problems with the gas cap, and the last guy that filled my tank filled it to the extreme…but wait, the bike won’t start. I bend over to look at the fuel petcock and YIKES! Fuel is gushing out thee side of the bike and all over my left pantleg. I throw the kickstand down and get off the bike…sheeshsa…it though it was supposed to be a vacuum seal like my DR35o and not pour out?!?!?! Guess not, since thi bike actually turns out to have a “OFF” switch…so I get the gusher stopped.

And I find the culprit

About this time a local fellow comes by and asks if I need help…I explain, and he sets off to the store for a piece of gas tubing. I am smart enough to send him with the piece of ruptured tubing so he knows what size…

So I entertain myself by taking pictures

So the fellow comes back, brings me a piece of tubing, it fits, and voila’! Roadside emergency solved in 15 minutes. Brilliant!

No, he will not let me pay for the part. Where am I staying that night? Because he works at a hotel in Manual Antonio. I ask how much, $40. Ouch, too expensive I tell him. He says he knows another hotel close by for $20. I decide to follow my good fortune fairy and get all set up. well, I wonder if he will want anything–I am tired, hot, hungry, and while he was nice I do not want to feel obligated. We chat for a bit, he asks me if I want a beer, I say yes (I hate beer but I want to buy him one) SO we walk down to the little tienda, I buy him a can of fake beer as he tells me he does not drink (so why did he want a beer?!?) and I get a Smirnoff ice in a can. I am so hot and tired and hungry I can feel myself starting to get really drunk off just one can, and thankfully he says goodbye and rolls on out leaving me to my shower. I am wasted from the 1 can of drink, and walk next door for dinner, forgetting to take pics of my yummy food. I still felt drunk even after eating so I went to sleep and slept the sleep of the dead from 8 pm to 6 am.

The next morning I ride out to Manuel Antonio and see total and utter Gringolandia. SO built up for tourists. Ecotourism? Ha.

But a nice beach

Then I ride by this, um, airplane?

Wait, it’s been turned into a restaurant

The place is not open yet so I walk all around and take pics

The road is under construction

A decide to make a little tour and ride the peninsula to Puerto Jiminez since it looks cool on the map (in fact it was hotter than blazes!) yet pretty spectacular…

And then pretty stressful when I had to cross this bridge

then this one

Maybe I should have gone through thi instead?

Wait, one more to cross

and yes, one more

I did stop for a coffee at a beautiful little mirador

And then rolled on down the road (literally)


Well I tried to get a hotel room down there in Puerto Jiminez but the uppity brits’ attitude thoroughly turned me off, so what do I do?

I looked at the map, and while there were roads around the peninsula, some of them appeared mere tracks on the map. I could not seem to get a definitive answer from locals, so I decided because of the 9000 degree heat to play it safe a backtrack, unfortunately back over all those bridges under construction…


The Costa Rican fellow I’d met a few days ago in Playas del Coco had suggested a stop in Piedras Blancas and spend the night there before crossing into Panama .

Well, perfectly BAD advice. It was a horrid little town, none of the hotels had a room for whatever reason, and I ended up with the LAST room in town, UN airconditioned, and it was 950 degrees. The did not have safe parking for my bike, so I chained it to the front entrance of the hotel (which was across from the bus station–always yucky places!) AND no internet to entertain myself. Bummer.

Oh yeah, and it was $18 no less. I was really unhappy and really hot. Honestly, I was happy to be leaving Costa Rica.

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