Five highlights from the past two days
- A PANCAKE-POWERED DESCENT TO THE OCEAN: I left San Jose yesterday morning at about 9am after a delicious free pancake breakfast and saying goodbye and handing out business cards to the new friends Nikki and I made while at the hostel. Then I rode a long and fast 130K mostly downhill to Punta Arenas on the Pacific, arriving 30 minutes before the last ferry of the day for the Nicoya Peninsula. I didn’t even dream of making it that far so I was unprepared. Should I ferry to the peninsula and ride the dirt roads 40k to a beautiful beach town I’ve heard so much about, or should I go tomorrow, or should I just continue quickly up the Pan-American Highway?
- RUSHED RESEARCH: I had 30 minutes to research and decide what to do. I opened the lonely planet while making conversation about the peninsula with a woman who works in a local restaurant. The verdict: the ferry arrives before dark, and there are hostels and restaurants there. So I didn’t buy food, nor worry about daylight. I just went to the ferry, laid my bike down in line with all the cars and motorcycles, and read about the Peninsula. The more I see and read, the more Costa Rica reminds me that eco-tourism can be a successful economic alternative for developing countries. It’s not perfect (in fact, there is a lot of destruction in the name of Eco-Tourism Development) but compared to Paraguay’s 93%-destroyed Alto Parana Atlantic Forest and continued poverty Costa Rica is looking delicious.
- ARRIVING IN A DARK JUNGLE: The sun set while we were still on the water and I thought, “Oh well, at least there will be hostels…” Then I was reading the Lonely Planet and it said the town is actually 4 kilometers away from the port where the ferry arrives. The ferry arrived at port and there were no hostels or restaurants. I had to decide whether to pitch camp somewhere in the dark, which i never do, or ride 4K in the dark, which I also never do. I decided to pitch camp. In the darkness I found a place next to the driveway of a house that didn’t seem to have any dogs or people around.
- ANXIOUS SLEEP, DOGS, AND MONKEYS: Over the course of this trip I have learned to sleep in almost any condition, but I didn’t sleep well this night for a variety of reasons, hunger being one of them, fear of getting caught for trespassing being another. In the middle of the night two dogs found me and stood a few meters away barking at my tent for about 15 minutes. I didn’t move an inch. The lights came on in the house and I heard people talking but fortunately nobody came out with a rifle. I woke up this morning to howler monkeys hooting and growling right above my tent (Scared the spandex off of me! Howler monkeys are the loudest land animal in the world and they throw their voices at you like a tin can filled with coins and thunder). I watched them from the tent for a while and let nostalgia soak into my soul– these were the first howler monkeys I had seen since Bolivia almost a year ago. When I got up to take photos and videos they didn’t scatter. There were about ten in total, one with a baby on its back.
- RIDING COSTA RICA’S JUNGLE ROADS: After packing up the tent I rode back to the port to get water, and it just so happens there was an open restaurant too! Rice and beans for breakfast never tasted so good… On the ride to the beach town I’m in now (Montezuma) I passed more packs of howler monkeys. They seemed so friendly and unafraid I decided to climb one of the trees they were in. My first time hanging out in a tree with monkeys, and I got a video of it! Then I stopped in a town for a banana shake and a man said to me, “Look at the papagayo!” and up in the hollow of a tree was a scarlet macaw, the bright red kind with the blue and yellow on its wings– first time seeing that too!
So I made it here to Montezuma, found a hotel to guard my bike and then hiked to the famous waterfall. I continue to see monkeys and giant iguanas. It’s hard to believe I was in giant San Jose yesterday!