Five highlights from the past two days

26 02 2010
  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Read the rest of this entry »

Nikki’s Latest Update. We’re in Costa Rica!

22 02 2010

Well dernit, I guess I can’t use Nikki for her updates anymore. Oh well, I’ll milk this for what it’s worth while she’s still here ­čÖé

Celebrating WI-FI and milkshakes at the Dome in beach town Uvitas, Costa Rica

In all seriousness, having a green friend from Arizona join Ride for the Trees for the past month has been a blessing. Nikki, thanks for the good company, you’ve been an inspiration, especially when you encourage me to “Hurry up and pick up those diapers!” from the side of the road. (We’ve been towing forest garbage around Central America. Thank you for not littering along my route. The load gets heavy sometimes!)

Anywho, here is an excerpt and a few photos from her latest email home outlining the highlights of our beach-to-mountains ride through Costa Rica:

“I love my bike! On 2/13, a very rainy day, we made it into Costa Rica. You may ask how Sam and I motivate ourselves to ride through torrential down pours– if so you clearly have not heard us rap with our chorus being “Riding down the road towards Costa Rica.”

Cruisin' Costa Rica

So it seemed the vegetation rapidly changed to lush “jungle-ness”. In looking at the map and the miles we needed to put in we decided to ride a couple days along the cost, check some beaches, and then head up to the mountains. I was like “sweet, mountains. I’m up for a challenge!” Challenge it was! Try riding up to 10,000 feet through/above clouds, SINGING Hallelujah by┬áLeonard Cohen. The lack of oxygen will get you even if you live at 7,000 and sing the national anthem every morning! (It’s American Pie, Right?)

So we are heading up into the mountains, then BAM! Sam’s shifter cable breaks and the extra cables he has brought for his 10,000 mile ride are too short! This calls for team Sherlock, with Sam’s intellect and language skills, a welder’s generosity and fire, and my stunning company we MacGyver our way back onto the road. Aka we welded the shifter cable… for the record it is possible and Sam’s has held strong.

The Clouds

Beauty was everywhere: mountains, birds soaring, clouds, goats, and houses on cliff edges. There was the infrequent worry of falling off the road or one of the many speeding Mac trucks losing it breaks, but mostly Sam and I were calmly chugging upward and stopping at the welcomed coffee stops. Weather has been beautiful, and we would try to listen to the Howler Monkeys for clues about rain. After the top of the climb Sam and I had about 1.5 days of downhill riding! It was glorious, cruising around these windy roads and leaning into curves. I think we actually were passing cars! (Parked cars count.) We road downhill all the way to San Jose! What a sweet ending to my ride, we couldn’t have planned it better! We are now hanging in San Jose. We are going to get a bike box, see some museums, run some errands. Sam needs some real tent stakes so he can get rid of the rail road ties he is carrying to stake out his tent. Then I am flying out and Sam has about four more months on the bike till the US! Everything passed so fast!

Packing up the tent at sunrise. Grassy-cliff-overlooking-Costa-Rican-Valley camp.

Costa Rica is expensive so we have been camping. Where do we camp? On wonderful nights we camp in a generous person’s back yard, a beautiful beach with coconuts and a body surfing cave, or an empty house lot on a cliff that overlooked a valley. Other nights we climbed over/under/around barbed wire to a small tuft of bumpy ground or pile of rocks and sticks to snooze…we made it work. Wherever we are, sleep always finds us. =)

Well, I love and miss you all. I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. I will be back in Flagstaff and to work Thursday.


ps. if you have not checked out sam’s webpage or blog please do! its below…there is a link to his blog from the site.

pps. So, so far I love bike touring, It is an amazing way to travel, and right now I am trying to talk Jakki (sis) into touring across the US with me…maybe…my bike does need to make it home first…or well i guess we could use mom and dad’s tandem…anyone want to join? HA HA!

the welded shifter cable holding strong