I was still fuming the first few miles of Costa Rica after feeling so violated from the Nicaragua border crossing. I finally calmed down since it was in the past, and there wasn’t much that I could do about it, and made the turn out of Canas toward Laguna de Arenal. The road ascends on a curvy road eventually reaching the lake and following the contours on a narrow road to our hotel high on a bluff, overlooking Laguna de Arenal.
In the late afternoon, Gypsy and I took a walk from the hotel and find a small trail leading to a peninsula jutting out into the lake. It is so very peaceful that all you can hear is the rustle of leaves and breaking twigs beneath our feet as we slowly make our way to the water’s edge. Gypsy froze as we hear a small twig break to our right and see a flurry of a moving animal through the branches about 10 meters off the side of the trail. Peering into the woods I see what appears to be a large racoon with a black and white striped tail, the tail pointed straight to the sky. I see one, then two, and as my eyes adjust and focus on the animals, about 12 appear. They look at us as startled to see us as we are to see them, and turn and silently disappear into the woods. I later find out they are the Costa Rican Coatimundi, a racoon like creature.
We spend the next few days enjoying the lake views, volcano views and hot springs. There is a stream running near the road that is heated thermally from the volcanoes in the area. You can go to a resort for $US65, or stop at the bridge down from the resorts and enjoy the babbling, terraced warm stream for free. Of course, we opt for the free stream and change into our swim suits at the edge of the water and lounge in the soothing waters for an hour or so.
While there we are told about a bridge outside of La Fortuna called Iguana Bridge. It seems that Iguanas just hang out at the bridge to have their pictures taken. We ride over to see if it’s true and find a few just waiting in the branches of trees, some close enough to reach out and touch.
While we are still at Lake Arenal, a friend of mine from Minnesota, Donna Kennedy, contacts us and offers us a place to stay at a place she owns north of San Ramon in a beautiful place called Angel Valley. Donna is a motorcycle traveler and LD rider and we are part of the same national and international communities. Angel Valley is at an elevation just meters below the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest.
She is not using it at the time, so we take her up on her generous offer and base ourselves for a couple of weeks of exploration out of her beautiful Inn. The Angel Valley Bed and Breakfast is opening again soon and will be a stopover place for overlanders to recharge and explore the area.
Riding down to Angel Valley from La Fortuna we follow a great road that twists and turns through many eco systems with views of Volcan Arenal for the first few miles. Donna had recommended a place partway down called Lands in Love Hotel and Resort. It is known for the chocolate cake and coffee they serve so we had to stop and see what all the fuss was about. I believe this is the richest dark chocolate cake I have ever eaten and the fresh ground Costa Rican coffee is the perfect combination.
The first area to be explored is an area around the Poás Volcano, north of San Ramon. We take off on some back roads and finally reach Parque Nacional Volcan Poás, and walk to an observation area above the duel crater and lake.
The views are fantastic and we just stand there and enjoy the cool breezes and views. Leaving the park, we head north on 126 to Cataratas Arallanes, a great waterfall that is right beside the road. Deciding to let Mr. Garmin help us with a shortcut back was again a mistake as the road headed toward Volcan Poás and terrible gravel to a washout without a road and through what seemed to be a cow pasture. At this point I decided to use my compass and try to find a way to a road I knew ran north/south and back toward where we were staying. After an interesting couple of hours, we ended up about 5kms north of the gravel road to the Inn.
Donna let us know of a Tope happening in Punta Arenas on Saturday. We thought it was a festival but it turned out to be a night parade of Mexican/Pacifino horses all doing a high step. This is an important tradition in Costa Rica dating from colonial times. The horses are beautiful and we enjoy the festivities surrounding the entire event.
My rear tire was down to maybe 1000kms left when I noticed to screw in the tread. A quick plug fixed the problem, but I still needed a tire. Most of the shops you come across deal with small bikes, thus small size tires. A recommended shop in town carried the size rear tire I needed, but all the tires were all tied up in customs with new regulations, and had been for two weeks. Seems nobody has this common size tire. A post on FB saved the day as Sandy Borden from California knew the guys from Touratech Costa Rica and they had one tire of the size I needed. A little less dirt and more road than I wanted, but it’s still a good tire. Thanks Sandy and Touratech CR!
Our next ride takes us through San Jose and over to a couple active volcanoes, Volcan Turrialba and Volcan Irazú. The ride and day were beautiful and mid-day we stop to get money out of our ATM. Well, neither of our Wells Fargo cards work. A phone call to them reveals they think we have exceeded our limit for the day which was impossible. I drew money out of the bank after my cards stopped working but why have an ATM card that doesn’t work? Time for a new bank when we return.
We are riding through lush green, tropical rainforest terrain, through small villages and enjoying the afternoon when the blue skies turn dark and the rain starts. Seems like this is needed to keep things lush and green. After about an hour of medium to light rain we arrive at the beautiful valley of Orosi, and find our hostel, the House of Coffee. We are the only ones there and, as it is still raining and now dark, we unpack and I head out to find some food to cook. Looks like chicken, noodles and fresh veggies are on the menu for tonight. Our host gets home from her job later and we sit and chat and realize, again, how lucky we are.
The next day the skies are bright blue, the air is cool and everything is green, such beautiful contrasts in this little valley. Riding toward town and crossing a little one-lane suspension bridge we find a little bakery to have our morning meal while standing beside the bike on such a beautiful morning. We hop on Pan-American Highway 2 for a twisting ride through Parque Nacional Los Quetzales on the way to the Pacific coast, and our destination for the night, the Wide Mouth Frog Hostel in Quepos. Neat little hostel near downtown with great secure parking for the bike. Quepos is near the Manuel Antonio Nacional Parque, a fabulous area boosting sloths and turtles. We see neither as you must be lucky to see them, so we hear.
Heading back to San Miguel we stop at Crocodile Bridge to see the famous crocodiles. These huge beasts just hang out under the bridge, some at least 4 meters in length.
You must wonder why they stay here, stationary in the water and on the banks. What kind of critters are being dropped off the bridge for them to feast on…