Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It is hard to not like Costa Rica. But somehow I´m doing it. You hear it over and over, how great it is, how beautiful, how sustainable, blah blah. It is flat-out not good for bike touring. Unless you like pushing your bike up wickedly steep hills, with trucks and motor bikes regularly dusting you out. If the road isn´t like that, it is crazy busy and scary with buses and trucks. Have only had a couple days where the riding was actually enjoyable, which is sad. It is also expensive. I guess travelling in SE Asia has spoiled me forever. I see the $90 a night bungalows here and think, ¨wow, those would´ve been maybe $15 in Thailand¨. The food is not great, not terrible, but moderately expensive, too. I haven´t had one memorable meal yet, really, and that is a sad thing, since enjoyment of food is a big motivator for bike touring for me. Massive steaks in Argentina, wonderful seafood stew in Chile, everything in Thailand, those are burned in my memory, and all I can say here is that I´m not going to eat any peanut butter or rice & beans for quite a while after we get home.
That complaining aside, we are having as good of a time as we can. Hard to be too disappointed with spending the holidays on beautiful beaches, even if the rides to said beaches are wiping us out. Our interactions with everyone have been friendly, never any hassles or harassment. I´m not really sure what I´m looking for with travel these days, but I feel like we are not really finding it on this trip. Am I jaded, grumpy, or just getting too old to fully embrace serious physical suffering? I´ll think about it, and let you know. And pics to follow, too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The hard parts

The hard parts of bike touring often fade in my memory from one trip to the next. Then I have to get slapped by reality every new trip.
Our first day of the tour we rode 9 hours, climbed over 5000 ft., got rained on, dumped on actually, and descended a road scary and damaged enough that it was technically closed, though plenty of traffic was still using it. Since then we´ve had a few more days of rain, and much easier riding, though it has mostly been very tiring. It is hard to go from riding an unloaded bike a couple hours to a loaded bike many hours. What a surprise!
Anyway, it has been beautiful, and we´ve had a good time, and as so often is the case, its the little things that make our days- a store owner offering us free excellent coffee, for example. Now we are off for some more rugged riding around a volcano and a big lake, then on to what are apparently some of the worst dirt roads in the country, the only way to get to the Monteverde area. I´ll be sure to put some good pics up soon, though it has been hard to get many with all the rain. Oh, and our clothes are already getting moldy and stinky, despite daily washings. Fun!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thanks, NPR

So- serendipity takes over. Driving down to Tucson, just 5 days before our departure for Bogota, we hear a story on NPR about how La Nina has blasted Colombia with heavy rains, flooding and triggering landslides in almost all of the country. Further research upon arrival in AZ showed that not only has it been bad, but the forecasts say it'll stay bad, if not get worse, during what is usually the dry season of December-March.
So, long and frustrating story short, we changed plans. Now we are off to Costa Rica next week. The folks at American Airlines were friendly and fairly helpful, waiving a portion of the fees that such a change can bring on. Now we are getting some brief research in, but it helps that we've both been there, Karinne twice and me once. That one trip for me was great- climbed the highest peak in Central America one day, and learned to surf the next. I've heard it isn't that great for biking, with narrow roads and sometimes heavy traffic, but we'll deal with that as we go, and try to stay on side roads when possible.
My next update may well be from San Jose.