Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 25/26 - Rivas, Nicaragua, to Jacó, Costa Rica

RobT:  Tried drying some clothes I washed last night but figured I'd bungee them to the bike and let the wind finish the job.  We have roughly 250 km and a border crossing before we get to RobC's friend Carter in Jacó, Costa Rica. (RobC edit: I know Carter from a ride in Peru a couple of years ago. He is a most congenial chap who divides his time between scuba diving instruction, managing a large marina, developing land for housing, etc. He is originally from Virginia, but is totally at home in Costa Rica.)

Nicaragua border - quite chaotic.

As we approached the border we passed a long, long line of semi-trucks parked along the road waiting their turn at the border.  Must have been at least a hundred trucks.  We got to the border and were immediately attacked by people asking if we needed money exchanged or help with our document procedures.  It was almost too much.  At one point RobC had to tell them to back off so we could regroup.  It was a very tedious process to get checked out of Nicaragua.  More money had to exchange hands, 10 USD for customs, 10 USD for immigration and 10 USD each for our fixer.  No receipts could be produced when we asked the fixer to see where the money went.  His reply, "The stamps on the documents are the receipts."  We had to trust him on that (but we didn't).  The actual border was a mess of scattered trucks, buildings in no particular order, mud and garbage everywhere and buses unloading hoards of people.  We had read the border crossing could be lengthy and cumbersome and that this was intentional, as there were a lot of people traveling south into Costa Rica from northern countries looking for work and a better life.  Our fixer mentioned the police were checking everyone's luggage to make sure they had some cash.  I guess it was their way to make sure you weren't coming across with nothing.  Looking back, I would always use a fixer.  10 USD gets you the paperwork filled out properly and gets you at the front of the line.  The lines were long.  Having said that, this was the first border crossing since Mexico we had to personally accompany our passports, yet we managed to get through that one quickly. 

Costa Rican border.

It was as if someone turned on a tap when we crossed the border into Costa Rica.  Rain, rain, rain, and not just drizzle .... at times, some serious downpours. The vegetation reflected this.  Very lush and every shade of green you could imagine.  So much for drying my laundry on the back of the bike.

After the border procedures to get into Costa Rica, we decided to stop for lunch at a roadside restaurant.  Across the street was Burger King on one side and McDonald's on the other, Cinnabon and Church's Chicken in the strip mall ..... suburban USA in Costa Rica.

More warnings of mudslides and, yes, there were a few we passed along the way that seemed fresh, as the police had actually blocked part of the road with their vehicles.  The pavement had cracked down the yellow line and you could see the shoulder was missing.

Anyway, we made it to Carter's place just after dark. He has an opulent house on the top of a steep hill. (RobC edit: RobT was brave enough to drive up the winding, slippery, gravel path - and (of course) he slipped on the grass and almost tipped his bike over into a steep ravine. Score is now 5 to 3. I learned from his ride up and I drove up with fear and trembling, and fortunately had no problems).

Day 26:

Spent today working on the bikes.  Rained allll day .... non-stop and some serious downpours again.  There were times you had to shout over the din of the rains in order to be heard.  Roads closed to the north and to the south.  Bridges out, landslides.  Feels like we got 6 inches of rain, at least.  There were even two small landslides on Carter's driveway!  The Costa Rican government declared a state of emergency due to the torrential rains over the past 36 hours.  In  parts near San José, not far from us, 16 cm of rain fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  Damage due to downpours were reported in 34 of the country's 81 cantons.  We had several landslides and flooding in our area.  

Changed the oil, serviced the chain,spaced out the mounting frame for the pannier, so I can access the fuel, trying to modify the windscreen (way too turbulent around the helmet), checked the tires, did laundry and both bikes got a wash.  Good thing too, noticed my rear rim was bent.  Seems to be okay, but need to get that looked at.  Must have happened when I hit one of the many potholes in Honduras.

Carter's "garage" (about half of it - it even has two bathrooms).

RobC:  It is still raining on Thursday night, but we are getting a bit of cabin fever. So, we may make a break for it tomorrow. We are on the Pacific coast right now, where all the wash-outs are, but we hear that things are fine on the Atlantic side. We may have to go to that side of the country to be able to get to the Panama border tomorrow. Can you imagine driving from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic ocean in a few hours?

We'll  keep you posted.


  1. Oooo, how nice to have a rain storm!

    Do you guys have a rough guess as to when you'll be landing in Lima? Maybe for US Thanksgiving (25th)? Maybe sooner.

    Love reading your updates.


  2. Hi Lisa and José,

    We are running a little behind because of the Costa Rican rain and landslide experience, but Lima for Thanksgiving may be a possibility. We'll keep you posted.

    Give the little one a hug from me,

  3. Hmmnnnn.... 5 to 3? Lemme guess.... Robbie's the 5 ;) LMAO!