Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 28 - Jacó to ... stopped dead in Buenos Aires due to Landslides

RobT:  We had high hopes today of getting to the Panamanian border.  Initially we were going to make the run from Jacó to San José and on to Puerto Limón and cross into Panama on the Atlantic coast.  We checked the local road closure web site and the only route out was through San José, the capital city in the middle of the country.  We went into Jacó to fuel up and talked to some local police, who called ahead and asked about the road conditions on the Pacific route (shorter and preferred).  Passable, they said.  So we decided right there were going to give the Pacific route a try.

The first 100 km wasn't too bad.  Witnessed a lot of destruction from the flooding and rains.  Bridges washed into other bridges, road sections dropped a foot with no marking, furniture strewn in the ditches, cemeteries flooded, oil palm fields flooded, shop owners sweeping the mud out of their stores.

 That wafer thin black line the guy in the red shirt is standing on, that IS the road.

We turned north from route CA34 up the central mountains toward San Isidro.  We encountered a few landslides here which were passable but EXTREMELY slippery, due to the red clay on the road.  Picture throwing vats of pureed jello onto an ice rink and that's what we had.  The bikes slid all over.  Dare not touch the brakes and only breathe on the throttle to accelerate! You could always tell when you were coming up on a slide area as the oncoming lane started turning red in colour from all the red clay and progressively worsened until you reached the slide.  There was one section where we rode into and I noticed at the last instant there was a power line hanging across the road, ducked and it just whisked past the top of my head.  Next truck through would clear this "clothes line" out.

There is black top under all that goop.

Then south, onto route CA2 toward the Panamanian border.  Talked to several more people and received just as many different answers, from impassable to you could do it on a bike.  We passed half a dozen more landslides where we rode to the front of the line of waiting vehicles (which they allow), waited for the heavy equipment to clear and were given the "all clear to proceed," then on to the next slide, repeat.  At one point we were sitting in the middle of a slide area, mud all around, the slope to the left was, I'm guessing 90 degrees, as I couldn't see it,  waiting on the front end loader to move while the hill to the right of us kept letting bits and pieces go.  I looked over every second and a half.  Explains why the truck stopped 100m behind me.  He knew something.

We ended up in Buenos Aires (Costa Rica, that is), fueled up and decided we would see how far we could get.  After all, San Vito (near the border) was 75km down the road and we learned there were only 4 more major landslides to pass, one of which was questionable according to a local who just came from there.

Just as we were about to head out we ran into an Australian, Ben Wright, who just came back from 5km up the road where he sat for 5 hrs waiting for them to clear a major landslide.  We decided to park it for the night.  Good idea, as in about an hour it would be dark.


  1. Wow! You guys are reminding me of the expression, "if it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all!" Hope things improve soon.

  2. keep on Trucking looking more like an Adventure everyday!