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Old 14 Mar 2010
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Rookie goes to Costa Rica

Hey everybody! This is an awesome site! My family and friends have all individually told me that I'm crazy for wanting to do this trip, so it's pretty great to find a community of like-minded people who share a passion for life.

I'm a first-time trekker, and I'm planning to take a 2003 shadow spirit from central Texas to Tamarindo, Costa Rica, to do a two month language school.

I've asked plenty of questions so far, but I've got tons more, so I'm just throwing up a general SOS for any advice, precautions, etc, on literally any aspect of this journey. I'm as ignorant as they come, so no response is beneath me .

Thanks in advance for your response. I look forward to getting to know some folks here!

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Old 14 Mar 2010
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Location: Wild West (of Crete)
Posts: 285
Hello B

Nice one! I'm in the US on an Africa Twin and I came thru Costa Rica etc to get here.

1. DO IT!

2. It's all cool until Honduras - then just have all your paperwork in order and REFUSE TO PAY THE BRIBE-HUNGRY ****ers. Best way - I think - is to pretend you speak no Spanish at all.

3. It's way easier and a lot less complicated than you think it is right now.

4. If you doubt, remember the "difficult" bit is Panama to Colombia, and people do that all the time.

5. DO IT!

6. Show us a pic of your bike!

London-Cape Town 2004-06
Buenos Aires-Vancouver 2008-10:

Last edited by Sime66; 14 Mar 2010 at 07:38. Reason: all lies originally
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Old 18 Mar 2010
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go for it

couldn't agree more. my daughter and I made the run you're proposing about a month back, currently in Peru. "Border crossing day" is a painfully slow, messy thing in central america, but we crossed 'em all without ever using a "helper", and riding two bikes. just plan to use up a little extra patience on those days. they're all a little different, but the basic "immigration, then aduana (customs), repeat on the other side" is the drill. trying to bring copies of everything helps a little, but there will always be forms generated on the spot that need to be copied, so pay the nickles and dimes it costs to do it on the spot.
Tamarind area is great, enjoy!

Mike R.
Santiago, Chile
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Old 21 Mar 2010
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Centro America

I just came through that way, it was great, no real problems. The borders can be really frustrating. Watch out for the tramitadors. These are guys who make their living helping people cross the border. It can be real complicated, especially if you do not speak Spanish they will make it easy, they know where all the various offices are. They can also rip you off.

Here's how to do it. Make a deal up front about how much you will give them to get you through, don't pay them until you are through. Stay with them every step of the way. DO NOT give them your passport, drivers license or title. Pay for all the little fees and such yourself. If they offer to take all your stuff, you just sit over there, and I will take care of every thing, run like hell :-)

(google YAOGBB) for the whole story)
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Old 23 Mar 2010
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Yeah, don't listen to your friends, they have no idea If you're ever in Houston, we can meet up for a drink... in my group of friends here, driving to CR is a highly enviably trip!

For general advice and itineraries, check out blogs and ride reports. I have one at All The Way South

I started my ride in Houston and went through CR and beyond. Another place to check out ride reports for the area is Ride Report Link Thread - ADVrider

That'll get you inspired by pictures and stories of other people who think this kind of travel is a good idea. Also don't be intimidated by the fact that everyone is on some sort of dual sport bike.. not everyone travels that way and I don't think it really matters (most of the time).
http://davegtravels.com - RTW on a DRZ
All the way south - Texas to Tierra del Fuego in '08-'09
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Old 24 Mar 2010
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Man, you guys are great! Dave, net time I'm in Houston, I'll take you up on that drink. I'm glad I started looking into all this so far in advance, because it's more to learn than I thought. The dual-sport issue does raise a question for me: I haven't purchased the bike yet, but here's the picture (previous owner shown).

It's a 750 shadow spirit, 2003, with 9k miles. Too big? Better to try and find an enduro for around the same price (my budget's capped at $3000)? I hear the speed bumps in some towns are killer, and I wonder about clearance issues.

Thoughts? And what's an Enduro go for?
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Old 24 Mar 2010
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take the bike

it's a chick killer down there


enclosed foto of "style" - a Basque guy shipped moto over and did TDF to Alaska
foto without courtesy to Mike at Casa Blanca in Cali
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Rookie goes to Costa Rica-harley.jpg  

Last edited by Zigeuner53; 24 Mar 2010 at 19:01. Reason: foto
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Old 26 Mar 2010
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Do The Trip.

That may be a nice bike for Texas but when you get to Tamarido. You will want to sell it. I road down from the states. I have now been down for 2 years. Stop in Playa Coco. It's 1.5 hours before Tamarido. I will give you a place to stay. Down here you will want a duel sport bike. Lots of dirt roads.
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Old 28 Mar 2010
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Heading out in April

I am heading South the last part of April from N. Alabama. When are you leaving?

My plan is stop in Guatemala for Spanish instruction then on To Costa Rica.

Curious as to what you are paying for the school in CR. I would rather just ride there but the price difference and my poor (read no) Spanish make Guatemala look good.

Rich K
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Old 29 Mar 2010
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Yeah, I leave at the end of May, and I'm paying about 3400 for 10 weeks, including room and 3 meals a day. That translates into 14 credit hours. If you're on a budget, there are other schools in CR that are cheaper, like the one in Herevia.
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Old 29 Mar 2010
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I agree with Chris, a dual sport is the bike to have in CR - The roads outside of the cities are crap (the ones that are paved) The ones that are not paved may have a river crossing you have to deal with. I had a little DT 175 that I buzzed around on in Coco and Hermosa when I lived down there. When I came home I bought an XT600 to take back down - never made it.

Dont know what fuel prices are there now but, when I was there last a liter was about the same price as a Gal here in the states.

Once you have your school finished you should hit Playa del Coco y Hermosa. I'm sure Chris will have the local hook up for ExPat parties and such. Real laid back part of the world.

Have a good trip
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