Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Ride Tales, Trip Reports and Stories > Ride Tales
Ride Tales Post your ride reports for a weekend ride or around the world. Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is. Please do NOT just post a link to your site. For a link, see Get a Link.
Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, At the foot of the Bear Glaciers, eternal ice, British Columbia, Canada

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, at the foot of the Bear Glaciers, British Columbia, Canada.



Like Tree446Likes

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #196  
Old 3 Oct 2013
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 10
Lightcycle - just wow!! I have no words, you are AMAZING! I feel like I'm living out my dream through you. Your stories are so inspiring, your comments are educational and your photos are just out of this world! Latin America is a place that has been on my list to visit ever since I started to learn Spanish. I feel like you do need a lot of time to travel around it and to really get to know the culture, and I fear that I will never take that step and just go (but mainly for financial reasons I think). I wish you all the best, and hope you have an amazing time travelling around! Stay safe!
Reply With Quote
  #197  
Old 4 Oct 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: No Fixed Address (formerly Toronto)
Posts: 1,847
Updated from Oct 02 2013: Surf's Up at El Tunco



It seems like such a long time since we've visited the ocean - since coming back from Cuba, I think! So, on the advice of a few people, we headed south from Juayua to the Pacific shore of El Salvador. I am not a morning person, in fact, I'm a bit of a night owl. My normal bed-time is about 2-4AM local time regardless of what time zone we find ourselves in. However, rainy season in Central America has me performing unnatural acts: every night before she falls asleep, Neda reminds me that we have to be up at 5:30AM so that we can get an early start so that we're not riding in the afternoon rains. Easy for her, she's turns into a pumpkin at 11AM, a whole hour before Cinderella does!

I can't wait till rainy season is over. I''m gonna sleep in till noon every single day.


On our way to the coast, we encounter some kind of roadblock. And then these guys parade right past our stopped bikes!

Right in the middle of nowhere, close to no town, traffic is stopped both ways to let a parade through, complete with a marching band, baton twirlers, dancers, etc. There must have been 500 of them. So bizarre. I Google this later on and find out that it's probably a rehearsal for El Dia del Nino (Children's Day), which is the day after - October 1st.


One of the marching band guys with the big drums thumped Neda's pannier with his drumstick as he walked by! LOL!

We had a lot of fun on the twisty coastal road (see map above)! Every once in a while when the road curved towards the shoreline, we'd get a glimpse of the Pacific ocean through the trees and then the asphalt would ribbon itself back towards the coast, just as quickly.

Our destination on the shoreline is El Tunco, a really laid-back surfing village that attracts both foreigners from all over the world and locals alike. We don't surf, but we do enjoy a good beach, so we booked into a hostel for a few days.


Beach is littered with surfer dudes and dudettes


El Tunco means "The Pig", because this big rock by the shoreline looks like a pig. I don't see it...


Early morning surfer hanging ten. I have no idea what that really means...


Also sharing the surf: local fishermen throwing nets into the waves.


We spend the morning watching a surf competition. Two judges with clipboards behind us score the surfers


I don't know how to score surfing, but if this was a motorcycle stunt competition, I'd give him a 10 out of 12 o'clock wheelie...


This is Boobah. I'm talking about the dog. That's the dog's name...

Boobah hangs out at the beach full-time. He doesn't belong to anyone. Yet everybody knows his name. Can't figure out how everyone knows his name is Boobah? I really want to meet whoever's naming stuff around here!


Hanging out with the beautiful people

There are some really fit people hanging out at El Tunco. It's like there's a convention of Ab Roller spokespeople this week or something. I glance down self-consciously at my Pupusa-fueled Skinny-Guy-Pot-Belly... Maybe the shirt stays on for the next few days...


Dude! Sweet!

The beaches here are black volcanic sand that's littered with large rocks. You don't get many beach-blanket sun bathers here, it's purely a surf haven, well known for its consistent rolling waves. We're just here because there was a twisty road around the corner!


Neda takes a Pilates class at our hostel. Her instructor is ripped! Check out her delts! The only deltoids I’ve ever had were breath mints. No wait, that's not right...


You can tell she's not a local because she's using her hands


Evenings at the beach become a magical moment


Surfers calling it a day


Everyone pauses to check out the sun disappearing below the horizon


Nightlife on the main strip of El Tunco

The last few days at El Tunco have been awesome! We've found a favorite restaurant, which we go back to every day. It's such a small village, everybody knows we're the motorcycle people. Because we're the only ones here with pasty skin and not carrying a surfboard everywhere we go...


More Boobah on the beach!
__________________
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
Reply With Quote
  #198  
Old 9 Oct 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: No Fixed Address (formerly Toronto)
Posts: 1,847
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/115.html



We're on the move again. Today we are going to ride through the Honduras, tackling both borders in a single day. We've absolutely enjoyed riding around Central America - the people, culture and geography here are wonderful. The only exception - that Twilight Zone between countries, where a deluge of helpers, documents and stamps, money changers, photocopies and queues threaten to spoil all the good impressions we've had so far.


Neda is not one to be Bullied around on the road!

This is our second time through, having done this same crossing at the same place just 7 months ago. That time was under great duress - we were in a rush to meet the Stahlratte in Panama, I had a full-blown flu and was running a high fever while on the bike, and we were bickering and arguing at each border crossing. This time around, we're going to use all our lessons learned from the first time and try to make this crossing more enjoyable.


"I am not a crook!"

Most important lesson: Be prepared. Give yourself lots of time. Get to the border early. Have all your photocopies ready. Avoid Hanger (Hunger+Anger) Management Issues: arrive on a full stomach, bring lots of water and snacks.

We approach the west border separating El Salvador and Honduras around 9:30AM. It's already hot and we're thankful that we've brought a lot of water. About a km away before the actual border lies the El Salvador Aduana booth, where we have to cancel our vehicle permit. Dozens of people come running towards our bikes, looking like some angry mob. But they're not angry. They want to help us cross the border. For money, of course...

We know the drill by now, the helpers urge us to pull over, motioning to the side of the road. We make a game out of it, swerving around them like pylons. Some of them start to chase our bikes, like paparazzi stalking Justin Bieber. When we pull in front of the Aduana booth, they launch into their spiel: "This is the hardest border crossing in the world!", "Is impossible! Cannot cross without my help", "One does not simply ride into Honduras"...


First stop: Get El Salvador vehicle permit canceled

Neda strides purposefully to the Aduana booth, using her superhuman Spanish skills to stymie the helpers swarming around her. Concerning all matters regarding the Espanol, I am the sidekick: the Robin to her Batman, the Watson to her Sherlock Holmes, the Wilson to her Castaway... Neda has given me the UberImportant task of keeping guard over the bikes while she attends to business. This is the action-movie equivalent of being told to stay in the van during the exciting fight scenes.

So I devise a way to amuse myself while she does Superhero stuff. I am going to document step-by-step how to cross one of the most frustrating borders in Central America, if not the world. And I'm going to take lots of pictures. Because I do that anyway...


Aduana completed, we head to the Immigration to get our passports stamped out

The "helper" industry is big business. Although you wouldn't know it from the prices they charge. Some offer their border crossing services for $5. Ignore them long enough and they lower the price to $1. Before you go thinking that's a great deal, the reality is that the helper will broker all transactions between you and the officials, so if a fee actually costs $3 USD, they will tell you it will cost $15 and pocket the extra $12. And there are many transactions to complete at the border (some are even no-cost, but your helper won't tell you that). Officially, it should only cost $38 USD to cross the border with yourself and a motorcycle. However, I've heard horror stories of travelers paying $150-$200 *MORE* than they should have at this border crossing! Big business.

They mainly target non-Spanish-speakers. Often they'll point to fancy (and some not so fancy) laminated badges that they wear around their necks implying that they are officials of some sort. If you look closely at some of the badges, you will see that the pictures printed on them might not even match the face of the badge-wearer! LOL!


After getting stamped out of El Salvador, we've got to get stamped into Honduras

Another species of border dwellers are money changers - CambioGuys - who roam around with big wads of bills in their hands. They provide a foreign currency exchange service and their exchange rate is very good. Very good for them. Not for you. They are all in collusion with each other not to compete for rates, so don't bother shopping around.

I heard a great tip: If you haven't planned wisely and still have a lot of the local currency when you hit the border, don't use a CambioGuy. Instead, try to find another traveler coming from the other direction and exchange money with them, since you'll both need the currency from where you both came from and you can use the official exchange rate to both your benefits.


Assortment of helpers and CambioGuys stare helplessly as Neda completes Aduana (customs) by herself

Between pestering Neda for information on what she has just done at every stage so I can complete my How-To document, I am given a new task: Waterboy. I really have to pick up this Espanol-language thing if I'm ever going to make it out of the van...


Finally, after two hours, the Holy Grail of overland travelers: Temporary Vehicle Permit for Honduras


Familiar sight at border crossings: food stalls and photocopy places


Finally we cross the border, and we run into the Iguana Motorcycle Club from Honduras!


Riding the Pan American highway through Honduras


200 kms later, we reach the eastern border of Honduras

There are not a lot of helpers at the Honduras/Nicaragua border. You can always tell how difficult and complicated the border crossing will be by how many helpers swarm you.


I like how all the border crossing buildings are colour-co-ordinated!


Every picture of Neda I have today is of her lined up at some booth!


How nice of the fumigation guy to Armor-All our tires...


Yay! We're in Nicaragua!

If you are a planning to travel through Honduras with a vehicle, you can view the step-by-step write-up on how to bypass the helpers and do-it-yourself (even with little or no Spanish) in our Questions section here:

http://www.RideDOT.com/faq/honduras.html
__________________
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
Reply With Quote
  #199  
Old 9 Oct 2013
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Split, Croatia
Posts: 47
Boobah rocks

and you rock too
Reply With Quote
  #200  
Old 9 Oct 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 826
Thank you for the Updates - really beauful pictures!

I like the Picture&Short note combination

Surfy
Reply With Quote
  #201  
Old 11 Oct 2013
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 34
Enjoying your ride report.
__________________
1971 BMW R75 project,
2013 Suzuki DL650A
Reply With Quote
  #202  
Old 16 Oct 2013
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
Updated from Jun 14 2013: Guatemalan Socialites



First things first: We're celebrating ONE YEAR ON THE ROAD!!!


Nothing says Party-Time like coconut cream cake. Mmmm...!

I think the cliched thing to say is that "It's hard to believe we've been traveling for a whole year", but it's not that hard to believe at all. We've seen and experienced so many different things in the last 12 months that it's quite the opposite - it's hard to imagine that it all fit in a year! Especially compared to our lives before, where larger-than-life adventures had to be shoehorned into 2-3 week boxes between the crates of sedentary working existence.

Marking the passage of time while outrunning the changing seasons also contributed to this very concrete feeling of time being a rushing wave that we were constantly trying to ride on top of or ahead of. I imagine if we were just traveling through somewhere tropical, our temporal senses may have been more subdued.


Ride all day, drink all night

Central America is a funnel. While travelers roam across the north or south continents, they may occasionally bump into each other at nexuses like motorcycle meets. But when the land narrows like an hourglass to the thinnest point in Panama, right in the centre, these traveling grains of sand start bumping into each other as they line up single file to hoist their bikes onto sailboats or pack them into cargo containers to fly between one side of the hourglass to the other.

We've been keeping in contact with other travelers online and while we were in Antigua, we met up again with Andi and Ellen, the Two Moto Kiwis from New Zealand. We originally met at the Horizons Unlimited meeting in California last October. We also spent the evening with Phil and Jayne, from The Ultimate Ride, the brother and sister motorcycle duo whose goal is to play Ultimate Frisbee everywhere they travel. We ran into them briefly last December in La Paz, Mexico at the ferry docks crossing to the mainland. Also with us that evening was Julio, AKA GauteRider, an Austrian ex-pat who now lives just outside of Antigua and plays host to pretty much all the motorcycle traveling grains of sand that trickle by his front yard.

Having dinner with Andi, Ellen, Phil and Jayne was a riot of a time, comparing stories of our adventures. We all started about the same time last year, taking very similar treks from north to south and while other riders race towards the Antarctic for December 2013, we joked that our three teams were in a much different competition against each other: To see who could ride the slowest down to South America! Poor Andi and Ellen have been besieged with breakdowns and injuries and Andi was actually laid up in Antigua mending a broken rib. As for Phil and Jayne, they meander and dawdle worse than we do! All of them accused us of cheating because we had actually made it to South America, but then took a detour through the Caribbean to end up back in CA again! I guess you don't technically lead a slow race if you lap someone...!


Ellen and Andi on the right teaching a local restaurant owner how to make sushi


Ellen's sushi is famous amongst motorcycle travelers, she makes it everywhere they stop for hosts and friends

While Phil and Jayne didn't stay too long in Antigua, Andi and Ellen are spending a month here so we hung out quite a bit, getting to know them. They are a very friendly and genuine couple, and it was really nice to be able to celebrate and commiserate with folks going through the exact same things we were going through.


Two Moto Canucks!

Other than trying to reach certain destinations, we've been without a true quest our entire trip. But Andi gave one to us. Fetch his motorcycle from Guatemala City, where he left it after his crash last month. He couldn't ride it back himself because of his broken ribs. GC is only 45 minutes away, and we needed to get Neda's bike serviced anyway, so with a little help from Julio, we managed to do all this in a single trip.

Andi and Ellen have got a beautiful KTM 950SE that they've nicknamed Maya. I make fun of KTMs all the time, but I used to have a KTM dirtbike and Neda and I spent many weekends on the trails around Ontario, roosting each other and crashing into trees. Thankfully the road between GC and Guatemala is very twisty and I got a chance to test out the 950SE. It's comparable to the F800GS, similar weight and power but the SE sounds a heck of a lot nicer and felt more flickable than the Beemer. It's very much a hooligan bike, I liked it a lot!


Que es el problema, Maya? No se...

I know from personal experience that KTMs are very finicky and maintenance-intensive. So it wasn't too much of a surprise when riding back from GC, Maya's rear brake seized, forcing us to pull over in heavy traffic. We couldn't pull over safely for quite a distance and when we finally stopped, the rear pads were smoking more than Neda did in Cuba.

I txted Andi to ask him if this was normal. There was a bit of confusion over the phone. Apparently, New Zealand English and Canadian English are not the same, so I pulled out my Google Translate and sent him a Canuck-to-Kiwi translation:



To my surprise, Andi understood that perfectly!


Wheeling in Maya into Andi and Ellen's hostel


We had Andi, Ellen, Julio and his wife Luisa over for dinner where Neda cooked up some yummy Croatian dishes.

Something happens when you stay a while in one place: you start growing roots. Our social calendar was getting booked up with people that we met, dinner with a Japanese couple, Miwa and Kohei, who opened up a B&B in Antigua, and hanging out with Andi & Ellen and Julio & Luisa, who hosted quite a few get-togethers in their beautiful home just outside of town.


Julio use to be a chef and cooked up some amazing plantain flambe


Luisa is an amazing hostess and quite the avid gardener


Chilling at Julio & Luisa's
Julio & Luisa stayed with us in Lethbridge, Alberta on their trip north to Alaska. Great people. It really is a small world.
__________________
1971 BMW R75 project,
2013 Suzuki DL650A
Reply With Quote
  #203  
Old 18 Oct 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: No Fixed Address (formerly Toronto)
Posts: 1,847
Updated from Oct 07 2013: I'd catch a Granada for ya



Granada, Nicaragua is one of those pretty colonial towns in Latin America that tons of tourists flock to see. Along with Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Caye Caulker, etc. it's considered part of the "Gringo Trail" - towns and sites that have been transformed into supercentres for foreigners hoping to get a taste of Central and South America outside of the beach resorts. Unfortunately, the very act of being a tourist draw changes the local flavour, offering westernized food in the restaurants for foreign palates, increased security and infrastructure, more English being spoken on the street, and disappointingly for us, increased prices for accommodations and food across the board.


Made the mistake of riding through the market - heavy traffic!


Central park in Granada


We pretty much had the whole city to ourselves!

Granada is deserted during the weekdays on the off-season. The heavy rains in the afternoon deter many tourists from visiting Central America, but if you time your excursions right (meaning you are an early riser), you can get a lot of sightseeing and traveling done and not get too wet.


The main cathedral in Granada


Umbrellas serve dual-purpose, also keeping the mid-day heat at bay


Granada is tiny, everything is within walking distance


Discovered a great Moroccan restaurant where we had fried avocados. Delicious!


Even the streets are deserted! Tumbleweeds chased after this moto.


Colonial architecture painted in vivid colours


Chilling out in Parque Centrale


Hat fitting?


Mombacho volcano is always looming above Granada's low skyline


Granada motorcycle meet


Getting cloudy - time to head back to the hotel!

We are getting a bit travel weary again, after almost 6 weeks back wandering around Central America. We're both feeling like we need more than just a couple of days downtime. However, we've got a few appointments to keep so we're going to push on just a little bit longer.


Riding around Granada
__________________
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
Reply With Quote
  #204  
Old 1 Nov 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: No Fixed Address (formerly Toronto)
Posts: 1,847
Updated from Oct 09 2013: Costa Rica, beach!



Costa Rica is expensive!

We left Granada and headed south to the border, stopping overnight in Liberia where we stayed at an AirBnB. The owner was quite knowledgeable about all things Costa Rican and told us that the country has successfully marketed itself to foreigners as a safe tourist destination; lots of expats bringing retirement money into the country, as well as skilled professionals moving to CR, and with them came the US chains chasing this new demographic. Unfortunately, for most of the locals, their wages stayed the same and they are suffering the high cost of living.


Windmill Alley on the Pan American

Tamarindo is a great beach-side town on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Beautiful sandy beaches and lots of tourists flocking to the surf lessons and snorkel tours. We stayed a couple of days here just to relax a bit and soak up the sun. It's still raining a little bit in the afternoons, and we're finding that it's difficult to predict when the precipitation will come as we travel to different regions and the Central American winter season starts to taper off.


Waves make fantastic shapes on the sand at Tamarindo


Watching the world go by


Neda said we needed more beefcake shots in the blog. The best I could manage was a bit of cheesecake...


"...enjoys long walks on the beach as well as blasting through muddy single-trail on a dirtbike..."


And here's the beefcake: Fabio emerges out of the forest luring women onto his stable of horses.


Tamarindo is a popular place for tourists


Dog waits patiently for his master to return from surfing


"Sale" in Costa Rican Spanish means mark it up 100% and then discount it 50%...


Surf lessons done for the day


Paddleboarding into the sunset


Sunset on the Pacific Ocean

We say goodbye to the beach and we're heading back to the interior of Costa Rica to explore a bit more.


Rainy ride!
__________________
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com

Last edited by lightcycle; 3 Nov 2013 at 00:00.
Reply With Quote
  #205  
Old 17 Nov 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: No Fixed Address (formerly Toronto)
Posts: 1,847
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/118.html



After a couple of days at the beach, we are doubling back towards Liberia and then heading towards one of Costa Rica's most popular attractions: the Arenal volcano. The Guanacaste province that we are currently riding through is the driest part of CR. I guess everything is relative because it's still rainy season and we're still encountering daily afternoon showers.


Bridge helps break up the monotony of a stretch of the monotonous Pan-American


The road and scenery get more interesting once we hop onto the road to Arenal


When road of life throws you a curve, just lean into it


Stopping for lunch to admire the scenery


Rding around Lake Arenal up ahead. It's an artificial lake made by the Arenal dam for hydroelectric power!


Passing through Nuevo Arenal. This town was relocated when the lake was expanded in 1979.


And then, oops...!

Neda had the whole route planned for the day. It was supposed to be a 250km day so we left pretty late in the morning hoping to arrive at the town of La Fortuna, just outside the Arenal Volcano, by early afternoon. Unfortunately, only 30 kms away from our destination, we found the way closed due to a cave-in and construction vehicles were on the scene rebuilding the road. There was a dirt road to our left and it looked like we could have detoured around the roadblock, but this guy told us two people just died in a landslide in that area earlier.

Because that was quite the opposite of what we wanted to do, we turned back to Nuevo Arenal and stopped for the night as the rainclouds were rolling in for the day.


I found us some cheap accommodations in Nuevo Arenal! $20!

We love it when we find a good place for a great price. This hotel was actually a restaurant with a few rooms attached to it, and we sat out on the patio with a couple of cervezas on the main strip watching most of the population of Nuevo Arenal walk by us.


Trivia: Neda has a sticker of the Indian deity Ganesh on her bike from our ride up the Indian Himalayas.
Ganesh is known as the "remover of obstacles". We'll see how well he does tomorrow...


The next morning we asked a guy in town how to get to La Fortuna. He tells us to go back the way we came from and that there should be no construction. So we take his word, ride back 20kms and see the exact same construction site. We forgot the golden rule of asking for directions in Latin America: ask at least three people and if more than one person gives you the same answer, that must be the right one...



So we're doubling back and instead of waiting for the construction to end, we're going to take the long way around, looping all the way north to Upala, around the Tenorio Volcano to arrive from the other side of Fortuna. It's a 250km long detour and most of it was in the rain. But at least there were no landslides.

From our experiences in India and now in Costa Rica, I think Ganesh means "detour around obstacles"...


Rainy season puddles

We arrive in La Fortuna without incident and plan our next day's activities. There are tons of things to do around here - all the brochures were advertising zip-lining, biking, rafting, tubing, horses. We settled on the most budget-appropriate activity: hiking up the volcano. Neda's favorite activity! Mine... not so much.


Arenal is too steep to climb, so we're hiking up Cerro Chatto, just to the South-East. From there, there is a small lake in the crater that we can swim in and get some good views of Arenal


First part of the hike is fairly flat and easy-going. We pass by some older hikers who had to take a break. Haha. Old people...


Neda finds a great natural parasol


About 45 minutes into the hike the trail gets muddier and steeper. While we stop to catch our breath, some college kids pass us.
I thought I heard one of them mutter "Old people", and then laugh...



We get to the top and had to wait a while for the clouds to part to see Arenal


Arenal

Once we got to the rim of Cerro Chato, it was a very short hike down the steep jungle-covered crater walls into the green lagoon of the caldera below. Because the crater was larger than I thought. It didn't really feel like you were inside a dormant volcano, but it was still a great refreshing dip after a couple hours of hot and humid strenuous hiking!


Swimming in the rim of the Cerro Chato crater
__________________
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
Reply With Quote
  #206  
Old 18 Nov 2013
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: East Lothian Scotland
Posts: 51
What an amazing ride report, beautiful pictures.

You look like you are having the time of your lives
Reply With Quote
  #207  
Old 2 Dec 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: No Fixed Address (formerly Toronto)
Posts: 1,847
Updated from Oct 16 2013: Costa Rican Thanksgiving



We originally started keeping a blog of all our motorcycle travels a few years ago because we didn't want to forget all of the cool places we visited and the fantastic things we've seen. When we shared it on the Internet, we got a lot of positive feedback and encouragement, but amazingly, we also received invitations from all over the world for warm meals and a place to sleep whilst on our travels. The kindness and the hospitality we've experienced was and still is overwhelming!


Riding around the suburbs of San Jose

A few months ago, Yanil emailed us and told us that if we were ever in Costa Rica, he would love to have us stay with him and his family. So we decided to take him up on his offer!

But right after my reply, he emailed me back and told me he had to ask his wife for permission first. LOL!


Pulling into Yanil and Evelyn's driveway


Weary travelers at the doorstep!

In the end we got the nod of approval. Yanil, his wife Evelyn and his young son Evan, met us at a restaurant in the suburbs of San Jose where we were finishing up a late lunch. We got to talk with them for awhile before heading back to their place and we were struck by how super-nice Evelyn was, and how gregarious and funny Yanil was.


Yanil, Evelyn and Evan

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and is its largest city. We're staying less than 30 minutes to the north, in a quiet suburb away from the hubbub of the capital. Yanil was very excited about having us over. He gave us a ton of options of things we could see and do while we were around San Jose, but we were so tired from traveling the past few weeks, all we wanted to do was just to chill out. So while the family was out at work and school, we got some relax-time in.


This is Misty, the real boss of the house


Neda is happy she is able to cook again

In the evenings, when Yanil and Evelyn came back from work, we all took Misty for her evening walk around the neighbourhood. It was exactly the relaxing kind of stay we wanted and we got a chance to spend some time with our hosts. Yanil used to live and work in the US, so his English was perfect. Because Evelyn was more comfortable with Spanish, I got an opportunity to show how bad my Espanol was. Turns out her English was way better than my Spanish, so we all ended up talking English anyway just to accommodate me...


Yanil on his pride and joy: G650GS!

The next day, Yanil led us out to the BMW dealership in San Jose where I needed to get my EWS ring sensor replaced. We are instructed to remove our sidecases from off our bikes because we're going to be riding through the morning rush hour. Commute time with lane-splitting: 30 minutes. Commute time with our sidecases on: Better pack a lunch.


Neda waits outside


Neda waits inside


A couple of hours of minor surgery and we're out the door

I kept the old ring sensor that Rafael at San Salvador BMW gave me just in case the dreaded EWS problem cropped up again. The sensor is interchangeable among a lot of BMW motorcycles, including Neda's model.

After the service, we went grocery shopping because we're treating Yanil and his family to a proper Thanksgiving dinner that night!


Thanksgiving with our new friends

Latin America doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, and to be honest, it's not that big for us either, but it was nice to be able to have an excuse to eat lots of food (no turkey though - Neda made beef stirfry!) with good company. This is our second Thanksgiving on the road, and every holiday or birthday, I'm reminded of just how long we've been on the road and where we were 12 months ago. Last year, we were eating turkey sandwiches at the Stonehenge memorial in Washington!


Evan and his most favorite toy in the whole wide world!

A couple of days later, Yanil, Evelyn and Evan all took the day off to take us up to the Poas volcano, about a scenic hour and half drive through small towns and coffee fields. On the ride up, Yanil tried to teach me some Costa Rican slang. "Pura vida" is the most common phrase and is used as a greeting or a farewell. "Tuanis, mae" means, "What's up, man!", another greeting and "Tico" is the nickname that Costa Ricans call themselves. While talking to Yanil, I got that there's quite a rivalry between the Central American countries, especially between the Ticos and the Nicas (Nicaraguans). Apparently the Nicas are jealous of the Costa Ricans, because, well... Costa Rica is just more awesome.

As we pulled up to the gate of the park, Yanil told me that he was going to try to score us some local admission tickets instead of having us pay the full tourist price. All I had to do was convince the guard at the gate that I was a "Tico"... He rolled down the window to talk to the guard with a jovial, "Pura vida, mae!" After some chit chat, the guard looked at all the occupants of the car and fixed his glare at me. I tried to stammer out a "Tuanis, mae! Pura vida!", almost certain that I screwed up something that simple.

The guard's eyes narrowed as he turned back to Yanil and sold him 5 local admission tickets. It worked! Yeah, right. I'm sure the guard had a good chuckle over the asian guy trying to speak Tico with a bad gringo accent.


Poas volcano is Costa Rica's largest and most active volcano

It wasn't the best day to visit the volcano as the clouds and the rain hampered our view a little but we could still see the steam rising from the volcano.


Ladies mug for the camera


In front of Poas volcano

That evening was the big Costa Rica vs Mexico soccer match for the World Cup qualifiers. Yanil had been talking about this all week. Evelyn made us some hot dogs and we all crowded in front of the TV. I don't know much about the World Cup, but apparently Mexico, who was the big favorite and perennial powerhouse, wasn't doing very well this year and was facing elimination - something that Yanil was very happy about. If there was a rivalry between Ticos and Nicas, it paled in comparison to the one between the whole of Central America vs Mexico, especially during World Cup season!

It was a close match going back and forth, but Costa Rica pulled an upset by defeating Mexico 2-1. Yanil went nuts! And outside, it sounded like every car in Costa Rica was honking their horns. Unfortunately, the celebrations became slightly more muted as a few minutes later, the USA won their game against Panama, saving Mexico from elimination.

It was so interesting and funny seeing these rivalries in Central America that I wasn't even aware of. Reminds me of all the Canada vs US ribbing.


After the game, Evelyn tries out Neda's bike for size. Looking good!

We stayed for four days at Yanil and Evelyn's place, and we had such a good time hanging out with them that we didn't want to leave, but we were on a schedule again. So the next morning we said a sad farewell to Evelyn, Evan and Misty as Yanil joined us on his bike to take us back out on the road.


Saddlebags and luggage remounted. Ugh. Back on the road again!
__________________
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
Reply With Quote
  #208  
Old 6 Dec 2013
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 58
If you are still in the area go by Hotel Orchideas for a in Alajeula -fun place
__________________
2017 KTM 1290 SD GT, 2019 KTM 300 XC, 2019 KTM 500 EXC, 2019 KTM 350 SXF, 2003 Yamaha TZ 250, 2008 MV Agusta 1000 312R, 2010 KTM RC8
Reply With Quote
  #209  
Old 6 Dec 2013
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: On the Road
Posts: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
Updated from Oct 04 2013: Batman & Robin cross the Twilight Zone



We're on the move again. Today we are going to ride through the Honduras, tackling both borders in a single day. We've absolutely enjoyed riding around Central America - the people, culture and geography here are wonderful. The only exception - that Twilight Zone between countries, where a deluge of helpers, documents and stamps, money changers, photocopies and queues threaten to spoil all the good impressions we've had so far.


Neda is not one to be Bullied around on the road!

This is our second time through, having done this same crossing at the same place just 7 months ago. That time was under great duress - we were in a rush to meet the Stahlratte in Panama, I had a full-blown flu and was running a high fever while on the bike, and we were bickering and arguing at each border crossing. This time around, we're going to use all our lessons learned from the first time and try to make this crossing more enjoyable.


"I am not a crook!"

Most important lesson: Be prepared. Give yourself lots of time. Get to the border early. Have all your photocopies ready. Avoid Hanger (Hunger+Anger) Management Issues: arrive on a full stomach, bring lots of water and snacks.

We approach the west border separating El Salvador and Honduras around 9:30AM. It's already hot and we're thankful that we've brought a lot of water. About a km away before the actual border lies the El Salvador Aduana booth, where we have to cancel our vehicle permit. Dozens of people come running towards our bikes, looking like some angry mob. But they're not angry. They want to help us cross the border. For money, of course...

We know the drill by now, the helpers urge us to pull over, motioning to the side of the road. We make a game out of it, swerving around them like pylons. Some of them start to chase our bikes, like paparazzi stalking Justin Bieber. When we pull in front of the Aduana booth, they launch into their spiel: "This is the hardest border crossing in the world!", "Is impossible! Cannot cross without my help", "One does not simply ride into Honduras"...


First stop: Get El Salvador vehicle permit canceled

Neda strides purposefully to the Aduana booth, using her superhuman Spanish skills to stymie the helpers swarming around her. Concerning all matters regarding the Espanol, I am the sidekick: the Robin to her Batman, the Watson to her Sherlock Holmes, the Wilson to her Castaway... Neda has given me the UberImportant task of keeping guard over the bikes while she attends to business. This is the action-movie equivalent of being told to stay in the van during the exciting fight scenes.

So I devise a way to amuse myself while she does Superhero stuff. I am going to document step-by-step how to cross one of the most frustrating borders in Central America, if not the world. And I'm going to take lots of pictures. Because I do that anyway...


Aduana completed, we head to the Immigration to get our passports stamped out

The "helper" industry is big business. Although you wouldn't know it from the prices they charge. Some offer their border crossing services for $5. Ignore them long enough and they lower the price to $1. Before you go thinking that's a great deal, the reality is that the helper will broker all transactions between you and the officials, so if a fee actually costs $3 USD, they will tell you it will cost $15 and pocket the extra $12. And there are many transactions to complete at the border (some are even no-cost, but your helper won't tell you that). Officially, it should only cost $38 USD to cross the border with yourself and a motorcycle. However, I've heard horror stories of travelers paying $150-$200 *MORE* than they should have at this border crossing! Big business.

They mainly target non-Spanish-speakers. Often they'll point to fancy (and some not so fancy) laminated badges that they wear around their necks implying that they are officials of some sort. If you look closely at some of the badges, you will see that the pictures printed on them might not even match the face of the badge-wearer! LOL!


After getting stamped out of El Salvador, we've got to get stamped into Honduras

Another species of border dwellers are money changers - CambioGuys - who roam around with big wads of bills in their hands. They provide a foreign currency exchange service and their exchange rate is very good. Very good for them. Not for you. They are all in collusion with each other not to compete for rates, so don't bother shopping around.

I heard a great tip: If you haven't planned wisely and still have a lot of the local currency when you hit the border, don't use a CambioGuy. Instead, try to find another traveler coming from the other direction and exchange money with them, since you'll both need the currency from where you both came from and you can use the official exchange rate to both your benefits.


Assortment of helpers and CambioGuys stare helplessly as Neda completes Aduana (customs) by herself

Between pestering Neda for information on what she has just done at every stage so I can complete my How-To document, I am given a new task: Waterboy. I really have to pick up this Espanol-language thing if I'm ever going to make it out of the van...


Finally, after two hours, the Holy Grail of overland travelers: Temporary Vehicle Permit for Honduras


Familiar sight at border crossings: food stalls and photocopy places


Finally we cross the border, and we run into the Iguana Motorcycle Club from Honduras!


Riding the Pan American highway through Honduras


200 kms later, we reach the eastern border of Honduras

There are not a lot of helpers at the Honduras/Nicaragua border. You can always tell how difficult and complicated the border crossing will be by how many helpers swarm you.


I like how all the border crossing buildings are colour-co-ordinated!


Every picture of Neda I have today is of her lined up at some booth!


How nice of the fumigation guy to Armor-All our tires...


Yay! We're in Nicaragua!

If you are a planning to travel through Honduras with a vehicle, you can view the step-by-step write-up on how to bypass the helpers and do-it-yourself (even with little or no Spanish) in our Questions section here:

RideDOT.com - Frequently Asked Questions
So glad all goes well! Welcome to Central America. I met you in Nova Scotia...Ride the Wind!
Reply With Quote
  #210  
Old 8 Dec 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: No Fixed Address (formerly Toronto)
Posts: 1,847
Update from Oct 18 2013: Monkeys howling at Antonio Banderas



Just a quick update. We left Yanil and Evelyn's place and headed westwards to follow the Pacific coast to Manuel Antonio National Park. The ride was typical Central American jungle scenery, but we were a bit disappointed that the coastal road was quite a bit inland, so we didn't get a view of the ocean on our ride southwards.


Heading south again

We checked into a hotel just outside the tiny town of Quepos, just a couple of kms away from the park. We're still feeling a bit travel-fatigued and decided to book a couple of nights here. It still rains in the afternoon, so we had to schedule our park outing for the morning.


Albino tree frog

Neda kept forgetting the name of the park, so we called it the Antonio Banderas Park. It's supposed to be well-known for the diversity of wildlife. It's recommended to book a tour guide, as they have telescopes and can point out all the hidden creatures that you'd normally miss if you walked the park by yourselves.


Iguana on the lookout for Antonio Banderas


These caterpillar were hanging in the middle of path at face level. Almost walked into a few of them!

We were promised that we would see a whole bunch of interesting animals, like monkeys and sloths. I especially wanted to see a sloth just because I thought the Spanish name was funny: Oso Perezoso. I read it on a sign somewhere days ago and while we were in San Jose, Evelyn found it hilarious that I kept repeating it like a little kid. Oso Perezoso.

Sadly, the nature walk was a bit of a bust. The guide just pointed out a bunch of bugs and reptiles that you could see anywhere on the side of the road... No Oso Perezosos...


More caterpillars


Green iguana, Neda's favorite


Snake


We only saw a few Howler Monkeys, they were too far to photograph well. This is a Mantled Howler, common in Costa Rica[/size][/b]

While we were hiking in Arenal a few days ago, we heard hordes of Howler Monkeys in the distance, but never saw them. We read that some of the monkeys get very territorial and throw fruits at hikers that pass by too close. Neda said that it'd be pretty cool to have fruit being thrown at you by a monkey, and I replied, "You mean, like a coconut?"...

The Howler Monnkey is the largest monkey in Central and South America. They're well known for their very loud grunts and howls. The Guiness Book of World Records says that Howler Monkeys are the loudest animals in the world and can be heard from as far as 5 kms away!


More iguana action


Manuel Antonio is well-known for its beautiful beaches

Unfortunately the tour took longer than we thought and we had to check out of our hotel by noon, so we didn't get a chance to laze about on the beaches. The park was kind of disappointing, we thought we'd see a lot more animals. Didn't live up to its hype.


Bye bye beach


For the folks on ADV who requested more "calendar" shots of me...


On our way to Panama!
__________________
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
cuba, rtw, visit


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 8 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 8 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


 
 

Announcements

Thinking about traveling? Not sure about the whole thing? Watch the HU Achievable Dream Video Trailers and then get ALL the information you need to get inspired and learn how to travel anywhere in the world!

Have YOU ever wondered who has ridden around the world? We did too - and now here's the list of Circumnavigators!
Check it out now
, and add your information if we didn't find you.

Next HU Eventscalendar

HU Event and other updates on the HUBB Forum "Traveller's Advisories" thread.
ALL Dates subject to change.

2024:

Add yourself to the Updates List for each event!

Questions about an event? Ask here

HUBBUK: info

See all event details

 
World's most listened to Adventure Motorbike Show!
Check the RAW segments; Grant, your HU host is on every month!
Episodes below to listen to while you, err, pretend to do something or other...

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

"Ultimate global guide for red-blooded bikers planning overseas exploration. Covers choice & preparation of best bike, shipping overseas, baggage design, riding techniques, travel health, visas, documentation, safety and useful addresses." Recommended. (Grant)



Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance.

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ combines into a single integrated program the best evacuation and rescue with the premier travel insurance coverages designed for adventurers.

Led by special operations veterans, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, paramedics and other travel experts, Ripcord is perfect for adventure seekers, climbers, skiers, sports enthusiasts, hunters, international travelers, humanitarian efforts, expeditions and more.

Ripcord travel protection is now available for ALL nationalities, and travel is covered on motorcycles of all sizes!


 

What others say about HU...

"This site is the BIBLE for international bike travelers." Greg, Australia

"Thank you! The web site, The travels, The insight, The inspiration, Everything, just thanks." Colin, UK

"My friend and I are planning a trip from Singapore to England... We found (the HU) site invaluable as an aid to planning and have based a lot of our purchases (bikes, riding gear, etc.) on what we have learned from this site." Phil, Australia

"I for one always had an adventurous spirit, but you and Susan lit the fire for my trip and I'll be forever grateful for what you two do to inspire others to just do it." Brent, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the (video) series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring!" Jennifer, Canada

"Your worldwide organisation and events are the Go To places to for all serious touring and aspiring touring bikers." Trevor, South Africa

"This is the answer to all my questions." Haydn, Australia

"Keep going the excellent work you are doing for Horizons Unlimited - I love it!" Thomas, Germany

Lots more comments here!



Five books by Graham Field!

Diaries of a compulsive traveller
by Graham Field
Book, eBook, Audiobook

"A compelling, honest, inspiring and entertaining writing style with a built-in feel-good factor" Get them NOW from the authors' website and Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk.



Back Road Map Books and Backroad GPS Maps for all of Canada - a must have!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80G/S.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events all over the world with the help of volunteers; we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, or ask questions on the HUBB. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 19:44.