City: San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica
Kilometres ridden: 0
Cumulative kilometre: 29828
Not much happened over the next three days. Marvin, the hotel owner was very nice and organised a mechanic which would have a look at the bike today – Sunday – and see where the vibration on my bike came from. I had a pretty good idea after I mutilated the back tyres bead yesterday while trying to fit it. So he came, had a look at the bike, everything else seemed fine. He was also sure that he could organize a new tyre if needed, and fit it within one day. That was good news! So the next day we dropped the bike off. And after he removed the tyre everybody could see the reason for the vibration. There was no question, we needed a new tyre.
So he organized a new tyre and put it on, all within a couple of hours which ensured that we could make it in time to Panama City. Here are our heroes.
During the whole day I felt sick and had a bit of fever which didn’t go away for the next two days, so in the end we decided to consult a doctor. Marvin was once more nice enough to organize a doctor’s appointment and drove us there as well. We are really thankful for his help since I didn’t feel like riding a bike. The doctor ordered a blood sample and prescribed some tablets to get rid of an infection. Marvin was once more driving us around. Below are Marvin and I in the waiting room and the doctor that looked after me. Bye the way, she was not only a nice looking doctor; she spoke English as well, which made the whole conversation easy.
After taking the tablets, the fever went away within a day, so on the 9th January it was time to get moving; otherwise we would miss our boat to Columbia.
Date: 09/01 – 11/01
City: San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama
Kilometres ridden: 753
Cumulative kilometre: 30581
Today was the day to leave Costa Rica and to go to Panama. I felt much better, so we packed the bikes, said goodbye to Marvin and Vera and got moving.
We arrived at the border two hours later and once more did the border crossing without a helper, using the great border crossing description from Lisa and Dan, an English couple who travel the Pan American Highway 2 month in front of us.
After the border crossing we rode another 50km to David, the next big city, and organized some accommodation. Two days later we arrived in Panama City. Not much happened on the way. In Panama City, Sigrid organized a small flat with a kitchen for two days. Tomorrow we’ll visit the Miraflores Lock on the Panama Canal.
City: San Jose, Costa Rica
Kilometres ridden: 257
Cumulative kilometre: 29700
The goal today was to buy new back tyres and get them fitted (two different things in Central and South America). So we packed the bikes, said good bye to all people in Villa Kunterbunt and got on our way. The road was easy and we only had 160km to go. After a while the sealed road stopped and a small dirt track started. In disbelief we checked the map and the GPS – but we were on the right track. In the end we got back on a sealed road which was much easier to ride. After an uneventful ride we arrived in San Jose when we realised that our address was incomplete. So we started to circle the area, ask people until eventually a nice motorcycle rider rode in front of us to show us the shop ” Moto Boutique”. We were close 🙂
and we felt completely secure in the shop 😀
That’s where we meet Esmond, the owner and his wife; both were really nice and helpful. After chatting a bit, Esmond threw the tires into his car and drove them to the workshop leading us to where Pan, the tire mechanic , was waiting for us. He went straight to work and did my bike first. To get the tyre removed and put on again he went away and came back 10 minutes later. When he started with Sigrid’s bike I became curious and went with him.
I guess I made him nervous since he fitted Sigrid’s tyre in the wrong direction, so he did it again – I thought ‘merde’ is a French word 😀. In Costa Rica they don’t balance tires, the language barrier prevented us from knowing why... Anyway, it got late and we needed accommodation, so Sigrid suggested a hotel that had good reviews in Motorcycle blogs, so we went there and had a nice evening. The view from our balcony over San Jose was great.
City: San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica
Kilometres ridden: 128
Cumulative kilometre: 29828
The same view from our balcony in the morning was a bit different, to the left it looked like a slum area and to the right like a banking district.
But the pool area still looked really nice.
Today was our thirty-second Wedding anniversary, so our gift was……wait for it…….. a back tyre. We bought each other a back tyre 😀. When I checked the installation in the daylight I realised that on Sigrid bike the axel was not fitted straight, bummer. At the same time I realised that Sigrid’s bike needs new rear brake pads, so it was lucky after all. So we tracked our way back to the mechanic. We explained the problem and he fixed both (I had rear brake pads in my toolkit). We continued from there and the GPS guided us through the mountain which brought us through the clouds.
At the highest point we were at 3200m and it got really cold, particularly because I only had a sweat shirt under my jacket and the under arm vents were still open. My hands got really cold, so we stopped at the next restaurant. I got the heated vests out and defrosted my hands on a hot coffee. Nice ride after that. When we arrived at San Isidro de El General we turned towards the road to Hatillo, our destination at the coast.
We found some nice windy roads only 30km to our destination and we had one and a half hour of daylight. Things were going great.
Then, suddenly, in one corner I had a tyre blowout. The bike went straight onto the other side of the road and tried to fall to the left, but this time I kept the bike up. I was just lucky that no one was coming on the other side of the road. Anyway, welcome to my nightmare, having to change a tyre. Well I did it once before… What could possibly go wrong?
So we moved the bike to some stable ground and started to change a tyre. We were aware that the sun would set in sixty minutes, so Sigrid started to get the camping light out while I was getting the back wheel out.
When I removed the tube, I found the culprit. A long nail did the whole damage. So I ensured that the inside of the tyre didn’t have any other sharp edges, got a new tube from the tool box, fitted the tube, just to realise that I cleverly labeled the box wrong. I put the front wheel spare tube in, which is bigger. To cut the story short, after fitting the right tube, I didn’t pay enough attention that the tyre would sit properly when I try to put it on again. So in the end, when I could hardly pull it over the rim, I remembered what Graham (Horizon Unlimited founder) was saying over and over again, ‘if it is too hard, then there is something wrong, sit back, grab a beer and have a look at the tyre again’.
And I immediately figured out the problem.
I didn’t have beer. 😛 ?
By now it was dark out site, but we had our camping light for the tent, which gave us enough light to keep going.
Anyway, in the end I figured out what the problem was, but by this time I already mutilated the tyre bead, so I was sure we needed a new tyre as soon as possible. When we were nearly finished a nice guy with his family stopped in front of us and asked if he could help. When we said we are ok, he insisted to wait until we really got moving, which was very nice of him.
We decided to return to the previous town and have a look for a motorcycle shop that stocks tires tomorrow or on Monday. So we turned around and rode back a couple of km, all the while feeling the vibration of the mutilated back tyre :S.
After we booked into a hotel, Sigrid had a swim at 9PM and I got chills. I must have caught something, hopefully its gone by tomorrow.
We packed the bikes, and Sigrid cooked a great breakfast, so we started around 10:30, not too early, but it was already getting warm. Then we left Granada and hardly got lost, since the GPS only showed three roads in Granada. We arrived at the border around lunchtime, ignored the helpers this time and did the border crossing ourselves, yeah! The roads are nice and the border on the Costa Rican side looked clean and organized, quite different to our previous borders. The GPS started to show detailed roads again, I forgot how easy it is if you can see the road that you are on. We had booked the accommodation in Samara starting from tomorrow, but we worked out that we could reach it today. So we pushed on and arrived just before it got dark. We went straight to the beach for the sunset, it looked great.
At night we meet another Tom (not the owner), he lives in the US but is originally from Germany. He bought a property in Costa Rica with some coffee plants on it. He harvests the coffee cherries and processes them. He promised to make a coffee for me.
As promised, Tom made us a coffee from his harvested, processed and roasted coffee beans.
I must admit, it tasted really nice. He was there with his two brothers from Germany and the partner of one. We talked about what they were doing in Costa Rica and our journey so far. Tom offered to have a look around for our back tyres; maybe we can get them in Atenas, which is 50km before San Juan, so we could avoid going to the Capital city. One of his brothers was riding as well, so both wanted to have a look at the bikes and sit on them.
And then there was the problem with the water. It went on and off all the time, so we couldn’t really have a shower and sometimes not even flush the toilet. One suggestion was to get the water out of the pool to fill the cistern to flush the toilet. So Tom, the owner, organized a new fuse for the pump and Stephen fitted it. The interesting bit was he didn’t know where the main fuse was so he had to do it with the power on. He wears the glasses to prevent the sparks getting into his eyes! 😉
He did a great job and we had water. In the afternoon we walked to the village down the beach, below is the beach J
We did some shopping and walked back to the beach. At night, Stephen, the manager, asked us to join him for the Rodeo in town but by the time we had made up our minds to join him he was gone. But it had sparked the idea of going and in the end we met a Danish couple; they were driving to town and gave us a lift. We walked to the place, it was a like a fair with a big rodeo in the middle.
The atmosphere was amazing; there were whole families with their kids watching the rodeo. After trying the local cuisine at the fair and watching a few bull rides we walked back to our accommodation along the beach. The weather was warm and we had full moon, it was magic.
We set the alarm clock for 7AM to call Australia to wish our family in Australia a happy new year.
Then we went to the beach. There were lots of people stacking up wood for the bonfires tonight.
And then we made a movie of the end of 2012.
In the evening we watched the sunset
After sunset we went back to the hostel to have dinner prepared by Stephen for us and some other guests.
We sat together for a while before we went back to the beach to have a look at the bonfires and the fireworks. The fireworks happens sporadicly three hours before midnight. The atmosphere was awesome, particularly that we nearly had a full moon and the sea was slightly illuminated.
In the morning we went to the town to get some money and to buy some groceries. When we arrived the grocery shop was still closed, so we had breakfast at a nice coffee shop we’d seen before. It took a while before the food came and you can see how patient Sigrid is.
On our way back we discover some gym equipment, which we had to try, you know the New Year’s resolution and all. Being out of shape didn’t help much…
The rest of the day we relaxed on the beach and in the small pool
And, in the evening we went back to the beach to …… watch the sunset.
Coffee Tom couldn’t find a dealer that had our tyres, and after yesterday’s sunset, we decided to stay a day longer and try to organize the tyres in San Jose. It took a while but Sigrid found some recommendation on the net, so we called the shop and they had similar tyres. So we got the directions and had a look at accommodations as well. Below is the picture of a group of ants carrying a bit of our scrambled egg upside down on the sink. I guess that’s happen if you are on a long holiday, you start to observe ants 🙂
During the day we met two Germans, Anja from Leipzig and Sebastian from Hamburg, they travelled together for a while through Costa Rica. Anja is a biologist and lived in Ushuaia for a while before she moved to an Antarctic base for a year, so we could pick her brain about Ushuaia. At night, our small group, Anja, Tim, Sebastian and us went to the beach to – you guessed it – watch the sunset. This is our last sunset in Samara, as usual, I don’t wanna go 🙁
Tomorrow we will heading to San Jose, the capital, and get a new set of rear tyres.