All my rushing across the last few countries was in order to get to Costa Rica before Christmas. The bike badly needed a service and I badly needed a rest. I would stay with friends in the capital San Jose. It would be a nice break to stay at a house for once after so many hotel rooms over the last couple of months. I’m over six thousand miles into the trip and could do with some R&R.
I sped off from Granada, Nicaragua with the hope of getting to the border as early as possible. It was a Saturday morning and I had been warned that the border would be jam-packed with travellers going into Costa Rica to spend Christmas season. So I went faster than I should, overtaking each and every bus heading towards the border.
This border crossing was not in any way corrupt like the others, but it still took me four hours to get through because of the throngs and the staggering amount of paperwork required. I wont go into the whole bureaucracy rigmarole in detail, but I’m fairly certain that the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border is one of the seven circles of hell. Let’s leave it at that. If you can’t say anything nice, etc.
Once I got across the border the scenery immediately turned more tropical. Trees and lush vegetation lined the road as I rolled south and on to San Jose. With this more tropical landscape also came the first rains I’ve seen in more than two months on the road.
The other big difference from Nicaragua was the complete absence of cattle and other livestock on the side of the road. Only a few kilometers before I‘d been keeping a wary eye out for these beasts, and now over the border it was like they had all been raptured by some sort of vengeful animal God.
The travel Gods were smiling on me, however. The sun came back out, the road opened up, and I made great time until nightfall caught up with me. Just as it was getting dark, I found a very modern , slick but still relatively cheap hotel in the unlikely setting of a small farming town. They even had wine! and hot water! I know a good thing when I see so I checked in to enjoy a bit of luxury for once.
Next day was the final push over the mountains to San Jose, where I would hang up my helmet for a while. Costa Rica is much more developed than any of the other countries I’ve been and as such it had a strong biking community. In other countries the only motorbikes to be seen were small capacity utilitarian bikes, where as here I began to see more and more big bikes as I got closer to the capital. As I was making my way down the mountain a big BMW GS pulled alongside gesturing for me to pull over. We chatted about my trip and Roberto gave me some great contacts for getting my bike sorted out in San Jose.
Then, further down the road I heard a deafening rumbling behind me and was swarmed by dozens of bikes, mostly Harleys. Among thumbs up signs I fell into formation and rode with them a few kilometers to a café. Here I met Moto Club M14, of San Jose.
One of the great things I’ve discovered about the motorcycling community is that even though you are strangers, because you are on a motorcycle you have instant friends whenever you meet other bikers. The generosity offered to an errant traveller is amazing and humbling.
When they realized I was a foreigner and on a long distance trip, I was peppered with questions from all sides. I felt like a celebrity with all the attention. They insisted on buying me breakfast (even though I’d had breakfast a couple of hours before), and I posed for dozens of photos with the bike. Most of the bikes were Harleys, and there was one V-Strom (the same model bike as mine, and only the second one I’ve seen since Mexico) The owner, Oscar, told me where I would find the best workshop to service the bike and offered me a spare air filter off his bike in the event I couldn’t find one in stock. He works at Intel and has many Irish colleagues.
They were going back up into the mountains and invited me along , but I was expected at my friends’ house and had to decline the offer. So after countless handshakes, backslaps and good lucks, they went on their way and I continued on mine into San Jose where I got incredibly lost. On previous, non-motorcycle visits I’d driven in San Jose several times and though I knew my way around but hadn’t been here for five years, so I suppose my memory is failing me! At least I have a record of this trip on this blog, so hopefully I wont forget all this in five years time!
Eventually I found the place and settled in for Christmas. Post on that soon.