Crossing into Costa Rica was a bit more like what I was expecting from Central America, at least on the Panamanian side. A dodgy border town with slovenly officials and security directorate personnel intent on proving their power over you. Still it wasn’t too bad and once we crossed into Costa Rica the experience became downright pleasant along with the officials.
The worst part was the actual physical crossing itself. The old railway bridge had been built by and for the huge banana plantations and when it was no longer needed the government had ‘upgraded’ it for road traffic by the simple expedient of laying down some wooden boards. These badly spaced and worn boards were fine for a truck using both tracks, but very narrow for a bike using just one, with just inches of room on either side to slide off into a girder or run into the rail itself. The pedestrians didn’t help matters since they couldn’t fit when a truck was crossing and started to rush across when we got on the bridge- completely indifferent to the fact that we couldn’t ride around them or stop without dropping our bikes. It was just the kind of low speed, no mistake kind of place where you could easily break something in a silly way.
Luckily, we both got through fine and hit the road to San José while looking out for a promising path off the road to find an out of the way place to camp.
San José was very much as I remembered it and beyond getting some stuff for the bike we didn’t spend much time there. It’s a fun city with lots to do, but it’s a city with terrible traffic and nothing to do on a bike. So our visit there was brief and much more wholesome than my last one. Sorry to the guys (you know who you are), I didn’t even manage to renew my acquaintance with The Blue Marlin Bar at the Hotel Del Rey…
Since HP2 and I had decided to ride Central America together we also had to be a bit flexible on where we went- we wouldn’t do the exact route each of us would have done on our own, but we’d hit the important spots for each of us. One of these for HP2 was somewhere to do some longboarding. After some asking around we settled on Playa Guiones since it looked like a good ride, not too developed, and of course- had good surfing for our time of year.
The ride turned out to be another pleasant and uneventful one. We got off the main road as soon as possible, but even the secondary roads were in good condition with well graded gravel and few pot holes. The beach itself was nice and quiet with what I’m told was a good break, so while HP2 flopped around in the water, I spent a day checking out the local inhabitants.
Turns out, this was crab land. Crabs of every sort everywhere.
Beyond the crabs there were other critters and a great stretch of beach for a walk.
It was great- riding from one wonderful beach location to another with a bit of city life in between. Easy to follow, good quality roads with a pleasant country atmosphere, tasty and cheap food- nothing at all to complain about. Nope nothing.
Thing is, I was complaining.
This wasn’t the Central America I was expecting. I knew Panama and Costa Rica where the best developed countries in the area, but I was still expecting some difficulty. Some challenge beyond saying no to a second beer at lunch. Even having to deal with corrupt officials and spend a day running around some grotty little town getting all the scraps of paper they wanted together was sounding good- something that would return the ride into the adventure it had been instead of the two-wheeled vacation it seemed to have become.
Was I maybe just tired of traveling? Had I been doing it so long that it all was just becoming the same-old, same-old and things that should be thrilling and moving were just washing over me while I tried to look through them for the ‘real’ adventure? I knew that traveling with HP2 was certainly making things easier, but I didn’t think it was that that was leeching my satisfaction out of the trip. It was something more, something I’d just have to figure out as I continued riding North.