Days 10 and 11, May 12, 2001
An update from Liberia, Costa Rica.
I wave goodbye to the good folks at Villas de la Colinas on Thursday morning and point the Guzzi west towards Jaco and Manuel Antonio, resort towns on the Pacific Coast. For the first 25 miles the road is curves and switchbacks on top of each other, as it descends from the interior mountains to the relatively flat rain forest of the coast. Although I'm two days behind schedule, even skipping Panama, I've decided not to miss Costa Rica too, and these two coastal towns are some of the main attractions. I am not disappointed.
Just in time for a late lunch, I find a small restaurant right on the beach, a mile from the national park at Manuel Antonio. Concrete tables and benches sit among palms swaying in the ocean breeze. The surf pounds as the sun reflects on white-sand beaches. It is idyllic - a picture postcard.
It is also hot - perhaps ninety degrees and in numerical terms, the humidity is higher than the temperature. But it is indeed beautiful and I enjoy my day on the Pacific Coast.
Saturday I'm up and out by 7:30am, trying to develop the rhythm and discipline I need to complete this trip. By getting on the road early I hope to: 1) be wrapped up by early afternoon, assuring that I won't ever be looking for a hotel in the dark, and 2) get in most of my riding in the relative cool of the morning. I know that most of this trip will be in desperately hot weather.
It works today. High cirrus clouds block the sun and my speed negates the stifling humidity. It is altogether a nice ride - forty-five miles, much of it through coconut palm plantations, to Jaco for breakfast. This coastal route is eventually slated to be the main PanAmerican Highway through to Panama and I detour around at least a dozen bridges that are under construction. Thank God they are. My best description wonīt do them justice, but the old bridges are steel i-beams affairs laid across at ninety degrees to the traffic flow, each about three inches wide and spaced six inches apart. The road bed is perhaps eight feet wide with no guard rails on either side. Almost all are single-file. I try not to think what it would be like if it was raining, and drawing on powers of concentration I didnīt know I had, I urge the Guzzi across.
After breakfast itīs north up the coast to Puentarenas, a gritty, industrial, back-wash of a port city. Virtually every head turns as the red Quota passes. It stands out a bit more than I'd like.
My goal for the day is Liberia, a cattle town reminiscent of west Texas or New Mexico, just fifty miles south of the Nicaragua border. I'm in by 2pm, having covered just over 200 miles on rough, rough pavement. I note that often the patches on the road occupy more square footage than the original pavement. Liberia is as dry as Manuel Antonio and Jaco are humid, and sun beats down on me relentlessly. I stop at least three times to add more sun block and change into a long-sleeved tee-shirt. A gas station attendant announces the temperature as 37C (about 99F) and I'm sure it's all of that. This is Phoenix in July, but I like the western feel of Liberia.
It briefly crosses my mind to continue on to Nicaragua, just an hour away, but I have to both exit Costa Rica and enter Nicaragua, a process that could easily entail 2 - 5 hours. (Or as Iīve heard - "two hours to two days.") Since I don't know which, I hang it up. My itinerary says stop in Liberia. It was well thought out to begin with, so I'm done for the day. I'll use the extra time to write, place some calls and rest.
The big, red twin is running like a sewing machine, in spite of the low octane fuel. It's great to be moving.
On to Nicaragua tomorrow.
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