Pura Vida – Costa Rica

We arrived in Costa Rica on November 23rd late in the afternoon and headed directly for the bay west of La Cruz.

We were looking for a hotel, but when we found this sweet beach we decided to camp.

We missed camping a lot and enjoyed the peaceful beach, the stars and the campfire. We hadn’t prepared for this but we had some rice, beans and salsa and we thought it was a feast!

There’s something about camping headlight that makes you go ” SEEEEEXXXYYYYY!!!!”

The camp.

View over Puerto Soleo

We headed south but didn’t know what our destination would be. I really wanted to go to San Jose to meet Roller Derby Costa Rica, but they hadn’t replied my emails and it was really the only reason to go to San Jose. We decided to go for San Jose and hoped we would be able to get hold of the ladies once we were there.

Another petrol station stop.

On the way we stopped for an oil change on both bikes.

And met Rudolfo who’s a really cool dude. He came by to sell lemon from his farm and we started to talk. He spoke excellent English and was a pen pal with a guy from Finland 🙂

Further down the road we stopped for lunch and met Tony and his friends. They all had motorcycles at home and were excited about our trip. Tony only spoke a little English but nevertheless he invited us to come and stay with his family. We should just ride to the Hampton Inn at the airport in Alajuela, where he would pick us up at 5 pm.

We went to the hotel and waited there for 2 hours for Tony but he never showed up. I became a little skeptical. We had his cell number but no phone so we asked the reception at the hotel to call him and found out that he had been there 1 hour earlier but didn’t see us in front of the hotel. This just made me even more skeptical. Our bikes were right outside the hotel.

He said he would be back in 10 minutes to pick us up but 20 minutes later he still hadn’t arrived. So more skepticism. But Tony came alright and asked us to follow him. We followed him about 20 km to El Roble north of Alajuela. It was dark, it was raining, the traffic was intense and during that ride I got nervous. Was he taking us to a remote warehouse in the suburbs then robbing us and leaving us there with nothing? Was this the kind of situation where we should back out and return to the city? Amazing how quickly irrational fear will creep into your head and just sit there and grow. Of course Lars never had any thoughts like this. I’m always the anxious one.

Waiting for Tony.

Arriving at Tony’s house we still didn’t know what all this was about until we had parked the bikes. One by one his wife Lorena and his 4 children all came to meet us. All my fear vaporized. They were all just lovely and very welcoming. They even had a large guest room with a big bed ready for us.

They had been waiting for us with dinner, so Tony – not being able to find us at the hotel was real enough. Tony’s wife Lorena quickly got all the food out once again and prepared a lovely dinner for us. It was hard to communicate, but the message was clear enough anyways: we were welcome in their home and they were going to take care of us.

The Gonzales family: Lorena, Anthony, Tony, Judith, Francisca and Carolina

Tony’s awesome yellow Goldwing 2005. A gigantic machine, compared to the typical 125 ccm motorcycles you see in most of Latin America.

The next morning we had a huge breakfast of gallo pinto (rice with black beans), eggs, coffee, fried platanas (large bananas), tacos and bread. They were certainly putting the best on the table and making a feast for us.

Lorena’s parents live right next door. She invited us to go and visit them. Lorena’s father was a nice old senor with a huge smile. Her mom was so tiny and beautiful and sweet. She gave both of us the most amazing and longest hug we ever had and kept saying “Que linde”. We think it translates to “how sweet”, or “how nice”. The house was covered with family pictures and decorations of all kinds.

Sadly Lorena’s mom had fallen a while ago and had broken her leg. The poor lady was in a lot of pain and could hardly walk.

Lorena and her parents.

We were really very grateful that this lovely family invited us in to their home, despite our inability to speak their language and we looked dirty and sweaty. Lorena gave me a nice little gift with a picture of the lady Guadalupe. I will keep it always to remind me to give back the hospitality to someone who comes to our country. Who knows maybe one of the young Gonzales will travel abroad one day.

The ladies! Lorena, Carolina, Francisca and I.

When we arrived in San Jose, we headed directly for a cafe with Internet. I had a deadline for an article for a magazine and wanted it done this day. Also we were waiting for an answer from the Derby team. While I worked, Lars was walking the streets of San Jose.

As on the roads towards San Jose we found the streets packed with police officers. The Ticans (Costa Ricans) get and extra pay check in December and have a little extra to go crazy with. For that reason the government decided to put a lot of police on the roads. Besides, it was Black Friday and consumerism certainly hasn’t passed by Cosa Rica.

One of the rare places in San Jose with a street sign. Mostly you are just lost. Ticans don’t use street names. They use reference points. Like opposite the butcher or the next bakery. So being a tourist here is adventurous.

Sadly we weren’t able to hook up with the local Derby team, so we spend the night at Hostel Toruma. Almost impossible to locate, but very nice once we got there. It used to be a former presidents mansion.

It was a true bummer that we couldn’t meet the Derby ladies. But then if we had decided for a different route,  we would never have met the Gonzales family.

The following day we headed south towards the Osa Peninsula. Getting out of the heavy San Jose traffic was intense but as soon as we hit the highway, we had wide open, perfect smooth black asphalt on a beautiful 4 lane road, all the way. Sweet!

Having a lunch break and making friends with some guys from San Jose.

We passed Tarcoles River with these lazy crocs hanging out licking sun. At first glance it all looks pretty and natural, but later we find out that this river is extremely polluted from industrial waste, diesel and sewage waste. But luckily it all disappears into the ocean! Not so much Pura Vida going on here.

Nature is dominating though. The rainforest would easily take back the road if they left if alone for a while. And Costa Rican roads a not covered with trash as the the other Central American countries we have passed though, which is a very nice change.

Bunny at the beach.

For the first time in a long time we put on our rain gear. It was hot and it was tempting to just let it rain and get soaked but our clothes doesn’t dry easily in the humidity, so we put on the suits and sweated like pigs.

There was only a few weeks left of the rainy season in Costa Rica but when it rains, it rains and the water finds it’s way through everything. All bags were wet except my Wolfman bags. They managed to keep the water out. Everything else; helmets, gloves, sleeping bags, clothes, shoes was wet. But it was warm, so just slightly uncomfortable.

Heavy rain in Costa Rica.

As we turned of to the Osa Peninsula the road turned really bad. The enormous potholes were filled with water, hence we couldn’t see how deep they were. It was getting dark and it was impossible to ride this road in the dark, so we weren’t able to make it all the way to Puerto Jimenez which was our destination that day.

We stopped when we got to a little place called El Mirador Osa and asked if they had any available accommodation. Unfortunately they were fully booked. Mathew, one of the guys living there, asked whether we had camping gear. He suggested we just put our camping gear on the roofed porch on 1st floor. Sure, we could do that.

Bikes out of the rain and a nice porch, all for ourselfs.


Our safe home for the night. It was raining heavily the entire night and the air was thick with moist. Even if we had a roof over our heads everything got even more wet than it already was.

We woke up early to the sounds of the rain forest and this amazing vista. However this picture just doesn’t justify the magic of the view. The sounds, smells, temperature and the moist all needs to be taken in together to really appreciate it.

The owners at the Mirador put bananas out every morning to the birds and sure enough Senor Tucan came by for breakfast.

Such a graceful bird!

Funny looking kritters everywhere.

The road to Puerto Jimemez was pretty but extremely bad and damaged with deep potholes. We still had 50 km of swerving around potholes.

Serious landslide here.

On the way a large truck came towards me and just as I passed it, his wheels went in to a deep pothole filled with water and cow shit!!!! Had it not been raining I wouldn’t have had my rain suit on and even worse my windscreen would have been up!!

Puerto Jimenez is a sweet little lazy fishing town with a tiny harbor muddy potholed roads and small sodas (the Costa Rican version of Mexican street restaurants).

We found this oasis right on the water front with swimming pool, hammocks and free kayaks.

We were still soaked from two days of rain (and cow shit) so we spend some time outside trying to clean up and dry our stuff in the sun as this big guy came by for a almond munch. He’s a Scarlet Makaw, a large (about 80 cm) colorful parrot.

Another inhabitant of Puerto Jiminez. This one with a bad hair day.

We thought we had to go to the rain forest to see all these exotic animals but, they were all welcoming us right here in town.

Later we took advantage of the free kayaks and enjoyed the sunset on dead calm waters.


The pier in Puerto Jimenez.

Robinson Crusoe???

The following day we took off towards Carate without our luggage. It was gonna be a long hot day, riding dirt roads and crossing rivers.

We crossed 9 rivers on the way to Carate and the same 9 on the way back. 2 bikes, a total of 36 river crossings in one day! YAY! This was a playground!

Riding these roads required 100% focus on the road and we almost passed this field without noticing the flock of Scarlet Macaws next to the road. Luckily the birds were squeaking so loud that I heard them over the motor noise!

Lars trying to get a nice close-up


When they spread out their wings the blue color becomes dominant.

Another attempt to wash of the cow dung!

This one was easy!

Just before Carate we rode along this amazing misty beach.

Carate was not much of a town. More a pit stop. But the critters were all over. Here’s another little fellow – a white faced Capuchin monkey. We also saw Howling- and Spider monkeys

A bounty snack! Someone’s scored the big jackpot 🙂

Hanging out with the local dudes in Carate. The owner of the place – Glenn – is originally from Canada.

More swimming!

Cool eremite crab.

Cousin Tucan was curious and kept twisting his neck and moving his large beak around to better see what we were up to.

Having a coke and a break.

Love this kind of place where it’s mamma ruling the kitchen. She’ll serve whatever she has fresh that day.

The Bunny bike couldn’t handle the ride. Lost all screws for the rear rack!

These long-eared calves had a guilty look and seemed to be saying “I didn’t do it!” (the cow dung)

It’s hard no tot fall in love with the Osa peninsula and the amazing beaches.

Hanging out.

Big dude…eh tree!!

Here we were; tough adventurers attacking the rough dirt road with our 650 ccm work horses in all our safety gear including helmets, suits and boots when these two surfers on their 125 ccm Chinese bike passed us on the inside. WTF!!

The Osa Peninsula was definitely a highlight on our trip. We could have spend weeks exploring the area including the famous Corcovado National Park so we’ll have to come back to this heavenly place.

Leaving Puerto Jimenez we headed for the Jamanasin Lodge in Rincon to visit Marisol (Mar y sol). We met her our first night on the Peninsula and she invited us to come by for a coffee on our way out.

Marisol moved here from New York 17 years ago. It’s hard to imagine how it must have been coming here 17 years ago before tourism kicked of. Marisol is a very special and spiritual person who believes in the force of the universe and it was very inspiring to talk to her. She told a lot of stories of her work on the island with children and with Greenpeace.

Leaving the Peninsula we hit some heavy rain clouds again. It was as if the rainforest said goodbye and come back again. It rained so hard the bikes were making stern waves and we just laughed in our helmets and hoped we wouldn’t hit a deep pothole.

Costa Rica – see you soon!

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8 Responses

  1. Henriette says:

    Hi Anu. Thanks so much for checking in. Miss you too. Lots of merry Christmas wishes to Finland (where the true Santa Claus lives 🙂
    Hugs. H

  2. Stina Lindström says:

    I love your blog – fantastic pictures and what a great way to share a journey!
    Regards from Denmark – grey, rainy, windy and a bit of frost on the car windows this morning… 🙂

  3. karin sundin says:

    wow!! amazing beauty-and love to read about your encounters with friendly strangers. It seems like a romantic way to view the world…but its nice to see that sometimes its true! Take care : )

  4. Esben Bøll says:

    Super update.. Hver gang jeg kigger på jeres blog rykker det bare SÅ meget i mig for at komme afsted igen.
    Og jeg kan godt se at sydamerika i hvert fald skal besøges…
    Forresten… godt at se Lars’s rejseskæg er vokset flot ud! ;-)>

  5. larshoejberg says:

    Hi Dawn
    Glad to hear that you are regular visitors. Henriette is throwing a lot of efforts into making sure that the updates continue to be worthwhile reading. Say hi to the rest of the Bisbee gang – Kurt, Hugo etc. 🙂

  6. Dawn Hobson says:

    Que bueno! (How good.) Two updates in two days are a feast to us. We love to come home after work, check in on key sites including yours, make dinner, watch Star Trek, collapse into bed, repeat again. Your updates make our week. Henriette, I am so sorry that you got covered in cow $&^%. The cows in the pictures look totally guilty. Hang in there!

  7. Melinda Jordan says:

    Nice river crossings Girl! And it seems helpful that the potholes are clearly marked with lakes. 0.o What FUN! Getting envious now ….