(March 22 – written by Nancy)
Good news – no flat tires this morning and throughout the day – woohoo!
Friends who stayed in our hotel about a year ago had to lift their bikes over cars to make their exit in the morning. So last night when we saw the drive blocked by cars we pinged the innkeeper and told her that we wanted to leave early. No worries, she was planning on moving cars at 6AM. Well, at about 6:15 this morning, the owner of the car that was last in line had to knock on the innkeeper’s door to wake her and get the car moving process started. This worked out great for us as they finished just as we headed out 10 minutes later. Time is a fluid concept in Central America…
We’d heard that there was a nice bike path leaving town but all we found was a narrow goat track with too many walkers and bikes trying to get into town. It was more dangerous than riding on the actual road so out to the road we went. One bus driver had to wait behind us for about 30 seconds and decided the yell something out his open door as he passed. I didn’t completely catch it but I’m going with “have a nice day” because that makes me happiest.
Traffic was a bit variable as we made our way off the Puntarenas peninsula and turned right to head down the coast for a spell. At some point the road we were on became a national tollway, Hwy 27, the main road heading to San Jose – Costa Rica’s capitol. We saw a couple signs saying No Bicycles but we also had heard from other cyclists that they travelled on the road with no issues despite the signs.
We rode highway 27 for about 20k inland. It was mostly uphill and pretty windy. There was a lot of big truck traffic – not surprising given it’s the main road between the ports and the capitol. All this led to a very dusty, gritty ride. We were happy to reach Highway 34 and the toll booth to exit the toll-way. The far right booth was un-manned but we just pushed around the outside and made our exit. No one said anything and no alarms went off – at least that we were aware of. And for the record, the fare sign didn’t have any rate for bicycles. We stopped shortly after the exit for a cool drink and second brekkie – sorry we were too hungry to get a photo.
We rode about 10k on Highway 34 before reaching what is known as Crocodile Bridge. A large group of biggish fresh water crocs have taken up residence here and have created a mini tourist attraction. All the cars and tour buses seem to stop so that passengers can walk out and have a look. So that’s what we did. The bank leading to the water is not overly steep and the crocs could simply get out of the water and eat any number of the tourists that were previously mocking them from the bridge but a “helper” on the bridge told us that they actually feed the crocs – keeping them happy and thus under this bridge. Anything for the tourists – us included.
From the bridge it was about 20k to Jaco. There was only one small problem with this last 20k that we knew about – a massive steep hill right the end. We had read that the grade was pretty steep (close to 10%) and it was 3k long. It was just about as hard as that sounds. Our friends rode up the hill in a rain shower – which actually would have been nice. My computer read 44C as we climbed and we both had sweat pouring off us. We were in our lowest gears and very happy to reach the top of the climb. From here it was mostly downhill to flat all the way the Jaco.
We stopped at Pops ice-cream again when reached town because we were too early to check into the hotel. Today we showed enough restraint to get a photo. It was so cool in the store, we almost got ice-cream headaches just walking in. Not that we were complaining.
After our refresher, we headed to our hotel – the Hotel Ibiza. Nancy found this place so yes, it is nicer than our normal standard. They gave us cold towels and cold bottles of water while we waited for a larger room to be cleaned. They gave us the larger room to accommodate the bikes – wow, maybe we should let Nancy book things more often (Senior editor’s note – yes please!).
After we got into our room (with hot water, shampoo, nice soap, and even a hair dryer) and cleaned up, we grabbed lunch at I Love Sushi – just out on the main road from our hotel. It was great, another real treat. Travelling in the parts of Central America where tourists come – such as here – mean that we get a few more options. Our second brekkie earlier in the day was black beans and rice – much more local. I guess it would be fair to say that we like food from anywhere – something about riding 5 hours or more on most days. Eat to ride!
After shopping we headed to the beach. We dipped our toes in the water and it was oddly cool. Sunset was great today and out hotel is only a block off the beach. If we wanted a “normal” holiday, rather than a bike trip, this could be a fun place to stay. Naturally we’d have to learn to surf. And for me, probably a good idea to learn how to swim in the ocean. Nah, I think I’ll stick with the bike.
Tomorrow we are heading down the coast. It looks like the road hugs the coast all day. It’s a little bit longer day so I’ll need to focus on keeping photo breaks short. It is supposed to be hot again so may need to get up even earlier – much the chagrin of my senior editor (Senior editor’s note – Nooooo!).