Page 50: - No Return Ticket - Just a Ride Report /w Pics - From the beginning
Jaco to La Cruz, Costa Rica:
We enjoyed a couple nice days in Jaco Costa Rica. It felt good knowing that after my bracket repair our left pannier is attached stronger than ever.
Heidi and I like to cross a border early in the morning when things hopefully aren’t as busy and the border workers aren’t fatigued from the mid-day heat or from anxious travelers. So, that means we try to stage ourselves close to the border the night before we cross. Today we shoot for La Cruz, a small community near the Nicaragua border where Heidi and I ate breakfast the first time we crossed into Costa Rica. I thought I remembered a hotel right off the main highway.
The ride to La Cruz was uneventful, just good roads, good weather and one friendly police stop. We first ride to where I thought the hotel was. No hotel, just a restaurant. We ride toward town and circle around a few times. We didn’t see any hotels with parking. I finally stop and ask at a hotel if they had a place for us to park our motorcycle. The hotel has an entrance in a back ally we didn’t know about with courtyard parking. At $15 for a big room with a full size refrigerator and a spacious outside sitting area, we are set.
The Nicaragua Border Con:
We are up early the next morning and ride to the Nicaragua border. We have a clear memory where every building is and where we need to go. Heidi and I rehearse together what we have to do at the border. We are always a little jittery preparing for a border but this time we are feeling pretty good. The Costa Rica aduana is in an obscure spot and if we didn’t know where it was it would be real confusing.
We pull into the Costa Rica aduana and get the bike un-declared with ease. Next we park in front of the immigration building and get our exit stamp from Costa Rica in less then 5 minutes. Before getting the exit stamp a change guy offers to change some money. I had $100 in twenties ready to go and I knew the rate. Knowing the exchange rate and exchanging an even $100 makes it easy, just move the exchange rate decimal point over two places. OK, I ask the exchange rate from the changer. He quotes me a fair rate. I say I want to change $100 then ask him “how much?” He tells me the correct amount in colones. Then he counts out the colones (Costa Rica currency) in his hand. I assume he counted out what he quoted. He hands me the colones, I hand him the $100. I count out the colones. I was short. I look at him and say “Hey” He starts whipping out more colones like he was planning on doing that all along. The Con; The amount he counts out for me to make the transaction complete and correct was off by one decimal point and I did not catch it. I got taken for $35 and didn’t even figure it out until later that day when I realized I only had $50 worth of colones after I spent $15. I was so pissed. I couldn’t let it go. It’s not that $35 is a huge amount but I think the big thing for me is that he used a tried technique on me, me, the guy who was ready to not get ripped off. I felt so stupid. I didn’t want to admit it to Heidi but I just had to. I had to do something to help ‘let this go’. I’m over it now (mostly) but this will Not Happen Again.
I pay $2.50 and get my Nicaragua fumigation.
Nicaragua has tried hard to get their customs process streamlined. Someone from customs comes right out to the parking lot and hands us the forms. A helper then shaves off a least an hour and a lot of hassle by getting us expedited through the process. Immigration has to be completed before customs and the line for immigration was at least a half hour long. When I was done our helper gets Heidi in the ‘bus only’ immigration line and gets her in and out in 5 minutes. Sweet, we are done and are ready for Nicaragua…
About an hour into Nicaragua a guy on a Yamaha DT175 catches up to us in a village and yells out “Are you from Wisconsin” We confirm. Then he yells out “I know you from AdvRider” Holy cow, I motion for him to pull over. We are going to email. Anyway this fellow advRider.com inmate is from France and he and his wife have lived in Minneapolis for 10 years, small world. We talk about Minneapolis and where we both lived there. He was riding to Granada for the day. How cool is that, we just run into him on the road in Nicaragua.
The first time we rode through Nicaragua we hit most of the places we were interested in except Matagalpa. We were planning on just riding to Esteli today where we have stayed before. We know the town, we know where a hotel is with good parking that’s close to downtown. But then Heidi suggests we try something new (gotta love her). Matagalapa here we come…
We hit a little rain through most of Nicaragua but just after we pulled off the main highway and started climbing into the hills toward Matagalapa it started to pour. Then it started to really pour. I have never ridden in such hard rain ever. The road was almost new and has a good curve on top so the water doesn’t pool up, that’s a good thing. But my face shield stared fogging up to the point where I had to lift it up. The down pour didn’t last long or else I would have had to pull over somewhere for safety, not a fun thing to do in a downpour.
The road to Matagalapa is so new some of the bridges aren’t completed yet. I could feel Heidi twitching while we approached the muddy water crossing. She said “Do you want me to get off?” I tell her “No, I can do this” She trusts me. I can feel the pressure (I Better Not Spill)
We just pull into town and I can see the rain coming at us up ahead. I do a 180 and ride to a car dealership we just passed and pull under a vacant overhang. It starts pouring again. Good timing.
After a while a guy from the dealership comes out to talk with us. He asks all about our trip then starts to tell us how important what we are doing is, visiting lots of different cities in different countries. He talks about how you can not learn what we are learning by working a high paying job and buying a lot of things. He talks for at least 15 minutes really getting deep and philosophical. What pleasant experience.
Random acts of kindness:
The rain ended so we proceeded to ride around town looking for a hotel. This is a larger and busier city then we anticipated. The traffic was heavy and the streets are all one-way. We circle around and around the city a few times. While riding along a downtown back street a taxi behind us starts beeping and motioning for us to pull over. We did and he tells us that something is not secure on our bike. Heidi jumps off and sees her pannier pad locks just hanging, not locked. We waved and thanked the taxi driver as he rode by. How nice is that. One of the best and most memorable things about this trip has been these random acts of kindness that we have received. We have experienced so many that we can’t begin to list them all. These people and their acts fill our hearts with joy and prove to us that people are basically good and kind. Hopefully we will pay it forward.
Still looking for a hotel we were on our third cruise down main-street. I finally pull over between two parked cars and flag down a passing empty taxi. I ask him if he knows of a hotel with secure parking for a motorcycle. He confirms he does and despite honking cars behind him he proceeds to tell us where it is. I quickly ask him to show us and say I will pay. He gives a quick thumbs-up and motions for us to follow. We get guided to a hotel that we would have never found on our own, just at the edge of downtown. We give him $2.50. He rode off waving and waving back at us through his rear window.
This is in front of our hotel. Heidi and I take a walking tour of the city.
There’s a food-stand setup next to the bridge. People are doing their wash down by the river
There seems to be some type of celebration at the central park today.
Potato sack race.
It’s hard to see but that’s a blindfolded kid swinging a stick at a piñata bobbing up and down.
We find out what the celebration is, ‘first annual national day of the potato’. Cool…
The park was set up with displays.
Another event, ‘Sack of Potatoes race’.
This guy totally ran out of gas just yards before the finish. He finally had to drop the sack. A kid nearby picked it up to finished the race for him. Every one was having a good time. There was food and beer tents set up all around the park. It reminded me of a Wisconsin event.
This band was jamming some really funky music.
We had a good time in Matagalapa but it was time to go.
Every night here we got a lot of rain. Heidi again was understandably a little concerned about this water crossing.
We’re shooting for a town close to the Honduras border today, Ocotal. During any long ride I never like to pass up a good and shady pullover spot in the country. Look over the map, drink some water, hug and kiss. This is how we like to ride.
The first hotel we see in Ocotal was perfect. Nice clean rooms, secure courtyard parking and a pool, $30. We can handle this….
After a good swim we prepare to explore the city.
This is Sunday. He is not the only person we saw sleeping on the street today. Humm…..
Beautiful park. Our guide book says this is the best example of a northern Honduras village without tourists.
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