Journey through Costa Rica


Martin leads the race up a steep hill!

All change ..

We crossed the border into Costa Rica by boat along the Rio Frio. This one hour boat trip conjured up old time images of the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn from my youth and I found myself  lost in another world. The boat crew swiftly changed the flag mid route from the Nica to the Tica flag to signal the official arrival into Costa Rica. The first sightings of Costa Rica were of a lush, green, plentiful land. The landscape was not the only change … prices inflated and people were on the more reserved side but the most exciting change was that we experienced rain for the first time in almost two months! It was so refreshing as the humidity and strong sun had taken its toll on us. We had left behind the dry season of Nicaragua.

Costa Rica has been described in many ways from the ‘Switzerland of Latin  America’ to a giant rainforest and these descriptions certainly rang true for us. Our days pedaling in Costa Rica have provided us with breathtaking vistas of rolling green hills, roadsides lined with pineapple plantations, sugar cane, orange trees and acres of banana plantations. The sound of the rainforest wildlife which accompanies us as we cycle has been incredible, crickets, howler monkeys and a myriad of exotic birds. The countryside reminded Martin a lot of Norththumberland, presuming he meant minus the presence of pineapples and sugar cane!

Our first port of call was a small town called ‘La Fortuna’, close to the famous Arenal Volcano, still active. On a clear day lava can be seen flowing. We were unlucky on this occasion as the weather remained cloudy so we couldn’t make the pre-planned trip to Lake Arenal to see this. We did however experience the local hot springs thanks to Bob, a local expat who was familiar with the area. We spent a wonderful afternoon there soaking in the rich volcanic minerals with the locals, Bob, and our new German and Canadian  friends Bernt and Serge. I am getting fond of these hot springs!

Do as the locals do …

We have a new roadside past time, river swimming. The temptation has been too much as we cycle by so many rivers everyday beckoning us in for a refreshing swim so we have been taking the opportunity to do as the locals do and swim in the rivers during our cycle breaks much to the bemused look of the our fellow swimmers as we enter the water in our bike kit! This keeps us cool for a longwhile after.


We had decided early on that we would aim for the Caribbean coast as opposed to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. This was a good decision. The Pacific and Caribbean seems to be a tale of two very different coasts. And so we pedaled east in search of Caribbean flavor. We overnighted in a town called Siquirres and immediately got a taste of the Afro-Caribbean culture as many Jamaicans came to work here to help build the railroad as well as employment from the United Fruit Company in the region and they ended up staying here. Siquirres marks another major banana town on our route and just outside town was the original banana railroad. We took a picture.

The cultural diversity in Costa Rica is staggering for such a small country. In a distance of about 500km cycling through the country, we were exposed to local tica (native Costa Ricans) life, Afro-Caribbean culture and the indigenous bri bri people of the southern region.

The next day we set out on the road from Siquirres to Cahuita which proved to be  one of the most beautiful roads we have cycled on the trip along vast fertile plains that led to the coast.

Our first stop was Cahuita, a small laid back village on the southern Caribbean coast, south of Puerto Limon. It is a very chilled out place and is not yet such a big destination on the ‘gringo trail’. The lifestyle of Cahuita is all about reggae, rastas, and the beach, and it feels like Jamica.

On arriving into town, we got chatting to Rennie, a New Yorker who was settled there for a number of years and was curious about our trip. He offered us a heavily discounted rate for his dream cabana to which we are very grateful. We spent two wonderful days staying in the luxury cabana in Cahuita and were certainly spoiled by Rennie and woke up on both mornings to a surprise breakfast on the balcony – coffee, banana and pancakes. Thanks Rennie and Carla for a memorable stay and what goes around comes around.

We spent our days there chilling out soaking up the Afro-Caribbean vibe, swimming in the sea and taking walks on the beach and through the Cahuita National Park.

We crossed the border at Sixaola into Panama, along a very rickety bridge and we have now arrived in the last country of our Central American trip.

We have made it to Panama.

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