Our average speed dropped to a meek 5mph and the large sections of sand would literally eat our wheels. We loved it. Our hard work was rewarded with a 1k 23% grade climb up to the Finca Magdalena.
Having completed a great day on the bikes, Parker and I were anxious to celebrate. We met some fellow travelers who were equally ready to partake. We set out on a mission to locate some lewd libations. The second warning of the day that we chose to ignore was the advice to stay away from the local rum called “Joyita” (a little bit of joy). But seriously how do you turn down a liter of rum that costs $1.50? True to form, the Rum took off in flying colors. We had a great night! I vaguely remember the climax of the night that had us both dancing on chairs to the crackling of our blown out ipod speaker. I awoke the next morning and in a dehydrated breath of hot air, I muttered “joyita.” All the joy the rum provided had been destroyed by the headache it left us with the next day.
After recovering from our hangovers, we got back on our bikes, sweated out the last of the Joyita and made our way back to Moyogalpa where we stayed for the night in preparation to catch the first ferry back to San Jorge.
During our first grocery store stop in Liberia we met a German cyclist named Ulla, riding from Tijuana to Panama City. We immediately clicked with Ulla and agreed to meet the following morning to travel down the Nicoya Peninsula together.
We rendezvoused early the next morning and headed west towards Playa Conchal in search of a road represented by a faint dotted line on my map. I knew there were more direct, paved roads that would taake us to this beach but we were both anxious to leave the pavement.
As the three of us approach the unmarked turnoff, we ask people for directions and everyone looked down at our bikes and told us to turn around.. “the hills are too steep and the road is too sandy and washed out to ride.” Well apparently the warnings struck a bad chord with Ulla because after the last warning he casually told us he would see us later, he turned his bike around and disappeared into the heat mirage.
Parker and I took a right where everyone warned us to take a left and we abandoned the predictability of the Panamaerican and the paved roads.
Our trip down the Nicoya wasn't all hardcore riding and camping. Thanks to some very generous friends it was punctuated by laps of luxury.
In Playa Guiones we met up with Christian, my long time friend and the best masseuse and acupuncturist in Seattle (if not the west coast) and her amazing sister Logan.
Christian and Logan, operate on serious energy levels. Late night drinking and interpretive dance parties would not even prevent them from hitting the surf at sunrise. Our time off the bike, hanging out with these two was one of our trip highlights and we hope to see them again in South America.
We knew the ride from Playa Guiones to Punta Islita would be short but what we didn't know is that the faded dotted line on my map represented a one hour, 25% grade climb nor did we know that the temperature would soar to near 40 C / 100 F. Thanks to the heat, the grade, and the loose gravel it was one of those climbs where you can feel your heart beat in you head. One of those climbs where you start going through your packing list in your head and visualizing every unnecessary item in your drybags.
Anyone that knows Parker and I know that especially during athletic endeavors we operate with a certain level of stubbornness. A stubbornness to finish, to endure, to preserver. What this meant for the Nicoya is that we refused, refused to walk our bikes up any of the hills. The awkwardness and the weight of our bikes coupled with our pride does note lend itself to walking. What this means for our riding is that our lack of speed (sometimes less than 1mph), minimal traction, and 150lb bikes left us very unbalanced. I will be honest with you and tell you that Parker and I both tasted a little dirt on those Nicoya roads. The few times we came crashing to the ground in a cloud of dust we would both break into huge smiles, hoist the bike back up and go at it again. The slog up some of those hills reminded me why I love biking so much.
After our head pounding hill climb we were rewarded with a great downhill into Punta Islita and right to the front door of our long time friend Mckenzie.
We left the solitude of the Peninsula in Paquera and bordered a ferry back to Puntarenas where we made our way to Jaco, the undisputed drug and prostitution capital of Costa Rica. We behaved ourselves in Jaco and went to bed early in preparation for the next days 65 mile ride into Dominical.
Back in Novermber during our stay in San Diego, Bill and Lori Walton mentioned to us that we had to visit their favorite hotel in Dominical. Within days of leaving San Diego, Bill contacted the owner of the hotel and arranged for our stay at Montanas de Agua. At the time it seemed so far away but....here we are. I am writing this blog update from the comforts of an air conditioned room (our first since El Salvador) at the best hotel in Dominical, Costa Rica. I know we must sound like broken records but we are so appreciative for the generosity and support of our sponsors, our friends and our family who have been doing everything in their power to make sure we realize our personal legends.
With just 14 days until our 16 friends arrive in Panama City and 24 hours until my buddy Ty shows up in Dominical, energy levels are high and we are both very excited for the next leg of the journey.
Foreigners especially touring cyclists are starred at in Latin America. Plain and simple....starred at. Somewhere in history, the cultures decided to dispense with the casual, nonchalant glance. By the time we passed into Guatemala from Mexico the eye contact ranged from an ogling gaze to a gaping, google-eyed glare. Small children have been so startled by our appearance that we've even caused some to cry. When we speak in Spanish to some of the children their expressions will change to absolute astonishment and they will unconsciously ignore our questions. There is nothing malicious in the stare. It is such a frequent occurrence that I've actually grown to expect and like it. What is odd is that this phenomenon does not exist in most parts of Costa Rica. Perhaps the hundreds of thousands of expats or the 2 million gringos that visit this small country every year have something to do with it. I have a funny feeling that our novelty will soon return.