Did I say I love my motorcycle? Lucille, my 2011 BMW F800GS is the perfect tool for this most wonderful trip. Today was proof of that. Gaila and I had the luxury of sleeping in a little bit (we did yesterday too:-) and that was nice after a very busy week with my son Elliot here for 8 days. More on that in the next post.
Back to today. After making a snap decision yesterday we ended up in this very quaint area North East of Arenal Volcano but not yet to the Nicaraguan border. It is near the Tenorio National park. Tenorio National Park details As we were booking along yesterday we crossed a bridge that had the most amazing blue teal water. Needless to say we stopped. We admired and took photos. Then we realized it was the Rio Celeste we had heard about. Next thing you know we are asking the locals (well, Gaila is) where we might find accommodations. As it ends up we had passed a hospedeje (small family run hotel) about 100 yards back. (Not sure I spelled that right, btw.) So, we checked into our rustic cabin by the Rio Celeste and think the $20 is a good price.
After a restful sleep we rose this morning to partly cloudy skies but a nice enough day. This was perfect for our expected three to four hour hike at the park. So, we decided to saddle up two up with G riding on the back of Lucille with me. A nice little rest for her and some lovely togetherness for us both. We had debated routes and ultimately selected the long but sure route to the park, right up until I saw a sign telling us of a shortcut. Picture giant Tad smile here. I turned left and we immediately hit stones and gravel. Quickly turning mostly into uphill stones. And ruts and bigger stones and tight turns. Oh and let’s not forget the parellel concrete pads that where meant to keep full ruts and water from washing the steep mountain roads away. Did I say this was fun? It was. Gaila is a most excellent passenger and proved so again this morning.
We safely arrived at the park a bit before noon and got all set to go. As I was preparing to change out of my riding gear to my hiking stuff I sadly realized that the shorts I so desperately wanted to be wearing where back in our cabin. Shit! Oh well, Alpinestar boots and Olympia Moto-X pants seemed to work for this fairly involved and occasionally treacherous hike. Originally, we thought that we might be able to swim in the hotsprings, but no such luck as it is a Nacional parque. As such, no dice. We hiked and we hiked up and down. Across streams, over bridges, rocks, roots and even snakes. It was a great hike. Especially when you consider the prize – incredible teal blue waters that I have never seen before. A waterfall, pools and even the head waters where we could see the volcano fed sulfur mix with a normal clear mountain stream. I hope so of the pictures will do justice…probably not.
After a little break and some Fresca, we dodged a few rain drops while packing up and getting ready to head back on Lucille. Well, as luck would have it these few drops were a serious foreshadowing of the deluge that was about to come our way. No more than a kilometer down the road we started getting hammered. Picture that crazy rain forest jungle rain you might have seen in the movies and then you will have some idea of our wet ride. And things were just getting interesting. As the ride was “fun” from a dualsport perspective coming into the park, it was a whole level or two more exciting on the way out. We decided to take another route home and ultimately I am very glad we did. Quickly things got VERY interesting. The stones and rocks where now the size of babyheads and there were much deeper ruts. Soon the rain was beginning to puddle and pool so small rivers began rolling down the hill my way.
As stated before, G is a really good passenger. She didn’t panic once. Not even when the handlebars kicked left and then right in a succesful attempt to navigate the difficult terrain. I do however think she got pretty nervous – as did I – when we hit the steepest and muddiest hill yet. Not only were we two up but I was on a new Full Throttle rear tire (only one I could get for countries!) and a mostly untested front Conti too. Long story short we survived in one upright piece. Lucille indeed slid left in the front and right in the rear but I was able to keep her upright and moving in a positive direction. After we made it to the top of the hill, Gaila jumped off and headed down the nicer hill a bit to video. I lowered the tire pressures and was kicking myself for not doing it sooner!!!
The rest of our ride out to the main and paved road proved easier but still exciting. Steep downhills could only be successfully in 1st or 2nd gear as I used engine braking to help ease the rear workload. Waved to some random farmers and succesfully navigated the local dogs & loose goats. All good.
Once back on pavement we mostly had to deal with pounding & painful rain. Not to mention the fogging helmet visors. What is up with the anti-fog shields? They are the most fickle piece of biking technology. Sometimes they work, most the time they don’t! Why can’t I put Rain-X on my placed faceshield? Next on our day full of excitement was seeing a pair of bull balls that were as large as a grown mans head!! Think I am kidding? I am not. We decided to make a detour as we saw some sort of a festival going on in the small local town – they are always fun and usually a good sight or two. As we looped around the central plaza – where the action is ALWAYS happening in Central American towns we spotted this behemoth. Seriously peeps, I grew up in Nebraska & Minnesota where cows and corn are king and I have never seen anything like this guy. Wow, I was impressed and just a little nervous for the lady cows. Long story short – yes pun intended – we were stunned when the gaucho started putting a saddle on this beast. Indeed, one of the locals asked Gaila if she wanted to ride the monster. Wisely, she said no. Ends up they had to take him over for a showing and formal celebration that we didn’t have daylight left enough to see. That kind of sucked as it appeared they were going to have bull fights (the nicer kind) in town tonight too. While interesting, riding for miles in the dark – let alone raining dark – is just something we aren’t will to do. Too many mammals and etc. to dodge. Tonight it appeared to be the other country folk making their way to town for the fun.
Once back at our home away from home we found just enough dry time to get out of our wet gear and shower before the rain started again. Should have seen me running around in my towel only trying to get the bike cover on and misc. stuff back in the cabin. A second night of yummy $5 dinners was just what we needed. That and some good Costa Rican coffee. Tomorrow we will rise early and make the push back up to the Nicaragua border and then left towards the Pacific and San Juan del Sur where we will be meeting up with Monica and Jeff of Overland The World for some shared accomodations and beach time. Yes!!! Sad about heading north, but not the fun we’ve been having. Yes, today was a good day in Costa Rica or anywhere for that matter.