Sunset at playa grande, Costa Rica

If you’ve never had the opportunity to take career break and experience life on the road, it’s difficult to explain how it feels.  How do you put into words a motorcycle adventure that has taken you 30K miles overland across deserts, mountains, coastlines, jungles, islands, prairies, canyons, tundra and pine studded forests.   By the time we’re done we’ll have clocked over 40K miles and 13 months of the good, the bad and everything in between.  Indeed we’ve seen a lot of North America, Mexico and Central America in our 10 months and I’m not going to pretend that I’m not sad to see it nearing its end.  Bittersweet.   The world is immense and beautiful; I want to explore and unveil even more of her secrets.   

Gaila's under gear fashion
Ever wonder what I wear under all that gear?
Machete Tad cuts up a coconut and pineapple
Machete Tad cuts up a coconut and pineapple

We are officially on the way home and have been for just over a week now.  Tad and I talked about what it would feel like when we officially turned the motos around and headed north after reaching our farthest point, Panama.  For me, it didn’t really feel like anything at the time, but now it’s starting to sink in.  Big sigh….   But before I start crying, let’s just say when we end I’m not going to say the adventure is over but rather interrupted  because you can’t take a journey like this and not be changed forever.  I will travel like this again in one form or another no doubt about it and that thought is a huge joy injection in itself.

We’ve been too all of the Central American countries now with exception of El Salvador, which we’ll do as we make our way north. Meanwhile, Tad’s son Elliot is with us for a week here in Costa Rica and we’ve been having a great time!   We shuffled gear a bit and threw him on back of Tad’s moto.  His heart rate was a little more than increased when we found ourselves off-roading down an incredibly steep mountainous dirt road and Tad’s rear brakes gave out.  Ooppz… that’s not supposed to happen!   It was probably the steepest slope I’ve ever riden on as well and I was fearful of my rear brakes, so considering it was a long haul of a road to get to the coast,we turned around and took a  less strenuous route.   Elliot got a good taste of how we roll and seriously impressed with his Dad’s riding skills.

Surf board and sand
Tad tried his luck at surfing, I just held the board.
Tad and Elliot costa rica
Father and son enjoy the sunset

We lazed around Jaco a couple days before heading down to Manuel Antonio National Park area, but not before we had a chance to feed the crocodiles off the Tarcoles bridge.  Talk about a rush!  We attached chicken parts to a long line and lowered it down to the 25 or so crocs circling in the muddy water below.  If only I could insert a sound clip of the jaws snapping!  Incredibly fun and intimidating at the same time.   It’s a popular stop for tourist and a few of them thanked us for the feeding show as it really stirred up the crocs. 

All those floaters are Crocs!
All those floaters are Crocs!

Central America has been awesome with wonderful, friendly people and spectacular scenery.  Although a few of our traveling friends have been bribed at police checks, we have not been (knock on wood).  We can’t help but smile when every country warns us about the dangers of the neighboring country.  Hondurans warn us about Nicaragua, who warns us about Costa Rica who warns us about Panama and so on.  When they learn our journey has taken us through Mexico, they ALL reply with surprise as they hear it’s “so dangerous”.  So even down here Mexico is viewed as a terribly violent place and people don’t feel safe to travel there.   We now know otherwise and as traveling Ambassadors we can offer our firsthand experience and not just hear say. 

Something that took me by surprise was our police stops in Honduras.  They stand in the middle of the road and flag you to pull over.  Expecting the usual check for valid travel documents (driver’s license, insurance, visa/permits) instead they offered a hand shake along with a pleasant “welcome to our country”,  followed by small talk about our trip and bikes.   Seriously, a welcome pull over! 

A welcome stop in Honduras
A welcome stop in Honduras. They all love the motos!

 Brings a smile to me my face every time I think of it.   Has that ever happened in the US?  Likely not and I wonder how intimidated  foreign travelers might feel at times when visiting our country. 

Plaze del toro, where bull fights are held.
Plaze del toro, bull fight ring.
Tobacoo farmers nicaragua
Nicaragua tobacco fields being plowed by oxen.

We’ve traversed through the canyons and tobacco fields of Nicaragua, the rain forest and coffee plantations of Honduras, the volcanos and lakes of Guatemala, the beaches and tropical forests of Costa Rica and Panama and the Panama Canal.    The good thing is that we now get to go back through these awesome countries and see different parts of them as we head home.  We plan to spend a week sharing a house San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua with our friends Jeff and Monica of  OverlandtheWorld. who are traveling in a Land Cruiser from Alaska to Argentina.  We’ll continue north and spend another month or so in  Mexico again (hopeful to catch up with more friends along the way)  before heading into the states bookending our trip at the 2013 Overland Expo.

When's the last time you enjoyed breakfast while a herd of cow passed by?
When’s the last time you enjoyed breakfast while a herd of cow passed by?

As we prepared for this journey, I wondered what the year would have in store, would it be all I expected and how I would ultimately feel about it.  Now I have those same feelings about returning home.  Can I get back into ‘normal’ life again; or a better question to ask is that  life really normal?   We  have three more months to wander and enjoy our time to the fullest before the next chapter of life begins.  What that looks like I don’t know, but I do know what quitting a job, preparing and traveling for a year looks like.  It looks and feels a lot like  freedom.

Amazing engineering in the panama canal
The Panama Canal, amazing engineering!
twisty bits on the GPs
These are the kind of roads that make our eyes light up!


Samoto canyon
A highlight of Nicaragua hiking and swimming through the Samoto Canyon.
Angel Valley B&B
Our new friend Gary, Owner of Angel Valley B&B in Costa Rica.

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25 Replies to “Motorcycle Adventure; reflections of life on the road”

  1. Wonderful reflections on a life-changing journey. Thank you for sharing some of your adventures and insights into the people and places you’ve visited along the way. We’ve all grown vicariously in the process.

  2. Interesting about you being pulled over for a welcome stop. Sheila and I were stopped by a very menacing looking motor cycle cop outside of Casablanca, Maroc, many years back. He checked over our Moto Guzzi and then shook hands with a warm smile and says ‘Welcome to my country”. I had visions of here comes trouble but, as you say, people are so curious towards a stranger.
    You blog has been amazing, just like your adventure. Now enjoy the winding road north into longer days.
    Be safe.

  3. Amazing…you could come back to teach the writing courses you were taking at BC. Your stories of these adventures leave me wanting more and I love how you weave life pondering questions that have me thinking about life long after I have shut down the read. Thanks Gaila and Tad for taking us on an amazing getaway…that I may never experience but now experience desire to set different goals. Love you two, safe journey home! Understand the mixed thoughts of coming home, I don’t need to noodle to long on the fact that I am excited to see you! Darcey

  4. Just getting started for sure. I have heard so many stories of people taking a journey like yours and never coming back… I came back to the US for family – otherwise I would be leading a somewhat ‘nomadic’ existence. Eventually I want to travel and have a home life about 50/50.

  5. I’m moved by your journey and your words in describing it all to us. I’m especially moved that I have a friend willing to take the time to share it with all of us! Thank you so much!

  6. Gaila..that was a great posting! Keep enjoying your freedom & travel dreams. You and Tad are definitely an inspiration to many people…..I’ve been following you guys as Cindy and I travel around Europe….we relate!
    Right now we’re on a train headed for a few days in London..unfortunately after this weekend we head home to Clearwater…back to Canada in May.
    We’ll keep following you guys until you stop posting……don’t stop 🙂

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