Costa Rica was one of the countries I had been looking forward to for a long time. Almost all people who had been there once told me how beautiful this country was. Accordingly, my expectations were high. Unfortunately, the first days along the Pacific coast were anything but beautiful. The Pacific side is, as before in El Salvador or Nicaragua, very dry and hot. There is very little vegetation and in April, at the end of the dry season, everything makes a dry impression. The first 100km I was forced to follow the Panamericana, which is the only road along the Pacific coast. More resembling a narrow country road, however, it feels like all the trucks on their way to Panama are driving here. Constantly I had to swerve into the embankment, because the trucks drove past me at a high speed, without giving me even a little space. After the town of “Liberia” I was fortunately able to swerve onto small side roads and continued on to “Tamarindo”.
“Tamarindo” is probably the most touristy town in Costa Rica, which gives a very Americanized cityscape. People on golf carts came towards me and one bar after the other lined up along the main street. I was lucky enough to stay in the vacation home of friends. My sister’s former host family bought a vacation home more than 20 years ago in a small but very nicely fixed up apartment complex. At that time “Tamarindo” was still a sweet sleepy village at the Pacific coast, which was a special insider tip for surfers. In the meantime, it is probably the most expensive and most vibrant small town in the country. Despite all the hustle and bustle, the beaches around “Tamarindo” are beautiful, with white sand and palm trees. Also the complex around the apartment had a great pool where I could relax super. I use the time there to just do nothing, put my feet up and relax by the pool or sea. With the neighbor Tim, with whom I became friends, I philosophized in the evening about life. He used to be a professional musician and now runs a music business in the capital, but would like to retire more and more, pursue surfing and possibly in the future also take the one or other adventure by bike.
After a week of deep relaxation, I continued my tour across the interior to the Caribbean coast.
On the way inland I had to overcome some very steep mountains. I had gotten used to the extreme inclines by now after Guatemala, but there was such a strong headwind that it was sometimes impossible to ride up the mountains. This was quite a challenge and demanded a lot of willpower from me to brave these squalls and mountains. Near the end of this day, I was so close to despair and full of anger about this predicament that I didn’t feel like riding at all. I then quickly had thoughts like, “I’m going to throw that super heavy … bike right down the next slope!” and, “I swear to myself, next time I’ll only get on a motorized bike!” Since I was in the middle of nowhere and the only option left was to walk, nothing helped but grit my teeth and pretty much scowled my way through the last few miles. In the evening, when I had washed, set up the tent and eaten, I was proud of myself for having mastered the day despite the difficulties and was already looking forward to the next day. The only hope was that this extreme wind would subside.
As soon as the mountains were overcome and I reached the “Laguna de Arenal” after two days, the wind subsided and nature changed abruptly to a lush jungle. It rained several times a day, the humidity rose sharply and the climate became milder. Finally I had reached the Costa Rica I had imagined. It was a completely new level of plant and animal diversity, which I had not seen before. Here too, as before at the “Redwoods” or “Big Sur”, I felt a total connection with nature. Especially funny were the coatis, close relatives of the raccoons, which came up to me completely fearless and sniffed at the bicycle bags. Past “La Fortuna” we went again into the mountains towards “Bajo del Toro”.
My way into the mountains led me through a small village. Not knowing exactly which way to go, I stopped at a house and talked to a man who was repairing his motorcycle. Wilberth explained to me how to ride, asked me if I was hungry and invited me to lunch at his family’s house. The family was very nice and we got along very well. The time flew by and I ended up staying overnight with them. I felt like a long-time family friend that the whole family had been looking forward to seeing.
Costa Rica is often referred to as the Switzerland of Central America. This is probably mainly due to the high prices which are almost US-American level. When crossing the more than 2000 meter high pass, the landscape actually resembled Switzerland a bit. In “Bajo del Torro” I visited an impressive waterfall and hiked through the rainforest. During the night hours fireflies flew around my tent and in the morning I was awakened by the howler monkey calls and the chirping of birds. It was a new experience every day.
Mostly it started to rain at 2 pm. After minutes, everything was completely soaked and visibility was so limited that driving on was out of the question. However, the people in Costa Rica are so friendly and helpful that I got a free place to sleep every day without any problems. I was often approached on the street and offered the guest room, the garden or the village church to spend the night.
I had waited a long time for this but finally I saw the first sloths. Without a trained eye it is almost impossible to spot them. When they move it is a bit easier and that is exactly the crucial point. With at least 18 hours of sleep, they just move very rarely.
Far more active are the various colorful bird species. Here it was mostly the other way around. As soon as I took out the camera, they had already flown on again. I was especially happy to see the beautiful toucans, which emit a strange call that I would not have expected.
On the Caribbean side I visited the small village “Cahuita” at the national park of the same name. This park leads picture-book-like along several Caribbean dream beaches. The variety of animals, the turquoise blue sea and the dense rainforest with the most unusual plants were indescribable.
In summary, I can say that Costa Rica with its motto “Pura Vida”, (pure life), does not promise too much and has fully captivated me.
I will remember this great country with its beautiful nature, the warm and cheerful people for a long time.
Simply “Pura Vida”!