My Girlfriend Cheryl turned 40 April 27th. She stated she really wanted to do something special to mark this milestone. One day back in Febuary, I was riding in the desert at a slow pace and could here my cell phone ringing. I stopped to answer the phone. It was her calling me about great airline prices to Costa Rica, just under $600. That's it, that's where we're going. So after doing the ADV search and reading many great stories about other ppl's trips. We decided that a motorcycle was definitely the way to go. This could almost be my birthday . After calling a few motorcycle rental shops. Wild Riders seemed to be our best option with fare pricing and bike choice. A long 2 and a half months later we are boarding the plane with only 2 reservations, the first night in San Jose at Apartotel El Sesteo a place recommended by Wild Riders. They would pick us up at the airport and take us back to the room and then of course picking up the bike the following morning. Somewhere above Nicaragua We know that the rainy season will be starting soon........ We landed at 6:30 and already dark. Our first slap in the face was walking out the door of the plane and the humidity was more than we had expected. Almost hard to breath. The curbside is strewn with taxis all begging for a chance to take some of our money, but we spot our ride holding a sign to take us to our hotel. We felt like royalty even though the ride was just short of a box van with oiled floor and seats provide for an interisting ride to the hotel. Our hotel the next morning, poolside looking down at the breakfast area. Breakfast is served with tropical fruits and a rice and black bean mix that we had been reading about. I typically do not like black beans, but these where almost sweet and it all was very tasty. After breakfast we were given directions to Wild Riders and finished packing up. By the time we made it back down to the reception area we already had a message from Wild Riders. They were coming to pick us up. So we waited outside for them. In the short time we waited we noticed that all the building and homes had window bars and security gates, makes you wonder what kinda nieghborhood your in. At least in Phoenix that's the sign of a bad neighborhood, but we were corrected with that anology. There, if a home doesn't have bars on it that simply means that they ran out of money during construction. After arriving at Wild riders and meeting the owner Thorston, we were given a map and some ideas on where to go and where not to go, also some tips on driving around San Jose and Costa Rica. The bike rented to us was a Dr650, it came with a plate on the back for our large duffle bag and they also provided some saddle bags, something of which they said they did not have, they went through great lengths to accomodate us. And we're off, not knowing where we exactly are, due to the fact Costa Rica does not mark the roads very well. First stop is Volcano Arenal, we were able to find a few road signs pointing us in the general direction. At some point we started climbing higher into the mountains, there was alot of burning going on to help control the vegetation. At some point we stopped to take a look at the scenery when the wind shifted in our path. The smoke had a smell to it that had a familiar odor to it. But we are law abiding citizens and we don't take part in this kind of activity, but we did talk about a friend who does for awhile :stoned, who would've loved those gps coordinates. It must be banana leaves, yeah it's got to be banana leaves. We're not sure how long we stood here, but there's more to this place than that. So we slid back on to the bike and continued up the road. After all that excitment we had the munchies. Nachos por favor !!! Our first look at Arenal Trying to get set up for a photo opportunity, the clouds come in quick and start to cover the mighty volcano. Maybe tomorrow.