Costa Rica: Trippin' with GR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GRinCR, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    We, for the third time, failed to make the boarder crossing as intended.

    On the brights side, we ended up here...

    Attached Files:

    DaveCR likes this.
  2. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    The Costa Rica, Panama 1,000.
    It was two days short of ‘epic’ but goes down as the longest sustained time I have been away just f’ing off on my motorbike. On paper it was supposed to be 1,100 kms, four days riding and one day off kicking it in hammocks, beach side on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Things didn’t quite go as planned so enjoy the madness.

    Anxiety was high… so much to do… Get official govt. permission to take the bike out of the country. Reattach my license plate I’ve been carrying in a folder for the last few months. I couldn’t quite find all the pieces but glued what was present back in place and did away with bolts opting to use rivets.
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    I had to remove the storage container hanging on the left side. It was rendered useless a while back when the door rattled itself open and subsequently was torn off by the tire when the suspension compressed.
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    With that gone I was forced to yet another govt facility to pay for and obtain my new sticker allowing me to circulate in 2018. Additionally I needed to re-weld the supports back to the frame since the weight of said container had detached them leaving the luggage rack supported by a few zip ties I used as a long term workaround.
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    While at the welder he patched up a crack in the same sides luggage rack, likely forming due to the added movement the zip ties allowed. He also stuck the chain guard’s mounting tab back on the swing arm.
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    I was tired of lugging a bag on my back so I spotted a deal on a top case from the Honda dealer and made the run to pick it up. Once home and daylight gone, I installed the new hardware and put in a fresh new air filter.
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    With all the days wrenching I placed aside all the tools and maintenance items which were coming along, and the only item left was to pack up my personal items.
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    It was some point past midnight before sleep set in. This state was short lived as by 05:00 it was finally time to shove off.
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    When the idea of this trip was first birthed, we were many. Roughly 10 if I recall. As time drew on, certain dilemmas surfaced and only four of us departed on three bikes. We chose the CR3, Aguacate route to get us started. This early in the AM, it was solitude as we wound our way up through Atenas, then down to the Pacific coast.
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    After the Aguacate we hit the super slab (CR27) for the remainder of the way. We ended up hitting traffic at some construction, then jumped off to bypass the toll before picking up the costal CR34 for our ultimate turn South.
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    By 08:00 hunger struck. We pulled off at the busiest looking Soda we found and proceeded to feast.
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    Intros: KTM 200, y’all were introduced a week or so again. This is Jorge and he also brought his wife Laura with. Our other participant, David, was on call for the shake down run. He is on the Honda XR250, Tornado.

    It was a leisurely stop and after about an hour we were back on the road.

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    With the dial pointed south we stuck to the CR34 with the Pacific to our right…

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    and the mountains to our left.

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    Quepos was the next major city in route and where we agreed to stop next for a breather.
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    This supposed quick stop took a tad longer as we searched out a bicycle supply shop for a hand pump (I forgot mine) as well as a hardware store for some zip ties. Roadside fix number one was already needed since the aluminum weld did not hold up very long.
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    ...
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  3. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
  4. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    Goddamned flat, rear tires :becca. I am still like 1:ever on bush fixes mostly due to the luck of having a tire repair shop with the fancy machine near where I get my flats. Only once, by fluke, has a self spooning session panned out for me. Gone are the days of never getting a flat. Seems every time out on anything remotely big I get a flat rear…. This day being no exception. The tire held air so with fortune again on my side we swung back 10 mins to the taller where I swapped the tube for a new one and patched the tiny little hole pinched in the side of the bad one. The ferry was waiting for us upon our return to port and our journey continued onto the Osa Penninsula.
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    Not only did this mark our entrance to The Osa, it also marked where the pavement would end for a while.
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    The views were great…
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    The road was great…
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    There were a few intersections along the way and being no one had a GPS and phone service was scarce we were using a pre downloaded Google map, counting turns along the way. First intersection take a left, second a right and so on. At this junction, we hung a right and continued on into Nirvana.
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    Things got interesting at this river. David found the steep part of the river bank exit and like a true champion fixed his dilemma with a fist full of gas, bottomed out and stuck a flailing, seemingly out of control landing as the bike launched off the lip.
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    As we continued on, no more than a few hundred meters, a gate appeared. It was wide open but its presence strange.
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    Not much further from the gate the group stopped sensing something not right. The road was becoming more “natural” and showed little signs of travel. I scoped out another couple hundred meters and it was obvious, we were not headed where we needed to be heading. The utility poles were gone and shadows getting long, we had to turn around.
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    Back across the river and this time was no different; David had to show off again…:lol3
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    ...
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  5. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    While crossing the river David hit a baby head and it redirected the bike. He resisted with all his might but no matter, he still hit the steep, step up part of the riverbank exit. Once again he grabbed all the throttle he could and launched himself airborne. It was reminiscent of his first cross of this river, only this time he did not sick the landing.
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    He spent the next few minutes bending his “Barkbusters” back into a shape which would allow him to use his front brakes. The rest of us stood by supervising.
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    Once all the pieces were back in order, the convoy moved onward.
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    It was eleven hours after our departure when we hit the pavement, still quite a few Kms from Jimenez.
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    So, very quick stretch then back in the saddles.
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    Caught a rainbow!

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    So beautiful, until you get hands on with all the elements which made it.
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    To rain gear or not to rain gear...
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  6. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
  7. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    ***Brief Broadcast Interruption***

    I will stick today's little spin in my pocket and reminisce someday when having withdrawals. I will eventually get around to the next four days of the Pana trip, but you know... latino time :jkam. 40 miles for Christmas; while the roads were not as we expected, seat time is seat time and getting to rip on any day makes it a good day.
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    Merry Christmas Y'all.
    :beer
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  8. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    Day two began early-ish. Around 06:30 souls were rested and bodies started moving around. Our missed objective the previous day left us some ground to make up. There was no way we were going to forego Carate given we had come so far. Who knew when another chance would pop up to head this far South to goof around. It had been on my bucket list for 11 years.
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    I had to tidy up a bolt which had nearly backed itself out and David and I filled up before we found ourselves with an escort into the unknown (for us).
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    The first part, coming from Pto. Jimenez, is wide open. We buzzed along taking in the scenery.

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    I at one point it got flat and straight enough to stretch out the DR’s legs and day dream of ripping in the Dakar! Kept that up for a while and eventually remembered there is no big check at the end of the stage this morning, no cheering fans, no trophy, no :killen, NOTHING. So I stopped and let the others catch up, then kept it in 4th gear.
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    The road continued on pretty much flat and straight, then we came to our first river.
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    Everyone was upright on the other side and onward we pushed. I was tired of leading so moved over and left someone else to set the pace. David volunteered.
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    We were moving along and the riding conditions were changing. The open fields flanking the road were now giant trees forming a tunnel overhead. The route was no longer flat and straight but now had us winding up and down through the jungle. David was looking to get on that same imaginary podium I was seeking earlier until our next river…

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    He carried a tad bit too much momentum on the exit and from what Jorge and Laura said he b-lined right through the corner. By the time I came upon the scene he was already picking up the pieces.
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    Jorge made it across and we watched David putting his bike back together while Jorge emptied out his boots.
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    Given his prior practice David made short work of the job and we were back in motion pushing on over more rivers and through the woods.
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    ...
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  9. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    ***Brief Broadcast Interruption***

    Delays in the the conclusion of Panama Trip - Day 2 and the three days which followed due to seat time. Got out yesterday and did a little 150 mile loop; only took 15h:15m door to door. By far, hands down (and I know I say this just about every time out, but this time for real) this was the best, most exciting route from the Central Valley to the Central Pacific.

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    This too to the lock box of fond memories to share one day when not able to ride... First up, finish the Pana-Log... Someday... when it gets real, real cold back North... :amazon

    :beer
  10. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    Continuing on from the airstrip it isn’t but 15 minutes more and we had reached the end of the road.
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    From the petrol stop in Pto. Jimenez to the pueblo of Carate it had taken around two hours. It was 09:45 when we arrived and time for breakfast.
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    We hung about for a while chatting with the lady who ran the shop there and learned of all sorts of places we could explore on the Osa Peninsula. Unfortunately, we had to get back to the hotel as the owner was nice enough to extend our checkout time. Soon enough we were back on our trusty steeds, twisting throttle through the jungle, stopping only briefly to snap some pictures of the locals seeking handouts on the side of the road.
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    On a mission to keep the show rolling, we shaved a half hour off our return trip, made it back in time to jump in the shower before check out then wander up the road for lunch.
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    After lunch we had nothing to do but hop on the bikes, say adios to our host, the gravel and slab our way of the Osa and back to the mainland.
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    Once again, life was throwing curveballs forcing us to ponder one of life’s difficult questions; to rain gear or not to rain gear.

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    We pushed on and luckily the sky never opened up on us as we wound our way back to the Pan-American Highway.
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    We made it to the PanAm just as the big fat drops began to fall with force. We were left no choice but to pack away the electronics and bundle up for the downpour. It was here also we parted ways with Jorge and Laura. Due to a surprise lean against his bike he was unable to procure the necessary permit to exit the country :baldy. At 14:10 I snapped this shot, we rain geared up, Jorge and Laura headed North while David and I continued giving in to the Southern pull.
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    ...
  11. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    David and I ran through a few gully washers as the plugged along down the PanAmerican. Our next stop was in Ciudad Neily where we would turn inland, heading to San Vito. First things first though, a stop for green money which would be needed on the Panama side.
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    From Ciudad Neily, the road up the mountains is known to the locals as the escaleras. It is one switchback after another, the stuff dreams are made of. On this day we were treated to pea soup and the bliss factor was stepped down a bit. There are mountains back there someplace…
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    Eventually we popped through the top of the clouds allowing us to admire our surroundings.
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    There was an added fun factor given there was construction taking place and they had cut a stripe of pavement out of the oncoming lane. We learned quickly to keep right after one particular spike in the pucker factor.
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    We rolled into San Vito with daylight starting to fade.
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    Hunger struck so we pulled into the local pulperia for some peanuts and some soda. While there, we unexpectedly bumped into a fellow co-worker. He turned us on to his parent’s place, just outside of town. It is a recreation center/restaurant/cabinas just outside of town on the way to the boarder. We had to pass and get moving because the plan was to get into Panama this day and start our wandering the next day someplace at the base of Volcán Barú. Onward!
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    Following the directions of our compañero we landed at the boarder under cover of darkness.
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    Paved road: Panama, Dirt road: Costa Rica… Patch of grass = the border/time warp. Here we are, one hour away from our motos.
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    The last pic was taken just outside the border post as we were chatting with the on duty official. We got to talking bikes (they ride DR650s), life, taxation/theft on the CR side, and how we were not getting into Panama. The border was closed. He was nice enough to let us, against the rules, roll into the Panama side to scope out the offices we needed to get to the next day and catch a room in Rio Sereno for the night. We did just that, except for the room. Our plan was now to take up our buddy on his offer, and head back into Costa Rica. Just one problem… this was not the way we came and before long we forfeited to the idea we were lost.
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    When we stopped to check maps we found it was no shorter to turn around than it was to keep going. So we kept going, through the dark, the fog and the light rain.
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    Back in San Vito, we stopped in the same pulperia to confirm with the girl at the counter just were to find our friend’s place and confirm the name. With directions in our minds and the name confirmed, we shoved off again looking for El Barco. Well, things did not go as smoothly as we would have liked. On the first pass we missed it and turned around. Consulting our phones seemed useless as one phone showed it in the middle of town and the other only a few blocks out of town. Even when right on top of the dots, there was no El Barco to be found. While asking around I did the phone figure eight to calibrate the compass and BOOM… El Barco was now a few kms out of town. This time, we found it with the help of the map. The sign could use a bit more light, but it was there.
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    There was about a kilometer of dirt to navigate, down a pretty steep slope to find ourselves greeted by surprised but warm and welcoming hosts. Antony’s (our co-worker) Mom fired up the kitchen, whipped us up some Arroz con Pollo and we feasted for the first time since Puerto Jimenez. All was washed down with a pair of ice cold beers, then we were shown to our room where we passed out with the force similar to that of the Grim Reaper’s touch. It was nearly midnight; it had been a loooooong day.
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    ...
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  12. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    Just past 05:00 I was awake and wandering around our cabin in the woods. Checked out the soccer pitch, the river, the pool and this is only a fraction of the property.
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    By the time I returned from my walk David was up and we made our way to the main building to ready man and machine. Initially we had turned down breakfast being so early but Antony’s Mom insisted, at least something light. She scrambled up some eggs, warmed up some tortillas and brewed us some killer coffee. This we would later come to appreciate even more as the day progressed. All said and done it was 15,000 CRC for each of us, room, dinner, beers and breakfast (@1U$D:565CRC). Just before 07:00 we were rolling out back up the hill and into the fog.
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    It was only twenty minutes back the border having not gotten lost this time around. The sun had burnt off the cloud cover and we now began the joyous process of crossing a line. In the process of finding the CR admin buildings we ended up on this road:
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    It was not right but looked interesting so I just let David lead for a while. It was like owl shit on a glass doorknob. I did all a could to catch up, honking and screaming for him to stop. As I approached his rear tire he heard me and jammed on the brakes. He went down and I nearly went down on top of him locking up both wheels.
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    Houston, we now have a problem: He didn’t just break the leaver; we had a spare. Instead he sheared the leaver off at the reservoir.
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    I had JB Weld so the plan was for David to fix up his bike while I ran around doing what I could do for the both of us with regards to getting across the border. We whipped a U and parked ourselves between Panama Customs and Immigration (eg: left of the bikes in the pic is Customs, Right is Immigration for Panama. Straight through the gate on the RH side is both CR immigration and customs.)
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    Logically one would ‘check out’ of CR first then into Panama… well these borders defy logic as we would come to discover. Firstly, being Panama is one hour ahead of Costa Rica time wise, the CR side was closed. So began the drama. The line for Panama Immigration was stupid long so I decided to hit up Pana-Customs first. I was greeted by an elderly man who’s response to my request to import two motos was, “No hay systema.” He proceeded to explain it has been like this yesterday and he had been turning folks away since. Well it was his lucky day! My 9-5 happens to be fixing and maintaining internet connections and I offered to lend a hand to get things up and running. All enthusiasm drained from his face and he searched for another way out. He had it ready and promptly asked if I had purchased the insurance and gotten all my copies. Well played I thought, but knew he had just spent his ‘Ace’. Off I went to get all the important papers.
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    ^Pic @ 07:30 Pana Time
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    When I got back from depleting a square meter of rain forest, Mr. Dickhead was sticking to his story of no internet and the line at Panama’s immigration office was still well out the door.
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    It was now 08:00 back in Costa Rica so up the road to punch my passport out. You have to be there in person, so I could only do mine. Back at the bikes it was time to deal with Captain Shithead. David had his bike all welded back together.
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    Returning to the customs office, the line was now two deep. The poor folks from the day before were trying again and I was right behind them. The door to the office was now open but the story was still the same. What Sr. Pants On Fire did not know is I was holding an Ace. I first wanted to set the mood.

    At his continued insisting that there was no internet, I got to audibly calculating the time it would take to turn back, head down the mountain, bomb run to Paso Canoas (the big crossing on the PanAmerican) and cross there. This did not sound good and we would also miss the epic twisties I have heard about just on the other side at this crossing. I know this guy may not have understood English, but I am 100% sure he caught every F-bomb I dropped and I made sure to look right at him any time I dropped one post “mother”. Things were getting uncomfortable and he eventually got up, wandered off to shuffle papers someplace else and make a phone call. I was winning or he was calling the cops.

    Luckily he was not calling the fuzz (I honestly think his call was bullshit - never said a thing in the appx 10 mins he had the phone to his ear) and when he came back it was time to play my cards. I explained that all the places I stopped prior to reaching him this time around had internet… I made sure to ask them all. I reminded him the insurance has to be processed via the web and put that piece of paper on his desk. I pointed out to him this meant he had some special, unique internet connection or he was full of shit. I also mentioned a few of the nice people I spoke to knew of his story and said it was used often leading me to believe we were dealing with option B. At this point I placed myself behind his chair so he could not squirm away again and forced my assistance on him. I had my hot spot open on my phone with full signal on a 4G connection. As I began my instructions to guide him click by click to connect to my phone a miracle happened… INTERNET! His next comment was something along the lines of ‘what a surprise, we’ll see how long it lasts’. I pointed to my phone and reminded him we have a backup. Rotten SOB.

    While we were now in business at Customs, this only began the painstakingly SLOW process of this guy pecking the keyboard, letter by letter, number by number and often forgetting what digit he was needing to transfer from paper to computer… No shit, this guy took forty minutes to one hour per vehicle. On the bright side, a Costa Rican gentlemen turned me on to a means of bypassing the Panama Immigration line. See, all the people in line are local indigenous, laborers crossing to work the fields on the CR side. Around the corner from their line was another entrance and as a tourist of any nationality all you need to do is ask the border official at the desk there if they happen to be running two lines. On this day they were and there was not a single tourist waiting. FYI if you find yourself crossing at Rio Sereno.
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    So once my hellish nightmare ended at Customs I walked across the street, was first in line and punched myself into Panama. Woot! I was finished and now it was David’s turn. He had to wait out a car in front of him and here he is departing ShitForBrain’s office nearly two hours after entering. All the while I cooked out front giving away granola bars to the kiddies and watching as some genuinely enjoyed them while others forced a smile trying not to hurt my feelings.
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    Using the tourist card, David was in and out of immigration in no time and he proceeded after to CR immigration. At this, we were ready to get on the bikes and jump through the last hoop; CR customs for both of us. Ready that was until David could not find his wallet. FUCK! We thought it must have fallen out when he took his spill in the morning so I hoofed back to the wrong turn and the accident scene to scan the ground in a Hail Mary shot that a wallet full of money would go unnoticed. Shit luck, it was not there.
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    Fortunately, as I returned to our camp David had an ear to ear grin on his face; he tucked it away in his boot. OK, now we were ready. CR customs was quick. I did feel like we bothered the poor girl working there as she did not seem thrilled to see us and she had to leave her air conditioned office to check our VINs.
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    Time: 12:17 and we were now, officially into Panama and rolling after 4.5 hours of bureaucratic horseshit. This all became insignificant as the most sublime, paved, mountain road unraveled before us.
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  13. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    So the rumors are true… this is a most excellent road. Beats the hell out of the PanAm and I have been stuck at the main crossing for hours as well, once upon a time, due to a power outage. Even if everything is smooth sailing at Paso Canoas you are talking a few hours and all you have on the other side is flat and straight. So if you find yourself with the option of where to cross CR>>PANA on the Pacific side, choose Rio Sereno! Even with Sir. Fuckwit running the show in Pana customs, the road which waits on the other side is truly a motorcyclist’s best friend… if you’re into this kind of thing…
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    Now, endless mountain twisties are also a great thing if you’re into front brakes. See David’s JB fix held up for a whopping .000003 seconds and was deleted back at CR customs. Y’all know what happens when you come in too hot on a downhill, tight left hander and start pressing on the rear brakes?

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    Thankfully, after plowing through the long grass and launching into a very large and hidden gutter, David and Moto were alive and well. This presented us with a dilemma. Our plan was to catch up with our original plan and get back on schedule. We had a hard day of laying around in hammocks on the dance card for day four which required we get across the border and back into Costa Rica on the Caribbean side this same day. This required we meander our way through more mountain roads, cross the mountain pass to the other side, ride more epic twisties, and… well… not a fucking chance that was going to happen anymore. We would never make the border in time at the pace we would need to go to keep David alive and as exciting as pucker factor 15 is… well, no thanks.

    After dragging David’s bike out of the ditch and counting all his fingers again for good measure, we carried on… slowly.
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    At the first major town, Vólcan, we spotted a small moto shop and pulled in. Fingers crossed they had a compatible front master assembly we could install on the spot and possibly still make our timeline. They had one that would fit… said something like Brembo on it which carried a BMW dealership price tag. There were others at bargain prices but they just seemed to be made of too much plastic to be comfortable with. With this strike out our fate was sealed. The decision was made to head for the PanAmerican and into the city of David which would have a variety of parts to choose from. I was also feeling an all too familiar wobble which combined with the intermittent squeak I had been hearing at a slow roll, had me thinking a front wheel bearing (or both) might be on the way out.
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    With the thought of sourcing some parts stores prior to our arrival in David, I wandered off to the super market in search of a Panama SIM card. Unfortunately, they were out of phone chips. Fortunately they were not out of ice cold beverages which we used to wash down the previous night’s leftovers. It was 13:30, an appropriate time for lunch.
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    ...
  14. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    ****Broadcast Interruption****
    So hard to concentrate on the seminar...

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    When the event center manager gave the ok to wander the access roads within the property afterwards...

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  15. DaveCR

    DaveCR Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2010
    Oddometer:
    246
    Location:
    Costa Rica -
    we miss your ride report, just saying! para vida!
  16. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    Sup Dave? Thanks for breathing a breath of life here while I’ve been on hiatus. Been quite nutty with the theme of the half-year being “engineering”.

    Structural; to move my little garage project along:
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    Network; to better my ability to manipulate the matrix.
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    Have been fortunate to get out now and again so with the rainy season setting in I will surely want to relive the rides when the darker days set in.

    Also, have a ride scratched on the dance card for the not so distant future (02Jun). Heading South chasing waterfalls. Any takers?

    In the mean time, what do you say I get this show on the road and finish up the 2017, yearend Pana-Loop?

    *******************
    Pana 1000 continued…

    So, left off with David and I in the town of Volcán striking out on a front brake master assembly and deciding to reroute to the big city for the night to source parts and sort the bikes out mechanically.
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    The ride down the hill from this point is pretty straight. Once at the bottom we hooked a left onto the Panam and hauled ass for David.
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    In route David had the opportunity to pump gas for the first time. See all gas stations are full service in Costa Rica.

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    As we entered David the rain gear got busted out.

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    It was 15:00 and we needed to get a move on assuming our best chance at getting everything would be before 17:00, the internationally accepted quitting/closing time. With no cell signal for our CR chips, we headed to the world wide symbol for free WiFi.

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    I sourced front wheel bearings…
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    and just around the corner David sourced his master cylinder.
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    Things were coming together nicely. To top it all off, the dudes at the Moto shop turned us on to a place to crash for the night and even took the time to guide us there.

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    Once we got checked in, I hopped back on the bike destined for a machine shop up the road to rid myself of the familiar wobble I started to feel back in Volcán.

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    To my surprise, when the front wheel came off no little metal balls puked out. As well, with the bearings pulled, they were in fine shape. Hmmf. So I swapped them anyway given the newly bought pair were sealed on both sides. After this, it was back to the hostel for a shower and back out to dig up some DOT4 brake fluid. We stopped at every service station and all they had was DOT3. While they were adamant that everyone in Panama uses this, we were not so convinced. Our wandering continued and luck would strike at a local supermarket chain with a single can of DOT4 gleaming on the shelf begging we take it with us. With the business side of things sorted and it was back to the hotel to down a fistful of beers and take a swim. We closed down the pool and sometime past midnight we passed out.

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    ...
  17. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    The Beatles did well on watch duty and our machines were waiting for us in the morning. David got to gettin’ his front brakes functional and I took off to squelch my paranoia.
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    We were not moving very quick this day. It was pushing afternoon by the time we were all packed up and rolling. It was not long before our first wake up call. Excited to start moving again we both absolutely blew a stop sign only a few blocks from the hostel. If you have ever ridden in David, you may have noticed at intersections that cross streets are sometimes elevated, like a big, tabletop speed bump. We hit it with speed and this felt odd. On the other side I turned around to see a stop sign and a white pickup whiz through the intersection on the cross street. Hitting the horn I caught David’s attention to slow him up and point out our error. That could have gone horribly wrong.

    With that out of the way, we pushed on down on of Panama’s spectacular highways. Our noses pointing towards Boquete looking for a right turn off this Highway. Unfortunately/fortunately we missed the turn and ended up in Boquete, stopped and grabbed lunch.
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    In Boquete it is a bit chilly and the weather started to look like it would turn on us. So we bundled up before jumping back in the saddle.
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    Our missed turn was found. We buzzed down a relatively straight road in the foothills regretting the decision to put on the rain gear.
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    It was still hot so I did eventually stop and pull off the rain gear. It was welcomed as we soon made our turn North to cross the pass and head into the Carribe.
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    The scenery and weather quickly changed.
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    ... ...
    DaveCR likes this.
  18. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    This road has local name something along the lines of Devil’s Breath but cannot recall now if that was it, but close enough. I do however remember the gentleman we asked for directions told us it got the name; wind. As you climb and cross the divide you are abruptly faced with the Caribbean Sea sprawled out before you. It is at this moment you get slammed in the face with a stiff breeze. We caught it on a mild day as our tale is nowhere near as heroic as our local informant.
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    While we were supposed to be lounging around beachside on this day, it was still on the itinerary. As we continued north, bombing out of the mountains towards the coast we found a nice little nook to pull off into and have a stretch. It was pushing 15:00 and we were taking way longer than all the estimates we had gotten and we were at risk of missing border close yet again.
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    As we admired the world around us we were troubled by yet another failed objective on this trip. In this darkening moment we gave into the signs dotting the route which had been pointing us to our destiny all along: Bocas del Toro x kms.
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    This was the way it had to be. We could have pinned the throttle and made it just in the nick of time on the wing of a prayer to push into CR and arrive in Pto Viejo real late. We could have also just missed our window, arrived as they were locking the border trailer up and been force to contemplate what rat shit motel to sleep at in a less than inspiring dump of a border town which is the Sixaola crossing. Instead we rolled along living it, in pure tranquilidad.
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    Our path bent northwest and had us zigging and zagging through the typically lush and tropical landscape the Caribe provides. Moto Nirvana!
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    With this newfound tranquility we took some time to stop and celebrate having passed our 1000th mile.
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    It was another hour of asphalt wonderland before pulling off for another quick stop to shake off the weariness.
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    We were not far from the second to last stop for the day in the city of Almirante.
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    I had been through here twice previously and noted there were parking lots even though I was on foot. Fortunately, right on the outskirts of town we stopped to ask for directions and the nicest dude escorted us on his bike right to the Moto motel where we would board our ponies for the night.
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    With machines tucked away, we sought our next form of transit with the destino final being paradise.
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    DaveCR likes this.
  19. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Alajuela, Costa Rica via MN.
    Well, if you are waiting on stories of endless partying prepare for disappointment. We landed at dusk on the main island of Bocas. Here we sought out local phone cards and wandered up and down looking for another taxi to buzz us across the channel to Isla Carenero. We were getting the tourist hustle with one particular joint feeding us the line of BS that after dark prices double. Following the original instructions we passed on the price gougers and wandered to the edge of town and hitched our ride on a more local affair.

    Our temporary home for the night was a place called Aqua Lounge. I love this place. It is a Hostel/Club/Bar/Restaurant/FunHouse. My favorite part is the “pool”; a giant hole cut into the deck, suspended over the Caribbean Sea. We nabbed a dorm, got cleaned up and sourced some much needed food and beer. The idea was to spend the night jumping off the dock, swimming in the pool and downing beers but a school of jellyfish were passing through. Totally did not see them until it was too late. So we drown the pain drinking beers until we both decided neither was going to turn down the next round until things got dangerous so the plug was pulled. Day five was upon us by the time we found our bunks.
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    No alarms were set and the morning took on a lethargic pace rolling from bed sometime past 07:00. If the bar was open there may have been problems as there wasn’t much going on. Silence in fact. Some time later the restaurants proprietor arrived and breakfast was on. Pancakes are free and the remainder of the food inexpensive and tasty. Our orders were not exactly on the menu but we were accommodated anyhow. This place has great vibes!
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    Once fed the pace picked up a bit. The tab was settled, we got packed and started the journey back to Costa Rica. It was 09:00.

    Boat #1 across ‘street’…
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    To Bocas Island…
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    Then boat #2…
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    Into Almirante (wonder how much they rent the little cabins over the water for?)…
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    Bikes were still there…
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    Settled the parking tab and back on the road…
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    More twists and turns until we got closer to the border.
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    One aspect I miss of the road now is chilling at gas stations. We stopped for a top off of quality gasoline at normal prices. The stuff on the Pana side is not orange (regular) and red (super).
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    At 11:07 we were pulled up to the Panamanian Customs/Immigration trailer processing ourselves out. Here we discovered there was an error in the paper work and Mr. Ambition back in Rio Sereno noted we would be exiting at this same crossing. Fortunately the folks on this side were not mega hard on’s and we were allowed to pass.
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    The return crossing was relatively painless and took less than an hour. We gained back an hour of our lives and by 10:53 we were punched in, back home and on the final stretch.
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    At first, this route (CR32) cuts its way through banana and pineapple fields.
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    Then it winds its way for a while near the wildlife refuges in the area.

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    The winding was short lived and converts to long and straight with a sweeper thrown in just when it starts to get boring.

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    Timing could not have been more perfect. 12:30 and there lie Puerto Limón off in the distance and I could smell the Rice and Beans in the air as we made our approach, hungry.
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    ...
    DaveCR likes this.
  20. DaveCR

    DaveCR Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2010
    Oddometer:
    246
    Location:
    Costa Rica -
    Nice report!

    I remember a trip we did to Bocas, we exit CR by the old Sixaola river bridge... a little scary for me, I was a total newbie.. ok I still am.. we were also nervous of leaving our bikes in the parking lot in Almirante.. I'm surprised it hasn't changed at all!

    Here's a video of us passing by Sixaola.. (I'm in the Vstrom :) )



    Good memories!