Monday, June 12, 2017

At The End of The Rainbow

They say that one finds a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Indeed I found my gold but it wasn’t just a little pot. The gold I found is a huge land filled with trees, plants, fruits, animals, a turquoise river, amazing views of mountains and a volcano, and much more! That is why my wheels haven’t conquered new ground in quite some time (a year and a half to be exact). My last blog post was over a year ago. If it wasn’t for the surge in my blog’s popularity and all of the supporters who have been rising in numbers I would have considered my blog ‘dormant.’ Thank YOU for keeping my blog, my dreams, and inspirations alive.




Surprisingly Russians and Ukrainians have become some of my biggest supporters, спасибо! Дякую! Latin Americans have supported me my whole journey and still do on my blog and life in Costa Rica, Graçias! All the Russian and Ukrainian activity on my blog does motivate me to one day pedal through Eastern Europe and Eurasia in the future.. Although I had the intention of arriving at the community where I live since the beginning of my bicycle journey, The Rainbow Crystal Land, I did not foresee living here for as long as I have. Originally I set my sights on eventually cycling to Brazil. The Rainbow Crystal Land in Costa Rica was going to be an extended “half-way” point. It has turned out becoming a new home. Although it makes me happy to announce that my brother, Sunny, who was a part of this blog in the beginning, and who I pedaled most of Mexico with, did complete the original vision and he arrived in Brazil some time ago on his bicycle.



Why have I stayed so long at this Rainbow Crystal Land? Well, besides the natural beauties which I mentioned in the first paragraph, life has taken hold of me here. For a better idea of what is a RCL please visit: http://rainbowcrystalland.org. Basically RCL is a manifestation that sprung out of the “Rainbow” movement. Look up ‘Rainbow Gatherings’ on google and you’ll find more information on what I’m talking about. The “Rainbow Family” are the group of people who taught me how to sustainably travel on a bicycle. This is why my loyalty to this movement is unshakable. They showed me the ropes of everything I know on how to break free from Babylon with a few bucks and a bicycle. I told this story in much more detail here: “My Bike Travel History.” 



Nowadays I live on a land of over fifteen hectares which is a patch of preserved forrest within a quickly developing region in the southern mountains of Costa Rica. We do not have electricity nor much modern infrastructure. What we do have is a deep connection with nature. This is part of the reason why it has been so difficult for me to update this blog. I do have more video footage which I’d like to finally edit and post and that would show me arriving here over a year ago on my bike. My old computer went down, and I had to recuperate much of this footage which obviously slowed me down more. Aside from that I had a short relationship with a local ‘Tica’ girl last year and she got pregnant. Now I am the father of a 6 month old baby boy named Luca. I am currently fighting for the rights to see him. The mother and I have much different views on what constitutes righteous living and this has become another big hoop for me to jump through. The amount of work needed to manage a community, take care of so much land, and sustain myself here is quite a handful. Lastly, I must admit that I have not placed my “Pedal The Globe” blog on the top of my writing assignments. I have been writing a book which I plan to publish online for $1 or $2 and will document my break free from modern society on a bicycle in much more detail. I also have been writing for the blog of the community where I live. If you’d like to stay updated on my adventures at the community in Costa Rica please visit the blog of www.fincasylvatica.com


Monday, May 16, 2016

Pedal The Globe Series: Central

Ep 37: Pura Vida Costa Rica



Ep 38: Tiempós Tuanis



Ep 39: Casa Kalana



Ep 40: Pedalling to Ostional



Ep 41: Adventures to Samara



Ep 42: Soujourn in Samara



Ep 43: Rivers, Rides, and mechanical problems



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pura Vida in Costa Rica

In contrast to most of the other countries in Central America, I started writing this story while still being in the country of Costa Rica. The fact that I’ve gone and come back a couple of times is another story that I’ll get to eventually..

 
(Me in San Jose, Costa Rica the day I started writing this section)

My story in Costa Rica begins in late September 2015 when I peddled into the border town of Penas Blancas from Nicaragua. Funnily enough, I was robbed by the first Ticos (Costa Ricans) who greeted me as I crossed the line. 


       
(First photo in Costa Rica. A couple steps beyond where the thieves were. A moment later they told me that I couldn't take photos there)

Yup, right on the actual line there was a group of guys hanging out front of a small security building; The first building on the Costa Rican side. They told me I needed to pay 2000 colones ($4) for an immigration sheet. In hindsight I probably could have guessed that they were cheating me by the fact that they didn’t have uniforms on, weren’t in front of the immigration building, and just looked like 6 guys hanging out. They did however have a stack of immigration sheets which they were selling out in view of everyone. How they got there or why the real immigration officials/security allow people to sell the free immigration sheets is beyond me. 

Losing $4 is the least of my worries though. It was far from the worst way to rebalance a little karma. I don’t steal and haven’t for much time but I can’t deny that in my teenage years I had a case of the sticky fingers and was quite the little con artist (mostly with my parents). With that in mind, I see it as ‘balancing the scales.’ To compensate for the small steal I got through immigration in a breeze, and I didn’t have any problems with the Costa Rican immigration officials. I had heard rumors of the difficulty in entering Costa Rica. They want to see proof of departure from the country and require people to have outbound tickets in hand. Cyclists are an exception to this law.

Soon later I was in ‘Tico’ country, rolling on pavement passed the long line of trucks waiting to go north into Nicaragua. I noticed early on that fruit trees were abundant in this land. Lots of papayas were on their way in but I was a week or two early for what would be a big harvest for many kilometers. l found a few sour oranges though who’s juice provided a nice little kick of energy. I had gotten a bit of a late start that day, and it was getting dark a half hour into my first ride in Costa Rica. I was aiming for a town called “La Cruz” which was only 20k’s from the border. 

(Penas Blancas - La Cruz )

I peddled the last 30 minutes to La Cruz in the dark of night with the help of my bike light. Upon rolling in I was looking around for where I could stay or ask about the fire fighters/red cross. The first business I saw, which was open, was a little restaurant/bar with people drinking out front. I rolled over and asked them where l could find the fire department. They pointed me to a fancy, well-lit, and industrial looking building next door.  I rolled over to the extravagant construction bearing huge red-lit letters exclaiming, “BOMBEROS COSTA RICA.” I buzzed the speaker from outside the front gate. A moment later a fire fighter was on his way to greet me. I told him my story to which he replied that he wouldn’t be able to let me sleep in the station since the captain wasn’t in to OK it. He did however point me over to the old fire station building just behind the new building where he said I could pitch my tent if I felt comfortable. There was no light but it was a large roofed space with a clean concrete floor, relatively safe, and I’d gotten the OK. What more could I need?

(My first camp in Costa Rica)

The next morning I was rolling early after a power oatmeal breakfast.

(The ultimate road food; Oats, bananas, peanuts, roasted cacao, chia, flax, and cinnamon )

The road was flat, and it was nice seeing all of the protected wildlife areas. A sudden contrast to most of the other Central American countries.

(Flat roads and animal X'ing)

At some point into the ride I made a Tico cycling friend on the road. He does weekly rides from his house to the border of Nicaragua and back. He invited me to stay with him, but he lived on a mountain quite a ways away from the main highway. At any rate it was too early to be thinking about ending the day. He was interested in bicycle travel and I passed him my contact info as well as links to traveling cyclist web sites. Not too long after his split off things started getting hot, really hot.

 I was zoning in on the city of Liberia. About 15k’s away the heat was so unbearable that I had to take refuge under some large trees. l’d say that l have a remarkable ability to deal with heat, but this heat was so acute and overwhelming that l was at the point of vertigo. l must have spent a good thirty minutes laying in the shade before even considering facing the highway again. Once l finally did l made it to Liberia in short time. Admittedly l hadn’t been that happy to see a Mcdonalds since l was child perhaps. Yup, l sold my consciousness for free wifi and strong air conditioning. l feel like l got my dollars worth though, and it came with an ice cream cone.

Once l felt more human and less like a highway french fry l went off to look for places to sleep. The firefighters were cleaning the station and said “no.” They passed me directions to the red cross though, who let me set up camp in their covered parking lot.

(My camp at the red cross)

The next morning l was off early heading for the peninsula of Nicoya

(The Nicoya peninsula)

A series of flat tires slowed me down that day, and then l ran into a nice cycling couple from Spain who were going north. We shared road stories and passed along tips about what lay ahead. l originally intended only to take a break in playa cocos (the first beach l saw in Costa Rica) but it started raining right after l rolled in. l made friends with a nice coconut vendor who told me that if l was looking for a place to stay there was a cheap backpacker spot down the road. lt looked like an expensive yacht/bar town, and it started raining so l decided l’d go check out the backpackers spot. Aside from all the boats in the bay it was a pretty & scenic beach.


(Playa Cocos)



The spot down the road, Villa Smeralda, is ran by a nice ltalian family who’ve been in town for over a decade. 


(Villa Smeralda)



They offer rooms at 1/3 of the price of any other ‘budget cabinas’ around, and more importantly there was a tranquil and familial vibe. I was greeted by Celine the girlfriend of Alessandro who’s mother owns the place. Both Celine and Alessandro were laid back and friendly people. Alessandro showed me the room:

(My room in Playa Cocos)

I was a bit low on cash and also because I like staying true to my $10 limit for hotel fares I asked Alessandro if he’d drop the price $2 from $12 and let me stay for $10. He agreed and that night I had a nice little room with a bed and wifi. Also there was the pleasant company of my neighbors one of whom was an interesting lady from the canary islands, Sonia. We had some cosmic conversations. 

(Alessandro's mother with one of her raccoon friends)


(Celine handing something upstairs/The back of Villa Smeralda)

The next day I was off late to a beach not too far away called Playa Brasilitto (In other words: mini Brazil). What I remember from that days ride was that after the hilly dirt road it went along the coast, was beautiful, and a smooth ride. Because of my late start I was rolling into Brasilito right at dusk. Light was fading quickly but it was still light enough to make out a large and beautiful beach. I parked my bike on a coconut tree and headed straight for the water. Nothing like a swim in the ocean after a day of riding a bike..

By the time I got back to my bike ‘Bomba’ it was already night. In the distance were flickering lights in the sky exposing large looming clouds. It would be another wet night it seemed. I went around asking people about where I could camp around there, and they all told me about the campground in town. There were no firefighters or red cross in this tiny town and nobody was at the church. Camping on the beach is great, but its better to scout a place when there’s light. I decided to check the price at the campground. 'Camping Don Julian' is owned by a jovial Tico family who were surprised to see me roll up to their door at night with my bike. They didn’t have any covered camping spots but they did have a spot under some trees from which I could use to stretch my tarp across. I agreed to the slightly high fare of $3000 colones ($6) easier than normal because I was tired and just wanted to put my things down. Miraculously, the exact moment after I got my tarp slung up, my tent set up underneath, put all of my things inside, and covered my bike, was precisely when the water started coming down, and hard.  

I’ve heard a theory quite a few times before that when it rains really hard in the tropics it generally subsides quickly. Despite my hunger, I sat and waited in my tent for what I hoped wouldn’t be too long before going out for some food. Luckily, the theory turned true that time and the rain did subside quickly. Well, enough so for me to brave it in search of some nourishment. It was wet and I didn’t have a working stove, so my only hopes for a warm comforting meal would be at a comedor. This was the first time I was going out for a meal in Costa Rica, and to my surprise there was a spot with a sign saying they had Gallo Pinto (rice & beans) w/eggs for only 1600 colones ($3). Costa Rica is notorious in Central America for it’s high food prices but this place wasn’t as steep as I’d heard. It turned out to be an exception though, and very tasty one as well! 

I went back to sleep in the comfort of my tent with the trickling sounds of water drops on my tarp above. The next morning this is the beach I found myself on:

(Playa Brasilito)

l was a bit tired that morning and took my time getting ready. My tent was set up in a beautiful location, and it was a prime spot to relax overlooking the beach. “No need to rush” is often my philosophy on bike travel, especially when I find myself in a beautiful place like this:

(My camp in Brasilito)

When I finally did get rolling that morning it was at the most opportune moment as it was just in time for a synchronistic happenstance to occur. My plan that day was to head for the city of Nicoya where I had a couchsurfer to stay with. The universe had other plans though and my route was soon changed. Before I was even out of Brasilito this happened:


(The moment I met Frank and Emiliano. We were filming each other)

Maybe the photo is a bit obscure so let me explain… I was shooting my departure from Brasilito on my gopro, and as I was approaching a bridge on my way out of town a truck passed me going the opposite direction. The passenger was shooting out of the window of the truck with a gopro as well. We saluted each other, and at first our interaction was simply a nice exchange of good energy. Since I was just starting the day I quickly slipped into my meditative “bike mode.” Not too long afterwards someone called out to me and to my surprise the same guys were on the other side of the highway beckoning to me. The smiling driver yelled out, “Hey bro if you make it to playa negra you´ve got a place to stay!” I wasn’t intending to take the coastal road but the driver informed me that I’d still be able to cut over to the city of Nicoya if I did, and plus it was a much nicer route he said.

Sudden changes in my plans is something I do with caution. When the turn off for the coastal highway came up I sat at the intersection for a moment. I contemplated my feelings and this new exciting possibility. I decided to let the winds of change take me, and soon I felt like a video game character who just made the right move. I entered ‘bonus land’ and my fortune doubled. No kidding, about 20 minutes after I took the turn a truck with two friendly Ticos waved me down. They thought I was a bicycle touring friend of theirs but soon realized I wasn’t. They invited me to a joint anyways, and the driver nicknamed ‘Master’ told me that when I went by playa Ostional that I could stay at his finca. Apparently the universe was guiding my route, and the city of Nicoya wasn’t on the itinerary. With a pep in my peddle, after the ‘motavation,’ I made it to playa Negra in a dash. 

I had forgotten the directions that the friendly driver had told me about, but I remembered his truck. I peddled my bike along a row of properties along the beach looking for the truck, and right when I was about to lose hope I saw the truck parked in front of the last house in town. The sign out front that read ‘Casa Kalana’ confirmed it was the right place as my memory recalled that name upon seeing it.

I rolled up the driveway and I was soon greeted by Emiliano who was sitting at a table on the front porch. Emiliano is an energetic Argentinian with a really good vibe. He’s also the guy who was in the passenger seat shooting with his gopro. 


(Emiliano painting Frank's terrace)

He lives in Playa Negra doing rad surf photography like this: 
(Eye Art photo from Emiliano)

Here’s a link to Emiliano´s photography webpage: Eye Art Photo. Emiliano is good friends with Frank, who’s house l had just rolled into. Emilano was in the midst of what looked like a really good milanesa lunch, and the first thing he did after joyfully greeting me was to offer me some food. He called out, “Hey Frank! Look who showed up!” That’s when I officially met Frank Kalana, a retired software engineer who still fixes computers on his spare time, and who is quite the cyber wizard. More importantly Frank is a loving Hawaiian/Texan who has lived in playa Negra for something like 20 years. From the start Frank and Emiliano treated me like family.

(Frank and I the day I arrived in Playa Negra)

After the delicious lunch I was treated to some of the best ganja that I’ve smoked in Central America. The universe pampered me that week through the grace of Frank & Emiliano who really didn’t ask me for much more than friendship, and maybe a few stories.The company was awesome, the food was great, the surf was spectacular, the rest was healing, and the fire ceremony we did on the beach aligned me to the source once again. Frank and Emiliano were the first guys who really got me in touch with the ‘pura vida’ lifestyle of Costa Rica. Thank you mae’s!

(A little garden work with Frank & Emiliano)


(Fire ceremony on Playa Negra. Eye Art Photo)

Saying goodbye is something that I’ve had to get used to many times on this trip. After an amazing week at Frank’s I felt like it was time to get the legs back in action. Emiliano snapped this shot of me as I got rolling again down the Peninsula:

(Hitting the road again. Eye Art Photo)

I wouldn’t be making too much progress though as my next destination was only a few beaches down at Playa Ostional. I ended up being hosted for almost another week, this time at Jose’s AKA ‘Master’s’ little finca. Jose is a good-hearted Tico from San Jose who purchased a small farm in Ostional to get away from the big city and live a more tranquil lifestyle. He grows some fruits, veggies, herbs, and teca trees which are good for building things. My stay at Jose’s was nice and I got to meet a few colorful locals during my time there.


(My camp at Jose's)

By the time I was rolling out of Jose’s I was itching to make some progress as I’d only moved about 40ks in two weeks. Leaving Ostional my destination was roughly another 30k’s down the coast to a town called Samara. It was a strategic point since its where the pavement ends along the coast road, and it would be the last chance to take the highway to Nicoya City (my original route). The coast road is beautiful and many parts of it resonated with my pre-conceived idea of the ‘natural’ Costa Rica. Right before getting to Samara I had to cross this:

(Belly-button deep brown river with no bridge)

Once on the other side I was rolling into town in no-time. Upon rolling in I saw colorful signs on the side of the highway that exclaimed “Camp Supertramp.” Usually I look for alternative to paying options first, but the name of the place attracted my attention. It was early and I had time to do a little exploring so I went to check it out. If I liked the vibe and it was $5 or under I’d stay is what I told myself. 

(Sign out front of Camp Supertramp)

The place had quirky signs all around and a slew of young folks hanging out in the front patio. I was soon greeted by Thomas the jovial Flemish owner of Camp Supertramp. Upon asking about prices he told me that he’d let me camp for $5 since it was slow season. It was the price in my head which made it easy to agree to. As I was preparing to set my tent up Thomas came up to me and asked if I was in any rush that week. I told him, "not particularly," and he said that if I wanted I could watch his dog Jukebox while he went on a trip. In exchange he’d let me stay for free and I could sleep on one of the bunk beds upstairs. Deal. 

(My bunk for the week @ Camp Supertramp)


(Sweet Kitchen @ Camp Supertramp)


(Quirky signs @ Camp Supertramp)

The accommodations were nice, the beach was beautiful, and I made some cool new friends. One of the friends I made was the little dog Jukebox who I fed, medicated, and took on walks everyday. Also l made friends with a Jamaican/Chinese cosmic sister from Florida, Brandy (who l ended up reconnecting with at the rainbow crystal land months down the road!)

(Camp Supertramp, Samara)


(Taking Jukebox for a walk)


(Hanging with Brandy)

Three weeks, three beaches, three free hosts in a row. The Nicoya peninsula was treating me well, and with all the luck I’d had along the coast road I decided I’d brave the next section which was where the pavement ended. The other option was to take a highway over mountains which headed northeast to the city of Nicoya. From the city I’d be able to catch the only paved road down to the southern tip of the peninsula. That would be over a 100k loop through the interior of the hot & dry peninsula. The route I had my sights on went along the most virgin section of the peninsula coast, was much less transited, and was obviously the more adventurous way to go. There was a catch though; According to my map, and to the locals, the dirt road along the coast was only accessible during the dry season. This is because the road crosses several rivers which don’t have bridges yet. Being that it was early October (the middle of the rainy season) there was a chance that I’d get to a dead end. Consensus among locals was mixed on whether I’d be able to pass. One major consoling factor was that 2015 was one of the driest rainy reasons on record, so I took my chances.

(Taking my chances on the dirt road)


(Beautiful scenery like this was common)

Things got more and more beautiful, and the amount of wildlife around increased. Large iguanas, colorful birds & frogs, monkeys,tropical rodents, and all kinds of creatures were becoming common sights. The first day was surprisingly easy as one of the rivers was just branded with a new bridge, and another river was easily passable. That day I made it all the way to Playa Coyote. A long, large, and mostly uninhabited beach.

(Playa Coyote)

Upon rolling in I asked some young locals if they knew of a good place where I may be able to pitch a tent around there. They told me of a beachfront property which was abandoned and had a roofed shack. It was simply perfect:

(My camp in Playa Coyote)

I took a swim in the ocean, then rested my back against a coconut tree as I watched the sunset. 

(Sunset view on Playa Coyote)

During the night I was attacked in my tent by a ferocious small dog who would not leave me in peace. I must have chased the dog away about 3-4 times that night, and then again once or twice the next morning. It was perplexing until I realized that behind one of the doors by my tent were several small pups curled up like little cotton balls. It all made sense after that, and I apologized to the mama dog who I don’t think liked me very much. 

My ride leaving Coyote included two more river crossings which were the only barriers between me and the south of the peninsula. The first one was way too large to cross but I was told of a detour up in the hills where there was a bridge. After crossing the bridge I was trudging on the rolling rocky hills when a pickup truck rolled by me and stopped. The friendly Ticos in the truck were working country folk who were transporting agricultural supplies. They were surprised/excited to see me, and they asked me where I was going. I told them that I was crossing the peninsula, and that eventually I wanted to get to Brazil. They laughed and then informed me that a big river was coming. They told me that they could give me a lift to cross it. At first I declined the offer because of my purist instincts, but they insisted and insisted so I figured the universe was trying to give me a clue. 


(Cheating for a few k's)

In retrospect I probably could have crossed the river (albeit with difficulty), however it was the amount of rocky hills that really would have been staggering. They advanced me a large part of the way and dropped me off about 15k’s from the town of Cobano. Another good reason for taking the ride was that my peddle broke off again in the middle of climbing a hill, at the same time my brake went out, and the sudden change in directions put too much stress on my rear derailleur which shattered to pieces. With no derailleur and only one peddle my cycling capabilities were rendered to zero.

(Old derailleur right after it shattered)

I pushed my bike the last 5-6k’s to the big little town of Cobano. It was late in the afternoon and I went in search of a bike mechanic before it was too late. That’s when I found one of the best bike mechanics in any little town I’ve ever been to before, Ciclo Duan:

(Ciclo Duan)

Duan is a friendly mechanic who runs a little bike shop adjacent to his families home. I knew the job of replacing the derailleur would be easy. What perhaps wouldn’t be easy was finding a welder who could weld me another peddle to the special nut that was made for me by the Nicaraguan tornillero. Duan told me that he had some welder friends who could maybe do it, and he gave them a call. Some time later a welder drove up to the shop. I showed him the nut and how the old peddle was welded to it. He told me that he could probably cut the broken old peddle off and weld a new one to the nut. He took off to his shop with my new peddle and the nut, meanwhile Duan fixed up Bomba with a shiny new derailleur.

(My new derailleur)

Darkness fell, so did rain, and the shop closed. Around this time the welder finally returned and gifted me my new welded peddle free of charge. Duan’s family also blessed me with a dinner, and they let me sleep on the hammock on their front porch. I made them a dreamcatcher in exchange of their kindness.

(The hammock where I slept that night)

The next morning I rolled out early heading for the beaches of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais. After a thrilling downhill ride I was in Santa Teresa. It was only about 8 or 9 AM and I went to the beach to check it out. There were few people on the beach but many in the water surfing. I made myself an oatmeal breakfast as I overlooked the surf. It seemed like a cool place but with my sluggish progress the past weeks I figured I’d take advantage of the daylight and keep moving. Soon I was rolling through the little town of Mal Pais which to me looked like a beautiful ghost town. I kept moving, and by midday I was in Montezuma.

(Montezuma Beach)

The first thing I did was roll over to the beautiful beach, swim, and rest in the shade. Afterwards I rolled into town and I spoke to the artisans about where to camp around there. They told me that the only place to camp free was the beach, and they also told me of the ‘El Capitan’ motel which had rooms for $5. Maybe it was laziness or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t want to take a chance on camping under the tropical showers, but I took the easier option and I went over to El Capitan. I met the raspy voiced owner, Mario, who showed me to the adequate room.

(My room @ El Capitan Motel)

That night from my little room in the heart of town I could hear the thumping music from at least two different bar/clubs. Maybe it’s that I’m getting old or (as I like to think) I’ve just evolved, but ‘babylon’ parties don’t appeal to me anymore. I used the time & space to do a little writing on this blog, and to cut a video. I barely slept that night as there must have been 40+ mosquitos singing an orchestra by my head and savagely buffeting on any sliver of skin that slipped out from under the sheets.By 6am I had enough of the torture, and I violently shook myself out of the room. I grabbed my laptop and I went out front of Mario’s room to catch the wifi signal. A moment later Mario came out of his room. He was surprised to see me up so early and he offered me some coffee and a sandwich. We spent the next hour talking about life. 

Although Montezuma was cool enough, and even though it had a beautiful beach, there was nothing tangible enough to keep me there. I also couldn’t imagine paying for another night like that. I was off early that day and I headed for the ferry town where l planned to take a boat back to the mainland of Costa Rica. Due to running into a cycling friend of friends (who was on his way to Montezuma), and then later making some new friends on a beach where I had lunch, I didn’t make it to the ferry town of Paquera until dark. First thing l did upon rolling in was to get directions to the fire department. That night I stayed with the trusty bomberos, and it’s impressive how fancy the fire stations are in this country.

(My camp under the stairwell @ the fire department in Paquera)

The next morning l was up at the crack of dawn to catch the first boat to the mainland


(Ferry Leaving the Peninsula of Nicoya)


Puntarenas is the port city where the ferry drops off and collects people traveling from/to the Nicoya peninsula. Like most port towns and unlike most Costa Rican towns it was dirty, congested, and city like. l would have rolled out of there quick but l had a warmshowers host set up. Also, my next destination was San Jose which was basically directly up the mountains. My plan was to leave some things at the warmshowers pad and ride up the mountain on a light rig. The San Jose trip was simply a little detour on my way down the pacific coast. There was only one sensible highway to ride up and down to San Jose without having to climb and descend multiple steep mountains, and that highway would ensure that l’d return to Puntarenas. That being said, the first thing l did upon rolling into Puntarenas was to find a place to connect onto the cyber net. l got my hosts number off the warmshowers website and gave him a call. Alexander apologetically informed me that due to a last minute surf trip with his friends he wouldn’t be able to host me that night. He did however say that if l made it to his house within the following hour that he’d be able to store my things while l went to San Jose. He had good reviews on warmshowers and to me thats enough to trust a guy that l’ve never met before. Plus l knew where he lives.

l scurried to the other side of town and arrived at Alexander's house right before him and his buddies hit the road. He quickly opened up the house again as l hurriedly picked out what l was bringing and what l was leaving behind. l put my things in the corner of his room, and with no time to double check anything l was shooed out of the house. He locked up, we said goodbye, and l was back on the road locked away from half of my things. My next mission was to find a place to sleep that night. Bomberos? Yup, one more time the fire men were there to rescue me. Or at least to give me a place to sleep, and this time l’d be treated to my own dorm room with a bathroom, shower, and full kitchen. The fire departments in Costa Rica are on another level.

 
(Fire Department in Puntarenas)


(My dorm room @ the fire station)

The next morning I was up early on my way to San Jose. I rode about 10k down the coast road until I reached the beginning of the 80k climb up to San Jose. It was early but I could already feel that it would be a potent day of sun. All of a sudden I had an epiphany; I was going to be returning via the same highway to go and pick up my things, what was the point of riding this highway twice? I realized that there was no point and obviously the fun way would be to ride the way down. I rode back to Puntarenas and straight to the bus terminal. It’s not cheating if you ride a road at least once. Plus this was just a little side trip. 

A couple hours later a bus dropped me off in the center of the capital of Costa Rica. After a month of peddling the natural, beautiful, and sparsely populated peninsula of Nicoya, the looming buildings of San Jose were quite intimidating. All the people on the streets and the abundance of cars everywhere made me realize how good I’d had it down in the more tranquil low lands. 

(At least between all the buildings there was some cool art like this)

Two Mexican jugglers, Augusto & Neto, who I’d peddled with a bit in southern Nicaragua were living in San Jose, and my plan was to meet up with them. I found my way to a cafe with wifi and I tapped into the cyber net. My friends were nowhere to be found online, and calling them through skype wasn’t any more effective. I chilled at the cafe for a couple of hours before I started thinking up alternate plans for sleeping that night. I sent many messages to couchsurfers, and posted a status update on my facebook. My call for help on the book of faces was quickly answered by an acquaintance I made in Guatemala. Not just any acquaintance though; Kenneth, is a rainbow brother who I briefly met on the shores of the pacific during the 2015 Guatemala regional rainbow gathering. He told me he was living with a friend in a suburb outside of San Jose, and that’s how I got directions to Brasil’s apartment in Granadilla.

(Chilling @ Esteban's AKA Brasil's apartment. Kenneth is in the back preparing food)

Brasil (or Esteban) is a super cool artist Tico who by synchronicity had lived in Brazil for some years and speaks Portuguese. Him and his rad roommates, Christian & Ilyana, opened there apartment to some rainbows who were passing through San Jose. There home is sort of like the party pad where all their friends gather for the ‘after.’ 

(One of Brasil's art pieces)

During my time in San Jose I never connected with my Mexican buds. Instead, I made new friends, and I got to weave some rainbow acquaintances a bit more deeply into my life like Kenneth, Artem, & Yulia. The connection I made with Brasil, Christian, and Ilyana has been a blessing, and Ive returned to their home since. I consider them my San Jose family, and in the end, meeting them proved to be the real reason for my trip.

After taking care of whatever city needs I had (so benign that I don’t even remember what they were) I pushed my bike down the mountain and back to the beach. I made it to Puntarenas just before dark and I rolled to Alexander’s house to collect my things and spend the night. Alexander was ‘home’ this time but my stay at his place proved to be one of the more awkward warmshowers experiences I’ve had. Maybe thirty minutes after I arrived, all of which he spent locked in his room, he went out and never returned. He left me with his family (mom, dad, siblings, nephews, and in-laws) none of whom were very interested in me, and instead they were all glued to the TV. They were nice enough though when I had to beckon their attention, and they told me that I could set up my tent on their front porch. I sat and twiddled my thumbs watching the road as the last of the daylight faded away. One of Alexander’s young nieces came out to play and kept me company. The little girl was the only member of the family I actually had an interaction with that lasted beyond a sentence or two. I was tucked in my tent shortly after darkness washed over.

The next morning I was rolling early back down the pacific coast. Along the coast highway the peninsula of Nicoya was visible in the distance, and I took a couple of pictures as a final farewell to the peninsula that treated me so well:

(Bomba with the Peninsula of Nicoya visible in the horizon)

At some point in the ride a man in the distance (maybe 100 meters in my sights) was jumping up and down, and waving his arms around. I thought this was a funny sight, and my curiosity was sparked as he was obviously beckoning to me. I approached the cheering man, and when I got closer I realized that he too was a traveling cyclist. That’s how I met Danilo, the touring Tico who’s been riding around Costa Rica on bike for years. He was very excited to meet me, and even more so when he saw my bike & gear. He went on and on about how not all traveling cyclists are the same, and he was over the moon that I was another biker riding with recycled gear. Danilo was so excited in fact that he made a sudden decision to change directions and he decided he’d ride south with me for a few days just because it would be fun. So that’s how I got rolling with Danilo..

Our short partnership was intense and vibrant. It was as if our manifestation powers together exponentially increased and the universe brought us many interesting things right away. Like being featured in a Swedish cyclist magazine:

(Danilo and I featured in a Swedish cycling magazine)

That happened about 20 minutes into us riding together. People offered us papaya frescos from their front porches, panadarias gave us bags of free bread, and we were rolling like the uncrowned kings of the land. We rolled into the casino town of Jaco as the sun was going down, and our lack of crowns was evident. In Jaco the king is cash, and that’s one of the few things my lad & I were short on. All my usual spots for a free night of sleep denied us. The red cross looked at us like we were crazy and told us to get a hotel, the firefighters told us that they used to host cyclists until the municipality found out and told them not to, the gas station straight up said no, and thats when Danilo and I were sitting along the highway eating our free bread with nowhere to sleep. We watched as prostitutes beckoned cars from beside a lamp post as we thought up solutions to our situation. We decided to go scope out the beach. 

Upon rolling to the beach what we found were groups of people smoking marijuana and listening to music from their cars. Not the best place for tranquil sleep. Danilo had an idea to go back into town and try our hand at the police station. I hesitantly followed him. The vibe in this town left me with a preconceived notion of what the police would say. We rolled out front of the police station. Thats when Danilo spotted some guys playing soccer on a large field adjacent to the station. He suddenly swooped over to the field, and I followed behind. Danilo explained to the men who we were and what we needed. They said that there was a big league game starting soon and that it wasn’t a good night for taking us in. Danilo pleaded a bit, and the men looked us up and down. I think the only reason they agreed to it was because they were athletic men who appreciated our mode of travel. They told us to sit tight as they had lots of work to do getting ready for the game. We sat along side the field and waited as more and more people began showing up. Soon an intense football game commenced and we had front row seats. I was so tired that I could barely watch, and I just laid back on the grass waiting for our cue. Soon later a young man beckoned us to follow him to the large gymnasium near the field. The families of the football players looked upon us with a suspicious curiosity as we passed them by with our ragged gear & bikes. The young man led us into the gymnasium and told us that we could set up camp inside. He showed us to the bathrooms and where we could get water. We said goodnight as we happily ´hit the hay´ in our respective tents.

(Waking up in the gym)

The next morning Danilo woke up like the energizer bunny. He was basically set up by the time he began pressuring me to wake up. If there’s a motto I stick by on my bike travels it’s this, “there’s no need to rush.” I am happily a part of the ‘snail crew’ and I like taking my time. This is probably the number one reason why I’ve split from most other cycling partners I’ve had. Danilo was upset when I told him that I was going to prepare my breakfast before heading out. He huffed and puffed and then told me that he’d wait for me outside. This had no effect on me as I’m serious about my no rushing. I took my jolly time making my breakfast and enjoying it too. By the time I got around to washing my dishes Danilo furiously rolled into the gymnasium to see what’s up. He began pestering me to hurry up, and that’s when I broke down my philosophy to him. I told him that he could start riding if he was in such a rush, and that I’d either see him later or not, but what I wouldn’t do is move any faster. He didn’t like this response, and he rolled back outside in a furry. I packed up my things nice, and then smoothly made my way out to the road. 

There was Danilo with a serious grimace on his face. I knew he wouldn’t like what I had to say next, but I don’t rush, remember? I had a warmshowers set up near Quepos which is roughly 40k’s from Jaco, and I had to confirm with her before showing up to her finca. I told Danilo that before heading out I was going to go grab some wifi quickly and let my host know that I would be arriving that day. This revelation was like putting gasoline on the flame. Danilo exploded. He starting calling me all kinds of names, saying that I wasn’t who he thought I was, that I was ´babylon´, bla bla bla… I calmly told him to leave and maybe I called him crazy. Like a fireball he stormed away dropping cuss bombs as he went. Intense morning. 

My emotions were kind of stirred as I tried to make peace with what happened. I rolled to a cafe and the friendly waiter gave me the wifi code without requiring me to purchase anything. I did my internet biz and soon I was rolling on pavement back down the coast. The beauty of not rushing is that it leaves room open for tranquility. I love tranquility. A few k’s down the road I see Danilo sneaking up on a coconut tree outside a house. He motions me to be quiet. I respect this and I give him a thumbs up. He gives me a thumbs up back, we smile at each other, and that’s the last time I saw him.

I kept riding hard and I made it to Quepos in the early afternoon. I rolled over the big bridge in the entrance to town and found a nice shady tree just beyond it. I sat overlooking the ocean and the mouth of the river that feeds into it. I ate lunch and waited there for a couple of hours incase Danilo showed up. He never did, and I eventually made my way towards the town of Londres where Elena’s (my WS host) finca is located. Londres is about 8k’s up the hill from Quepos. Londres has a nice and calm energy with lots of nature around. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d find at Elena’s finca as she’d informed me in our emails that possibly there’d be nobody there. She told me that she’s only around part of the year and that the other part her neighbor helps take care of the land. She allows warmshowers riders to stop by if we help around the finca. She told me that other riders had sent her requests as well but that she wasn’t sure if they’d arrived.

(Elena's finca in Londres)

I pushed my bike into the lush property. Calling out, “Hello! Hola?!” No people responded, but two very excited dogs came rushing to greet me. As Elena had informed me there was a covered camping space that couldn’t be more perfect. All I had to do was put up a bit of money in the town market and I’d have running water, there was a wood stove at my disposal, wifi & power in the patio of Elena’s house nearby, and a beautiful river to bathe myself in. All I had to do was take care of the dogs and keep an eye on the place. It was a beautiful set up, and I took advantage of the space to get some of my blog work done.

(My shack @ finca Amanecer)

(Perfect spot on Elena's porch to do my blog work, with free wifi!)

(River cuts through the property. With Elena's dog Shadow who loved to fish rocks)

I was all alone the first few days except for an hour or two each day when Henry, the neighbor, came by to take care of the plants. All that changed though when three cyclists showed up one afternoon. Marco from Italy, Cristina from the Canary Islands, and Marika from Latvia.

(Tent town at Finca Amanecer)

The girls are two badass cyclists who’ve been riding together since the U.S, and Marco is a speedster they ran into the day they reached the finca. We had a cool night making dinner together, and it was nice having the company. If I’m part of the ‘snail crew’ then Marco is part of the’ cheetah crew,’ and the next morning he was off early to keep up with his kilometer-crunching schedule. Marika and Cristina stayed a few days longer. We decided to head out on the same day, and due to my snaily ways we lost Cristina early on in the day.

(Marika waiting for me by the road, and Henry bidding us farewell)

It was a beautiful ride leaving Londres on the alternate road back to the highway.

(Pedaling along the river out of Londres)

I saw my first and so far only Jagurundi sighting.

(Jaguarundi. Photo from google image search)

Marika and I arrived in Uvita with plenty of light to spare. We hung around the center of town for a while hoping to catch a sighting of Cristina. After a while of waiting we decided it would be best to put our things down and relax. I had set-up another warmshowers house in town, and we went off to look for the place. Patrick, the owner of the Eden community, lives across the street from the Uvita waterfalls. 

(Patrick's place AKA Eden Community)

It was easy to find his place but not so easy finding anyone to greet us. There was nobody around and so we put our things down, and we went off to the waterfall to refresh ourselves after the 60k ride. We went back to Patrick’s afterwards and we were quite perplexed as the sun went down and there was still no one to be found. We put on a movie on my computer and we were at the point of falling asleep when an SUV came blaring down the driveway. Patrick finally showed up, and my what a presence he brings. Soon later we were singing mantras together and talking about rainbow gatherings and ayuhuasca. The next morning Marika was off early to catch up to Cristina who had continued further south. I stayed at Patrick’s raw food community and for the next ten days this is where I called home:



(Eden Community)




Patrick has practiced raw food eating for quite some time now, and in his community there is no consumption of cooked foods, nuts, or grains. He doesn’t start eating until noon of each day, and he strongly encourages all that stay in his community to follow this diet while they are there. Although the logic in his reasoning makes plenty of sense and it all sounds great, practicing this is quite the challenge. Not only physically but mainly mentally. I, for one, had a longtime habit of not wanting to work in the morning before eating. My little meal in the morning before starting work was my comfort zone. All of a sudden, I was being thrown orders without my little comfort meal to start me up, and that was quite hard for me to digest (or not to). According to Patrick one does not need to eat in the morning because the dinner one ate the night before has already been digested and that energy hasn’t been burned up yet. He says that when you eat first thing in the morning all you’re doing is giving your system more work to do by way of digestion, and if you start work straight away you have more energy then if you eat first. Ok, this sounds great, but in practice it still tickled my comfort zone. Good thing for me I like challenging myself, and especially on spiritual matters like this.



('Sun Food' raw cuisine @ Eden)


It wasn’t easy but towards the end of my ten days at Patricks I was feeling remarkably light, lucid, and clear. I’m not gonna lie I cheated a few times at the bakery when I’d go to town, but towards the end I wasn’t even feeling the need to. I stayed longer than I had planned, and when I finally left Patrick’s my destination was a place that I had in my sights since the very beginning of my trip: The rainbow crystal land.

When I left northern California on my bike in March of 2014 the prospect of peddling to Brazil (my current plan) seemed so fantastical to the point of almost being ludicrous. Even though in the back of my mind I knew that if I made it to Costa Rica that I’d probably want to keep going further south. That’s why in the beginning of my journey I only looked as far as Costa Rica as my destination, and to some people who I told my plan to this already seemed laughable. I remember clearly at my going away party at Tereka & Richard’s house in Fairfax that some people told me “If you just make it to L.A. that’s good enough!” As if people were already consoling me because what I was getting ready to do just wasn’t ‘reality.’ I chose Costa Rica as my original destination because of the rainbow crystal land. To understand why here’s the history of how I began traveling on bicycle in the first place: My bike travel history

The first day heading towards the mountains from Uvita was one of the best peddling days of my recent memory. After cutting up into the mountain from the town of Palmar Norte I began following the biggest river in Costa Rica, Rio Terraba. 

(Following Rio Terraba on my way up to the Crystal Land)

Along the river were friendly indigenous communities and more fruit on the side of the road than I had ever encountered before. I remember that day I collected three ripe papayas, three green coconuts, a few oranges, and guavas.

(Papaya heaven on the way to the Crystal Land)

It was an ambitious day and I had set my sights on a town called Paso Real. I arrived in Paso Real after dark to find out that it was merely a three shop town without even a gas station. I decided to ask some of the businesses if there was anywhere I could set up camp that night. An old store owner told me that he didn’t know of anywhere. He told me that there was a hotel 8k up the hill. I had ridden about 80 kilometers that day in the blistering sun and at that point I couldn’t imagine riding another 8k up a mountain to pay for a place to sleep. Across the street from his business was a large covered structure that looked abandoned. I went back into the store and asked the man if I could set up camp in the structure. He kind of hesitated and I insisted that I had all my own gear and that I would be out in the early morning. He shook his head in agreement, and then told me that there was running water from a tap near the structure. It was the perfect place to sleep, and a more perfect place to wake up to the next day.


(My camp beside the Rio Terraba)


I got up at first light and was riding bright and early. I was going up a river valley all day, and it was beautiful. It was good that I started so early because I didn’t end up making it to Coopa Buena, where the crystal land is located, until after dark. I got directions from a taxista in the little town who told me it was easy to get there. Easy perhaps but pitch black. The road of the crystal land is so dark that I missed the entrance when I first went by. I rode up a steep hill to a house where they informed me that I had passed it. Frustrated and tired I rode back down the hill and started yelling out “rainbow! rainbow!” Voices echoed back “eeeyyoooo eyooo weeeeee haaaayyy!” I knew I was close and slowly made my way down the hill into the dark abyss. That’s when I saw a light coming down a hill. It was none other than Arthur, one of the guardians of the crystal land. I was glad to be home.


(The Rainbow Crystal Land)



The first time I arrived to the crystal land was around mid november and at that time there had been only 2/3 brothers holding down the land for the passed several months. They had basically taken care of it by themselves for the duration of the rainy season, or almost 6 months. The brothers were Arthur, Steven, and towards the end Julio. The following morning after I arrived at the crystal land was a rather stressful morning as Julio’s horse, Jamaica, fell and broke his leg. Julio had to sacrifice the horse, and my first duty at the crystal land was to help Arthur and Julio bury Jamaica. 

My first time at the rainbow land was a short stop as my parents were flying into Panama to visit me. I stayed for about two weeks at the crystal land just taking it all in. It is such a big plot of land with so much potential and an overwhelming amount of work that could be done. The crystal land filled me with inspiration and at the same time a sense of duty. It needed and still needs a lot of love and work. The possibilities really are endless. There’s over four hectares of land, running spring water, good soil available, a river nearby, an open canvas to create, and it’s open and free to any and all who are willing to come lend a hand. There are no leaders, bosses, or owners, and all decisions are made with consensuses between all members of the community. I found my home but I had to leave shortly after arriving. I would certainly be back though.

It took me a couple of hours to pedal to the last town on the Costa Rican side of the border, Sabalito. It was starting to get dark so I went off in search of a place to sleep. There is no fire department in Sabalito or red cross so I figured I’d try the police department. I walked into the station and I spoke to a friendly police officer about where I could camp around there. The officer was so friendly that he took his time to direct me to an empty apartment down the block that he happened to own.

(My apartment in Sabalito on my last night in Costa Rica. Compliments of the Sabalito Police officer)

That next morning I was off early to the border of Panama in Rio Sereno. Naively, I figured that like all other crossings they’d give me an exception to the regular rules since I was on a bike. I had my parents plane tickets in hand and thought that I could just tell them the truth and that it would work. I was wrong. Panama requires travelers to show proof of departure from their country as well as proof of ‘financial stability,’ or at least $500. The $200 in my pocket and proof that my parents were coming in to visit me weren’t enough to satisfy the official. I was steaming from their lack of sensibility but I held my tongue. I peddled back to Sabalito where I went online and put out a distress call to my friends on the book of faces. Some crafty friends of mine explained to me how I could create the documents I needed. 

l crafted the documents that l needed and with two sheets of paper in my hand I rolled back to the border. This time I got through in a breeze. Ahhhh the wonders of bureaucracy!


(The Panamanian immigration office that gave me so much trouble)

I crossed the whole of Costa Rica on bike and I was in the final country of Central America, Panama. I would be back north though to serve the Crystal Land, and my time in Tico country was far from over. They say that the best plan is no plan and the life surprises coming up upon my return confirm this truth.

My trip in Panama was to see my folks who were flying in. I had a couple of days to get to the city of David where my dad, who I hadn't seen in two years, would be arriving. A mountain range stood in my way so I had to get peddling. Pssshhhooouuuu hasta luego Costa Rica!