After reaching the age of fifty, one might think that this kind of juvenile extravagances are replaced by more sedate ways of spending holidays, like lying on the beach or doing some cruising.
But standing on top of Poás volcano (2700 m.) last month in Costa Rica, made it clear to me that this addiction is probably cheaper and definitely healthier than others. Some may have their doubts about the healthiness of cycling at heights of 5200 meters, camping in the desert at minus 100 C (see http://parmentier.web-log.nl) or climbing Mont Ventoux three times a day, but we had more relaxed days as well.
Climbing the mountains of Costa Rica was different from previous expeditions. One might even say that it was more like holiday than an expedition. There is a definite distinction between the two which will probably become clear later on.
An important difference this time was that Dineke (my wife) joined me and it proved to be a successful experiment. You should know that she always thought cycling mountains and heights of 2000 meters or more were beyond her physical capabilities. She was probably right considering the macho way of cycling I always do with friends but going through the Costa Rican countryside we discovered an excellent compromise between hardship and relaxation.
Crossing the Nicoyan mountains and cycling 90 kms that day was certainly not easy but strolling the palmbeaches the next was definitely like having holiday.
Costa Rica is a country full of wonders: friendly relaxed people abundant wild life, hundreds of clean little restaurants (soda’s), mega houseplants, ten different climates, stunning scenery and good roads (for cycling); I mean the parts of the roads that are not missing.
The main reasons why this trip was successful are simple: the good company and the decision not to make a plan. The only thing we wanted was to cycle from ocean to ocean and (a silent wish) to climb a volcano.
Costa Rica is only a little bigger than the Netherlands but less flat. It has some serious bumps in the middle that we had to cross to get from Caribbean to Pacific.
Going to the coast at Tortuguero was great fun. We wanted to go there because it is not easy to reach. We tried to avoid places where most people go and succeeded.
The swamps of Tortuguero are full of wilder life than tourists. The village reminded us of the seventies, including the drugged man sleeping in the mud. Miss Miriams hotel was very pleasant, a few feet away from the sea, with flyscreens instead of glass windows (because of the storm we had to hold on to our sheets that night) and delicious food.
Next morning we were seduced to have a canoe tour with a guide who could tell us amazing things about the flora and fauna of the mangrove forest. Including the story about the ‘Jezus Christ lizard’ which seems to walk over water.
Later on we cycled along the Arenal volcano which was almost visible through the clouds and through a very Swiss like countryside including a Swiss settlement.
Many Europeans have found their way to the most attractive sites of CR and founded hotels, restaurants, farms, etc. Before them countless missionaries discovered CR as a perfect place to be and to build a church. We have seen hundreds of churches and not two were the same.
After succeeding in reaching both oceans we stealthily approached Volcan Poás. To get near it you have to climb to Poasito at a height of 2000 meters. This was exhausting enough but we had had two weeks of training by now so it was not too unpleasant. Coffee plants were growing everywhere and we tasted what seemed the best coffee in the world.
Climbing to the top of Poás at 2700 meters the next day was for Dineke a personal record every inch of the way. We decided to have an early start knowing that later in the day volcanoes in this country tend to hide in clouds.
It turned out we were very lucky indeed. After successfully climbing up to the crater we could gaze into it for twenty minutes after which the curtains fell not to be lifted anymore that day. We were quite satisfied to say the least, after reaching this second goal of our journey and afterwards returned to the capital.
For our last week we decided to tour the countryside around Turrialba, east of San José. We knew about butterfly gardens, an archeological site and this volcano that was said to be quite active.
The weather had been quite cloudy and wet, which is why the country is so green (in case you may have wondered) but warm most of the time, which was excellent for cycling. But now we had some serious rain so we chose for a guided tour around the 2000 year old city lying hidden in the forest. It turned out te be a good choice.
Our last cycling day we had to cross some more mountains and were glad that we did not encounter the steep eight kilometers climb, which was part of it, earlier.
Although we are both not fond (of the hardships) of flying, we have put Costa Rica on top of our list of countries to go cycling in again.
18 dagen vanaf € 1846
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16 dagen vanaf € 1474
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