Puerto Viejo is a little caribbean island in the south east of Costa Rica. The beautiful beach, the numerous little restaurants, and bars attract many hippies, rastas and dropouts. The smell of pot is in the air and we were offered to buy marijuana several times. We did not like the atmosphere and the kind of shabby ambiance however and so we left the next morning to continue our way heading south.
We have only been in Costa Rica for a few days and are quite impressed by the beautiful landscape here. Costa Rica for sure has much more to offer, especially exotic wildlife. But they also call it the Switzerland of central america, because it’s almost as expensive as in Europe. Although that is no real issue for a three week vacation, it would still cause quite a problem for our budget. So we decided to leave Costa Rica and ride into the cheaper Panama.
We chose the small and quiet border city Sixaola to cross the border to Panama. This time it was Carmen’s turn to do the paperwork. We passed the border without any issues and after about 2 hours we had all the necessary papers.
Our original plan was to go to Bocas del Toro on the island Colon via ferry with our motorcycles. However we found out that the ferry to Bocas del Toro departs only once a day at 8am. Since we arrived in the afternoon, we checked into a hotel in the nearby city Almirante. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get up on time on the next morning and so we missed the ferry. Since we did not want to stay yet another night in the kind of run-down city of Almirante, we took the water taxi to Bocas del Toro. So we could at least take a look at the City and get some breakfast there.
We really liked Bocas del Toro. Besides several little restaurants and bars, they offer a wide variety of water sports activities, like snoring and kayaking. After our tasty breakfast we drove back to Almirante with a speedboat and got ready to ride to Boquete. The 2-3 hours ride to Boquete was great due to it’s winding mountain roads and beautiful landscape. We checked into the hotel Refugio del Rio, in which we should get to know some other motorbike travelers.
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The countries in central america are pretty small. Therefore we need to cross a border every couple of days. The good thing however is that we always have some practice. 🙂 For Monday we planned to cross the border to Costa Rica and staid with our successful procedure to import both bikes at the same time. That was a good decision, because on Monday morning some hundred tourists wanted to cross the border to Costa Rica. Therefore the lines at the immigration were huge. The process itself went pretty smooth, but due to the long lines we needed to wait most of the time and the whole border crossing took solid four hours.
At the border we met a german/english couple, whom we got to know one day earlier in our hostel. They were full of blood stains, scrapes and lacerations. They took the bus from San Juan del Sur to Costa Rica. Just before the border a car crashed into their bus. The bus went off the street and rolled over. We were actually passing the crash with our bikes but we had no idea about the extend of the accident, because we could not see the bus from the road. Fortunately nobody seems to be deadly injured, but there must have been many injuries. With that accident still in our minds, we continued quite cautiously to Lago Arenal, our first destination in Costa Rica.
Since it was already getting dark, we just followed our GPS without thinking. The GPS suggested a shortcut. First the shortcut seemed to be a pretty good and paved road, but it was getting worse and worse and after some time it finally became a very steep, little dirt track out of mud and stones. Since it was not raining, it was still possible for us to drive on the track. At last we arrived at Hotel La Rana, which is led by a german. In the evening we enjoyed tasty german food and Michael could not resist to drink a german wheat beer.
On the next morning we actually wanted to do a much longer tour at last. For the planned 400 km we wanted to buy some food at a nearby german bakery, which had been recommended to us. But Tom, the german owner of the bakery, invited us to stay in his bakery overnight. So we stopped driving already after 12 km and helped Tom with his work in the bakery. Together we prepared a day’s stock of croissants, pasties, and other tasty german bakery products. After work was done, we had some time for fun. 🙂 Tom invited us to a little tour in his motorboat on Lago Arenal. We were driving with the boat for a few hours and talked about the live in Costa Rica.
Tom offered us to stay for a couple of days in his bakery. But since we want to cross the darien gap between Panama and Columbia with a sail boat in a couple of days, we wanted to continue our voyage. So we said good-bye to Tom and drove the winding road at the Lago Arenal to the caribbean town of Puerto Viejo.
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