Costa Rica

Friday, February 8, 2013. Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Wednesday was declared an official “off” day to explore the Palya Tamarindo so we extended our stay at the Purblo Dorado Hotel so we could spend the day hanging out on the beach, near the pool and an afternoon, take a boat ride into the jungle to see Howler Monkeys.

Into the jungle. 

Our skipper – George.

Are we a bunch of tourista’s or what? 

Today’s shot of Michael. 

We stopped on shore to see monkeys and stopped to admire the huge termite nest. I wonder what would happen if we poke it with a stick? 

Would we be crazy enough to try it??? YES! The termites came out.

We did see a few monkeys. 

After the boat ride Deby and I split off for a romantic walk along the beach. Checked out the surfers. 

Deby went in search of more shells. 

Oh, oh…. what could be here?

Something good!!

Happy girl. 

The rest of the night was spent with a drink in hand admiring a most spectacular sunset…. warning…. graphic sunset (boring?) photos to follow…..


Thursday morning it was kickstands up at 8:30 to head to the highlands and the Arenal Volcano.

We rode East and then over the top of Lake Arenal towards the volcano on the East end of the lake. 

As we came around the lake we had some great views of the volcano.

Good roads the whole route, with a nice twisty section on the north end of the lake. 

We ended up at the Hotel Arenal Pariso Resort and Spa. A little high end for our usual tastes but there was not too much complaining. Deby and I had a “Superior” room which was an individual cabin.  Did I mention there were natural hot springs at this resort? Oh, yea, this ADV motorcycle stuff can get pretty rough sometimes.

Picture of one of the many hot spring pools……

Our cabin.

The rest of the gang was across the drive. 

The volcano erupts frequently, we were hoping to get some of these views at night. 

The mountain was steaming but we didn’t see lava flows…..

Deby and I woke up this morning and went for a hike in the national park where you can hike to some of the lava flows from the big 1968 eruption. 

Deby with Lake Arenal in the background. 

Tomorrow we pay penance for two days of soft living and will ride hard to the border with Panama. With any luck we will cross into Panama early Sunday morning with minimal delay and make another dash to Panama City where we will attempt to find a way to get our bikes and ourselves from Panama to Columbia!

Thanks for following! D&D 🙂 🙂

Nicaragua – Part II

Wednesday, February 6, 2013, Pueblo Dorado Hotel Near Santa Cruz, Costa Rica.

The trip so far:

We decided to take an off day to explore the palaya Tamarindo near Santa Cruz Costa Rica today so it’s giving me a chance to catch up on the blog while in the comfort of the hotel “living room” with a nice breeze, the sound of exotic birds and a cool drink. Monday morning Deby and I woke up early enough for a walk around Leon to take a few pictures.
Our hotel, the Best Western in the heart of Leon.Typical roads we were riding around “lost” trying to find the group and the hotel.No problem riding down these roads, check out the volcano in the background. 

Public transportation (Dave and Bob — Mercedes buses!). 

Retail along the way. 

This church was across from the hotel, not much to see on the outside. 

Beautiful on the inside. 

Let’s see…. what was going on in the United States in 1524? 

Destination for Monday was Granada, an easy 109 miles (ha). We took a detour off the Pan American Highway onto CA-3. I would say it’s not as well maintained. 

Plenty of sections where the pavement was non-existent. 

Being off the main highway, traffic was light and didn’t move very fast. 

Keith took a nice picture of me and Deby.

Keith’s bike took a short nap…. no damage to bike or rider. 

Finally, the road reconnected with CA-1 near Managua, we missed the turn south towards Granada and had to turn around. As just after we turned south on the correct road we noticed two additional Adventure bikes falling in behind us. It was our friends, Tad and Gaila! (Their blog is Overland Now)  Wow, good thing we missed the turn or they wouldn’t have caught us. We pulled over for a short reunion meeting, introductions and a few pictures.

Deby and Gaila. 

Donn and Tad. 

They rode with us to Granada where we had a great stay at the Hotel Granada The four of us went in for a horse drawn carriage tour of the city. 

Our guide even let Gaila take the reigns for a while… you think motorcycle riding is dangerous, yikes. The horses took off at a near gallop on a wild ride down a one way street before our guide showed Gaila how to control all that horsepower.

On the way back our guide stopped at a small cigar factory where we had an in person demonstration of cigar rolling. They let Gaila roll one of her own (hmmm, she has all the fun).

The raw tobacco. 

After rolling they go in this thing.

And then into a press.

Then we sampled the product.

We ended the night with a nice dinner with the whole group and a walk about town. 

We took a staged photo for the Issaquah Press. 


Tuesday morning we decided to continue on to Costa Rica and Tad and Gaila decided to hang back and do some more exploring in and around Nicaragua. From Granda, it was a 60 mile ride to the Costa Rica border and another crazy crossing. This time we broke our record, over 4 hours standing around in blazing heat to cross the border.

There were two Costa Rica bike clubs crossing into Nicaragua. 

Most of the bikes were Honda’s decked out to look like Harleys but the club president, who looked every bit as bad-ass as a serious club rider in the US, had a 2006 Street Glide FLHX, almost the same bike as my old Harley. We struck up a conversation about the bike, it was brand new to him and it was clear he had the best bike of the bunch by far and he was extremely proud of it. One, problem, he didn’t know how to work the radio! Ha! I was an expert so I gave him a short tutorial and soon he had the music blasting.

There were two girls with the group, one of them was the president’s girl. They had riding boots with impossibly tall heals. 

Ok,,,, I’m not making this up, and I know it’s true because they had their names on their vests… their names were Ginger and Mary Ann! Oh my, the age old question was on all our minds…

Mike couldn’t resist a photo op and gave me permission to post this even it has the potential of causing relationship stress back home 🙂

Chatting with the other bikers added some entertainment to the wait. I left the president a Harley 105th Anniversary sticker I had in my bag. He was pretty happy about that.

The rest of the border crossing was almost too painful to recount but it involved many trips back and forth to various windows, photocopies, stamps, more stamps and purchasing of insurance. Eventually we got through and blasted to the beach arriving well after dark.

Time to go, the beach is calling and we have a river tour scheduled for this afternoon. Tomorrow we’re riding up into the mountains to check out the local volcano!

Thanks for following.

More Nicaragua pictures HERE. and follow our track HERE.

D&D 🙂 🙂







Sunday, February 3, 2013, Leon Nicaragua

Another border crossing today after a short ride from our hotel in Choluteca Honduras. We were in a pretty nice place that was recommended called the Hacienda Gauliqueme

$80 USD included a full breakfast. After a HOT day riding we ended up directly in the pool.

The goal for today was Leon, Nicaragua, a short 116 mile run but it included a border crossing so we decided to leave at 9:30 to leave plenty of time.

The road, CA-3 was full of huge pot hole craters, all of the cars and trucks looked like they were being driven by drunkards as they swerved from side to side on the road. I passed one semi on the right because he thought there were fewer pot holes in the oncoming traffic side of the road. The danger, of course, is that he could swerve at any moment back to the right as I was passing. Strangely enough, this all seemed perfectly normal. Deby and I did pretty good avoiding the craters when BAM I hit one hard enough that I thought I should pull over and check my front wheel. Since it was nearly 100 degrees I spotted a tree and headed for it. As I got closer I saw some kids were standing there with something in their arms. I took a few pictures. 

Huge Iguanas! What is that about? They were very proud of them and loved showing them off but I couldn’t figure what they were doing with them. Planning on selling them? Eating them? Who knows?

Thanks to my reinforced Excel rim from Woody’s Wheel Works my rim and most of the bike seemed to be intact. When we got to the border I took inventory of all our rims, Dave’s didn’t fare as well.

Hmmm, probably OK for now but we’ll have to keep an eye on it.

The border crossing was slightly easier today and we were through in only about 2 hours. This crossing is off the PanAmerican Highway so I think it was a little lower key. I took a couple of pictures.

At the first stop to get our exit stamp a crowd forms around the bikes as usual. 

Passports were processed at a folding table out on the deck, nothing formal here. 

At the second stop to import the bikes Deby was surrounded by kids amazed by the great white gringo woman moto bike rider. 

In Nicaragua the road improved enough that I took out my camera for a few drive by pictures. This little kid was driving his herd all by himself, when he saw us he gave me a big wave. 

Sorry about the crummy pictures, it’s hard to aim the camera while riding with one hand, dodging pot holes, watching for cattle, dogs, chickens, cars, trucks, bicycles, motor scooters, kids and, more often in Nicaragua, horse and ox drawn carts. 

All this is perfectly normal to us now.

We got to Leon in the early afternoon and somehow we all managed to get split up. Deby, Michael and I were together and Dave was on his own and Keith and Jim were somewhere looking for Dave. The three of us were stopped at a hotel and Deby saw Dave ride past a side street, she ran full speed after him in her riding boots and caught him a few blocks away. Next Michael and I went to look for Keith and Jim and found them a few km’s south of the main part of town. By 4:00 we were settled in the Best Western Hotel and had time to get to a nearby bar to watch the kickoff of the Superbowl.

My GPS records a detailed track of my path. Here is my tour of Leon while looking for the hotel and lost riders. 

What the track doesn’t show is how many times I circled those blocks. Keep in mind, it was killer hot and this is a crazy busy city with narrow one way streets packed with traffic, people, bikes…. and well, you get it.

After dinner Deby and I skipped part of the Superbowl (we missed the power outage) and went for a walkabout around town. There must have been some kind of festival because there were bands on playing on the streets, people were everywhere, booths and vendors were selling in full swing. It was a hot night of people, music, food, traffic and general craziness every where – we loved it. I only wish I would have brought my camera.

Tomorrow we are going to have a short day riding to Granada and hope to meet up with our friends Tad and Gaila who are on a 1 year motorcycle journey. You can read their blog HERE.

You can see more pictures of Nicaragua HERE, and don’t forget you can track our progress real time on SpotWalla HERE. Thanks for following and we love the comments.

D&D 🙂 🙂




El Salvador

Saturday February 2, 2013,

Thursday we left Rio Hondo with the group back intact for our ride to the border of El Salvador. We knew that border crossings can be difficult and the El Salvador crossing was the worst one yet. We arrived at close to noon and didn’t get through the paperwork until after 3:00 in the afternoon. More on border crossings later.

Once across the border we cruised south through Santa Ana and continuing on to the ocean community of Acajutla in hopes of finding a beach front hotel. We arrived at the coast as the sun was setting and rode in a couple of circles looking for a decent hotel. It’s actually a comical routine that we’ve developed that involves a lot of stops, checking of GPS hotel locations, asking local opinions and making a spectacle of ourselves to the entertainment of the locals. Thursday night was no exception and we found ourselves riding in the dark to a recommended resort only to have the guard tell us it was full. Really??? We saw a sign to another resort hotel and back tracked to that place. When we arrived the heavily armed guard seem shocked to have guests and eventually led us to the reception office. It became clear we were about the only guests in this rather large complex and even though we arrived well after dark we were told to wait while our rooms were prepared. In the end it worked out and we found ourselves in nice little stand-alone buildings. We needed to get to the restaurant before they closed at 8:00 which surprised us with a pretty good meal.

View from the hotel resturant the next morning

Nice rooms

After a hard day riding on Thursday we decided to have a late start on Friday and a shorter ride to another beach hotel somewhere along the coast. We ended up near La Libertad about 55 miles from our start point and after our usual routine finding a hotel checked into a place on the beach by 1:00 PM. The temperatures had been nearing 100 degrees F for the last few days so it was nice to have most of the day to cool off in the pool or by the beach. Deby and I had a long walk along the shore and explored some cool (literally) caves. It was a great beach with excellent sand and a super warm surf. It was unusual that we walked for most of the afternoon and absolutely no one hassled us or tried to sell us anything which was a nice change of pace.

Sunset on the beach, plenty of locals enjoying the evening.

Room side dining service was available.

Armed guards protecting the bikes at no extra charge.

View from the rooftop restaurant.

At dinner we decided to get an early start the next day so Saturday morning we were on the road by 7:30 trying to beat the heat and get to the Honduras border at a reasonable hour. We ended up getting to the border crossing about noon and started the three and one half hour process to get six motorcycles exported from El Salvador and imported into Honduras.

On the way Deby added a MotoRaid sticker to a gas station window.

Crossing into Honduras

Just to give you an idea of what a border crossing is like I gathered the collective memory of the group at dinner and took notes of exactly what we went through today. Here it is:

We stopped at a gas station just outside the border to fill up the tanks which would give us enough gas to transverse Honduras without filling up. We were immediately solicited by at least a half dozen “fixers”, people who want to “help” us get across the border easier. We shook them off but on guy was so persistent he followed us through all the check points hoping we could use him.

We rode about 1km down the road and were waved down by someone that looked official. He told us we needed to get two copies of a form that was the entry paperwork for the bike into El Salavador. Deby volunteered to collect everyone’s form and went to a nearby shanty to make copies. Upon arrival the power promptly went out. While Deby was trying to figure out what to do the power came back and the woman helping her declared “its’ a miracle”.

Deby came back and distributed the copies and we each went one by one to another more official looking shack and gave the copies to someone who stamped them and kept one.

Keep in mind, all this is going on while we are guarding the bikes in shifts, fending off offers of “help” from fixers and money changers and guarding against pickpockets and other shady characters. Oh, we were in the sun and it was nearly 100 degrees.

After that paperwork was complete we gathered and moved the BMW parade to the next checkpoint. This was the exit immigration point where we needed to get exit stamps on our passports. Once again we parked in a row and one by one stood in line at the window in shifts while someone watched our bikes. I should have took more pictures but here is one from this line. 

The line for the window is on the right and the people wandering around are the money changers and fixers.

Once we got our passports stamped they gave us the smallest piece of paper that literally was the size of a fortune in a fortune cookie. We had no idea what that was for but assumed it was important and that we shouldn’t loose it no matter what. I shoved it in my tank bag where the potential for loss was very real.

We always wait and travel to the next checkpoint in a group so after some time we all loaded up and the circus rode about 50 feet before we were stopped by someone looking official. He wanted the other of the two copies we had made previously, then someone else came over and wanted the fortune cookie piece of paper. I have no idea why but it worked and they waved us through.

I’m pretty sure this was the point where we were officially out of El Salvador having successfully exported both us and the bikes.

From there it was 4km to the next check point, I know this because numerous “helpers” or “fixers” were giving us detailed instructions hoping for a tip.

We made the very short ride with no helmets or jackets trying to stay cool in the oppressive heat . We parked at the Honduras immigration where we directed by the fixer we met at the gas station, he had followed us this whole way working for his tip. This guy spoke reasonable English and led us to an air conditioned office, that I’ll call the White Room, to speak with an official looking person. That is when we found out he didn’t really know what he was doing since we were supposed to go the another window first to get our passports stamped and fill out an immigration form. One good bit of advice he had was to bring a pen which we did. One by one we walked a few building down and stood in line to get the immigration forms and then sat on the ground filling them out while fixers hoovered around offering help and little kids offered us their pens (for a fee). Once that form was completed we stood in line again to turn in a copy and get our passports stamped.

Somewhere along the way we found out before we could go back to the White Room we would each need two copies of the following: Passports, Vehicle Registration, Vehicle Title, Drivers License, the vehicle exit form from El Salavador. Conveniently, there was a small shack between the official buildings that sold cell phones and made copies. One by one, we took turns guarding the bikes and waiting go get copies made.

Finally, with all our paper work we entered the White Room where a very pleasant woman helped us out. To make things easier (not faster), she wanted the paperwork for all six bikes together so we gathered the stacks of paper with our passports and handed them over for processing. The room was sort of air conditioned so we took shifts watching the bikes in the blazing sun alternating with monitoring the progress in the White Room. Pleasant lady pulled out the documents for one of the bikes and started reading, copying, typing, and finally after about 20 minutes started stamping all kinds of paper with all kinds of stamps. I thought stamping was a good sign and gave her a big grin. I was right after the final stamp she gathered the papers and put them in the corresponding passport and set it on the corner of her desk and seeing my big grin flashed me a gigantic smile and said “Ono”. My cheesy grin faded when I realized that it took 20 minutes to process just one bike.

Do the math… 20 times 6 is 120 minutes which is two hours, plus a thankfully short lunch break and we were there for over two hours while she typed, stamped and stacked papers. Each time she completed one she flashed her big smile and gave us a count.

Somewhere between numbers four and five I had to take her picture.

Finally, she started stamping number six and we could tell that we were almost free. After the last stack was complete she collected all the forms in nice piles to give back and then told Dave she needed MORE COPIES! We thought for sure she was joking and having fun with us but no, so off we went back to the copy shack, this time we needed two copies of our passport, 3 copies of the exit form from El Salvador and four copies of a new form that she had created. So off we went in shifts to the copy machine while the others guarded the bikes in the heat.

Finally with copies in hand we went back to the white room for the final time for more paper shuffling before she returned our passports and gave us some new official paperwork that certified we had permission to bring the bikes into Honduras. We did it, we were legal to enter the country and even better the process took so long that our fixers gave up on us and were all gone. We jumped on the bikes eager to make some progress before we stopped for the night and rode 150 feet before we were stopped by a guard who wanted to see our paperwork and take one of the copies pleasant woman gave us.

The whole process took almost 4 hours to enter a country that it takes 3 hours to ride through. So tomorrow we do the whole thing again when we exit Honduras and enter Nicaragua.

Are we having fun yet?

Thanks for following. D&D 🙂 🙂