Sunday, December 26, 2010

Costa Rica! Volcano-Hanging bridges- Motorcycle engine block welding

Costa Rica

To start off, I have to say I’m pretty surprised at the amount of traffic my blog is getting. It has become pretty international. There's been over 550 people from the USA alone that have visited my page. People from Russian, Brazil, Argentina, and more have all decided to take a look at this adventure and keep coming back, its great and I’m glad to see it. I only wish I knew how they came to find my blog, so I’m giving a shout out to all those visitors! Leave a comment after a posting letting us know how you found this blog, that would be great, and very interesting for all. Thanks!

So Costa Rica….

Out of all the border crossings I’ve had, this has been the worst. There is really only one main border crossing from Nicaragua to Costa Rica and here it was.

It was a complete madhouse and circus! One line to get stamped out of Nicaragua took 1 hour; the line wrapped around the building and had 7 people stamping passports inside. I then had to get 5 signatures from inspectors and police to export my vehicle out of Nicaragua which took 45 minutes and stand in line another 35 minutes for processing. I then had to import myself into Costa Rica, which took 30 minutes, then import my vehicle that took another 30 minutes. I’m leaving out the details of not know in where all these places initially were and my waling all over to find them as well as people cutting in line and fighting and such, but that’s just part of this fiasco.

After my entire day spent crossing the border I was finally in.

And man was it beautiful.


As I got into a small town I looked for a place to sleep. I turned into a hotel to find this.



It seems I inadvertently picked the motorcycle hotel in Liberia Costa Rica, I’ve haven’t seen such a huge group of dual sport bikers before, not even in the states.

Got a chance to meet these people, turn out they all just randomly met on the road that day and bunked down together.

I had dinner in the town of Liberia, and I found out how expensive Costa Rica really is. $7 for dinner is the cheapest I found. It seems all this tourism is spiking up prices. Gasoline isn’t any better.

Warning: Corny joke coming up………

So seeing thing is expensive here in Costa Rica they should call it, Cuesta Rica-because it costs sweetly to be here. For the non Spanish speakers Cuesta-means costs and Rica-mean sweet.  Hey at least it wasn’t as bad as my Belize joke. You can read my posting of “unbelizable” to understand better. http://motorcyclesouthamerica.blogspot.com/2010/12/un-belizable.html

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The next morning I headed off to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It was 2 hours of a dirt road with horrible rocks that have the look of, I can kill you. When I got to the park and scoped it out, I realized I just wasted my day.





It was an 8 hr hike to the volcano, and the only other trails they had were 4 hours or more. And there were only 4 things to see max, sulfur mud and one or two waterfalls. Since I’ve been to Yellowstone, the meca of all geo thermal activity on planet earth, this seemed like nothing. So I took my pictures and left.







I headed towards Volcan Arenal where there’s a beautiful lake and a raging volcano.




As I passed by the lake I kept seeing signs for a German bakery. After many miles I finally hit it and decided to stop.

I wasn’t hungry but I stopped just to take a look. So I looked and started to leave, as I was about to walk down the steps a tall German man says, “my friend, please won’t you come in?” I said I just came in for a look. He said “please it would be my pleasure for you to stay”, so he shakes my hand, introduces himself as Frank, and brings me inside where he tells the cashier, “take his order, anything he wants for free”. I couldn’t believe what this man just said; I walked into a complete strangers bakery and restaurant and just said anything I want for free! So much for the economic theory of there’s no such thing as a free lunch.






I wasn’t hungry but how could I refuse such generosity, it would be rude. So I ordered the best apple straddle I’ve ever had in my life and talked with Frank.


Be sure to visit Frank at the German Bakery near La Fortuna Costa Rica



This is Frank; apparently he rode a motorcycle all over the world as well and finally settled down here in Costa Rica, it seemed we shared the same passion of riding, hence the free meal. I asked him why he chose Costa Rica of all places, and he said “that’s a very good question, I don’t know”. I smiled shook his hand, gave him my website url, and told him he now had a friend in the United States.






I got into the town of La Fortuna for the night. Apparently you can see the Arenal volcano at night spewing its Magma in to the air like fireworks and see the lava flow down the mountain at night.

Unfortunately it’s cloudy and raining. Maybe better luck tomorrow

A quick thank you to the Costa Rican who wired this water heater up, thank you for not electrocuting me while I took a shower. I will never forget you Honduras, for shocking me while in the shower.



So I bunked down and changed my motor oil on my bike as it was much needed, I’ve had to keep adding lots of oil for some strange reason and a change was needed, then I was off to bed.

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So no luck today either, its super cloudy and rainy again. No cool looking volcano for me.

And to my luck I woke up to all the oil of my motorcycle spilled all over the floor outside my room.

I took one quick look at the puddle of oil and thought “sh…..oot!” that is definitely not good! I just changed the oil yesterday, what happened?!?!

So I made a game plan. I went to by some oil, walking of course. I put it in the motor and it started to leak right away, I figured I just keep adding more as needed, but started to drive to find a place to fix it.

I drove around town to look for a mechanic. About 13 miles away and a quart of oil later I found one. After much inspection we both were baffled and found nothing. I personally thought it was the aluminum washer that goes with the oil plug to create a good seal; I believed that I may have over torqued it and messed it up.
Seeing the oil was leaking to confirm that, the mechanic and I drained t oil again, cleaned it up, and added silicon gasket gel to make a better seal along with a new bronze washer.

We added the oil again and off I went.

A few miles down the road again oil was leaking like crazy, I thought this was the end of my adventure.
I pulled over and kept checking out the problem; eventually I saw a small lesion near the oil plug on the motor block itself. I thought dang; this is not going to be easy.

The mechanic's shop I found
I drove around aimlessly for hours finding the only guy in the region of Costa Rica with an aluminum welder. He said he couldn’t do anything without taking apart the motorcycle. I didn’t want to do that, but I had no choice so I completely stripped the motorcycle of its protectors and components, drained the oil again, cleaned it up etc.

We both finally saw a crack in the engine block and knew it had to be fixed. A crack from the engine block to the oil drain plug is what it was, how that happed is beyond my comprehension. Lucky me gets the defective motorcycle engline block, fantastic. I was sure my adventure was over.

Not too comforting when you know any slight
miscalculation will ruiin
the entire bike!
As he started to weld, a bad feeling fell to the pit of my stomach as I saw the crack getting bigger as he welded. I thought the guy didn’t know what he was doing, it looked worse. I was sure this motorcycle was done and I was going back home.

I finally stopped him as I couldn’t take it anymore and told me he was stripping the paint first by using the welder, although it make it look horrible and more broken. After an hour of watching the welding and feeling like a father in the hospital waiting room to hear how the surgery for his child went, it was finally over and it looked good. I breathed a sigh of relief and was very thankful.

I put the motto back together, put come composite stuff on the weld to make it good and let it dry for a long while.

The moment of truth came when I finally added the oil; I held my breath and expected the worse. Luckily this random man knew what he was doing and no more leak.

I asked him how much I owed him, he said nothing. I count believe it! Again something free!? I couldn’t not pay him, so I bought him lunch and gave him a nice huge tip and wished him a merry Christmas, it was the 24th of December after all.

There was my entire day, fixing my bike from potential lethal disaster, I also tried to see the magma fireworks show at the volcano but again it was too cloudy, Merry Christmas to me.

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The next day I couldn’t stand staying another night in this town of La Fortuna. I was in a hostel where I met a man form the state of California. He had been living there over 11 months; he first started to talk to me in the middle of the night when I first got there. Then he purposely looked for me the entire time I was there just to talk to me, and not good stuff either. I kept getting the same sob story, about how he ran away from his life, had 5 children spread out over the states, was lonely because it was Christmas, and kept talking about cheap hookers. He also invited me to the lake as he had a boat the next morning. I thought, mmmm…. Going out on a boat with a random man I just met, all alone with nobody around…yeah think I’ll pass on that one.

I could take no more, so it’s December 25th and I’m off on the road. It’s pouring rain like crazy and waiting around for the weather to improve is not something I’m going to continue to do just to see some silly active cool looking volcano.

On my way out I visited the Adrenal hanging bridges. I highly recommend this to anyone in the area, you walk over the rainforest canopy overlooking everything.






Saw an amazing waterfall




Crazy landslide

A parrot at the entrance




So introducing for the first time ever- A view interview of myself for your viewing pleasure, I've seen a few of these and thought I've give it a try



On the way out of the park, I pulled over to see a family feeding a wild group of what I want to say were rainforest badgers of some sort. Nothing like spreading some holiday generosity.


So like I mentioned today is the 25th Christmas day. It was spent waking up early, walking through the rainforest canopy and then I headed to Monteverde. The road was completely mud because its pouring cats and dogs and it’s been raining the past few days, so the dirt road was a disaster. I’m completely soaked in water, tired, full of mud, happy holidays to me!

But I was welcomed to Monteverde by one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. This picture doesn't do it justice though 



Just another fun holiday, tomorrow I hope to go zip line the canopy and perhaps a coffee farm tour.

Until then happy holidays to all!