Friday, December 31, 2010

Costa Rica- Xmas, Zip line Superman, Incredible beaches, Crashing into a tree! Coffee farm and more!


Day 37- Monteverde

The rode to Monteverde from La Fortuna was awful to say the least. Pouring rain, mud, got soaked (apparently there’s a leak in my waterproof suit) and it was Xmas when I got there.

I bargained a $20 hotel with a lady on Xmas night, she wanted $55, but a poor college graduate can’t pay that kind of money for a nights stay. Luckily she accepted my offer, it was a Christmas miracle!

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The next day my Xmas wish that I never really wished came true, I was superman …… for a few minutes.-you shall see why

To help you better understand, my day started off by going the “Aventura” canopy rainforest park in Monteverde.

This was an eco friendly park that had the famous Zip lining that Costa Rica offers almost everywhere. But this park was special.

Some new friends from New York




We started on easy zip lines, these zip lines were the ones where you drag your hand behind you to keep yourself from spinning uncontrollably and use the same hand with a special glove to create friction and stop yourself.








This unfortunately allowed for no picture taking or video taking while on the zip lines. Sad day for me

We did about 7 zip lines, which were ok, nothing special. I personally thought that my last time zip lining in Costa Rica few years ago was much better, the view was nicer and the lines were longer and I could actually film.

On the eighth zip line, we repelled down a huge tower. I thought ok; well that kind of justifies my $40 a little bit.

Then we zip lines again to reach the Tarzan swing. All I can say, is yes, I totally felt like Tarzan, it was crazy. So ok, my $40US are about half way paid off from the swing, but I still thought this tour wasn’t worth it.
So we got to the last line, and it was time for the “Superman”, yes that was the actual name. I thought, yeah whatever just hang and look around, nothing special.


So away I went, and oh boy was it amazing. The first view into the open rainforest canopy was amazing! The speed I picked up on the line was about 35 mph, I truly felt like superman.


It was amazing and unexplainable the feeling you get when you’re hanging hundreds of feet off the ground flying above it. My suggestion for something to do in life would be this. Needless to say my $40US were completely paid off and them some by this last zip line.


Here’s some video, there was some crazy cross winds that give you a nice scare.




Later on I went to a coffee and sugar cane plantation tour.

Coffee beans


Awesome flowers at the farm



Coffee Dog


It was pretty neat to see the whole process of the making and growing of the crops.

Bean drying

Using shells of beans as compost

Most important machine at farm, strips the  shells off the beans

We rode on a nice wooden box pulled by some massive animals.

























We also got to make our own fresh candy out of fresh molasses.



We tried some fresh grown and brewed Costa Rica coffee and fresh brown sugar lemonade.

It was cute and all but my money wasn’t quite paid off on this one. Still pretty educational though.

If I’m ever at a job or university interview, and they ask me what I’ve being doing the last year. I don’t know where to begin. Well let’s see, I’ve been studying the ancient Mayan civilization, Anthropology, hands on Geography, Sociology, Unit Conversions, wildlife studies with turtles and insects, donated and interacted with the poverty stricken children of Nicaragua, studied the currency and economy of various nations, studied motorcycle mechanics, studied physics and mechanical engineering, studied meteorology first hand, learned about the indigenous people of all Latin America, studied digital media, worked on my writing skills, advanced my language skills, learned the agricultural practices of coffee and sugar cane, etc. etc.etc.

This trip is not just an adventure, but a learning experience, a time for spiritual enlighten. And everything I’m going through, I am realizing, is quite amazing. So many things I’m learning, seeing, experiencing, it’s quite wonderful. Selling everything I had, including my car, to fund this trip, and having nothing to come back to, is starting to pay itself off with irreplaceable knowledge and experiences.

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The next day, I left the hotel. I put the bike inside for the time I was there; I don’t know how I managed getting it in. I literally had to shove my way through the doors sliding on the door and sides of the door itself there was absolute no room left. Getting it out wasn’t any easier, one in a million door ways that was exactly the size of my bike to the millimeter.



Some tasty road kill on the way out


This whole time in Costa Rica it’s been raining and no sun shine. And today was no different. Soaking wet with my punctured rain suit I go.

On my way to San Isidrio, I passed by a cloud forest and basically drove through it.





This has got to be one of the most dangerous yet most amazing roads I’ve ever driven, it was an intense technical ride with soaked roads, mud slides, missing parts of the highway and even a crash that happened a few cars ahead of me while I was driving.


But it was spectacular. I don’t know if it was because it was an insanely dangerous road or what, but it’s on my top 5 roads ever taken in life.



Found myself a nice $8US hostel in San Isidrio. Tomorrow I head to the Pacific coast to a peninsula I’m hoping will be amazing.

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I left San Isidrio today; I’m on my way to Puerto Jimenez, on a peninsula in Costa Rica.

Scenic Route


This destination is pretty far away from the ordinary, takes a day in and a day out, crazy me always chooses the scenic dangerous route.

On the way, I saw my favorite most random site yet. A jumbo jet the the complete middle of the Costa Rica Rainforest!



I was hoping to go completely around the peninsula, but turns out the road turns into a rainforest trail half way through, regardless, off to one of the most intensely concentrated biological areas on earth.

As I got to Puerto Jimenez I was confronted with an ugly dirt road that would be my enemy for the next 7 hours.

The route looked beautiful at first
































Pot holes, mud pools, rivers you name it, it was part of this road. Off the beaten path, eat your heart out.




I went through so many rivers that were knee high I lost count. The mud pools were awful as well.


  





After covering 30 miles in 4 hours, I was at the end of the road, right in the middle of the peninsula. I thought I once again had wasted my time, glad I was wrong on this one.





The beach view was absolutely spectacular!





There was a beach parrot that kept attacking one lone backpacker on the beach. He even went into the ocean to surf, and the parrot flew all the way to go try and bite him while he was surfing, it was absolutely hilarious to watch.

Perfect camping spot, desolate, no bugs, company of hermit crabs and coconuts.


Looks like two hearts no?


The sunset was gorgeous to say the least.


Wet shoes, wet clothes, hungry….yeah definitely worth it


After an amazing sunset and atmosphere the night before. I said good bye to the best camping spot on the beach I’ve ever had and off I went.

I barely had enough gas to theoretically reach the town 30 miles away, that would take me less than 7 hours this time going out, seeing that I’d be retracing the route from yesterday.

This time I was prepared for the river crossings with my super duty and expensive Mexican waterproof boots I invented that very morning


As I reached the mud pool section of the road, I was on the top bank side of the pools trying to avoid the awful mess, but the bike, heavy slipped in, so I had to pull the throttle all the way down to try and get out as I still had some momentum.


As I barely got out, the mud took over the bike, I had no control, I slammed the brakes, but the bike still had about 20mph of momentum, so straight into a barbed wire fence and tree I went.

So what did you do today Alex? Well I ran straight into a tree, but luckily the barbed wire fence stopped me and the bike after hitting the tree to prevent swimming in the mud pool. Fun stuff


I broke the side plastic from the front of the bike and got a nice bruise on my shin, but hey, I was still alive and started laughing after I picked myself up, and onward I went smiling and laughing…

Snuck into a palm tree farm on the way out from my crazy road


Makes you just want to reach out from the bike and take one while you speed past the farmer

Eventually I hauled some major butt, and reached the Panama border the same day, I didn’t quite plan for it, but I had no choice, tired, muddy, hungry I went into a 3 hour border crossing.

I’m starting to hate border crossing now, they used to be a fun challenge, but now it’s just about shaking people off you trying to get your money for them to help you.

I reached the town of David to sleep. I parked the motorcycle inside the hotel, and once again the doorway and the bike were millimeters apart scraping the sides of my saddle bags. So that’s two in a million door ways now ha ha.

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Today was a massive travel day from the entrance to panama to the city of panama. The road was super lush and green, beautiful.

In the morning I had some previous planned information of sailing vessels to take my bike from Panama to Columbia, I called them, and they said that they had just sold the last two spots on the boat to two motor bikes less than an hour ago. They said the next date was a month away! Dang! So close! Now I’m faced with another challenge.

I arrived in Panama City, congestions, traffic, horrible pollution and fumes I’m breathing in, and no so good road signs, lovely it was.

I eventually found a hostel called Mamallena. To another 6 bed dormitory I go.

Now I was faced with the challenge of finding a way across the Darien Gap from panama to Columbia. There is no road that connects both countries. And my plan A had sold out on my that morning, And for those adventurous people that walk across the gap (which yes I had initially thought I do, but it takes many weeks to do so), lies heavy dangerous of rebel groups and natural dangerous.

I thought it was going to be very difficult to find a boat of air plane to do this is. Luckily I found some people at the hostel that had some great information about passenger boats and such to Columbia.

After they had some beers and everything came out, I finally got names of boats and captains that could transport motor bikes.

So after some research and calling of many captains I finally found one, and he had one spot, lucky me. The ship sails on the 5th of January, it’s 5 day cruise to the San Blas islands and to Cartagena Colombia. Cost is $700 for 5 days cruising and motorcycle transport. Air freight was $1000 plus plane ticket itself another $300 I saw. Or go island hoping with the bike that would take a very long time and be super stressful. So me and my $700 will take a nice 5 day cruise.

I’m stuck here in Panama city until then, its currently December 31st, new years eve, in party city panama, what a shame, whatever will I find to do.