My photos app won’t connect!! Ha! There’s always a way, via my phone, fiddly but ok
The difference was traffic, and a lack of shoulder to cycle on.
We departed early yesterday morning, surprised by the amount of traffic on route 21 down Nicoya peninsula. It avoids the inter-american highway and dead ends at a ferry terminal – many cyclists write they have enjoyed it on their blogs. ‘It’ll improve beyond the airport,’ I thought ‘perhaps beyond the main turn for the beach?’ Then two young women on fast road bikes overtook us, so we speeded up and hunkered down behind them belting along the busy road, a strong crosswind causing us to wobble, especially when a huge lorry went by. At one point Charles was blown off the road onto the gravel verge, you have to concentrate, and I think he was distracted by the pretty women! We chatted a little then the ladies accelerated away, not a chance I could ever keep up with them, not even on my carbon bike.
Most of my fears are made up in my head, a cautious thought becomes irrational behaviour: do I really need to brake on this smooth downhill? Do I really need to un-clip in this gusty wind? Illogical, I am safe. But yesterday my safety depended not on myself, but on the awareness and consideration of drivers on a fast and busy road. To be honest it wasn’t fair on the drivers, the road was unsuitable for cyclists, barely wide enough for two large vehicles to hold their their own lanes let alone overtake us. When a lorry or bus approached, I checked behind and if I saw a bus or truck we would pull off onto the gravel. Several times. Even on the verge it was scary to have an articulated lorry thunder by. We reached our destination, Santa Cruz and it is fiesta time, so all the hotels are full, streets buzzing with visitors, no wonder the road is so busy! We continued to the next town, Nicoya. I tried to hitch a ride, even asked a truck to take us but it’s not allowed in this seatbelt society, not even for precious dollars. So we endured, and a shoulder appeared right when I needed it, but not for long…
Today, Sunday, the same road is empty. We cycle through forest and modern farms along undulating hills, with mountains and a deep bay in the distance, and it is beautiful, an absolute joy. Legs and bike in magic unison lol! Birds sweep alongside, I swear they are checking us out!! Birds and butterflies and verdant greens against a bright blue sky, those clouds in the distance are teasing me!! We arrived at the ferry (more like a party boat: beer and disco – there’s a grandad/granddaughter combination that could be on strictly!) again we are completely wet with sweat. Suncream goes on shortly after 8am here. But tonight it’s dollars down, and an anonymous hotel with pool and AC!!!
Last night we stayed in an Airbnb in Nicoya. At best we were frazzled, yet Google and Airbnb took us to an uncomfortable slum area. Charles was determined to find the exact dot, but I realised we couldn’t stay here even if the house was a palace, too many drunks and dogs (my safety awareness monitor on super alert all day!). Then Franklin appeared on his scooter, he guessed our location from previous guests. Ten minutes later we were chatting in a pleasant shady garden with a relaxing lemon drink and cold melon. Two hours later and we were people watching in the town Square, ( town maternity department!), ice cold beer in hand, friendly, beautiful trees, and live music for the ‘Miss Nicoya’ event happening later. But still a traumatic day.
No air conditioning at Franklin’s: first cold shower on arrival, second before bed, then two more cold showers during the night, not bothering to dry myself before returning to bed soaking wet! Still, we slept.
This is from Lonely Planet: “With an increasingly large network of paved secondary roads and heightened awareness of cyclists Costa Rica is emerging as one of Central America’s most comfortable cycle touring destinations. That said many roads are narrow and winding and there are no designated cycle lanes so there’s an element of risk involved” The jury is out. We will see how route 34 looks, previous cyclist photos show a shoulder. Plan B, we may store the bikes in a hotel and become backpackers for a couple of weeks…
Costa Ricans, Ticos, are friendly and hospitable. Every time we cross a border the change is immediate and surprising ( we crossed the border on the inter-american highway and until we reached Liberia it was quiet and pleasant, but no shoulder). Here in Costa Rica there is a strong American influence with fast food outlets and malls, plentiful consumption, and the population is strikingly white, and strikingly obese! We are in Puentarenas, sort of Weston-Super-Mare, with karaoke and fast food, but the sea is 27’C and the dive-bombing pelicans are hilarious.