Archive for the ‘Costa Rica’ Category

The AmericasI have travelled the length and bredth of the Americas since I started this trip back in December, but the time has come for me to move on.

It also means that I will no longer need to keep butchering the Spanish language that I have learned to some degree as I have moved south from the USA.

There have certainly been plenty of highs as well as a few lows to keep me grounded on the road, but as ever it is time to move on because the planet has so many more waves on offer for me to enjoy along the rest of this trip.

Las OlasRather fittingly I saw this road sign next to the pizza place on my last night in Chile.

It translates to The Waves, which is an odd name for a road if you ask me, but the sign was pointing westward towards the east and that is exactly where I am going.

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Semi Final

There is the obvious language connection with Spain, but even so I have been staggered but the extent of the support for the two giants playing in La Liga.

On my way south through Central America I have seen buses, taxis, cars and even newsagents dedicated to either Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Football CrowdThe shirts of the two teams are on view throughout the continent. It is only really in Panama I have seen a significant number of other shirts (for the national side) being worn at all.

I took this picture of one of the many crowds that were forming around each television in the shopping mall during one of the recent Champions League semi fainals against the two German teams.

Messi & RonaldoWith both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich putting four goals past their respective opposition during the recent games the collective disdain was palpable.

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Road From Pavones 1After my fun session in the morning I said my goodbyes and jumped in the car and then bumped my way along the supposedly good road out of Pavones. It was better, but was far from great, with most of it an uphill climb on barely flattened rocks. However it eventually got me to actual tarmac and I could stop gritting my teeth over every bump and relax a bit.

Panamanian BorderFrom there it was very quick to the Panamanian border although I had the usual stresses in the heat upon arrival. People running in front of the car, chasing me down the road so they could try and ambush me to offer their help, change my money, etc. all of which would be done for a fee. Sooner or later they always get the message but it is an additional stress and gets my back up straight away, when I already don’t have clue where to go, what paperwork is necessary, how much money the crossing will cost, to who I need to speak to, etc. My lack of Spanish doesn’t do me any favours either! Two hours of suffering in the heat with an additional frustration getting across this border, because they all disappeared for an hour to go to lunch, but I am in Panama and hopefully won’t be doing anything like that again on this trip.

Tracy IslandI was hoping to stay at the Morro Negrito Surf Camp (www.morronegrito.travel ) which is a bit like Tracey Island, but for surfers. I had contacted them before I left Costa Rica enquiring about a room and what I might do with my car whilst I was on the island and got this response: ‘We have availability and a safe place to keep your car. Please drive to this location: http://goo.gl/maps/4w3fz .‘ Now that seems pretty helpful but if you follow the link it just produces a line on a satellite image, which helps a bit, but is far from a great navigational aid and given they were expecting nearly £100 a night to stay there I thought at the time it was a bit shoddy service. Of course as soon as I cross the border into Panama my mobile phone stops working altogether and I can’t even see the line on the satellite picture or ring him to try and get nearer.

KFCPanama is like the 51st state of the USA so I was able to pull into a KFC and use their free wi-fi which got me as far as again seeing the line on my mobile phone (my laptop is really throwing its dolly out of the pram about connecting to anything now!) I tried to leave that image on my screen, but once off the main road and in the middle of nowhere halfway along a mountain road, I inadvertently pressed the back-up button and it was gone forever.

I will admit there was a wee bit of ranting in the car at this stage, but afterwards I had a look at the map and decided to push on to Santa Catalina where I was going to head for next anyway.

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DCIM101GOPROA few more snaps of my time at Pavones because I surfed it so many times once the swell had arrived.

I’m not going to say much because as ever I am having IT issues, the latest of which is the electrical supply in my room does not work, so I cannot easily charge up my computer, which has itself decided separately not to allow me to use the USB ports anymore, making the charging in turn of my phone, Go Pro, etc practically impossible!!!! The computer’s days are numbered, it just doesnt know it yet!

DCIM102GOPROI hope the pictures speak for themselves! A word of explanation on this one though.

The wave breaks so quickly here you really have to build up as much speed as possible to try and link up the different sections. Even then it will often catch you up and break on top of the board, which has a very similar effect to having a rug ripped out from under your feet.

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German-flagAfter my surf session this morning I was very surprised to bump into Reiner and Uta in Pavones. They are the German couple I met several countries back at El Sunzal in El Salvador. I actually thought I had spotted Reiner yesterday but to the rest of town I looked like the village fool running and shouting at somebody who was in a world of their own oblivious to what was going on. As a consequence I figured it must be a doppelganger of his and gave up, but apparantly they have come down this way because their flights home go from here.

Like me they arrived on Monday and it turns out we have been living across the street from one another for three days without bumping into each other as we walked up and down the hill to our respective lodgings from the beach.

chardonnayI am spending so much time on my own it is a real treat to see faces I know, and it also gives me the excuse to enjoy some of the last of my wine which I have carried here all the way from the Napa valley. I also hand over some precious food supplies because unlike me they are stranded here without much cash, and have no opportunity to get more. I am heading off tomorrow and can restock if necessary then, wheras they are staying for a few weeks in Pavones.

Also because we failed to do so in El Salvador, we have enjoyed a dawnie surf session trying to beat the crowds which are unbelievable here. It seems like half of the USA and Canada has flown in over the last 24 hours. I actually saw three guys surfing one head high plus shoulder yesterday morning, all arguing as they went along about whose wave it was ! Seconds before the wave took all three out simultaneously and the whole lot went over the falls probably onto the rocks!

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wpid-toothbrushes.jpgWhilst trying to connect to the web at the internet cafe I was using the other day I was joined by an American guy in his 60s who couldn’t get online.

Having a great deal of sympathy for his pain I kindly offered to take an expert look at his computer for him, and was quickly able to sort the issue out.

It turns out he is the local dentist, and once his work was complete he promptly went off to his surgery and came back with some toothbrushes for me. Quite the most unusual payment method I have ever encountered, even though nothing was required.

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wpid-Bike-Pump.jpgMy cars tyres are quite often getting a bit low on air because of all the hits they are taking from the poor road surfaces I am rolling down.

I also suspect the seals on them are not the best after all this action and the amount of dust we have driven through together across two continents.

As I premptive measure I tried to find a foot pump at he hardware store I was surprised to find along the road into Pavones.

However all they had to help me keep things in check and get them back up to pressure before the journey out of town was this bike pump.

As they say up north, “Owt is better than Nowt!” so it will have to do. I just hope I dont have to use it much in the heat.

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Golfo_DulceA bit more explanation about the area I am staying in.

Gulfo Dulce is the inlet you can see here and the Panamanian border is along the right of this picture.

Pavones is at the entrance to the gulf on the right hand side. The swell hits from the south and the waves just wrap around the coast into the inlet.

There are a number of great rights across the other side of the entrance, which I would like to be surfing but I was told to avoid the road to then, although how it could be worse that the mission to Pavones I don’t know. You can also get a panga boat across but it is $150 to do so and I cant justify that expense just for a wave. Despite this trip I do have limits!

skintHowever I couldn’t do it even if I wanted to share the expense with a few other natural foot surfers keen to score more rights, because I am almost completely out of cash having used my emergency supply to pay for everything because there isn’t an ATM anywhere near here, and I have no intention on covering any road around here more than I absolutely need to.

Shame. I guess I will just have to make do with the 2km Pavones lefts!

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wpid-IMAG0343.jpgAfter a couple of great sessions today I was able to enjoy one of the most amazing sunsets so far on this trip down the west coast of the Americas.

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no-vacanciesMy gorgeous cabin at the Riviera was only available for two nights because the word is out that a great swell is on its way and people have been phoning ahead to book accommodation. I want to stick around for the first day or so of the swell so had to go around town trying to find a new place to call home.

However almost everywhere is fully booked because this isn’t the biggest place in the world.

As a result I was thinking I might have to sleep in the car which would be awful in this heat or worse still have to move on just as the swell was arriving and miss it completely.

women onlyOne of the locals helped me out though and don’t ask me how I have managed this, because I don’t really understand myself, but I have managed to get the last room in the women only hostel. Either my man boobs have got way worse than I am willing to believe they are, or the bloke who runs it just took pity on me.

Either way wish me luck I’m going in. Some days you have bad days and others not so much…

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