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Costa Rica: A broken bike, Rincon de la Vieja, and Isla del Cano

Costa Rica is a place of immense beauty, sure, but after months on the road our initial intentions were to breeze through it. We had spent too much time in Mexico and Central America and were running short on days to get to Panama for our boat to Colombia. Justin had been there five times previously for surf trips, and countless people kept telling us how expensive it was, how touristy it was, and how it wasn’t “true” Central America. We don’t disagree with any of those comments, but what we found in Costa Rica was more than good, it was great! If you were willing to get off the beaten track Costa Rica offered some of the best scenery and riding we had done in months. It rejuvenated our spirits, lifted us up, and made us excited to see what each day had in store for us. Something we had sort of lost over the last few weeks as things became mundane. It left us begging for more time and adventure, but first we had to overcome a potentially trip ending disaster…

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Nicaragua: DAMN IT’S HOT

We arrived into Nicaragua under the cover of darkness. The air was cool and refreshing, and the moon was full, illuminating the road and canyon as we snaked our way through it. It was magical. Justin couldn’t help but to stand straight up on his footpegs, flip up his visor, and howl at the moon, “Ooooooooooo”. We had officially made it to our seventh country of the journey!

Not knowing where to go or what was around we simply stopped at the first illuminated building which appeared to be some sort of lodging. The staff at Sumoto Canon Tours greeted us with open arms and a delicious Pollo Asado (waking up the next morning we quickly determined that the chicken was fresh from the yard, these birds were everywhere!). Their main objective was to convince us to go on one of their canyon tours which was evident by the sales pitch we heard from dad, brother, cousin, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, dog, chicken, cat, squirrel…It was aggressive! Having just done a canyon and rafting tour on the Rio Cangrejal we had no desire to pay for another, and decided to venture in on our own.  Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to make some new friends (Germans of course) who joined us for a day of swimming, hiking, and an incredible sunset over the canyon.

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Honduras: Jungle, Pirates, and Great Diving

Honduras, outside of 3 (maybe 4) spots regularly visited by backpackers, doesn’t have the best reputation. Ever since Baja, we’ve heard stories of corruption and extortion, with one crazy Ex-Pat even telling us how he’d been completely displaced from his retirement property by the cartel. HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY PASS ON ALL THIS FUN?! Copan Ruins would be our first stop, followed by a long drive up to the Caribbean coast to take advantage of one of the CHEAPEST places in the world for diving, Utila, and to visit a pirate legend in Sambo Creek.  As always, there would be quite certainly some other adventures along the way.

Getting out of El Salvador was almost as easy as crossing into Mexico (where we literally drove across what seemed like an imaginary line). We got stamped out, traded some dollars for lempiras (24 to 1) and were on our merry way. Then we got to the Honduran side…immigration was fine, we paid $35, and got stamped into the country…but then we had to import the bikes. We thought we were in the clear when we pulled up to Aduana and were the only ones there. NOPE, the guy took over 2 hours to process us in! GOD BLESS! Redressed and ready to leave the last check point to freedom we were stopped!! Apparently during the 2 hour process the dipshit wrote down Justin’s VIN # incorrectly. Back to Aduana it was. This time with a rather long line. At least Justin has continued to be one of the tallest members of society!

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El Salvador: Our new favorite country?!

El Salvador, the runt of the pack, is a little country sandwiched between Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. It’s perfectly situated on a beautiful stretch of the Pacific, has plenty of volcanoes to hike, and is littered with little towns and markets. Despite all of this everyone seems to brush it off, skipping it, heading directly towards Nicaragua or the Bay Islands, Honduras, in the luxury of their air-conditioned shuttles. But why?

Most of the rhetoric surrounding El Salvador appears to stem directly from the news & media coverage, which portrays El Salvador as a gang ridden, lawless land which is consistently competing with its northern neighbor, Honduras, for who is considered the murder capital of the world. While Justin would have loved to join MS13, earn a couple teardrop tats, and extort some peeps, the opportunity unfortunately didn’t present itself. All we found in El Salvador were kindhearted people, fantastic surf, and cheap fish.

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