Sunday, 5 December 2010

57. Cruising through Costa Rica

Palmar Norte

Eight days of cycling brought us north from the Paso Canoas borderpost, along the steamy Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The busy, shoulderless Pan-Americana gave way to smaller coastal roads through the Ballena national park and up to the resort of Jaco.  Much of the property on the coast has been bought up by North Americans and large billboards advertise new gated communities with a choice of either ocean or forest views.  Those engaged in the tourist trade are gearing up for the holidays when wealthy Josefinos and foreigners descend on Costa Rica's coast. Others, who live in the wooden shacks on the floodplains on the periphery of these resorts were still cleaning up the damage that had been caused a month ago when the tailend of Hurricane Tomas resulted in severe flooding and a declared state of national emergency. Hospitality at tico firestations has been as exemplary as their Panamanian counterparts and we were always able to pitch our tent, often amid the relief supplies that had been sent in for the floods.

Racing the tortoise

Before continuing up to Guanacaste province and the border with Nicaragua, we take a detour on some steep gravel roads up to the cooler heights of Monteverde on the westward side of the Cordillera de Tilaran, home to a Quaker settlement since the 1950s when they moved from Alabama to avoid being conscripted to fight in the Korean War. The area is also home the Monteverde Cloudforest Preserve, a ten and a half thousand hectare reserve of tropical rainforest of immense biological diversity.

Near Ballena national park 

Climbing up to Santa Elena at 1400 metres 

Hummingbird at Monteverde Cloudforest Preserve

Santa Elena, Costa Rica
Trip distance: 38,535 km

1 comment:

Molly said...

Julian!
Looks fabulous. I haven't been in Costa Rica in years, but I remember Monteverde, among other lovely places. (never knew about the fire stations though!) I worked and lived in Nicaragua a few years back, so if you feel like dropping in on a very super very rural family just drop me a line. When I had time to do tourist like things, I went to some of those southern beaches, to the village of Catarina up by Granada, and swimming in the Lago de Apoyo below Catarina. There are also some hot springs sort of lost in the jungle over by Mombacho. Pretty excellent. I hope you make it to the Eastern side of the country- I will be so envious!!! Never did make it out there. Someday? If you need any nerdy reading ideas re:Nicaraguan revolutions just let me know. :) Rushdie even wrote on it. Cheers from the cold in DC

m