Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Jan 20, 2003.-- Costa Rica, our 46th country, celebrating 44 months

Credit to you know the way to San Jose.....

-- Story by Erin --

Just can't get that song out of our heads!

Wed, Jan 8th: We drop off Chris' broken Ohlins shock, along with a new seal, with the local specialist, Jurgen Larrson. His man Esteban assures us he can repair the shock, and to return the following day. That night, after a few months of email contact, we finally meet Norval, the president of the BMW motorcycle club of Costa Rica. He and his mate Mario swing by on two new F650GSs, and we are treated to an evening of meeting other bikers and enjoying some typical food.

Friday, Jan 10th, 2003: Chris and Simi leave for Manuel Antonia National Park. Norval and his girlfriend Jessica pick us up and we go to a birthday party for friends of theirs. The husband of the birthday-girl is the brother of Costa Rica’s first space shuttle astronaut (he’s gone into space 7 times).

By Saturday we've finished working on the bikes---Chris’ shock is fixed and reinstalled, Esteban adjusts my shock and makes it a bit taller but a much better ride. Also, Ruth and Merv (UK R1150GS) arrive and we go for dinner and a chat.  Merv and Ruth have been traveling for a couple of years now as well and seen much of the same territory we've covered.  It was fun to compare places and people we know.

Sunday we decide its time to leave.  Norval comes to the hotel at 7am to meet us (this time on his shiny R1150RT) and the 3 of us head north for La Fortuna, a town at the base of the famous Arenal Volcano, a few hours to the north. It is a nice ride with great weather and wonderful mountain scenery --- reminiscent of the Alps. As we approach the famous Arenal, it is unfortunately covered in a layer of clouds. This is normal we were told as locals only tend to see the whole thing only 10% of the time.  Norval takes us to his favorite Italian restaurant at the base of the volcano, and we pass the time telling stories. As the late afternoon rain clouds approach, Norval heads back to San Jose, and we go in search of accommodation with no hope of seeing the volacano for the rest of the day.

Mon, Jan 13th: The sky is clear at 7:00 a.m. except directly over the volcano of course. No luck seeing dramatic displays of spewing red-hot lava. Around mid-day we decide to leave and take a nice ride around the lake in direction of Monteverde cloud forest. After about a half-hour ride on a so-so pot-holed road, Chris’ shock breaks (yes, again). We stop for lunch and then switch it out for the old one, which we are (luckily) still carrying. That's it we decide, we have to go back to San Jose to get it fixed again.  We arrive back at Larsson’s just before closing, and Esteban finds the problem is a cut in the compression hose. He said he could fix it the following day. Merv and Ruth are still at the hostel and happy to see us.  We have another good meal together.

Since Chris' shock is being worked on, the next day Chris and Merv run around trying to find tires for Merv’s bike and a place to do an oil change on the big 1150GS. Ruth and I spend the day shopping and doing email. At the end of the day when Esteban is reassembling the shock, the bottom bracket snaps off (yes, just like happened in Patagonia). Chris is very depressed --- Apparently, there was a hair-line crack in the bracket from the initial bump last month in northern Brazil.  Norval and Jessica come to rescue us from our depression and take us all out for a nice Italian feast.

Wed. Jan 15th: Jurgen and Chris search for new bracket piece in US, NZ and Europe with no luck. That evening Chris goes to the BMW club meeting with Norval to listen to their discussion about their Easter week trip to Guatemala.

Thursday we get an email reply from the Ohlins factory --- they will send the parts, but we have to pay the shipping.  With clear skies and time to kill we decide to take a ride up to Irazu volcano two-up on my bike. Its a very beautiful ride up to the top of the volcano, only 35km from San Jose. The countryside is reminiscent of Germany/Switzerland. Irazu is the highest volcano in Costa Rica at over 3,500 meters. We are very lucky and have spectacular views over the green crater lake and the surrounding valleys. Irazu is still an active volcano and last erupted in 1994.

Saturday, Jan. 18th: The BMW club has a weekend ride organized and invite us along.  We meet Norval and other members of the club for the ride up to Santa Elena. After a nice stop for breakfast and loads of picture-taking of all the F650’s present, we take a turn off on the main road up the mountain on a rugged, steep dirt road to the cloud forest area of Santa Elena. The cloud forest area here is famous for its lush forests and abundant wildlife. It’s called a cloud forest literally because it spends nearly all its time in the clouds and drenched in mist. When we arrive, we have clear skies to enjoy the great view out to the Pacific ocean.

While the others go off to do a "canopy tour", we take a walk around town and bump into Jo Ann, a Canadian motorcycle rider, sitting on her black F650 by the side of the road. We had been in email contact with Jo Ann and knew she would be somewhere in the area at this time. We spent the afternoon together chatting, and in the evening we joined the club members for another nice big Italian meal.

Sunday, Jan. 19th: Woke early to get up to the nature reserve to see the wildlife in action. There’s a lesson we’ve learned on this trip--- when you have good weather, take advantage of it!!! Well, we didn’t remember this lesson and on this day we were completely fogged in and it was raining. We went to the reserve anyway, rented rubber boots and slogged through the mud hoping it would clear up. It didn’t. We saw exactly one hummingbird all morning. Well, this IS cloud forest.

After lunch, we all mounted up and started to make our way back to San Jose. Sunday afternoons are terrible for traffic on the roads and we played a tiring game of leap-frog with the cars all the way back to the city.

The elusive Arenal Volcano.


We had much better luck viewing the crater of the Irazu Volcano!

Looking down from 3,500 meters

On our way to Monteverde, we got a photo of the F650 riders of the BMW M/C Club of Costa Rica.


Chris slogging through the mud of the Santa Elena Cloud Forest.


Norval and Jessica on their new F650GS

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