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Friday, February 28, 2014

ay 310 Friday February 28, 2014

Since leaving Monteverde, Costa Rica I first went to Jaco for one night where I stayed at the Buddha House. Jaco is a very americanized type beach town. It really had little appeal for me. There were many international tourist was very busy...a popular surfer destination with all the popular franchises. Next I rode about 80km to Quepos which is also on the Pacific coast. The Manuel Antonio N.P. is located there. When I arrived there I joined a tour of the park. The tour was very good but it is very hot here...I always searching for shade. The tour took two hours and we saw howler, spider, and white face monkeys, white tail deer, several poisonous snakes, one Jesus lizard, two three-toed sloth and several exotic frogs. After leaving the park I rode back into Quipos and found a hotel where I stayed for two nights.

Quepos is a fishing town that attracts many sport fishermen from all over the world. It boasts the most world record sailfish, tuna and mahimahi caught than any other single location in the world. Quepos offers fishing for numerous varieties of fish, especially Pacific Sailfish. Peak fishing season is from November to April for billfish.

I left Quepos riding down the coast thinking that I might make the Panamanian border, but after a wrong turn that added several hours to the days ride I decided to find a place to stay and tackle the border in the morning. I was stopped at a store along the PanAm highway drinking a bottle of water when another adventure rider pulled up. He introduced himself as Jason Grabel from Alaska and he is also riding to Ushuaia, Argentina. Jason said he was headed to a little village on the coast called Pavones Beach...a place another rider had told him about. I asked Jason "Do you want some company" and he said finish your water. We had two hours of daylight left when we took off. From where we were it was about 45 miles to Pavones Beach and Jason had a good map. Within 10 miles the road had turned to gravel, in another 10 miles it turned to dirt and rocks and I was down to 1st gear riding....praying we got there. When we arrived and found a place to stay I did not have a dry thread on my body.

The next morning I was surprised to see travelers from all over the world. Pavones Beach is a surfing world class surfer has not surfed there. Two guys from Pavones Beach are world class surfers on the international circuit. This is not a tourist is not on the "gringo trail" is difficult to get to and is quite remote. Pavones Beach is my kind of place, laid back and friendly. I had finally found the Costa Rica I was looking for. Life is Good!

This the kiddie pool.


The surf on Pavones Beach runs from left to right. Waves here can be ridden for long distances...a surfer can surf until he is out of sight down the beach.

Jason rented a board and gave it a whirl.

I am now in Panama, Panama where I will stay until the 2nd of March when I will leave to board the Stahlratte for Columbia. Panama is a very large beautiful westernized city...anything you need can be found here.
More will be revealed...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 302 Thursday February 20, 2014

Since leaving Isle de Ometepe the Adventure has entered Costa Rica. The first night in Costa Rica was spent in the Pacific beach town of Puntarenas. I had a room about a block from the beach. Puntarenas has an almost carnival is very commercialized. It has many restaurants, bars, and much LOUD music. The next morning I headed for higher 4,000 ft. above sea level.

It was about three hour ride to Santa Elena in the central part of the country. Keep in mind that Costa Rica is about the size of South Carolina in the USA. I came here to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which was established by Quakers that founded the town of Monteverde in 1951.

What is now considered Monteverde was founded by Quakers from the United States whose pacifist values led them to defy the American draft during the Korean War. The majority of the group hailed from Fairhope, Alabama, and it included people who were not Quakers but pacifists and conscientious objectors. The spokesman of the group was Hubert Mendenhall, a dairyman who had visited Costa Rica in 1949 after joining a farmer's tour. These Quakers and pacifists chose Monteverde for its cool climate, which would facilitate dairy farming, and due to Costa Rica's non-violent, army-free constitution. Mendenhall noted that the soil was fertile and the people were friendly as well. The Quakers stewarded and farmed a large tract of land, which they eventually set aside for conservation. This reserve, which was named the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde (Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve), has become a major tourist attraction.

In 1953 the group started a cheese factory that I toured yesterday. Some of my Fairhope friends may recognize some of the founders of the cheese factory. I believe all of the founders were from Fairhope.

This morning I went to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The tour was guided by a local man named Juan Carlos. There were five in our group, two Americans, two Germans and one Canadian. The tour was for two and one half hours. Juan Carlos was very informative and I believe everyone enjoyed the tour very much. The reserve allows only 150 people into it each day. The majority come to see rare beautiful birds.

 There are many varieties of hummingbirds including the ruby throated hummingbird that is common in the southern US.

This is the best picture I was able to get of a Quetzal...many of the people here today came just to see one of them.

On the left is Juan Carlos explaining another of the bird species that we had just seen.

This tree is one of the most interesting things I saw this morning. The original tree is no longer is long since gone. The center where the original tree was is hollow. Birds, perched in the original tree, dropped seeds of what was explained as the "stranglers"....I assume it is a type of vine. Over time the stranglers kill the original tree. We saw several examples of this at different stages.

The trees here are all soft balsa wood. The trees have no rings in them to mark the seasons....because there are no real seasons here.

Another example of stranglers taking over a tree.

Tourism is a growing sector in Monteverde's economy. Having grown from less than a hundred yearly visitors in 1975 to around 50,000 in the mid-1990s to 250,000 in recent years, much of the economy is becoming increasingly dependent on tourism. An increase in hotels, taxis, guides, and other tourist-geared services have appeared since the early 1990s. Two bilingual schools have been founded to provide the English essential for catering to Monteverde's many visitors.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 298 Sunday February 16, 2014

I plan to leave San Juan tomorrow and go to Isla de Ometepe for a couple of days. Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains. It is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua as well as the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world.

The two volcanoes of Concepci√≥n and Maderas are joined by a low isthmus to form one island in the shape of an hourglass. Ometepe has an area of 276 km². It is 31 km long and 5 to 10 km wide.[1] The island has an economy based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism. Plantains are the major crop.

The island first became inhabited during the Dinarte phase (ca. 2000 B.C. – 500 B.C.), although evidence is questionable. The first known inhabitants were Nahua Indians from Mexico. In their footsteps came the Niquirano Indians who established an important settlement on the island. Traces of this past can still be found in petroglyphs and stone idols on the northern slopes of Maderas volcano. The oldest date from 300 BC.

After the Spaniards conquered the Central American region in the 16th century, pirates began prowling Lake Nicaragua. They came in from the Caribbean Sea via the San Juan River. The inhabitants of Ometepe were hard hit. The pirates stole the inhabitants' women, animals, possessions and harvest; and erected settlements on the shore, making it their refuge. This made the local population, seeking shelter, move to higher grounds on the volcanoes. The island was finally settled by the Spanish conquistadors at the end of the 16th century.

I have been in San Juan for almost a week and I have met many interesting tourists and fellow travelers. This a very relaxing town to visit. Although San Juan is one of the most expensive places in Nicaragua it is not prohibitively so.

The best place to meet fellow travelers is along the beach restaurants at sunset.

This is "Team Costa Rica". From left to right it is Scott from Florida, Max from New York City, Melisa from Columbia (living in California),  Rebecca from Cyprus (living in California), and Dennis from Ontario. Yesterday the six of us took the coast road south from San Juan to the Costa Rican border. It is approximately 25 miles to the border, we took nine hours and had a blast!

The hills that can be seen in the background are in Costa Rica.

On the return trip we stoped and watched this troupe of female howler monkeys with young feeding.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 294 Wednesday February 12, 2014

Since the last post of the LAA (Latin American Adventure) the parts we were waiting for from England for the Tiger arrived in a timely manner and we (the Tiger and I) departed Antigua, Guatemala on Friday Feb. 6 and crossed into El Salvador. I stayed one night in San Miguel and was at the Honduran border the next morning.

I had planned to cross Honduras in about four hours. About 20 minutes before reaching the Nicaraguan border I hit a bad hole in the road and the bike died. It would not start. It was about 1PM and I was stranded. Within 30 minutes there were two guys that stopped to see if they could help. They spoke no Ingles and I seem to speak less Espanol than I did before I stayed three months in Guatemala. Anyway, another chap, that did speak broken Ingles stopped and he went and brought back a guy that was a moto machico, but he had no luck at finding the problem. After nearly three hours I was able to hire a pickup to take the Tiger and I back to Choluteca, Honduras.

In Choluteca I was taken to the Hotel Casa Real. The hotel is owned by Roger Misael Rodriguez Hernandez who told me he knew a guy that was a moto racer and mecanico. Misael treated me as if I was member of his family. At 8AM Sunday morning Ishmael came to the hotel with four other guys. They stripped the bike down and after two hours of not being able to find the problem the four other guys left. Not Ishmael....OH NO....he was obsessed. After three more hours he had isolated the problem using jumpers around sensors. What he discovered was a tilt sensor, under the rear plate near the rear light, was malfunctioning. He disassembled the sensor and found a half moon magnetic wheel that tells the computer that the bike is upright had been dislocated. Ishmael reassembled the sensor and the problem was solved. He charged me $300, which is an astronomical amount of money in Honduras. The vast majority of the population here earns less than $10 a day. I gladly paid him...for he had saved me countless dollars and days of delay. Otherwise I would have had to transport the Tiger to Tegucigalpa, Honduras or Managua, Nicaragua.

At Hotel Casa Real Sunday morning.

Ishmael just would not give up!

 This is a shot of the sensor that caused the problem.

 Ishmael after the job was completed.

I have always believed that mankind was basically Good and this adventure continues to affirm this belief. At no time on this adventure have I felt fear of another person. Life is Good!

The Adventure is now in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. San Juan is a lovely town on the Pacific coast. I will stay here for a few more days before heading into Costa Rica.

San Juan del Sur.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 286 Tuesday February 4, 2014

Well The Latin American Adventure is still in Antigua, Guatemala patiently waiting for the parts for the bike to arrive from England.

Since being in Guatemala the bike has been totally least I can not think of anything else that needs to be done. Taz at MotoMundo has:
Tuned the engine, new spark plugs, balanced the injectors
Cleaned air filter
serviced the struts
put on new tires
new chain and sprockets
changed the oil and filter
changed out the coolant
changed out the brake fluid
checked wheel bearings
put a new battery in
put on a new windscreen
and fixed most of the parts that were broken during the adventure.

The man standing is Hans from Switzerland. He is also riding the Pan American Highway on this BMW HP2. The HP2 is a rear bike and I am told that there are only two of them at the present traveling the world. Hans is headed to Alaska, while I am riding south to Argentina.

Taz is servicing the struts from the Tiger.

This morning I went to the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo to see this remarkable hotel and the ruins of the convent, monastery, church, and university that was destroyed during a massive earthquake.

Santo Domingo Monastery is a ruined monastery in Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala. Its history can be traced back to 1538 when the Dominicans arrived in Guatemala. It had two towers with ten bells and the monastery was filled with treasures. The monastery was destroyed in the 1773 Santa Marta earthquake and today part of the ruins have been transformed into a hotel, the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo.

Yes, this is a real live mccaw in the of several that reside at the hotel. I took a tour with a guide and was told that rooms start at $200 and go up to $800 per day. My hotel cost me $14.10 a day. The Santo Domingo has about 200 rooms and is built among the ruins of the old Santo Domingo complex. The university here was the first in Central America. My guide was not able to tell me the size of this complex, but my guess is between four and six acres.