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Day16-Crookedest Street in the World- Wed, Jan 12, 2011

Border crossing #6 Nicaragua/Costa Rica

We’ve got this border crossing down-pat!  Easy peasy!  There is no problem that money can’t solve …

Start & Stop:  Managua, Nicaragua to Liberia, Costa Rica

Mileage: 150 miles (241 km)

Route:  PanAmerican Highway

Weather:  Hot and warm

Lodging:  Hotel Camino Real, Km. 9.5 Carretera Norte. Managua, Nicaragua. Tel: (505) 2255-5888 – Fax: (505) 2263-1380

Money Exchange:  $1 USD = 503.8 Costa Rican Colon

Lisa: I grew up in the Bay Area and my aunt and my grandma made sure that I experienced the thrill of riding down Lombard Street anytime we were anywhere near there.  I loved it, billed the Crookedest Street in the world it was always an experience.  Well, sorry SF, but the Pan American Highway has you beat by a mile.

And to the moto people reading this, don’t get all excited because it ain’t the twists and turns of which I speak.  Here’s the deal: we are in Costa Rica and until we exit, we can only allude to the specifics of our day today.  But I promise we will, so be patient.  And if you ever want to ride through Central America, practicing patience will serve you well, trust me on that one, amigo.

I want to take a moment to thank all the staff of the Hotel Camino Real in Managua, most especially Tamara.  Before we showed up there in a panic, they didn’t know us and had no ‘good reason’ to go out of their way to help us.  Well, they did, in spades, and we are incredibly grateful.  And the GM has said they are more than willing to help any motorcyclists who come through.  Mark your GPS.

We got out of our hotel today like a herd of turtles.  Although we had spent a lot of time reorganizing things on Tuesday, repacking Wednesday morning was challenging.  What the heck.  And since we paid for the Desayuno (breakfast) AND we heard it was amazing we decided to stay and eat.  Normally we like to be clutch out 30 minutes before sunrise but today it was more like 90 minutes after.  In hindsight we could have used the time, but we also needed the sustenance as today would show.  Breakfast was awesome with some fruit we had never enjoyed before.  There was an egg station with hardboiled eggs and omelettes and on our way out, Dean said he wanted to grab a cooked egg for later.  He took a brown shelled egg from the huge basket and I almost followed suit until I realized those were the fresh eggs for the omelettes.  Yeah, that would have been a nice way to start the day – broken eggs in our riding pants.

The ride out of Managua was easy as we seemed to avoid most of the commute traffic.  As late as we were, they are later.  My impression of Nicaragua is that it is all shades of brown and green with lots of variations of brownish green and greenish brown.  Including Lago Nicaragua, a HUGE lake that is so brownish green from the air it’s easy to confuse it with field.  The only patches of color was the trash strewn everywhere.  Pink, green, yellow plastic bags, everywhere.  I love the signs that say No Garbage right next to a huge pile of trash.  How’s that sign campaign workin’ for ya?  Looks to me like yer just adding more trash.  But what do I know?!

So we made it to the border without any problem and started the exit Nicaragua routine.  Crap.  One minor problem: our trip home had exceeded the length of our vehicle permit by 3 days.  ”Oh Senora, no bueno.”  So I am not kidding you, I must have walked 2 miles around the large compound satisfying all the paperwork and banjercito requirements.  By the end, Armando, the boss, invited me into the air conditioned office to finish things up.  No line for you!!  Come inside!  Sweet.  It wasn’t problematic at all, just time consuming.  And I speak little Spanish which nicely complimented their non-existent English.

Dean: I guess it’s pretty well understood.  Lisa is the smart one and I’m the good lookin’one.  She does all the paperwork and runnin’ around while I do the very importante la protección de la motocicleta.  I stand around the bikes lookin’ gooooood and keep the little kids away!

Lisa: This does not please me.  The dude is like this pretty boy, posing for touristas and handing out business cards.  Today I was in ‘serious negotiation’ mode at a customs window when I hear my name called out and turn around just in time to see Joe Cool taking my photo.  What is he thinking?  He’s just lucky he’s out of slapping distance because I am maxing out my patience quota each and every day just trying to keep us on the road and moving forward.  And somehow he thinks it’s all fun and games.  One of these days I might just leave him at la frontera and see how that goes.

So leave Nicaragua, enter Costa Rica.  Stop, get the bike fumigated for $3 US and proceed.  Kind of a cluster down there and no one spoke English but it all came together easily.  Waited 20 minutes to get the passports stamped and then to Seguro (insurance) and Aduano (customs/vehicle import) Again, things just went fine and I got the paperwork for my bike.  Oh super.  Things are good.  Now we only need Dean’s and we’re outta there!

Yeah, not so much.  To give you some history, I totaled my VStrom in 2008 when I did some pavement surfing on I-10.  The ManStrom suffered very little damage actually but it was enough that they totaled a 4 year old bike.  Dean was happy to buy it from salvage and with a little elbow grease and some parts, got it up to speed.  Well, when his chain wadded up on the way to Prudhoe, taking out the transmission as an added perk, he decided to make the salvage bike the ‘rider’.

And the end of the story for today is – who knew this might be a problem?

We’ll finish that story when we’re safely out of Costa Rica.  Until then, what I’ve seen of the country, my first impression is CLEAN.  I rode 70 some klicks to Liberia and it was lovely and a very nice change.  The wind has been a bit daunting but It’s sure to get worse so that’s all and I’ll stop whining about it.  During the last several miles of Nicaragua, I was thinking this must be an anomaly until we turned a corner and found 40 of those ginormous wind turbines lined up.  Yeah, no anomaly.

Dean: FYI – Costa Rica has highest report of stolen passports of any embassy in the world!   We are pretty much staying on the Pan-American Highway system.  Several stretches can be considered ‘tricky’, but the most infamous section is Cerro de la Muerte, a high mountain pass which runs from San Isidro de El General to Cartago in Costa Rica.  It’s steep, narrow, twisty, full of holes and susceptible to flash floods and landslides. Cerro de la Muerte translates as “Hill of Death”?

Sorry, no photos, internet isn’t fast enough and we’re too busy having fun.  Promise to post lots when we actually ride somewhere.  Tomorrow, San Jose and the Cerro de la Muerte!

13 comments to Day16-Crookedest Street in the World- Wed, Jan 12, 2011

  • John Parker

    Excellent that y’all are back on the road again. Costa Rica is one of my favorite CA countries. Enjoy.

  • eff Gallaghet

    Great going. Stay safe and we’ll look out for those pics.

  • If it’s clear you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic from the Cerro de la Muerte… but it’s a rare sight to find it clear up there. Ride safe!

  • Puppychow

    Excellent read and yes the suspense is killing me! Wishing you safe travels out of Costa Rica.

    PS: If Lisa can’t get it done, no one can!

  • Cydne Grimsby (Sidney Barrett)

    Dean and Lisa,
    Cal tuned me into your incredible venture and I totally enjoy reading each day’s adventures. I smile and laugh out loud a lot. Brings back so many memories when I was in Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Cal came in to rescue me. We had wanted to go South but the border was closed as a civil war was active … Somoza vs Sandanistas, so we headed back up North. Anyway, your insights, banter, and courage are a priceless read. Thank You for letting me vicariously travel with you …. a real “gift.”
    Cydne Grimsby (aka: Sidney Barrett)

  • Mario

    “Lisa: This does not please me.” I laughed so hard it took time before I could continue reading. An image of the proverbial ‘Wet Hen’ came to mind.
    Thank you. Big Hugs…ô¿~)

  • John H

    LL, while enjoying the posts about the adventure it hit me that there might be an additional benefit to be realized from these repeated exercises in patience that you are having to deal with…it should make dealing with all the irritating little issues that will undoubtably arise during that big event in June seem like a piece of cake, so it will naturally become much less stressful for you. This pleases you, no?

    Joe Cool, keep up the photo work during the negotiations!
    :) :)

  • Gary Buch

    Lisa, senor cool seems to have it exactly right. get on the program

  • Lisa E

    Their idea of gravel is 12″ rocks. Good luck with that.

  • John Langan

    Well I can see you didn’t heed my advice to go through Jaco instead of taking the Pan Am over the pass. Great views if you are not in the clouds, but after taking both routes, twice, please take the low road on the return. Trust me, you will thank me later. Love those pot holes, or bomb craters as some call them. They go especially well with all the truck traffic over the pass. Glad to see your back on the road.

  • Chris McGaffin

    Cerro de la Muerte translates as “Hill of Death”?

    It also translates to “number 4 in the worlds most dangerous roads” (after a bit of research). This trip is proving most educational for us armchair riders!

    Shall await your safe passage via spotwalla. It looks like a blast- although on google maps it looks more like a surgeons guide to the lower intestines.

    Good luck.

  • Ray D. KD6FHN

    Glad to hear you are back “On The Road Again”. Just a note to let you know that the IBA got 2 plugs from Ben Baily on the TV show Cash Cab that takes place in a cab in New York City. The constants got the answer to the question wrong but the driver Ben Baily said he was an honorary member of the IBA. Keep on Keepen on, safely.

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