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January 9, 2006 05:56 PM

The Pacific Slope

Now that I'm relaxing on the endless, black sand beaches of Monterrico on the Pacific Coast, I can admit that I was more than a little anxious of this whole venture. Until two days ago, I don't think I'd ever ridden a bicycle more than 50km in one go; and here I was, flying to some crazy jungle to bike through a region known for it's steep mountains, oppressive heat, reckless traffic and bandits.

Cycling out of the largest city in Central America is, to put it lightly, an adventure; it's something I'm happy to have done, but wouldn't recommend to anybody. we navigated the swirling mass of bus fumes and crowds with as much caution as possible. The urban centre is the poster child for your typical chaotic, congested and polluted third world city. It's not much more than a shapeless, swelling metropolitan mass, ringed by shantytowns, all set in a highland basin surrounded, of course, by volcanoes. Admittedly, not the most ideal starting point for a bunch of beginner cyclists; the shoulders were narrow and littered with glass, tires and dead dogs.

Now, I had a vague idea that we'd be heading downhill to the Ocean, but what I didn't realize was that this 'Pacific Slope' would be so consistently downhill. We must have coasted for 40km at a speed of nearly 60km/hr down an arrow-straight, toll highway (bikes go free) with giant shoulders. Aside from an initial climb to get out of the city, it was ALL downhill. I love bike touring. This is great. I have trouble reminding myself that we have yet to do any significant hill climbing. My tune may change.

This isn't to say that the start of our trip hasn't been without it's kinks. We've had a few mechanical problems; in two days, we've blown two tubes (Will and I), and had to replace one rear tire (Brian) which mysteriously shredded. Physically , while it's been pretty easy, each of us still has our share of minor pains and aches and we're all happy to be out of the belching city and back to the breezy coast. We've traded concrete and smog for hammocks and smoothies on the beach. This is another place I'd love to stay at forever, but alas, there are no banks in Monterrico and we've only enough currency to stay the night before we need to move on. Apparently VISA isn't everywhere you want to be.

Note: No banks, and apparently no computers with anything more modern than Windows 98. Which means that I can't upload any of the spectacular photos from my USB drive without installing the proper (and seemingly non-existent) driver. I'll post the photos as soon as possible.


VISA said:

screw you!

January 10, 2006 12:16 AM
Windows 98 said:

Yeah, screw you!

January 10, 2006 12:17 AM
Andrew McLean said:

Ryan, Dominical is a small town to the south of Jaco. It's very awesome. One of my favorite places in Costa Rica. Check it out if you are in the area. PS- Jaco sucks.

January 10, 2006 12:12 PM