Farewell To Good Friends
My visit with the families of Ricardo Collado and Luis Diego Romero is rapidly coming to an end.  Last night's festivities at the home of Luis Dieguo was great.  Good food, mucho vino and great friends.  The night will long be remembered.

This morning Ricardo and I took the 2011 BMW F650GS across San Jose to the garage TMCR, owned by Christian Gonzalez.  Luis Diego is going to have the bike totally serviced before it is returned to Cialo.  Their generosity in providing the BMW to me for three weeks made my adventure complete.

Tonight will be quiet.  I bought a new phone in Panama and a friend, Mauricio Aguirre is coming over to try to teach me how to use it.  He is in for a shock.  I am totally stupid when it comes to any of the newer phones.

Today, I paid my Exit Tax, checked in with United Airlines and will start packing.  This has been a great adventure, thanks to Luis Diego and Ricardo.  Over the past three weeks we have visited all of Costa Rica and the border areas of Nicaragua and Panama. 

But now I am headed back to Baffin Bay.  This will be the last entry for "Costa Rica, Fall 2014".  Ciao!
Sunday in San Jose
Sunday morning!  The M14 Club meeting at 9:00 AM and the ride at 9:15.  Chisos, the "Jefe" is not given to long meetings.  At this morning's meeting Chosis announced that I would soon be departing and led the group in wishing me safe travels.  The trumpetisto played as the club wished me well.

Ricardo and I then joined the group ride to Cervantes for breakfast but soon departed for San Pedro.  Reaching Cartago, we were suddenly in a tropical mountain rain storm.  Furious rain with plumes of water racing down the mountain and across the road.  At times I was riding through six inches of raging water.  My boots are full of water, my helmet is full.......but my rain suit is completely dry.  Why?  Ricardo had decided neither of us would take rain suits.  "Chuck, it is going to be a sunny day, no rain".  Bull....

Tonight we are invited to wine and cheese at the beautiful mountain home of Cialo an Luis Diego Romero.  My stay is rapidly coming to and end so it will give me an opportunity to thank everyone.  But have no fear.  We will all be riding together a couple of times over the next few months.  Cuba still beckons!

The Coastal Road to San Jose
Saturday's ride along the coastal road was great, no rain and many scenic views of the ocean. Ricardo and I stopped near Domenical for a great hamburger and someplace along the way we managed to consume some ice cream.  I am gaining weight and I may have just figured out why.
Arriving in San Jose at about four o'clock we ran into much more traffic than expected but we're soon home.  Saturday night dinner was at Subway and I spent watching Kevin Harvick win the "Bank of America 500" NASCAR race in Charlotte.  It is indeed a small world.
A Visit to Panama
The early high mountain morning was cool, clear and refreshing.  Breakfast was excellent, eggs, fresh orange juice, freshly harvested pineapple and bacon.  Today Ricardo and I had to descend the steep mountain from San Vito to Paso Canoas.  A winding road full of S curves, U curves, even a couple of V curves and six W curves.  The ride is not for the timid or inexperienced.

Last night I learned that the road actually drops over 5000 feet in less than three miles, all 5000 feet through tight curves.  The scenery was breathtaking.  It seemed as if we were in a tropical forest.  After an hour we reached Ciudad Neilly, a small town at the base of the mountain.  And what did we do?  Visited a Funeraria, of course.  I thought I should do some final planning just in case (see today's photographs and you might understand why Ricardo wanted to visit).

Reaching Paso Canoas mid morning, we checked into the nice hotel Los Higuerones.  Soon we had unpacked and were on our way to Panama.  Some tax free shopping awaited and we were meeting old friends.  Dinner was with Gary Pitts and his wife, Jennifer Daniels.  Delightfull company and Jennifer insisted on paying.

Tomorrow we are leaving here and headed back to San Jose.  We will take the coastal road on our return.  The coastal road, past Palmar Sur,  Punta Domenical and Quepos.  A ride running past some of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica.  Maybe, with luck, we will avoid the rain and fog.
Riding The Cerro de la Muerte
Early morning in San Jose and it was raining.  By 8:00 AM it had cleared and Ricardo and I hopped on our bikes heading south.  Our destination?  The Italian immigrant town of San Vito.  A town settled by Italians sixty or so years ago.  A town known for it's old world charm, Costa Rican beauty and great coffee production.  But Ricardo and me?  We were more interested in a good Italian dinner and maybe the opportunity to see an Italian beauty or two.  And yes, we had the dinner and we saw many beautiful señoritas but I suspect they were Ticos.

Rain was never far away and we had to don our rain suits as we started the long ride up the "Mountain Of Death".  A beautiful ride but even under clear skies it is challenging.  Tightly winding curves, steep and treacherous inclines and natural beauty all around.  Today there was also cold steady rain, thick fog and the occasional tree down on the road.  The Cerro de la Muerte,over 11,300 at it's peak, is cold year around and often foggy.  Today was no exception.

At 11:30 AM we finally were over the mountain at stopped at San Isidro to walk and relax.  Finally back on our bikes, we headed for San Vito, a delightful town high in the mountains about forty miles north of Panama.  By the time we arrived the rain had stopped, the skies were clear and we were having a ball.  

Tonight we are lodged in the great Hotel El Ceibo, have taken a tour of the city and have dined well.  Tomorrow we expect clear weather for our ride into Panama.  And of course we will be seeing our old friends, Gary Pitts and Jennifer Daniels.

The Spot Messenger Died
My tracking device, the Spot Messenger died last night so the "Find Me" function will not be available for the remainder of this trip.  To my children, a Christmas present idea.
A Rainy Ride To San Jose
On the bikes at 7:00 AM and it is raining.  San Jose is three hundred kilometers and two mountain ranges away and it is steadily raining.  Ricardo always says "You are not made of sugar.  You will not melt".  Well, we are going to find out!

Five hours later Luis Diego and I pulled into Casa de Collado, thoroughly soaked!  Soaked from head to toe, even fully attired in an excellent rain suit.  Steady rain the entire five hours even through the mountains.  It was a beautiful trip, past beautiful farms, seeing the occasional oxcart, Over scores of raging rivers, twisting our way through the tightly winding roads.

Finally we reached San Jose where it had rained hard for hours.  The roads were filled with water and cars, motos, busses and trucks were all fighting for position.  The ride was frighteningly fast, dangerous and furious.  An absolute Moto Stampede.

Luis Diego had urgent business so he soon departed.  Tonight Ricardo and I dined with his son, Ricky and his fiancée Carolina.  It was delightful.  Ricky's Thesis presentation was a success and he and Carolina were happy.  Ricardo took a few photographs of the thesis presentation and the University and I have posted them.

Early Thursday morning Ricardo and I will be on the bikes, headed south to the Italian immigrant town of San Vito.  I think it is about a nine hour ride, even in clear weather.  The challenging part of the ride will be over Cerro de la Muerte, the highest peak on the Pan American Highway.  Cerro de la Muerte, or "the mountain of death" promises to be wet, cold, foggy and thrilling.  Later in the week, Panama!  But for tonight, a hot shower and to bed.
Unpalatable On A Rainy Night
Luis Diego and I mounted our bikes at 7:00 AM.  The skies were clear and the sun was shining.  A great morning for a beautiful ride.  In one hour we arrived in Liberia, a city that I love to visit.  Long ago my father lived in Liberia.  Luis Diego pulled into a nice "open air" restaurant and much to my surprise, it was the same restaurant that Ricardo took me to six years.  That was the day after I first met my close friend and we have now ridden 40,000 or more miles together.

A hearty breakfast and Luis Diego led us off on a beautiful ride over raging rivers, past well groomed farms, all the time keeping me in suspense about the next beautiful town we would visit.  La Fortuna seemed a possibility.  Soon we were in a small cafe enjoying a coffee when a Tico casually mentioned that a mudslide ahead had caused a road closure.  No big problem, Luis Diego knew another road to Upala, but we would miss La Fortunate and the ride past the lakes.

Passing over a small mountain chain, rain clouds quickly formed.  A light shower, then sun, soon another shower.  We could see heavy and strong storms all around us but we managed to stay dry all the way to Upala.  Luis Diego knows this town well, he owns a farm nearby.  Quickly pulling into a nice bakery, we were in for a treat--freshly cooked double chocolate brownies and two cups of Costa Rican coffee.  

Checking into Hotel Wilson, we were delighted to find a new, nicely furnished motel with everything we could desire.  I love it.  A great dinner tonight and to bed early.  We ride in a few hours back to San Jose and lunch with Ricardo and his son Ricky.  Why?  First because I like Ricky but also because he graduates tomorrow from a five year curriculum in Psychology.  Ricardo is very proud of Ricky as he well should be.
A Wet Afternoon Ride
It took all morning to get the brakes repaired.  The first mechanic we visited was unable to work due sciatica.  He did recommend TMCR, run by Christian Gonzalez.  Christian specializes in BMW repairs and he immediately took a close look at the F650GS, specifically at the rear brake caliper which we had removed.  Tearing the caliper apart, Christian determined we must replace the caliper and the brake pads. 

First he called various friends to see if he could locate a good used caliper.  No such luck.  So, we were off to the BMW dealer for new parts.  Guess what.  They did not have a single caliper in stock and it could take ten days to get one.  Back to Christian who made a couple of calls and told me that the owner of a wrecked F650GS had given permission to remove the caliper from his bike and use it to repair our's.  Christian would later replace that one.

 Finally the bike was repaired and passed Christian's test ride.  If you are in Costa Rica and need repairs on any European bike, I recommend Christian at TMCR, phone number 506-2290-4031.  Christian will do whatever is necessary to get you back on the road.

Luis Diego and I headed out to the Pacific coast and within five minutes, we were in steady rain.  For the next four hours we rode in rain.  Finally reaching Nicoya an hour after dark we checked into a dry, slightly worn motel.  Tomorrow we will ride by 7:00AM stopping for breakfast in Liberia. 

We should be in Upala, up near Nicaragua by early afternoon. Luis predicts rain For the remainder of this week.  I am soaked now and may be for the next week.
Hot Bike In The Mountains
High altitude, winding hairpin turns and rain to spare!  Luis Diego and I were having a great, if wet, ride this morning.  Heading down the curvy road leading from Volcan Poas headed towards Upalla,  all seemed right wnen suddenly bikes raced up beside me motioning me to stop.  Why?  Well, the bike was on fire!

Maybe not the entire bike, but certainly the rear brakes.  It took me ten minutes and two bottles of water to extinguish the flames.  What should we do?  We removed the rear caliper and carefully returned to San Jose.  What a ride, down the winding mountain road with no rear brakes.  Tomorrow we will try to get the bike repaired so Luis Diego and I can ride north.  I did some research tonight on the internet and I found that sticky, hot calipers are a common problem in the 2011 BMW F650GS.  Fires are not uncommon.  It was a first for me.

Luis Diego and I called Ricardo to join us and we had a great dinner at the Restaurante Uruguay.  Since we are grounded we must eat well!

A Fun Day in San Jose
Ricardo insisted on cooking breakfast this morning.  Bacon, ham, Costa Rican coffee and freshly made bread and marmalade.  I am eatiing good!  then I was off to the Central Mercado, The National Theatre, Hotel San Jose and the Museo Banco de Centrale Costa Rica,  commonly called the gold museum.  It was a great quiet morning visiting my old haunts.

Early afternoon found us at the beautiful home of Dona Delfina.  Dona Delfina's home is graced with scores of paintings and sculptures from all over the world.  the home seems more like an elegant museum or art gallery.  And this is the mother of my friend Ricardo Collado?  As always lunch was served.  So interesting and good.  I should just visit Dona delphine every day.

Tomorrow?  Luis Diego Romero will join Ricardo and me for the Sunday ride with M14.  Ricardo has a few days of family matters that requires his attention, but Luis Diego and I are headed up to Nicaragua, then Guanacaste.  maybe we will ride the beach towns of the Pacific--maybe visit a farm or two.  Without doubt I will learn much from Luis Diego and this beautiful area.

The Ride From Hell
Awaking Thursday morning on the Frio River, near Lake Nicaragua, all was great.  Breakfast of ham and eggs and smooth, strong coffee, suddenly the skies burst opened.  Thunder and pouring rain--the great morning promised to be challenging.  At 9:00 AM we mounted the bikes in steady rain.  We had to return to San Jose due to a family matter.  The first thirty miles were fine, in steady rain but smooth.

We had two mountain ranges to cross before reaching Zarcero.  Rising altitude on a beautiful winding, tightly curving road, narrow but scenic.  Light rain, when suddenly a dense fog enveloped us.  Fog so dense I cold seldom see Ricardo who was riding within a few feet of me.

  Oncoming trucks and busses?  Yes they were there but we could not see them.  Fifteen miles at high altitudes, a curving and winding road and we could barely see our front wheels.  Stop?  But where?  We could not see to pull off the road.  My heart was pounding.   I was gripping the handlebars so tightly my hands felt paralyzed.  Fear?  Maybe.  Apprehension?  Certainly.

After what seemed like hours, the fog began to lighten, then suddenly we  stopped behind a line of trucks and busses.  No problem, we pulled to the left and passed all of them.  Then the problem.  Two large semi trucks, trying to get around each other, with the hairpin curve  so tight the were going to collide.  At that moment one quit running.  For two hours we set there in the rain while the truckers pondered what to do.  Finally they moved on 50 feet or so and Ricardo and I made our break.  Finally we arrived back in San Jose just before dark.  We were exhausted, but safe.
Riding to The Nicaraguan Border
Ricardo and I are in Los Chiles, right on the northern Costa Rican border.  It is a small town, soon to be a gateway to Nicaragua.  Japan is financing a bridge across the Rio San Juan to Nicaragua.  It is complete and will be in operation within weeks.  Then this small and rather poor town will prosper.  And Me?  I will visit here often.

We fired the bikes up early this morning in Siquerres and headed out Highway 32. Twenty miles later we were at the entrance to EARTH University, a private and highly recognized botanical and environmental school.  Students come from Europe, Africa, Asia and even the Americas.  The grounds were beautiful, astonishingly so.  The two mile entrance was the prettiest ride of this trip.

Then we were off headed to Los Chiles.  The day was beautiful....well, occasionally a rain shower but we managed to stay dry.  A stop at Muelle for ice cream.  And what did we see?  Iguanas, not small ones but some as big as large dogs.  You have to look at our photographs to believe it.  And even a howler monkey high in the trees.  Yes, there is a picture of her also.

Four o'clock in the afternoon brought us to Los Chiles.  We have explored the beautiful Rio Friothis afternoon and visited with several locals.  Our hotel is nice, but not elegant.  Just right for two Adventure Riders.  Dinner?  Arroz con Camarones and papa fritas.  Maybe a desert later.

And tomorrow.  We are headed for San Jose and a weekend visit with old friends.  Maybe a concert or play at the National Theater.  Afterall, my whole life cannot be spent on a moto.

Tuesday at the Luis Diego Farm
A nice morning breakfast, and I was on the BMW F650GS headed down highway 32 to the Milla 25 farm.  The morning was beautiful and the bike is running perfectly.  I actually love this well sized BMM.

Today Luis Diego is giving Ricardo and me atour of this large and amazing farm.  It is huge and complex and managed by Luis Diego and his beautiful daughter, Jimena.  Jimena is first and foremost a horse breeder and an international horse judge but she is involved with every part of this amazing operation.  A huge African Palm grower, she and Luis Diego supply the resource for African Pam oil.  Literally tens of thousands of trees.  I was amazed.

Citrus, of all kinds, there are hundreds of acres of citrus trees, some that I regularly see and some varieties that are new to me. This is no small citrus operation.  Then there a cattle.  You never ask a rancher how many, but there are a lot.  And of course Jimena's horses.  Some of the best breeds that I have seen. 

Luis Diego, Ricardo and I then visited the African oil extraction plant.  It was a complex but interesting operation.  And I was astonished to learn that Jimena, educated as an industrial engineer, made three trips to Colombia to learn all she could so that she could be one of the leaders in the design of this plant.

Tonight we will have dinner with the Collados and early in the morning, Ricardo and I are pointing the bikes north to Los Chiles on the border with Nicaragua

Tarpon Fishing
Up at 5:45 AM for a 30 KM drive to the river marina of Canyon Blanco.  It was here that we would meet the 24 foot boat and guide who would take us down river and out into the Atlantic Ocean for a day of Tarpon fishing.  But first, a great ham and egg breakfast in an open air restaurant right by the river.  Life is great.

Twenty minutes later the captain was casting a line with small hooks and catching our bait.  Each cast hooked three or more small bait fish.  Then it was time to cast out the three lines for Tarpon.  Within ten minutes Ricardo had hooked the first..  Fight, I have never seen such a fight.for over an hour we took turns fight ing his beautiful fish.  Four times it broke the surface, jumping high and trying to get free.  Finally Ricardo had him beside the boat and the captains let this huge tarpon free, all six feet and 70 to eighty pounds.

Later in the day Luis Diego and I each caught a couple of very small fish and we decided to cruise inland, up a river for 30 minutes.  It was a beautiful sunny day, warm but clear.  By 2:30PM we were back at the dockside restaurant having a lunch of steak, rice and black beans and fried plantain.  and tomorrow?  Wait and see.

To Limon and South To Panama
Up early, Ricardo and I had breakfast with Art Smiley and our M14 friends.  Soon we were on our bikes and headed out to Luis Diego's farm.  After some freshly squeezed Orange juice from freshly picked oranges, we were off to Limon.

Limon, Costa Rica's sole commercial port.  And what a port it is.  Filled with huge freighters from around the world, this is an vibrant port city.  The local Ticos are of either African or Chinese immigrants lured here to work on either the Chiquita banana plantations or the building of the railroads.  English is the predominant spoken language but with a Jamaycan lilt.  This is a unique Carribean city.

Soon Luis Diego headed south towards Sixaola and the border with Panama.  Down highway 36 right along the Atlantic coast.  Past small towns all with beautiful beaches.  Past huge beautiful banana plantations and within two hours, we arrived at the border with Panama.  And now whar?  Walk across the long deserted railroad bridge and into Panama.  But wait, I do not have my passport.  Don't worry no ones even goes to the official border crossing.  We will just walk across this old bridge and not clear customs.

Some quick shopping in Panama and we soon returned to Costa Rica and made the interesting trip back to Limon and on to our hotel in Siquerres.  A light dinner of pollo and frijoles and soon to bed since we have to be up at 5:30 AM.  Why?  Luis Diego has chartered a boat and fishing guide to take us out into the Atlantic for some Tarpon fishing.  With friends like this, I am enjoying a wonderful retirement.
Festivities At Luis Diego Farm
At 8:00 this morning, Ricardo and I met the other M14 riders for a group ride to Luis Diego's farm near Siquirrels.That took us over beautiful curvy mountain roads, past many mud slides, towards the Atlantic coast.  This could have been a frantic ride.  The M14 riders can be a crazy bunch.  But surprisingly, the 35 bikes road orderly and safely.

We stopped for brunch mid morning and then this afternoon Luis Diego hosted the whole bunch at a festive barbeque.  It was  a fun!  A day to be a day to remembered.  And the weather?  Right now it is clear. Twice today it came a hard shower but both times I have been under cover.  Other than that, it has been a beautiful day.

Tomorrow Luis Diego, Ricardo and I are riding to Limon, will explore a banana plantation then ride south, along the Atlantic coast to the border with Panama.  Tonight we will spend the night here in Siquires at the Hotel Pacuare, a nice place with a festive restaurant and bar.

I have tried to post photographs of today's festivities.but I cannot due to a weak signal.  I will try again tomorrow.
Picking Up The BMW F650GS
This morning we traveled about thirty minutes to the beautiful mountain home of Chalo and Luis Diego Collado.  A beautiful and well manicured setting overlooking San Jose.  And why?  To meet my new ride for the next three weeks, a 2011 F650GS.  A beautiful low sitting BMW that Chalo and Luis Diego are loaning me.  This 800CC bike is perfect for me.  I can actually sit on it flat  footed.  And it is light--perhaps 270 pounds lighter than my R1200GS.  Maybe I can arrange a trade.

San Jose was nice this morning, overcast but dry.  I enjoyed my ride down the mountain and through San Jose.  But now, in mid afternoon, it has started a steady light rain.  What the heck?  We all know how to ride in the rain.

Our plans for the ride have us meeting up with 30 or so members of M14 (a motorcycle club) at 8:30 AM Saturday morning and riding as a group to Luis Diego's ranch over near Limon.  A great barbeque and other fun is planned for the day.  On Sunday, Ricardo, Luis Diego and I plan to ride into Limon, explore the small city and then ride the undeveloped Atlantic coastal road south to Panama.  How can life be so good?

Tonight, a nice dinner with my good friend, Ricardo and then to bed with the sound of steady rain on a metal roof.  And this at a temperature of 65 degrees fahrenheit.
Back in San Jose, Costa Rica
Early afternoon and my friend, Ricardo Collado, was greeting me as I flew back into rainy San Jose.  It is great to me here with my many Tico friends.  Today was spent getting colones, visiting the elegant Dona Delphine and getting supplies for our ride.  Of course Luis Diego will be joining us.
And our ride? It is a mystery.  Ricardo has a surprise.  Tomorrow we will be picking up the BMW that Luis Diego has made available to me and we will visit friends here in San Jose.  Our ride actually begins this Saturday.  It is the rainy season here and we expect hours of rain each day.  The temperatures are typical for this beautiful country-ranging from 65 to 75 degrees F.