Friday, February 8, 2008

Days 24, 25 and 26

Wed and Thursday were the first time since we started that we had two consecutive days off. It was fantastic! We were able to sleep in both days and generally play tourist in ways we haven`t been able to up until now. We also had a great surprise/treat but it also had it´s sad part.

On Wednesday, Brad, Steve and I, Lonely Planet in hand, set out for a self-guided walking tour of some of the hi-lights of San Jose. We toured some amazing museums and took a guided tour of the Principal Theatre, an amazing place from the 1800's that would put any opera house in Italy to shame. We enjoyed more than a few creveza´s on the main square and I took in a first run movie at a local cinima.

On Thursday we were finally able to hook up with Rosi and Sheri! They´ve been in the country since the 30th but our paths didn´t cross until now. It was a great reunion. We did some shopping, drank even more cerveza and had a lovely dinner out to celebrate the journey thus far. The only low note was the fact that Brad was by himself. He´s in a new relationship and missing his significant other desperately. Having Rosi and Sheri join Steve and I only added to his lonliness and drove home the point that he won´t have this opportunity for a few more days. It was still great nonetheless and gave us all a much needed boost to complete the journey.

I have to say that having Rosi by my side again, even if only for a short while, was exactly what I needed to put things into perspective. She´s much more than my wife. She´s the ying to my yang and all that is good in my world, and doing this without her blessing and involvement just wouldn´t have been possible. Thanks Sweety - I love you so very much.

Today, Friday was one of the best! I say this, choosing to concentrate on the majority of the day and deliberatly not remembering the border crossing into Panama. It was typical; 3 hours of hell. Numerous different clerks, copies of copies, stamps and bribes. Some so blatent that it makes you shake your head in either resignation or disgust. This though, was just a small part of a much larger picture.

The rest of the day - and by far that which outweighs anything else - was the ride out of San Jose. We left at 6:30, our usual early morning start time, and had no issues leaving the city. Immediatley after leaving the city proper the road climbed through incredible scenery high into the mountains dividing the country. San Jose is at roughly 3,600 feet and at our highest point we hit close to 10,000 feet, except this time the road was great, the way was smooth and the sun and wind were at our back, both literally and figuratively. When we started to climb we had to stop and gear up because the temperature dropped quickly. We were also shrouded in thick mist, sometimes so thick visability was down to mere feet. But, as the sun rose and started to burn off the cloud cover, it opened absolutely incredible vista´s as far as the eys could see. We rose through thick jungle, rain forrest, cloud forrest and everything in between. The greens were beyond anything I´ve ever seen and I had to think: if there ever was an Eden, it must have looked like this. If you were to give Michelangelo the greatest, largest box of Crayola Crayons -the biggest box you´d ever see - the one we all wanted but our mum´s would never buy - the box with thousands of different shades and textures of green - and asked him to draw this landscape he wouldn´t be able to do it justice. It´s simply beyond mortal man to capture this beauty. And then, just when I thought it couldn´t get any better, the suns heat started to burn off the cloud cover and created wind currents and convection that moved the clouds up the mountain sides like a torrent of white water unlike anything I´ve ever seen. At one point, as we rounded a corner, the mist spilled up and over the road like a cascading waterfall in reverse, only more beautiful and far more surreal.

From the summit we started down the other side and slowly dropped back to realty - and MUCH hotter weather. Sweeping curves, long straightaways and tightly engineered switchbacks brought us down to the Costa Rica lowlands and a stretch of road that quite litteraly brought tears to my eyes. Up until now we modified our riding pattern to to match the conditions and more importantly , the traffic. We rode with large gaps between each rider in order to give passing cars room to get in and out. This day though, there was no other traffic and we were riding in a tight pattern. I was at the back but in close formation behind Brad and Steve as were leaned into curves so tight our footpegs threatened to drag. On my left was a wide crystal clear tourqoise river, on my right a mountain slope hugging the rode and rising steeply beyond sight. In my ears, Gypsy Kings. As we roared down this perfect stretch of road in tight formation it hit me: this was it. This was the ''the'' day and this was ''the'' moment. On each trip, as it nears completion, I always try to focus on one perfect moment. A moment I can burn into my memory so that I can focus on it later, when I´m back at work or up to my knees in snow. This was that day and this was that moment. Incredible!

As they say in Costa Rica, Pura Vida!!

Mileage, including the border crossing from hell - 435 klm

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