Rivas Nicaragua to Coco Beach, Costa Rica - Central America - CycleBlaze

January 9, 2023

Rivas Nicaragua to Coco Beach, Costa Rica

I called an audible today in the middle of my ride that I had planned to be done with after about 50 miles or so. I wasn't sure what to expect at the border crossing, but it only took about 20 minutes of my time away from the bike, and it look like it was not going to rain today so I decided to go for it – two days of riding in one day. I was supposed to end the day somewhere between Liberia and La Cruz in Costa Rica, and if you look at that on the map, there is nothing there. It is just a stop in between before you get to a better destination. But I have seen volcanos and Mayen ruins already, so Costa Rica is for the beach and I wanted to see the beach, and not the middle of nowhere! But first, let's start from the beginning of the day.

I left my hotel about shortly after six because I wasn't sure about the day and how long the border crossing was going to take so I missed a good free breakfast, but oh well. It was super windy all day long starting in the morning even.  For the first time in Central America, I saw windmills – lots of them!  I was wondering if this was just occasional breeziness, but apparently if comes off of Lake Colcibolca with strong regularity.  A quick side note about Lake Colcibolca (AKA Lake Nicaragua), where I went kayaking a couple days ago in Granada too.  It has a surface area of 3,191 sq mi (roughly 90 by 40 miles), is the largest lake in Central America, the 19th largest lake in the world (by area) and the tenth largest in the Americas – right between Lake Eerie and the Great Salt Lake.  It actually contains a freshwater species of shark, and has two volcanoes sticking out from the middle.

I made it to the Penas Blancas border station about 9 o'clock. And there was nobody there, so I made it through that fairly quickly despite how confusing it was. One agent directed me to another man to get a sheet for my bike (was how my iphone translated what she said anyway).  So I went to him and he said I did not need a sheet.  So that was a waste of 5 min.  I talked to a couple from England coming other direction that apparently had nothing but problems trying to get out of Costa Rica. They said they wouldn't take their money because it was just a little bit ripped so they had to go back to the ATM to get more money and even that was ripped so they had to go back again. My experience was OK, I just don't understand why there is so much of a difference in each border crossing as far as the buildings, the forms to fill out, the lines, instructions, everything. You would think there would be more consistency and coordination, and help for people, but no.

It rained just before I got into Costa Rica, so that helped to keep the temperature down a little bit. There were a lot of windmills leaving Nicaragua pushing me sideways and I thought that might be on my side as I headed into Costa Rica. As mentioned earlier, I hadn't planned on going 92 miles today, but it looked like I had missed the rain for the day maybe, and sure enough, I found the rare and ever-elusive tailwind, so I decided to make two days worth of riding in one day and then take tomorrow off again. It was hot still, and I learned that there are a lot of big hills in Costa Rica. About 3,000 ft. total elevation ups and downs today still.  From the border station to Liberia is a whole lot of nothing. It reminded me of Mexico where it's just flat and nothing for miles and miles.  92 miles and 9 hours in the saddle is brutal, but part of the fun of this trip is to push my limit and then get a great reward at the end, such as a lot of good food and hopefully a good hotel.  That’s always great motivation for me!  I saw a couple of javelinas as I was going down a hill today too, so I didn’t get a picture of them, but I didn’t realize Costa Rica had javelinas.

Coco beach is one of the oldest tourist areas in Costa Rica – at only 30 years or so.  It used to be a fishing village.  So most of the hotels are a bit on the older side, but I found a nice one with AC and breakfast – the Palms at Coco Beach.  It is getting harder to find hotels with AC, but I really need that to go to sleep at night as well as to dry out my laundry after washing.  I had my first dinner right after a shower at a nearby Mexican restaurant.  I had a wonderful seafood soup and a cipriano, but did not get a picture of it, as I turned around and started talking to another older retired woman – Sandra, from Canada, who comes down here for a couple months each year.  We talked for a long time about potential expat areas that we have researched (me) and been to (her).  I made a couple of notes from our discussion. 

My second dinner was at my hotel – a gigantic buffalo chicken burger with mushrooms and onions and fries, and a margarita.  It is karaoke night here - right after they finished with bingo.  As I am working on this post, I am surrounded by about 40 people all older than me.  Makes me feel better after being the old one for volcano boarding.  But they can still sing and dance well here!  Gives me hope still.

My first impressions of Costa Rica, after about 60 miles or so only:  It immediately and easily jumps to the top for the cleanest county of Central America so far.  Absolutely no contest.  In fact, it rivals many roads and highways in the US.  I’m not sure if it is because of policy and penalties - although I’m sure that is part of it, but I’m thinking also because there is just no sprawl here in between towns, so there is not a lot of bicycle or motorbike riding between homes and convenient tossing of trash.  But even the big towns were pretty clean.  There are a lot more cars here, and a lot fewer motorcycles.  In Costa Rica, there is probably 1 motorcycle for every 5 cars, and 2 buses.  Elsewhere, I’d put that ratio at about 1 car for every two buses and motorcycles.  Except Guatemala, where there are just a ton of semi trucks too.  As I was taking pictures of the sunset tonight, I found another area of those same bird noises, but I didn’t record them, as I figured you might be getting tired of them by now, but I’m sure not.  I just love them.

I have an 8:15am tour lined up for my day off tomorrow.  Tune in tomorrow to see what happens there, and the rest of my sightseeing of Coco Beach!

Last sights of Nicaragua while heading out in the morning. That's Lake Nicaragua in the background - not the ocean.
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Boy these things sure are noisy close up. I kept thinking that there was a plane landing near me!
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I don't know what kind of birds these are, but they are hard to get a close shot of
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Bill ShaneyfeltCaracara

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Crested_Caracara/id
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2 weeks ago
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Leaving Nicaragua
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Leaving Costa Rica Immigration
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This is what the Panamerica Highway looks like at the start in Costa Rica. Very narrow, and no stores or homes around for miles in between the big towns.
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A stock photo of a javelina, what I saw on the side of the road as I was going going downhill fast and could not get a pic of.
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I have not seen a Taco Bell yet in Central America.
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Coming into Coco Beach
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My room.
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Sandra, from Canada, who spends a couple months a year here.
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The restaurant at my hotel
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Some restaurants along the beach
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My second dinner at my hotel restaurant, surrounded by old karaoke singers
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Today's ride: 92 miles (148 km)
Total: 1,231 miles (1,981 km)

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