Quebec to Panama 2017-2019

(North and Central America)
16 months - solo travel - Suzuki DR650

Back on the road

April 3, 2019  —  Costa Rica

After a stay in Quebec, with my new camera and a good idea of my itinerary for next months, I flew back to Costa Rica. A fairly long trip since I had a 24-hour stop in New York. Yes, it was a cheap ticket, but with the hotel, the saving turned out to very small.

I had left the motorbike with Luis, at his home in Alajuela in the outskirts of the capital San Jose. A motorbikes and cars aficionado, Luis is also an overlander that visited numerous countries riding a motorbike. He welcomes travellers at his home because he likes to help people and share travel stories.

Alejuela - Costa Rica
A few of the Luis's motorbikes.

I spent five days there with other travellers, and during that time, I prepared my itinerary for Panama and northeastern Costa Rica. In Quebec, the planning I did was about choosing the best months for each country, and to try to put each of them back to back so that I travel in the best season. For a motorbike trip, I prefer t avoid the rainy seasons and also the cold in the south of Argentina and Chile. Landscapes in the mountains are also at their best during specific months. Thus, if I know when and how many months I will spend in each country, I didn't do a detailed itinerary of the route I will take in each of them.

Finally, on March 29th, it's a new start. I head toward Cahuita going through mountain roads. Some of them, that I chose randomly, are no more than rough farm trails. Two hours after I left, I follow a winding, and suddenly my rear brake is dead. In a strongly inclined and very rough trail, it's going to be a disaster. In front of me, a few dozen metres ahead, the trail rapidly descend with a curve that keeps me from seeing what ahead of me. Without the rear brake, the bike is going to accelerate and I will lose control. I was starting to panic, but after a few seconds, I decided to do the only thing that was possible. I threw the motorbike on the ground and I hoped for the best...

Alejuela - Costa Rica
With Luis, just before leaving.

Phew, I didn't hurt myself, and I managed to control the fall. In the end, only one of the racks that support the aluminum panniers is broken. The front and rear brakes were burning hot and I had to wait an hour before they were cold enough to continue.

In retrospective, I think that without being aware of it, I must have left my foot on the rear brake pedal, and it heated up too much. It hadn't work when I needed it... Probably due to a bit of nervousness in a tough trail... The next day, one leg and one arm were hurting a bit. I certainly was a bit tense during my forced landing.

I went back at Luis's place who helps me to repair the pannier rack that needs a bit of welding. I spend another night there, and I depart the next day.

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Cahuita National Park - Costa Rica

My first destination is Cahuita in the northeast of Costa Rica. A nice region with beautiful beaches, and a jungle rich in animal lives of all kinds. I take advantage of my first days to practise with my new camera, and my first photo excursions are very satisfying. In fact, I am very happy. I didn't use the camera much in Quebec. Moreover, I 'discover' that the 24-200mm lens I bought is very good for microphotography. Thus, I was able to shoot some superb tree frogs and other insects of the region.

Cahuita - Costa Rica

Near Cahuita, there is the Cahuita National Park that is a magnificent place for seeing animals, and also superb coastal landscapes. Despite this, most of my animals shoots were taken around the cabin where I was staying. The sloth and its young one were hanging from a tree a few metres away from where I slept.

Cocles - Costa Rica
New Granada Cross-banded Treefrog - Smilisca phaeota.

Next, I followed the coast in direction of Panama. I based myself at Cocles, a small village with a nice hostel. Once again, during the night, I was able to shoot some nice tree frogs in the garden. From Cocles, I visited the animal life refuge of Manzanillo and the village of Puerto Viejo.

Manzanillo - Costa Rica

Beaches all along the coast are very nice, but there are very few people swimming in the ocean because of the potentially strong and dangerous riptides. However, for surfers, the region is one of the best places to practise this sport.

Puerto Viejo - Costa Rica
The region is a haven for surfers.

After a week in this magnificent region, I head towards Panama...