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Day 341 – 14th November 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 14, 2009

Saturday – San Isidro, Costa Rica

Freezing rain and fog on the 4th most dangerous road in the world and I was amongst it and on it!!!

Well I got away to a good start, still a bit ordinary but recovering, must be too much sleep! I had to retrace my route up to Liberia and then turn right and east, this was a good feeling, back on the road again 🙂 My intention today was to get close to the Panama border, if not over it, but I knew there was a bad section of road or two on the way. As soon as I got past the traffic chaos at Liberia I could stretch my legs a bit, just have to keep an eye out for monos, or monkeys 😉

It was not long before I got amongst the twisties, which would have been fun, but it meant passing on hills and corners and then it started to rain!!

Now, all the vehicles(well most) always spit something out, usually they have busted rings and belch blue smoke, which is of course oil. The rain brings the oil up and it made for interesting riding, trying to stay out of the oil slick which can be seen down the centre of the lane as a greyish rainbow. If I stayed to the left, I nearly get side swiped by semis, if I stay to close to the right, I may stray into the ditch!

It meant a lot slower trip than planned, so I dropped the border out of the equation and decided to get as far as I can then find a motel, hopefully close enough to make a short run tomorrow. I still had some days up my sleeve as I did not have to be at the hostel until Tuesday, but I had wanted to see a national park down on the south coast. Well, with the rain the way it was, on and off, I also dropped that, a pity, but that’s life! I got to San Jose after more traffic stuff ups and a bit of a wrong turn but eventually made it through and grabbed some lunch at a chicken place 🙂

After that it was Cartago, this was a nightmare, I am glad I had lunch first, because I somehow took the wrong turn, I probably should have dropped down south but was following the main road and must have missed a sign somewhere. I was riding around in Cartago and saw a sign but I was in the wrong lane, bugger! I pulled over and put on the wets again and taxi chap told me I could go straight ahead and do a right turn well that never happened did it!!!

If you look at the map you can see a small spur heading into Cartago, well it took me nearly an hour to get back on track, I had already dropped the days target by heaps, now I had lost time as well! But, I still had time to ride, it was only 2.40pm so I went to it, but the ride got amongst the twisties, with bad traffic, lots of trucks, bad visibility and rain and fog to boot!!! I took only the next two photos because I needed to put the camera away out of the rain!

If you look at the profile of the road I took you can see it rose dramatically during the last section of the day, in fact it went up to 3.3km.

This is what the Wiki says about this road, it is number 4 of the 10 most dangerous roads in the world!!!

4) Pan American Highway (Costa Rica)
The Pan-American Highway system, the longest drivable road in the world, runs an incredible 30,000 miles from Alaska to the lower reaches of South America. Several stretches can be considered ‘tricky’, but the most infamous section is Cerro de la Muerte, a high mountain pass which runs from San Isidro de El General to Cartago in Costa Rica. It’s steep, narrow, twisty, full of holes and susceptible to flash floods and landslides. Did we mention that the name translates as Hill of Death?

Well, I was on it and I can say today, it was cold, wet and miserable!! I had my wet gear on, but light gloves and by half way up I had my heated grips turned on. The temperature dropped to 6C at the top and it would not stop raining, it would have been a great road to have fun on in the dry, maybe, but not today. It basically slowed me down further, although the good side of it was the other traffic did slow down a lot, which gave me more chance to pass them 😆 I only saw 3 prangs during the ride, just fender benders and after riding for about an hour and a half I had had enough and could not be bothered going any further than the next large town of San Isidro. It was still in Costa Rica and still about 200kms + away from the border, but I was not having fun anymore.

I found a hotel on the eastern outskirts, it was cheap and looked it, but they had internet and after moving rooms once, I even had hot water for a shower, that was worth waiting for!!! 🙂 I had some dinner there, but it was nothing to write home about and I should have remembered, an empty room usually means something, especially on a Saturday night! It filled the hole, and after that and just the one beer, I had a quiet evening in the room while the rain poured down. During dinner they had the news on, loud as they do down here and for half an hour while eating all I saw were car crashes around the country, that and mud slides from all the rain, I was glad to be off the roads tonight!

It looked like a wet day tomorrow as well, but I had plans for an early start and even losing an hour at the border, eastern time, I could still be in Panama by 6ish.

When will I ever learn that these roads are different and nothing goes to plan!

Day – 254 miles and 409 km
Trip – 42,922 miles and 69,076 km



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2 Responses to “Day 341 – 14th November 09”

  1. Craig said

    I’ve been over that pass several times by motorbike. It can catch put a chill on the unprepared… 😉

    Once we were up there on a clear day. There is a section you can see both oceans… but don’t blink or the clouds will come in a hide at least one in an instant.

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