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meeting sarah and tom

Sarah and Tom are an Australian/British couple that I have been in correspondence with for what seems like a very very long time. We have been playing tag through several countries without ever quite catching up with each other and I have almost given up hope of actually getting to meet them. Fate, however, has its own plans.

I make my way back from the northern coast of Guanacaste to Liberia in the hope that the letter from Australia that contains my new debit card that I have been waiting for has finally arrived. My hopes are quickly dashed on that score by a visit to the post office and so I disconsolately search out accommodation. After checking out a few other quite tempting alternatives, I am prompted by some nameless urge to return to the hotel that I stayed in on my first pass through Liberia where I’m astounded to find six cycle tourists lounging around the communal area.

As we cyclists size each other up it doesn’t take long to make the connections – Sarah and Tom are amongst the crowd. We trade stories and get to know each other over dinner and by the next morning it is settled that we will share the road for a while. Sarah and Tom have been riding with Anita and Mario, a German couple they met in Nicaragua, so initially we set off as a group of five towards the Nicoya Peninsula.

It's been a while since I've cycled in company...

...but camping in a crowd eases security concerns and makes for relaxed sleep.

The trailer used to belong to Sarah but since the gear she was carrying weighed less than the trailer itself she switched to panniers and sold the trailer to Anita, who, serendipitously, happened to be looking for one.

Despite development many of the roads on the peninsula are unpaved and provide pretty pleasant riding opportunities. Sarah, Tom and I share a touring style that favours quiet unpaved roads and peaceful campsites far from tourist hotspots.

Companionable cycling. Sarah and I ride and chat. (Photo: Tom Walwyn)

A sudden plague of punctures afflicts us. Mario changes an inner tube just before...

... my own tire blows out. I am less than impressed with Schwalbe on this occasion...

... Just look at that tread! This tire hasn't seen that many miles at all.

I am largely indifferent to the Nicoya Peninsula which I probably wouldn’t have bothered with on my own but I do enjoy the company of Sarah and Tom. The beaches are gorgeous but the Nicoya Peninsula is one of the more developed tourist areas in Costa Rica and Costa Rica is a country that has built its contemporary fortunes on tourism. With a reputation as a ‘safe’ destination and one of the only Central American countries that hasn’t been afflicted by recent civil wars and/or overtly repressive regimes it is full of retirees from wealthier countries looking for their very own place in the sun. Large swathes of the peninsula are now not just property but prime real estate and all the signs prominently advertising ‘million dollar’ ocean views are in English. Yoga retreats, surf camps and gated ‘eco’ communities abound.

But, that said, you can still camp on the beaches, pretty much anywhere, for free.

The onset of the rainy season make for dramatic brooding sunset water...

...and sky.

... (Photo: Tom Walwyn)

The Anita and Mario who are heading back to Europe in a few days can’t drag themselves away from the beach but, after a week of Nicoya, Sarah and Tom and I decide to head for the hills further from the developed coast.

In between rainy season downpours the weather is hot and humid and the sound of running water... irresistible. I take a bath... (Photo: Tom Walwyn)

...while Sarah opts for a shower.

We visit Santa Elena and Monte Verde. (Photo: Sarah Hedges)

Lots of rain has raised a strange crop of mushrooms.



A short break outside a shop... (Photo: Tom Walwyn)

... followed by a longer lunch break on the hill tops. (Photo: Sarah Hedges)

Catching the camera shy. Neither Sarah...

...nor Tom are enthusiastic subjects.

I am an only slightly less resistant subject. (Photo: Sarah Hedges)

{ 1 } Comments

  1. gypsy by trade | June 15, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Nice to find your site. Beautiful photos! I’m up in Alaska right now and it’s been a bit chilly so Sarah’s tropical rainspout shower looks enticing. Oddly, I’ve seen another Schwalbe XR blown out right down the center rib as well. Lots of pressure and lots of luggage along with bumpy roads were to blame, but you wouldn’t expect it from “the touring tire”.


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