Friends. For those of you that know me you know that I’m a big fan of friends. I love to surround myself with people and try to get to know them as fast as possible. Friends have always played a BIG role in my life. I think of my friends as family and would do anything for them. The thing that I was really excited to do while on this trip was make friends. Friends that I hope to have for a lifetime, friends that will understand every aspect of this trip that we have been on for the past 8 months.
So far I have definitely kept my promise to myself to make friends. Jamie and I have met so many amazing people on this journey. Starting with our first few weeks in Baja all the way to our first month in Costa Rica. Some friends, like Bryan, Jen and their dog Karma, we had plans to meet back up with but could never quite make it work before they hit the road back home. Others, like Nate, Sarah and their dog Brady, we’ve been able to meet back up with quite a few times along the way. As I mentioned at the end of our last post, we had plans to meet up with some new life-long friends at a microbrewery on Lake Arenal.
Before solidifying our plans Jamie had his hopes set on sticking close to the coast and making our way down to Dominical. Luckily I was able to talk him into driving inland to see our friends from Southern Tip Trip at the Volcano Brewing Company. I just refused to pass up a chance to hang out with this group again. We had traveled for about a month with this crew back in Mexico and spent two Holidays with them.
The drive up to Lake Arenal was pretty uneventful; we packed up the burro early morning and made it to Arenal by mid afternoon. When we pulled up all our friends gave us a big welcome and we got to tasting the delicious brews in the restaurant. Man did we miss the whole STT crew, they are a blast to hang out with and we have enjoyed many sunset happy hours with them. A few days into our stay, Vanna and Bruiser hit the road to scope out a new camp spot while Big Red hung back with us.
The Volcano Brewing Company is a pretty sweet spot. Its attached to a hotel so we had access to the pool, tennis courts, and the beautiful grounds. The only problem was the first spot we set up camp was infested with ticks. Actually, the whole area was covered in ticks and we spent most mornings and evenings taking ticks off of Reina. But after we moved at least we didn’t have to worry about picking them off of each other. We spent 5 fun nights at Volcano Brewing Company, soaking up rays by the pool and working out on the tennis courts. The owners were so welcoming that they didn’t even mind Reina, Merle and Maddie running all over the place.
From VBC we followed Vanna and Bruisers trail along the lake and past the volcano to a town called La Virgen on the Rio Sarapiqui. Most of the STT peeps are avid white water kayakers and they were itching to get their kayaks down a few runs. We ended up camping at a Restaurant/Organic Farm/Adventure Spot right on the river, called Pozo Azul. This place was awesome. There is a huge garden full of tomatoes, peppers, vanilla trees, pepper trees, apple trees, hearts of palm, pineapples, this list goes on and on. On our second day at Pozo Azul we decided to take a horse tour through the jungle and along the river. I grew up with an Aunt and Uncle that had tons of horses so I had ridden before, while Jamie on the other hand had never been on a horse. I think he was a little nervous at first but after our first gallop through a bright green field I turned to make sure he was still on his horse and all I saw was his huge smile. The tour was so much fun, we rode through dense jungle for a few hours and saw a ton of wild life. It was a lot of fun to try something different and hang out with our friends up in the mountains.
After our turn as vaqueros in Sarapiqui we travelled south to Puerto Viejo. I had been to Puerto Viejo with some friends in 2009 and I was very excited to go back. It was and still is one of my favorite places in Costa Rica. We pulled into the first hotel we saw on the side of the road to see if we could stay the night. The front desk person said that it would be fine and showed us where we could park. At first glance we were hopeful because it was behind a pretty solid looking fence and all overlanders will tell ya, secure parking is key when looking for a place to stay. However, as it turned out the parking area was not the least bit desirable. It was an ugly grass parking lot that smelled because of the overflowing dumpster in the corner. We were all tired after the drive and were willing to stay for one night when Jamie and I decided to take the Burro for a recon mission into town. Our mission was to find a better place to stay with room for all of the sprinters and facilities that were able to suite the needs of everybody in the group including the perros, sounds easy right? Lucky for us this proved to be easier than we thought and after two strike outs we found a winner.
We spent five fabulous nights at La Isla Inn. The Caribbean waters were so crystal clear that you could see to the bottom while paddling around on the stand up. There was a pool that we were all taking advantage of. One day Erik and Doug even put Jamie in the kayak and taught him how to roll the kayak in the pool. Jamie has never kayaked before and everybody said that he was a natural because he learned to roll the kayak on his own after only 5 minutes. I think it’s his comfort in the water that really helped him out. Also, Doug and Marcia have two extra bikes that they let us use the entire time we were in Puerto Viejo, which was a big help because we were a little out of town and it would have been a trek to get to the store or go out to eat without them (the bikes and our friends). Do you see the pattern here?
As I said before we have met so many amazing people on this trip and the STT crew are definitely some of the best. They are so very generous and are always willing to lend a hand, ear, bike or kayak. I think that every person we have met on this trip is extremely giving and willing to lend a helping hand. I feel so lucky to have met so many amazing people on this journey. The hardest part of this trip so far for me, has been saying goodbye. We’ve officially said goodbye to quite a few people on this trip with promises of keeping in touch and visits in the future.
From Puerto Viejo we made our way to the Pacific Coast to meet up with Nate, Sarah, and Brady, to continue our friend tour through Costa Rica.