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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
905 days a wanderin'

Moving at the Speed of Sloth, Costa Rica

Aug 7, 2017
by John

The gods of Costa Rica decided that they were due some more money. Maybe bacause we previously flew back to the US to buy parts at a more reasonable price or just because Murphy has a law and it was necessary for us to fully understand its implementation. Regardless, our driver side front brake seized up just as we were entering San Isidro on our way to the Caribbean from the Pacific. A day spent having our front calipers serviced and new brake pads installed resulted in us driving 22 kms the following day before it seized again. Limping back to San Isidro we made an appointment at another shop for the coming Monday. It took a week to get new caliper pistons delivered from San Jose and installed. The culprit... phenolic caliper pistons and the Central American rainy season.

We have spent so much time in the humid, rainy environment that our plastic pistons had started to swell, causing them to occasionally stick and heat up. Over time these two conditions, listed as known problems with phenolic caliper pistons, lead to their failure. Our mechanic was surprised to even see the plastic pistons, they are not used in Costa Rica. Forking over $300 for 4 new pistons that cost $80 back in the States deflated us a little, having previously averted the higher cost of parts when we flew to visit family & friends in Florida.

While we look for a lesson in all things, it seems ironic that our brakes facilitated a break. During our impromptu stay in San Isidro we rented a room with a/c, spending most of our time lazing about doing research and reading. When we got back on the road and reached the Caribbean coast we were already at island pace. Slow days, hiding from the rain, buried deep within good books. At times, we swung in our hammocks to the pace of the breeze under the same trees inhabited by our furry neighbors. Taking a lesson from their perceived life of leisure, we channeled our own inner sloths.

What We Did

Punta Uva, Limon

After driving by Cahuita and through Puerto Viejo we decided that El Arrecife in Punta Uva was going to be our home base, ultimately staying for 17 nights. At $15 or 7,500C per night it wasn't exactly cheap, but its location was exactly what we were looking for. The weekends had a fair amount of visitors but the weekdays were really tranquil. Our timing wasn't the best, it rained all but two days, but we enjoyed the serenity nonetheless. We never managed to check out the snorkeling around the point or take any photos of the sloths that frequented the trees in the camping area, one stayed a week before moving along. We did take drives into Puerto Viejo for breakfast and to Hone Creek for supplies, topping up our house battery in the process. Some days we cursed the heat, the bugs, the late night parties, and other days we relished the ocean breeze, the cooler temps after the rain, and the lullaby of the waves at night. It wasn't the most beautiful Caribbean beach or the best of facilities and the July swell made swimming more of a chore than we like. No matter, it was the best on offer and an easy place to laze the days away. We did manage to rough out a route through Panama and start the process for shipping across the Darien Gap. 

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

The ocean be green like the pools

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

I guess this'll do

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

It's to let you know the power is still working

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

Dammit, right in my eyes

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

Bugged us every day

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

What time is the timeshare presentation?

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

And now the Carib is imitating the Pacific

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

We've lived in worse parking lots

El Arrecife, Punta Uva, Limon

Always with the peeping

Cafe Rico, Puerto Viejo, Limon

Caribbean Poutine!

Honorable Mentions

While we don't list every place and thing we do there are some that stick in our minds. Weeks later we catch ourselves mentioning them to others or just savoring the memory of the exquisite cuisine we consumed. Here are a couple standouts.

Cafe Rico, Puerto Viejo, Limon

One of our breakfast haunts. We loved their large cappuccinos, chilaquiles, Ana Rosa special, and Jungle Juice (probiotic ginger ale). Not a cheap place but delicious. We spent just under $20 some mornings and almost $30 at others. We usually bought the Jungle Juice to go and received a discount when we returned the bottle for another. The owners also rent bikes and have a laundry business onsite. Wash and dry using machines was 1,500C per kilogram unfolded.

De Gustibus, Puerto Viejo, Limon

Our other breakfast haunt during our supply runs. A little cheaper than Cafe Rico, costing between $17 - $22 per visit. Our favorites were the two eggs with bacon plate and the breakfast sandwich. It is an Italian bakery too, Mandi really liked the sprinkle doughnuts.


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