Antonio and Amanda began traveling by bicycle in January 2013. The freedom, sense of independence and excitement of the unknown has driven them to turn a simple trip into a lifestyle, an infinite adventure. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Antonio and Amanda while cycling in Costa Rica! (A place I’m coincidentally headed to in just a few weeks).
Day 1- Wednesday
6:00 AM – The alarm clock goes off and we wake up in El Roble, a small town outside of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We are staying with Alex, a warm showers host. Warm showers is a network that connects bicycle tourists with hosts all over the world. For the last 3 months, Amanda was in California working as a scuba instructor on Catalina Island. Antonio spent some time traveling in the Caribbean and visiting his family in Spain. We left our bikes in Costa Rica and today is the day we hit the road again.
7:30 AM – After saying our goodbyes we are back on the road and heading south.
9:00 AM – A car pulls over on the side of the road. Out comes a couple with two ice cold cokes in their hands. They had been bicycle touring a few years ago and know what a treat a cold drink is on a hot day.
10:30 AM – Passing over a bridge we spot a group of crocodiles sun bathing on the river bank. 13 in total! We make our first decision of the day, we are not camping in the bush tonight!
1:00 PM – We stop at a gas station for lunch. Gas stations are great places to take a break in the middle of the day; there are bathrooms and cold drinks. Sometimes there is even air conditioning to have a rest from the pounding humid heat of the tropics.
4:00 PM – After 63 kilometers of cycling we arrive to Jaco, a small surf bum town. It’s rainy season in Central America, and nearly every evening there is a down pour so it’s time to start looking for a place to stay. We pitch our tent at a campground by the beach.
5:00 PM – Take refreshing cold showers and change into mosquito gear, long pants and long shirts. The rainy season also means standing water which is breeding grounds for dengue-carrying mosquitos. (Editor’s note: I’ve had a few brushes with Dengue fever – it’s no laughing matter).
5:30 PM – We make our classic cycling dinner of spaghetti with tomato sauce and go to bed.
Day 2 – Thursday
7:00AM – 8:30AM – Get up and pack up camp. A quick breakfast of almond butter on bread and we hit the road.
9:00 AM – Our bicycle computer clocks in 10,000 kilometers, which has been counting since we started cycling from San Francisco in February 2013. We stop to take a picture and a group of scarlet macaws flies over head.
9:30 AM – We cross paths with Juan, a fellow bicycle tourer from Spain. For an hour we chat with him, he shares his coffee and stories from South America. We swap info then he heads north and we continue south.
12:30 PM – Sit in front of a supermarket, dripping in sweat, enjoying a cold drink.
4:30 PM – Caught in a downpour we cycle for one hour down a dark dirt road in the jungle. Our bike lights die. Sharing the light of one head torch we dodge potholes, frogs and snakes. Lightening lights the road and rolling thunder breaks the sound of the rain.
5:30 PM – Over 80km later we arrive at Finca Amanecer in Londres, a small town outside of Quepos. The property is owned by Elena, a warm showers host who offers camping. There are only two covered camping areas, one of which is already taken by another cyclist. The other has a huge Coleman tent under it. The tent has a few holes and the floor is covered with leaves. We pitch our tent inside the big tent to keep the mosquitos and spiders away. Glad the day is over we strip off our wet clothes, put our heads to the pillow and crash out.
Day 3 – Friday
8:00 AM -12:00 PM – Easy day of cycling though farming communities.
2:00 PM – Buy mamones chinos from a stand on the side of the road. They are a tropical fruit that is red on the outside with dark hairs coming off of it. The part that you eat is inside, a white fruit that is sweet.
3:30 PM – Arrive in Uvita de Osa and meet our warm showers host, Victor. His family owns a beautiful lodge in the rainforest. Victor points out a perezoso (sloth) in the trees, it’s a rare two-toed one..it’s the first we have ever seen in the wild.
5:00 PM – Think about how amazing it is that life can change so much from day to day. The day before we had been cycling in the rain and camping in the jungle and now we are showered, staying in a nice lodge for free.
Day 4 – Saturday
9:30 AM – We decide to take a rest day and stay at Victor’s one more night. We go for a walk down a quite road up to a view point were we can see “la cola de la ballena”… the whale’s tail. Here there are two bays connected by a piece of land that forms the shape of a whales tail. It’s a coincidence that this area is a great place for whale watching.
11:00 AM – We arrive back at the lodge and meet a fellow cyclist who is going to stay the night. His name is Justin Moreno, a Spanish painter who is traveling by bicycle from Mexico to Argentina stopping along the way to paint.
12:00 – 5:00 PM – Spend the afternoon chatting with Justin and catching up on emails.
5:30 PM – Victor’s father points out a toucan in the trees, we have only ever seen one flying by.
Day 5 – Sunday
8:30 AM – Say our goodbyes and hit the road. There aren’t many clouds in the sky which makes for a hot day of cycling.
12:00 PM – Arrive to a small town and stop for lunch in front of a supermarket. We make our sandwiches and enjoy a cold drink.
4:00 PM – Dark clouds in the sky are telling us it is about to rain. We ask a restaurant owner if we can pitch our tent under the overhang of her restaurant, she says of course so we set up camp. We have cycled 77 km and reached the intersection of the start of the Osa Peninsula.
Day 6 – Sunday
6:30 AM Start our trek down the Osa Peninsula. Despite the steep uphill climbs, this is by far the best route that we have taken in Costa Rica. It’s a quiet road with rainforest on each side, which makes it great for spotting wildlife.
10:30 AM – We take our ritual mid-morning break at a lodge/ restaurant off the road. Here we meet a generous American couple who buy us an early lunch of a club sandwich and fries.
11:30 AM – Antonio spots a family of tapirs crossing the road.
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – The skies turn grey so we take shelter at a bus stop as the rain begins to pour. There is no place to set up camp we decide to brave the storm and continue cycling.
4:15 PM – We ditch our plan to arrive at Puerto Jimenez today when we find an abandoned auto service station on the side of the road that has a large roof and concrete floor (perfect for rainy season camping).
4:30 PM – Antonio goes to a nearby shop to ask for water and returns with great news! The owner of the shop, Julio, has invited us to camp at his house.
5:30 PM – Julio gives us a big piece of guanabana (soursop), a tasty tropical fruit.
Day 7 – Monday
6:00 AM – Pack up and say our goodbyes to Julio and his wife.
9:30 AM – Only a short ride today to Puerto Jimenez, our last stop on the Osa Peninsula. To save us from backtracking we will take a ferry tomorrow to Golfito where we will continue cycling towards the Costa Rica/Panama border.
10AM – 5 PM – We get a room where we spend the day washing clothes, talking to our families and resting.
Antonio and Amanda just spent a few months in Panama working as scuba diving guides and being surf bums. Now they’re cycling into South America for the next leg of their trip. Follow their adventures at The Adventure Junkies.