There would have been a craftier headline for this post if I could think of a synonym for “traffic” that started with the letter H. Costa Rica has plagued me with hills, heat, headwind, and traffic. See how awkward that sounds?
Every time I label a day in Costa Rica as the hottest one of my life, the sun rises the next morning with an evil grin on its face. Now, you’ve heard me complaining about the heat before. It’s kind of been my thing since I left the mountains of Mexico, where I always complained about being cold. BUT IT’S SO HOT. My facial features are melting off and I will soon just be an amorphous blob held together by broken dreams and sadness.
But it’s the traffic that’s the real killer–literally. The one and only road through this part of Costa Rica is the Panamerican Highway. But don’t let “highway” confuse you. It’s a two-lane road with no shoulder that all the shipping and passanger traffic of Central America passes through. You would think the billions of tourist dollars could pay for a nicer road, but no. We need more beachside condos, dammit! In terms of road quality, Costa Rica really dropped the ball, whereas Nicaragua is the surprising all-star.
So there I am in face-melting heat, trucks and buses whizzing inches past me, and then a relentless crosswind kicks up. Honestly, wind is not that big of a deal. You just keep riding. But the real problem was that this was a crosswind. It was blowing me off the road so I was correcting by leaning slightly toward the road. But every time a truck or bus would pass by, it would block the wind and my correcting for it would send me straight into the path of the next vehicle on the road. Talk about scary. The wind picked up around noon so I rode 35 windless miles in 3 hours and then 30 windy miles in 6 HOURS.
Despite all this, and the extortionate prices that all the toursit money brings in, I’m glad Costa Rica exists. All the fancy tourists, the families, and people just looking for a safe time at the beach come here. And that’s A-OK! As a budget adventure traveler, I will gladly give up this one country to have the rest of Mexico and Central America largely to myself at a way affordable price. Just between you and me, dear readers, if you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, here’s a tip: go to Nicaragua instead. It’s safe, just as beautiful, much less touristed, and leaps and bounds cheaper.
Costa Rica is fun though. This man let me stay in his roadside hut and gave me a machete to protect myself in case anything happens. I wear Burberry glasses and buy individual underwear on hangers. Imagine me wielding a rusty machete.
In other news, I’m officially further south than the northernmost point of South America. Central America kind of crashes straight into the middle of Colombia so I’ve sort of, not-technically-but-kind-of made it to South America? Maybe? Regardless, I’m just about to leave the central time zone, where I’ve been since mid-December in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Panama is the only country in Central America in the eastern time zone so I’ve officially been to all US time zones on this trip, including Hawaii and Alaska!
-I’ve been unable to buy nail clippers anywhere, but I’ve found a way to saw off excess fingernails with other fingernails. Don’t make that face. I’m desperate. I don’t recommend my way and will probably look back at this in horror.
-Is it possible to develop lactose intolerance? Dairy products have been the staple of my diet and I suddenly find myself unable to stomach yogurt or milk or even cheese! Not cheeeeeeeeese! Please share your struggles with lactose intolerance because I want to be a survivor, not a victim.
-In my hell, there would be no heat or misery. Just hammocks. My God, I hate hammocks. What is everyone’s obsession with having their legs hyperextended?! If I wanted to sleep in a U-shape, I’d sleep inside a lead pipe.
-Lest you think that I just hate everything, I want you to know that I really love traveling by bicycle. The great stuff is just harder to describe. But, if you can’t tell, I’m really burned out after nearly 9 months and definitely need a break.