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Iohan Gueorguiev – MOUNTAINS, VOLCANOES AND THE RUTA DE LOS CONQUISTADORES

Polecamy kolejną relację Iohana z wielkiej wyprawy rowerowej dookoła świata. Niezwykła przygoda zaczęła się od jazdy lodowym szlakiem na rowerze na północ .. Alaski. Z pochodzenia Bułgar, w wieku kilkunastu lat wyemigrował z rodzina do Kanady. Fundusze na podróż zdobywa ciężko pracując w sezonie sadzenia drzew na Północy Kanady. Warto przekazywać dalej informację o jego odważnej wyprawie.

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Well over a year ago, in January, 2015 I was hitchhiking from Las Vegas to Otario to get my Canadian Passport. My final ride was a family from Mexico who drove me 3 hours to Detroit eventhough they werent going there. The man spoke no English but his wife spoke little and at one point they were showing me pictures of his friends riding mountain bikes in Costa Rica.
It was the Ruta de los Conquistadores route, from ocean to ocean and now it was the time to do it. Instead of going straight to Jaco, I decided to instead cut the ride along the coast and get into the mountains asap. It was too hot otherwise.
The road up was steep, I often got off the bike to walk it. In one particular section I was walking faster than a gravel truck ahead of me…

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The dust was worse and the road was surprisingly well used.

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And this was why, signs everywhere promising adventure, luxury and the chance to discover oneself…

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Me? I was here for the free coffee!

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The monteverde cloudforest is privately owned, hence the 1500m zip lines, swings, hanging bridges, atv tours and who knows what else. Few locals said they always shop when at the bigger towns and not here due to the tourist prices. After eating like a king at cheap restaurants in Nicaragua for $3 or less, it was a shock to see the prices here and in Costa Rica in general.

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Followed a small spur to see this

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And asked one of the people here if I can camp. He called his boss and it was a go!

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sorry dude, I took your spot!

sorry dude, I took your spot!

47 cows, 20 liters of milk per day. Mmmm…. i didnt refuse the offer of a glass but wondered – doesnt milk get purified first? I asked the guys and they point at the brown cow and say its good. OH BOY!

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I showed the cat my tent… what a mistake, he kept sneaking by me and pouncing on it… ripped a small hole at the mesh. Then she pee’d on my bike. Little razcal!

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It was actually cold. 1500m, dew and cold. It felt great sleeping in my sleeping bag, last time was in Guatemala. I drop down to 600 today but that is still a nice temperature.

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The road kept going up and down and I found an amazing atv track shortcut.

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More and more buses. Seriously, 4 big ones, 12 meduim sized and 5 minibuses. Not to mention that most of the cars look like rentals too. This dude had to wait for me to push my bike around the corner because he couldnt fit otherwise.

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Steep descend to the lake, not the fun kind. Squeezing the brakes tight and trying not to let the front wheel slip kind of descend.

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A barely standing bridge and the road condition ahead meant almost 0 traffic. The last few days have been hard and I have not had rest day since 21 days ago in El Salvador. Or maybe it was the aburpt change in diet – oatmeal for breakfast and lunch and bread to keep me full throughout the day with a large dinner to fill up. I pulled off at the lake to find a neat spot. Fresh water, wind and a volcano. This would do.

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Quiet morning ride negotiating rocks and creek crossings, the one I was warned about turned to be only knee deep at worst. Could be impassable during heavy rain. Best part of the morning was riding into town to see this:

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As I got closer to the main road the number of tourist shuttles increased. Some of them were cycling the road with a guide and a shuttle bus following. I looked down at the heavily rutted road, hm. Not sure this would be fun for them. It appears that every group has their own shuttle, what a waste. A man getting ready for a kayaking trip looked at me odd while I fill my bottles with tap water. Having a multi-day organized tour with all sorts of activities would be nice but not for me. I like the freedom of having the bike.

Two guys waved me off the road looking for a lighter. Then they had turns taking photos with my bike.

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Today felt like a pizza day. I also needed a recharge on electronics since I am almost out of power in my cache battery. It was interesting to see how the town has changed over the years.

Back on the main road and this was the tipping point. For me, Costa Rica has the most dangerous highways. Mostly the truck drivers, they will try to squeeze in with opposing traffic or still pass very close with an empty lane. Not even the narrow mountain roads of British Columbia where everybody is doing 110kmh can compare.

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I had to take a dirt road, no matter where it went. Looking at the map and the mountains, I can do a GDMBR-style zig-zag by taking every single road crossing the divide.

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Early in the morning I get greeted by a truck… and later by a local who, from what I understood is also a touring cyclist. He says he is going to italy to tour in few weeks, what a ride that would be!

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I opted to ride straight to Santa Ana where I have a friend. At a wifi stop to check directions I get highjacked by some lebanese-costaricans. Few beers and few traditional dishes later I am off.

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With Graciela and Rolando we visit Wind Mill national park.

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They also have the world’s worst guard dogs! The 3rd shepherd was too lazy to play.

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my two wonderful hosts at Santa Ana

my two wonderful hosts at Santa Ana

Contrary to what I expected, the ride through southern San Jose was nice and quiet. Plazas, fast food chains and even condos stretched for miles as I negotiated stop signt and traffic lights. Weeks and months without any of the above left me impatient waiting for the green light, I often didn’t.

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What? they don't have a sign for that???

What? they don’t have a sign for that???

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After Cartago I was finally out of the city, I pushed my bike along people coming back from work, herding cows and finally the road turned into a rough singletrack. It was there I found the perfect spot to camp. A kilometer hike to the nearest house to refill on water and it was all good.

So easy for me to fit with the locals here, pushing their bikes!

So easy for me to fit with the locals here, pushing their bikes!

fences, cloudscapes and cow dung!

fences, cloudscapes and cow dung!

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It was finally cold! I snuck out to take few shots of the sunrise and the valley before it filled with clouds. By the time I got up it was all fogged up again.

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It was here that I finally get on the ruta de los conquistadores, 2/3rds of the way in and going backwards. That’s how I roll!

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Although roll is a strong word

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The Turrialba volcano, supposedly active was closed for all travel. Two rangers guarded the two possible entrances. I sat around for 30 minutes wondering if I should go for it anyway, there is a 4×4 road all the way to the top, from what I gathered the eruptions have been ash only, although most vegetation is dead – possibly sulphur. It was also the least visted national park in Costa Rica, and possibly one of the few ones that does not have an entrance fee.

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I decided to skip it and look for some camping down the road. Thats when I met this enormous beer-fed horse. A family invited me for a picknick (is that how you spell picknick???) and as time rolled by I realized I wont be biking much more today. Few locals suggested I sleep at one of the abandoned houses and so I did. As of 8pm, the guard booth light was still on, I set an alarm for 3. It was on.

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Dog did not approve of my plans to go up the closed volcano.

Dog did not approve of my plans to go up the closed volcano.

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Nobody lived at the houses here. I woke up twice from the sulphur smell coming down from the crater. No guard on duty but navigating around the 12 meter fence mid-way up was a real hassle. Mostly walking, I made it up past the sunrise and toward the red volcano.

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The smoke made me nervous but the wind was blowing the other way. I stuck around for breakfast but hiking the rim looked too sketchy. The descend was steep and hardly much fun. En route I met the ranger who was not at all impressed. Nobody has yelled at me like that since that other ranger in Denali National Park, Alaska. The guy at the guard booth was not happy either but they let me go. I still cant tell if they were actually really angry – somehow somebody yelling in spanish along with the sign language made things way less serious.

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By noon I was over the saddle and looking at Volcan Irazu’s crater. 2 kilometer lineup to the gate. I doubt some of these people will make it before the park closes.

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made a new friend on the way! All went smooth until he tried to kiss me...I just want to be friends

made a new friend on the way! All went smooth until he tried to kiss me…I just want to be friends

It was a 30+ km downhill back to town.

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along the road for kilometers lay small bags filled with dirt and a candle, some holy celebration is going on.

along the road for kilometers lay small bags filled with dirt and a candle, some holy celebration is going on.

Ciudad Colon’s sculptures, I have never been outswagged this much. My entire life…

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I rejoined the ruta de los conquistadores and negotiated my way down and up steep hills.

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After halfway up the mountain, as the clouds gathered, I decided to find a campsite. Top of a hill in the middle of a coffee plantation right on the Ruta and waiting for the sunset. Two locals drove right up and we got talking. Lau, an artist and Emilio, a student asked me how I knew about this spot. I said I was just biking and went up to look. After, I spend some time listening for new sounds. Yuiuiuiu Yuiuiuiu, Yuiuiuiu, a heated argument between two birds, an owl punctually ringing in the background and all to the constant humming of the crickets. A gust of wind shakes my tent and a motorcycle goes off down in the valley. All that is left now is the cricket hymn. What noise do the stars make?

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The next morning is quiet, I snake my way up higher amongst evergreens and again steep downhills.

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After one such downhill I arrive at a tiny store. Suddenly everybody gathers round for questions, assessment of my gear and weighing of my bike. A man gives me a melon, the shop owner cuts it. Another buys me juice but the store doesnt take his money, haha. A dude comes by with a drill and wants to drill my bike to make it lighter. What a lovely gang here in most narrow and steepest of valleys.

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For the rest of the day I push my bike up steep paved and unpaved roads. At worst I am taking one step at a time, trying not to slide back and at best keeping up with an old man carrying 1/3rd of a sack of potatoes, he tells me its not potatoes but corn for his chicken.

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I finally roll onto the tarmac of a highway, the one I will take out of Costa Rica.

Podaj dalej!
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