Thursday, 10 March 2016


Ok, after a few false endings, this is finally it. Betty is home.

We had a bit of kerfuffle and delay flying from Costa Rica to the U.S. Some arsey tosser passenger had a ding dong with the hostie over a phone call he shouldn't have been making, the argument progressed and he then demanded to get off the plane, resulting in a delay of over 2 hours.  

We finally got into Fort Lauderdale but it was after 9 by the time we got to our Warmshowers host's house. Cor blimey they were nice. They picked us and our bikes up from the airport, pasta and wine awaited us on arrival at their lovely house, and all they wanted in return was to listen to our stories and do a bit of vicarious travelling from the comfort of their living room. Kate even got to play with Andromeda, their friendly pet Python.

Unfortunately the lovely Dave & Leo had to leave early for work so we were up with the larks, putting our bikes back together on their porch

We then had a day to kill in Miami so cruised about a bit, taking in the many inlets and of course the beach

We soaked up the last of the warmth

Then, being the creatures of habit that we are we managed to find the same restaurant we'd eaten at exactly 3 months ago 

and then meandered our way back through the less salubrious parts of town, following the same route we'd taken to the airport exactly 3 months ago. We actually clocked up 60km all up, not bad for a day off.

We bagged the bikes and had a bit of argy bargy with check in who said we needed to box them. We politely and firmly held our ground and soon everything was sorted, we even got a smile out of them. 

All the other U.S. officials here were right old grumpy, officious twats. Maybe everyone's  getting worried they're gonna get Trumped.....

The plane was pretty empty so we spread out on 3 seats each, making the flight reasonably bearable. 

The bikes turned up in their bags unscathed and after a quick ride into town on the train we rode the final few miles from Paddington to Greenwich where we parked our trusty steeds, rather unceremoniously in our garage before driving down to Folkestone to stay with my sister.
Riding through London felt great. We'd done it!  We'd successfully completed our 3 month ride through supposedly some of the most dangerous countries in the world without so much as a hitch.
The other thing that struck me was considering how busy London is, it was so quiet. No crazy blaring music, no super loud trucks or motorbikes and no pick up trucks with huge speakers on telling us where to buy cheap chickens or colonoscopies.  It was also pretty much the only riding we'd done in 3 months that Betty didn't make an appearance, if you know what I mean?!

Being back feels weird. Did we actually go away? Maybe we'll wake up tomorrow and find that it was all a dream...

Thanks for bothering to read the blog, I hope you enjoyed it, I certainly did. So from Kate, Betty and me it's a big adios amigos. Until the next time!


Monday, 7 March 2016

All boxed off

We heard a quote the other day from Sarah Millican, well her dad actually.
"There's only one thing you can't do in this world and that is to stick your bum out of your bedroom window then run downstairs and throw stones at it". I'm not sure that Mr Millican is entirely correct but I like his attitude.

We've done so much on this trip, seen so much but above all made so many decisions and solved so many problems. The challenges (mental and physical) that we've dealt with have certainly gone a long way to prove that with a bit of effort and a bit of 'making do' most things are indeed possible. 

Yesterday was our last night in a hostel/guesthouse. We had a nice one last night but had to move out as it was already booked for tonight. For the next 2 nights in San Jose and our transit night in Miami we are venturing into yet another unknown. 

Through the excellent cycling network there is a 'club' called Warm Showers. It's pretty much the same as Couchsurfing but for touring cyclists only.

We'll meet Rolando, our Costa Rican host tomorrow afternoon but he's already been helping us. He's not only gone to the trouble of recommending a few things to do in town but he's also gone to the effort to go to his local bike shop and squeeze 2 big cardboard bike boxes (that the airline insist we use) into his car ready for us to pack the bikes into. What a guy!

Our Miami hosts, Dave & Leo  have insisted that they'll pick us (and the 2 big boxes) up from the airport in their pick up truck. They've also got a hot tub at home and state that clothing is optional. We may never leave!

Wandering San Jose for a day has been fun, there's not a lot to see here but it kept us entertained.

I don't think Movistar would do too well in the UK with this ad

And I'm not quite sure this quite meets the trades description act

We'll miss all the little cafes we've been to. This one wasn't the best. With veggies like this I can understand why everyone else's plate was a meat fest

Still, whilst we are we did have a wandering sales girl try to sell us some iffy looking chocolate bars and then a lady in a white coat carrying a stethoscope asked us if we wanted our blood pressure taken. You couldn't make it up!

Whilst enjoying a little Sunday morning ride in Central Park we met this little lot. The Evil Angels they were called and very friendly they were too.

The ride out of San Jose to Rolando's house in Santa Ana was a nice way to end. There were a couple of cheeky uphill  bits to remind us we're not Lance Armstrong and then a great, swooping downhill into the nice little town where he lives. We came past this little event and stopped off for a gander. That kind of riding is much harder with panniers on. Must be cos we can't do it!

We had a quick picnic lunch under a tree in the church grounds. It felt nice and peaceful and quite European. It also used up the last of our food bits we'd been carrying for a while.

So, Rolando our Warm Showers host turned out to be just the kind of guy we hoped for. Interesting, generous and natural. Once at his place we chatted for a while and then he drove us up to a 1600m high mountain ridge which was half in cloud. There are a load of wind turbines up there. Did you know that Costa Rica is right up there with the best of the 'greenest' countries in the world. Not bad for a banana republic as Rolando put it.

Today we packed up the bikes into the boxes. Rolando had gone to work but invited us to use the little hacienda next door to his house

I love being in countries like this. As we were packing I got my electric shaver out for a little trim. I was using the outside of Rolando's living room window as a makeshift mirror. One of the gardener/maintenance blokes came over and said something to me that I didn't understand. I just smiled and carried on. A minute later he was back, big smile on his face and carrying a bathroom mirror for me! 

So tomorrow we fly to Miami for a  quick overnight stopover then into London for noon on Thursday. Put the kettle on will ya, I think we're gonna need a nice cup of tea....

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Last knockings

Picture the scene..... Here's a picture to help

What better place to sit than here, the warm gentle breeze blowing, the waves crashing on the beach and Podcasts of Desert Island Discs. "Da di da di daaa, da di da di daaa, da di da di dum dum dididiliiii..... Still we were a little disappointed to discover we'd downloaded the wrong Steve Mc Queen. I was expecting a cool American icon to tell us all about 'the great escape' motorbikes and girls, instead we got some slightly pompous black artist from London.....

We'll be home in a week. Not really sure how we feel about that. It looks as if spring may have sprung just in time for my nieces wedding? We're looking forward to that.

Well we're not getting Mindfull overnight that's for sure. We tried to listen to a Ted Talk type thing last night but the wifi couldn't handle it so that'll have to wait.

I have managed to create my own new kind of yoga though. It's for people who are either too busy to do a full yoga session (clearly not me) and/or people who are struggling to get into it and need an easy introduction (ah, that sounds more like me). It's kind of bastardised yoga which I'm  calling Boga. In fact it's my new business idea. 

We've met 2 young people on this trip who have either said that they are or want to be entrepreneurs. I think that sounds like a cool job title so I'm going to be one as well! 

Boga is an exercise programme specifically designed to be completed in less than 10 minutes and can, if needs be be split up over the day. Say for example the 3 times you sit for the kettle to boil each day? It's wasted time. Slip in some Boga and you'll enjoy your hot drink that much more, safe in the knowledge that your body has started the long and winding path to wellness.

Being mindful (see I am already becoming mindful) that we are all busy people I've cunningly combined the spiritual and fiscal aspects of the business. It works like this. My followers (sounds like I'm a guru/godly figure already but I mean Social Media followers) all agree that when they feel positive energy & benefits from doing Boga that they will send me £1 every time they do it. It's an honesty system and therefore connected to your spiritual side. I mean, could anyone really live with themselves knowing that they've benefited from my clinically proven Boga and not send the cash? We all know that the karma gods watch over us all the time.

So, that's me sorted. Watch out for my FB page coming soon.

What else? We met Herman 

And it's amazing what you can pick up at the roadside these days

We also saw an ant M25

Yep, seriously scraping the barrel here. Better go eh?

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Can a blog have an autumn?

"Shall we hang around another day?" Asked kate as we walked down the beach. "Oh go on then, twist my arm"

We took a little pique nique and headed back to the Nasho - another great Aussieism for National Park. More monkeys, colourful birds & butterflies and an Armadillo

It's funny getting back to the guesthouse and comparing notes with the other guests on what we all spotted. I know it's not a competition but those bloody Germans saw a big Iguana.....

Bit more art for you taken on my iPhone and then 'zopped up' with my new freebie snapseed app. 

You wouldn't believe such talent could come from a man who looks like this would you? Not that you're the judgemental type...

Today we've done pretty much our last bit of riding. We'll naff about on the bikes around here in Peurto de Viejo de Talamanca and do a little bit more riding in San Jose but this feels like the end of the road. We feel a bit proud but we know others who would have tried much harder. Still, we're not sad, getting to see this little beauty along the way today certainly told the Germans where to go!

People have said that I sounded down in the last post, one said he found it harrowing... Not at all, I'm actually feeling quite buoyant. It's just that we've had enough of this for now and fancy stopping somewhere a bit more comfortable and normal for a bit. We've still got loads of enthusiasm and energy for other trips, just not right now. Ask me again in a month and I may well have a very different answer...

So has this trip been a life changing experience? No, well not yet anyway. I do feel that my eyes have been opened a bit to this Mindfullness lark and maybe yoga stuff... I'd like to think that I could work it into my life on a more regular basis but I'm not sure it'll stick. That's up to me I guess...

Without getting mournful, I heard yesterday that a guy I knew through work has finally lost his battle with cancer. We're all only here for a short time and again, how we choose to spend that time is up to us... 

The people we've met on all these trips have proven to me time and time again that everything is possible, you've just got to make it (or as close as you can get) happen.

Not directly connected with the above I can categorically say that I'm so happy that I've never smoked. We've heard so many people in these guesthouses hacking up disgusting phlegm and then stumbling out of their room to have a fag. Get real smokers, sort yourself out...

I want to learn to be less judgemental (except against smokers, there really is nothing good about it at all). 

We have also learnt that despite preconceived ideas (is that like being judgemental?) the driving in these parts has been pretty damn good and 99% have been polite and courteous. Guess this was the 1%

That's about it I think. Well, not quite actually.... I don't think this'll be the last post for this trip but you never know. Will I find anything worth talking about? Have I so far? I'd love to know if any of my wittering has inspired or put off anyone from doing a similar trip? I'd love to know even more if I've provoked any thoughts in people's minds (yeah, I know, I'm a wally).

I saw a quote the other day. I can't remember who it's by and I might not have remembered it completely correctly but here goes.

"Don't spend too much time thinking about the meaning of life. Spend more time thinking of how to make your life meaningful".

In one of my early posts I said that we wanted to find something meaningful to get involved with on this trip. Well, we failed. Didn't even come close. That is a bit of a disappointment. No doldrums though, we'll just keep thinking of ways to achieve it, be it here or be it back in Blighty.

So for now it's Adios (it's ok, you know I'll be back in a day or 2...) until then, we'll be here soaking it up...

Friday, 26 February 2016

Nearly done

Despite the doom & gloom weather forecast of heavy showers (how strange for a UK weather app to focus on the negative!) the sky remained blue, the sun shone, the humidity rose and we sweated like pigs even on a nice flat road and a tailwind to help us along.

We stopped off along the way to admire the Caribbean Sea and do a bit of impromptu mid ride yoga. 

There's kate busting her moves. She also tried busting that coconut on the ground near her in an attempt to get the fresh water out of it. She got the water.  It wasn't fresh. Oh well, back to the downward dog.....

By lunch time we were in the little town of Cahuita. We stopped off for more tuna & tomato wraps before hitting town and doing the rather tiresome accommodation hunt routine.

The town is a pretty low key place that seems to exist solely on tourism. It's chilled out, with a few restaurants to choose from and a national park next door. We'll probably hang here for a few days. We've been on the go for 9 days, moving from place to place. That probably doesn't sound too bad to some but I can assure you it gets tiring.

We'll be home in less than 2 weeks. Well, I say home but we haven't actually got one to go to as its rented out. That was all part of our plan so that's ok. When I say plan that may lead you to think we've got a plan. We haven't.  We have a back up plan. Can you have a back up plan when you haven't actually got a plan, doesn't it get upgraded to 'the plan'?

It rained the next morning, those miserable negative forecasters got it right for a change. We were planning (more planning, we're supposed to be relaxing...) to go for a walk in the national park but what with the drizzle, Facebook appealed more.

We saw a gap in the weather so headed out

We saw a few monkeys (zoom in for an in flight experience)

Some very shy blue crabs (not available for photos) and a spider

And a squirrel, don't forget the squirrel.....

Then, all natured out, we got all arty

Then (how much more of this action can you take?) there were some shrieks in the distance. An elderly American lady shouted that she'd spotted a rare and Lesser Spotted White Arse, well 2 actually and I'd say they were quite spotted what with all the sweaty time they'd spent on a saddle over the last few weeks. Yes, overcome with the romance & adventure of our Indiana Jonesesque morning we'd decided to go for a quick skinny dip in the warm and welcoming waters of the Caribbean Sea. Very nice it was too. It was only afterwards that we saw some dirty urchin hiding in the bushes watching us....

Sorry but it's afternoon now and it's raining again. Nowt else to do but one finger typing....

We're quite looking forward to coming home. I'm actually a bit excited. It's not that this lark isn't fun but we've had enough of it for now. In many ways I'd like to continue the odyssey but it's the reality of it that drags. The shitty beds, groggy bathrooms, uncomfy chairs, limiting menus, sticky tablecloths....  The place we're staying at now has a kitchen, great we can cook some nice dinners. Zoom into the photo

Look at the grime everywhere (this is quite a nice one, we chose this place cos the kitchen was good). The cooker only has one burner, the other one has rusted away and fallen out. The cups and plates are all chipped. I was trying to cut up an onion and couldn't work out which way up the 'sharp' knife should be, it was so blunt and the handle has long gone...
Some people will call me a whinger, some will think I'm one but not say it, others will say it just to wind me up regardless of whether they think I am but that's mostly an annoying bloke thing to do but that's another story..

It's weird, at home I'd never 'allow myself' to just sit about typing b@llocks, all afternoon. I'd always have to be doing something productive. On trips like this there's freedom and time a plenty to just sit about and that's great. What is rare on a trip like this (for me anyway) is for something or somewhere to 'hit the spot' and be exactly how I like it. Something or someone always seems to take the edge off it. Someone smoking, shit loud music, arse busting chairs, dirt, biting insects.... Oh blimey, I'm doing it again!

You see, I'm excited about coming home because of all the fun things to do there. I'm removed from the reality of doing them and only seeing the good bits. A weekend away camping in the Lake District sounds great. I can imagine gorgeous spring weather, a welcoming English pub, history and a sense of belonging there (no, not in the pub!). I'm glossing over the reality of the experience as a whole and only seeing the 'brochure bits'. The traffic jams on the M1, lunch at the motorway services, the not so gorgeous spring weather.... But for now, until good old England breaks me again, sending me running (or pedalling) for some far flung land, I'm revved up and ready to give it a go (well, except for the motorway services that don't have an M&S that is....)

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Go green, go Costa Rica

We spent the afternoon relaxing at the river in La Fortuna

We're trying as hard as we can to eat healthily but weren't convinced the chef at this place was really on board

We left the next day with a loose plan to ride/bus it to the seaside for a nice holiday before we come home.

The countryside here is so green and lush. It's the only country out of all those in SE Asia and C America that has looked like we imagined it to. Huge trees with great big exposed roots, banana plants, palms, giant ferns, loads of things with massive leaves... If when I die I come back as a plant, I'd be happy to live here. Will someone please sort that out for me?! Hot sunshine, loads of rain, fertile soil, ooh yes, that would be the life....

We rode past loads of fruit farms and were overtaken (most times a bit to closely for comfort) by massive trucks full up with pineapples or oranges. I've no idea how the ones at the bottom aren't turned to juice within minutes. It was funny to think that  any of those fruits could end up in your local supermarket within a day or 2 of us riding past them. If you see one with a Costa Rica sticker on it, please say hello from us. Check this place out

Possibly a bit of a grand claim but certainly a move in the right direction. They seem pretty switched on here to looking after their country and their environment. There is way less litter around. We haven't seen any road gangs picking it up so it must be a case that people aren't dropping it. Has this been achieved through education? If yes then bloody good on the government I say.

It's not all modern and normal though. A lot of the people in the town of Aguas Zarcus certainly weren't normal. 

After a scrummo lunch we sat waiting at the bus stop for a couple of hours and seemed to attract every drunk, looney and weirdo the town had to offer. Some of them were quite amusing and even talented (especially the old dude who did brilliant dog & cat impressions) but I have to say we could have done without it really.

I'm clearly running out of things to write and photograph. Here are 3 old land rovers we spotted during the day and a cool motorised bicycle at night

After a night in some random town we're now sitting at a bus station trying to get to Puerto Limon. The road East is busy, hot and horrible. It looks a bit dangerous with lots of trucks and no shoulder. But, to be honest, we really can't be bothered to ride today. One bus came but it was full, I think we might be here a while... What to do?

I don't think this is our favourite country of the trip but it's defo the one that gives the most bang for your buck. It's certainly not the cheapest or friendliest but it is the easiest, nicest (as in clean & sensible) and most normal of all the CA countries we've seen. If you ever fancy coming to this neck of the woods and you've never done this type of thing before it would definitely be the best bet for a first timer in a proper foreign land. Buy a map, hire a car and go!

It's funny, as we get back into 'normality' it begins to feel like home. It's only when you pop over to a street stall to buy a juicy mango for 20p that we remember we're not at Basingstoke waiting for the National Express to Weymouth

Eventually a bus came that we could get on. No seats were available though so we sat on the floor of the wheelchair area amongst the luggage. Pure class.

 As many of us do I'm sure whilst on a long, uncomfortable bus journey, I sat there staring into space imagining myself on a Caribbean beach, well it wasn't that hard, we were only an hour or 2 away!

Oh and if you enjoyed my deep n meaningful posts you might also enjoy this from my sister.

We're available (as a double act on a BOGOF deal) for ladies tea parties, stag do's, posh dinners, weddings, funerals etc.  Can't say fairer than that eh? 

Ooh, gotta go, my phones ringing, must be our first booking. "Hello, yes we can do a talk on 'Living in the now', who's calling? The History Society, hmm....."