With three weeks off work over Christmas and New Years, we were quick to make plans – quick plans! Over the course of three weeks we celebrated Christmas with my family, Norwegian Style. We then proceeded to hop over the pond to Canada in time for some Canadian Christmas cheers and celebrations before venturing on to some fun in the sun and reunion with friends in El Salvador.
Where: Stavanger to Egersund, Rogaland
Distance: 93.0 km
Time on bike: 4 hr 43 min
Total distance: 1906 km
In October-November last year, we spent about a month at Hotel Mopelia in El Tunco. We got to know people and where to be. We got a routine – sort of – and generally just had a great time. After touring down to Panama, we are back in El Tunco and have quickly acquired the same routine again.
The border crossing from Costa Rica was fairly straight-forward, we are getting pretty good at the game! Our first stop in Nicaragua on our drive North, was stunning Popoyo on the Pacific Coast. The drive along lake Nicaragua to Rivas was pretty, and as we got closer to Popoyo, the road became smaller – and smaller.
On the weekends, the Costa Ricans really come out and enjoy everything there is to enjoy about a beautiful beach. They roll in, like a boss, onto the beach in their swanky 4×4 vehicles. Then, they turn up the tunes to immediately set the mood and claim their immediate area. A whole family plus some extended relatives exit the vehicle, before emptying the trunk of all the essential beach gear. This is including, but not limited to: Coolers filled to the rim with beers, sodas, ice cubes, rum and mix. Inflatable mattresses, rings, whales. Bikinis, sarongs, speedos. Chairs, hammocks, pillows. Full meals: meat, chicken, rice, beans, pasta salads, fried plantains, chips, salsa, tortillas. The list goes on. On our drive from Manuel Antonio to San Jose, we stopped at Esterillo Beach and soaked it up. Just another beautiful day!
As we continued our drive to San Jose, it was noticeable that many drivers were not focused like they should be. Traffic towards the capital was plentiful and we were in a horde of weekend beach-goers returning to the big city. After a day (or weekend) of drinking and enjoying themselves (no drink and driving for us!), driving seemed challenging to many. Perhaps that is why the entire main divided highway – both directions – were dedicated to the beach-goers returning to San Jose that Sunday evening? …we were not sure what was happening and decided to stay on the right side of the road – you know, just in case!
We left Dominical around 11am, after a run and breakfast. The drive to Manuel Antonio, where we are now, was not far. Only about 42 km lies between the the coastal towns. Manuel Antonio is incredibly hilly. It is one of those hills where you encouragingly pat the dash of your vehicle to show you care (and really hope to make it to the top).
After pulling into our hostel for the next couple of nights, I was happy Honeyvan’s work was done. When we headed to the beach, we decided to give Honey a break and hop on the local bus. Due to our surfboards, two buses refused us. We realized we would have to get a cab. When this little taxi showed up, we did not consider it fit for the task. Five people and two boards later, we were on our way!
Whenever Ellie is around, I tend to take (and especially be in) a whole lot more photos than when she is not around. Ellie is the master of jumping photos, silly faces and whetever photos I do not think to take. She used to travel with a disposable camera. Every single shot mattered and we put all our efforts into every attempt. Maybe that’s why we still manage to get some pretty kick-ass shots, even though Ellie has up-graded to the digital world. Add Todd’s waterproof camera to the mix and all our activities can be covered.
Stoked to discover more of Panama than the city and the canal, we left Monday morning after a run and a hearty breakfast. We considered driving up to Colon on the Caribbean coast, but decided not to, as it is not known to be pretty, nor safe. Instead, we had our eyes set on Playa Venao on the Azuero peninsula. It is a funny feeling officially being on our way back to Canada, but who says it has to be done fast?
On the way to the Azuero peninsula, we saw this sign and the joke of the day came out: “I guess it means the food goes down well!”
As we pulled into Playa Venao, we all agreed we had found our spot! It is small and completely chilled out, while still having a few amenities such as a tiny-tiny supermarket, a couple restaurants and internet. The beach is beautiful, it is lush, sunny and hot. Who knows how long we will stay?
A short drive from David, Panama’s second largest city, we found Playa las Lajas. Unlike Costa Rica, the road leading there was a dream to drive on! The scenery was beautiful, the cattle along the road was well fed and due to rain it was green and lush. The town of Playa las Lajas is actually situated 8 km away from the beach. In an attempt to really pump up the beach feel on your way to the ocean, they have invested in some highly decorative bus stops. Best bus stop I have ever seen!
As we arrived at the beach area, we realize there really is not much there. Appearently crowds come in on the weekends, but we did not see a single person, it being mid-week. We made a left turn at the T-intersection by the beach and eventually came to a property with some colorful cabins on it. Some people were sitting under a palapa roof, not doing much. The cabins must have been wonderful, a long time ago. They could have needed some attention five years ago, are are still longing for the upkeep they did not receive. Imagine how incredibly cute the little cabins could have been if they did not pose a danger to stay in! We payed $5 to park Honey on their property and camped there overnight. The weather was somewhat gloomy and some rain would come and go. We played frisbee on the beach, went for a swim and a surf, followed by a fish dinner.
We had a good time, but somehow we both ached to move on and look for something else. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the humidity and heat, maybe it was the general lack of energy, maybe it was us just not quite figuring the place out. Either way, we decided on a massive change in plans and changed coasts! More on that in the next post!