After our obligatory photo shoot...
...and picking up our dropped jaws we decide we'd better move on. It's getting late.
We weave our way up the rest of the mountain and refer to the photo of the map taken earlier in the day to make what we hope is our last turn to get us out to the main road - aka Cerro de la Muerte
, or Mountain of Death
At the next intersection is a soda...
We head in to see if there is gas anywhere near by. I check the view out the back while Dave speaks with the woman behind the counter...
I guess if 39 kilometers is near by the answer is 'si'. It's down in San Isidro.
Dave's already running on fumes which means I can't be too far behind him. It's about 5:45 so it's going to be dark in 15 minutes. To get to San Isidro we have to travel the Cerro de la Muerte - one of the 10 most deadly roads in he world.
We consider our choices. A) Back down the way we came - much of which was a goat path - only now it will be dark or 2) take our chances out on the 'Pass of Death'.
We rationalize that it's paved and there will definitely be gas down in San Isidro with the operative word be 'down'. Worse case we will coast into town and figger it out from there.
Dave in the lead, we hit the road. There's still a little light. If we can make some time we may be able to at least get some of this road out of the way before dark.
Considering how hard it was to find the Pelicano yesterday during the daylight we've also had the discussion that we may have to find another place to stay tonight. This floats around in the background as we wind along trying to enjoy the twisties. There isn't a straight stretch to be had.
Not too far into our descent my bike just isn't feeling right.
Standing up on the pegs I look over the fender to see I have a front flat.
Dave continues down the mountain as I pull off the side of the road to check out the situation.
"Yep. It's flat."
Eventually, Dave sees I'm no longer there and comes back...
Thankfully, we have some tools with us. Including a pump. We dig it out thinking we'll see how big of a leak we have. Maybe we can limp back and deal with it at the hotel. For all we know this thing has been slowly leaking all day and is just now becoming apparent on the faster paced twisties.
Pump on the schrader valve, we begin...
Nothing seems to be happening.
Dick with it.
Same thing. Lots of pumping. No inflating.
Watching the trucks careening towards us on the outside of the curve gives us pause. We decide it may be wize to get set up across the road on the inside of the curve before we continue.
Feeling slightly safer, we finally figger out if one of us clamps the pump onto the valve stem as tight as we can while the other pumps we can get the tire to inflate.
Warning: this may appear a bit disturbing.
Two monkeys and a football.
"Glad I tried this thing before leaving home."
Told you Dave is the smaht one.
Just for fun, let's review. It's darn near dark, we're on the Pass of Death, we have a flat tire. Oh, and let's not forget we're almost out of gas.
Oh, yeah. Remember the discussion about might needing to find another room if we can't find our way back? By now I've also learned that Dave gave the room key to the dood at the desk before leaving. "What's the problem you say?" After dinner they all leave.
Yer on yer own. Even if we do manage to find our way back we may not be able to get into our room.
Tire aired up, we decide to give it a go and see how far we can get before darkness completely takes over. To save the suspense, not far. BTW, it's actually much darker than the pics represent.
Maybe ten minutes down the road I pull over again. There's another little soda. We decide to ask if they may have an air pump.
This is one of the fun things about traveling abroad with a language barrier. This simple question actualy takes some time to unfold.
Long story longer, they don't have one. We proceed to attack the football again. By now it's dark
. Mid-way through the monkey/football procedure our friend from the soda comes out and tells us just down the road there's a place that may have a pump or compressor. At least that what we think it all means. Again, this takes much
longer than it does to read it.
Aired up, we go find out.
Sure enough, on the left we see a garage with a handful of guys hanging around out front shooting the breeze. We pull in. More grunts and gestures (on our part)
and buddy comes over with an air tank. By now we've concluded that a more permanant fix is going to be needed if we expect to ever get anywhere tonight.
We somehow convey this to the guy with the tank who is also presumably the owner. He manages to tell us he doesn't fix tires. One of the guys hanging around out front jumps in and says he can. More importantly, he will. We just need to follow him down the road to his place.
He jumps in his car, and with a little air left in the tire, we follow on the bikes.
A little ways down the road he pulls into a driveway. There's a small house with a tiny garage area behind an iron gate. He gets out, swings it open and waves us in.
To the left is a small 'closet'. Swinging the door open reveals a collection of tools hanging on the door and a compressor he kicks on.
While he collects his tools Dave and scan the room, find a log, get the lame bike propped up on it and proceed to remove the front wheel. It all seems to happen as if it has been well rehearsed by the three of us.
Tire off, we go through the process. Actually, at this point our new friend goes through the process of getting the tube out...
...then repairing the tube...
While he repaired the tube we checked the inside of the tire to find the culpret - a thorn.
Tube repaired, tire back together and on the bike we're ready to roll.
The Spanish equivalent of "How much?"
It's like a buck. Dave thinks to tip him. Everybody is happy.
Somewhere along the way I switch to reserve in spite of all my coasting. Soon enough we see the lights of the city.
On the edge of the city is a gas station. We roll in and fuel up.
Next is food and directions. So much for that early return, a nice dinner and a few relaxing Bavarias. It's about 8-8:30. The kitchen back at the Pelicano is now closed even if we were there. Gas station empanadas will have to do.
Dave gets the directions and we head out looking for our next navigation point - a sign.
Quite a ways down the road I pull over. Not sure why I was in front.
"I haven't seen the sign yet have you? It's been 10-15 kilometers..."
"I wouldn't worry yet. Let's keep going for a while and see what happens."
Off we go.
Kilometers roll by.
Pull over again.
"Ok. Now we can worry..."
Maps come out.
"Let's head back and see if we see it from the other direction..."
Off we go.
Heading back towards the station for several kilometers I eventually see a sign with a name I seem to recall from the earlier look at the map and take the right. It takes us off the main road into complete darkness where the Tornadoe's headlamp is pushed to the limit. If the map and the road match this should take us over to where the Pelicano is.
At an intersection Dave beats around the bush a bit. I'm sensing he's not a fan of this plan. Wandering around Costa Rica in the dark isn't a great idea. We decide we'll get back on the main road, head back to the gas station - a known quantity - and start over with new directions.
It's been 10 days on the road. The thrill of today's 'adventure' is starting wear off. We're both tired and frustrated. If anything is going to go wrong between us on this trip now is a prime time.
We get closer to the lights of the city and muddle our way back to the station.
Under the lights of the gas station canopy Dave gets new directions while I check out the van...
We roll back out into the darkness. Our new directions include landmarks rather than signs that don't exist.
Plodding along, we find the first left turn we had been looking for. This eventually leads us through an intersection we had come through yesterday from the other direction. We're on the right track.
We keep heading towrds the next turn that should be the dirt road heading up to the Pelicano. Finding it, we head up the hill. The last 8 kilometers is nearly as long as it was yesterday in the pouring rain. As we slowly motor along I try not to get concerned about whether or not we'll be able to get into our room. No need wasting energy on that problem until it happens - if
it happens. We'll figger it out if we can't.
We spot the entrance to the driveway and make our way up. Pulling into our parking spot and unloading the bikes, desk dood appears from out of no where.
"Boy, are we glad to see you!"
"I had your room key. Wanted to make sure you can get in."
"...*Reader's Digest version of above*...What's the chances of you selling us a few of those Bavarias out of the cooler before you head back home?"
He hooks us up. We head to the room, ditch our stuff and head out onto the porch with our beers reveling in the day's events while staring into the clear Costa Rican sky.