Where the streets have no name

I think that when world famous rock band U2 wrote “Where the Streets Have No Name” they were in Costa Rica. I used Google Earth today to find my way to Irazu Volcano. The directions seemed easy enough; left out of the driveway, right, another left, left on “Calle 4” to highway 209, and so on; there were only 4 major roads I had to take. Once out of the driveway I noticed for the first time since I have been in Costa Rica that none of the streets had signs. How was I going to find what I was looking for when the streets have no names? I knew I had gone too far when I arrived at Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart has been a major landmark for me while I am staying in San Jose. I turned around, back the way I came and down the first street that looked like it would lead somewhere. It must have been a lucky guess because I was soon at the roundabout that I recognized from Google Earth. I continued along until I came to a “Y” in the road that was not on Google, again no signs. Now what? Do I do the unmanly thing and ask for directions? I went right, not sure why, just felt like the direction I should go. I started to think I had gone the wrong way and started to look for someone to ask directions from, and then I saw a sign “Irazu Volcano 34km”. I was on the right path.

Riding in Costa Rica is like a treasure hunt. It is not until you think you are on the wrong road and are about to ask for directions that a sign will appear, never any sooner.

I finally made it to Irazu only to have it totally clouded in, I couldn’t see a thing. Fortunately a White Faced Coati provided ample entertainment trying to get food from the tourists, making my $10 admission worth the visit.  Wanting to see a Volcano in Costa Rica I made my way to Turrialha Volcano, only a short distance away. A sign for Turrialha said “23km” and pointed down the only other road in the area, 5km later; straight down the road I was supposed to go another sign appeared saying “34km”. What the ……? How can I travel 5km in a straight line and be 11km in the wrong direction? I continued along I came to another “Y” in the road and again no sign. This time I went left.

Left turned out to be a great road, twisty, narrow and very few other vehicles. The road started to climb, offered some fun hairpin turns, until the pavement just ended and only potholes, dense forest and hard mud was ahead of me, and of course no signs of any kind. I continued to follow the dirt road up the mountain until the clouds became so thick I could not see in front of me. It was obvious I was not going to see a volcano today and was most likely on the wrong road. I had not seen another person since the “Y” and decided to go back the way I came. No sooner had the bike been turned around that the rain started. The hard mud turned soft and there were a few times that I though the bike was going down, but I made it out keeping the bike upright.

Back at the “Y” in the road, with the rain pouring down, bike covered in mud, I remembered the very delicious leftover chicken and rice waiting for me back in San Jose. I was hungry; the volcano will still be there tomorrow.

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2 Responses to Where the streets have no name

  1. Jane Rose says:

    You came to the fork in the road and you took it! hahahahaha

    yep, the volcano will wait for you. Great pix.

  2. David says:

    Both mountains have some pretty interesting rides. Turrialba has been erupting constantly for a couple of years after a long period of being dormant. All the terrain on one side of the mountain is dead (like zed). Irazu is one of my favorites, last erupted in 1994. I generally ride up in the morning, take a couple of small fold up lawn chairs, a few beers, my camera and take a position in the middle of the principle crater and watch the world pass by. The best time to visit is early morning. The environment changes minute by minute. It will be super cloudy one minute and crystal clear the next – a very strange world at 11,260 feet. In fact this is where I proposed to my wife – in the middle of the main crater. After Irazu I generally ride down to Dominical going through Cartago and on through the Cerro de la Muerte (Mountain of Death). Another high altitude area (greater than 11,000 fee) where the fog can be so heavy you can’t see your own hand in front of you and the road surprisingly narrows to one lane in a couple of areas due to the rainy season avalanches causing the road to fall into the abyss. Riding on through the town of Perez Zeledon and to Dominical is relatively easy as one of the best roads in Costa Rica awaits running parallel to the Pacific Ocean and can take you to Panama or back to San Jose for a pretty nice riding day.

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