Costa Rica, San Jose : 1st July 2003

A new day, a new dawn…

Tu Fein had the last word and I am happy to report that the three of us arrived well, alas a little exhausted,in San Jose, Costa Rica at 4am in the morning from Caracas, Venezuela.. And my, oh my, …..what a wonderful experience all this flying with DHL was!! We were ever so happy at the generosity of DHL Ireland and they really smoothed things out for us.


We were met by Arturo Yglesisas, a very helpful and friendly man who organized EVERYTHING for our entry into his country. He and his workers had enough on their plates for a number of days to ensure that everything went according to plan and that we were actually allowed to disembark. On our arrival, there were also two Vets (a couple) called Katherine and Adrian and the truck-driver who was going to take us to where Arturo had arranged for us to stay. Our quarters were pure luxury and, as it was raining when we arrived, we were ushered into our cosy stables where our hay, water and some extra bits to chew on were waiting for us.

Arturo and his lovely wife Melania invited Ms M into their house where they made her feel just like part of the family. She went with them one evening to hear one of their daughters sing and play the piano at a concert that was held by all the students. They visited a restaurant where they play traditional kind of music and she also accompanied them down south to Pavones (near the border with Panama) where Miss M dipped her toes into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. They also visited the Volcano Poas. Ms M was really taken in by the beauty and warmth of the Costan Rican people.

Ms M also got introduced to two lads who were keen horse enthusiasts who offered to ride with Ms M on her first day out of San Jose. Then she met Marco (a real character and mad about horses) who was so enthusiastic about our trip that he suggested he, along with a couple of other friends, join Miss M for a four day ride once she gets up north, closer to the Nicaraguan border. They said they will arrange everything and Miss M and us only needed to be there!

So the first six days out of San Jose went really well thanks to Arturo and Marco who, between them, made sure that Miss M and us had a safe place every night. And although we got soaked to the bone a couple of days, we always knew that somebody was waiting for us on the other side. The ride to Bajo Rodriquez was very wet but the hospitality of our hosts so warm that we didn’t mind one bit. The two girls in the family were overjoyed to see us and Miss M told us later how they entertained her that evening in their house. The girls dressed up in special costumes, performed for Miss M a traditional dance, gave her photographs of themselves and wrote her lovely little notes. The next morning each of the girls got on top of us and Miss M walked us to their school. A lot of hugs and kisses were exchanged and it was with sad hearts that we said goodbye to our hosts and those delightful girls.

Our next stop was La Fortuna and we were ever so impressed to see this spectacular active volcano called Arenal, fuming and shivering in the distance. Miss M had never seen an active volcano and, if the truth be told, it was the first time for Tu Fein and I too. Again, it was heavy rains that day. In fact it poured down so much that our host Umberto, got Miss M a proper raincoat to give her better protection…we ARE in the rainy season after all!. While we were resting in our stable that evening Miss M went with Umberto to check out our route for the next day and even splashed around in a natural hot spring bath in the middle of the forest.

Our ride for the next two days was truly spectacular where we went through rivers, forests and on dirt roads (too many stones my only complaint) with Lago Arenal (a 70km long artificial lake) always on our side. Miss M took so many photographs that Tu Fein and I really got fed-up with all the stopping.. not to mention the posing! The last stretch to Tilaran was quite difficult and, although the views were breathtakingly beautiful, we had to endure a road that had so many ups and down that I stopped counting halfway through.

Tilaran was the place from where we were going to meet our riding friends (the first time ever during our TATA travels, apart from when we went with two Gaucho’s in Bolivia who took us through farms for two days) and we all wondered how it was going to turn out as we are so used to travelling by ourselves. We will give Ms M the opportunity to tell it all in detail at a later stage but all I can say is that it was GREAT! We really couldn’t have asked for better company; with Alan, who is a brilliant farrier, Lala who makes the best sandwiches and Marco who entertained us no end, you couldn’t go far wrong.

On top of it we had different sets of people and guides who joined us every day and everybody was so keen to hop into the saddle and be part of the adventure for a while. We had our fair share of rough riding going over stones and rocks and really bumpy terrain (not to mention all the rivers) but it was wonderful to be able to ride through the mountains and off the beaten track and not have car fumes up our nostrils. We were really taken good care of and no accidents to report, thank god… only Tu Fein’s shoe that came loose one day. Miss M didn’t have to worry about anything and every day we had wonderful places to stay in, good food and everything we could have wished for. Yip you guessed right.. a teary farewell when our ride with our new friends came to an end in Los Inocentos, not too far from the Nicaraguan border.

Marco was also so kind to organize to get Ms M a number of hydrating gels full of vitamins for us and these surely worked a treat. We get them at the end of every days ride and the difference they make in our overall performance and energy levels is amazing. As an act of generosity, Marco had offered to send on more to Ms M as we go along so when we get to El Salvador and Guatemala there will be more of this miracle stuff waiting for us.

So that is our news for the moment folks. We had a long wait at the border to clear everything but we finally made it into our next country, Nicaragua. Tu Fein will have the honor of sharing our latest news with you. Hasta luego amigos!


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