Most Inspirational Moment
I'm no Attenborough yet was frankly in awe of the fantastic range, colour, sound and scale of the flora and fauna, and at such close quarters too.
The designated highlights live up to their billing but is it often smaller moments that shine. Examples include a stop for fresh coconut at Playa Hermosa, walks along the beach on both coasts, a swim and beer near Puerto Viejo, the team riding formation and being overtaken by a local wearing flip flops, the serenity of the gardens by the ruined church where locals shared a Sunday picnic, & the bonding of the group - on and off the bike aided by beer, red wine and the occasional mojito.
If I had to pick just one, it would be stopping mid ride in the Central Highlands, seeking a spot of shade sitting at a bus stop, and taking time to soak in the stunning views on both sides of the ridge. Picture postcard stuff. Wonderful.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Robert Aguilar was an excellent Leader in the best tradition of Exodus Tour Guides. He was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, an excellent communicator, strong rider, and responsive & flexible to traveller requests and requirements.
He was ably assisted by Mechanic Paul and Driver Luiz.
Paul rode strongly at the front making a good but not furious speed which kept the faster riders safely in check but not frustrated by pace. Mechanical matters were few but dealt with with aplomb.
Luiz was the archetypal driver - silent but quietly effective - always on the right place at the right time with everything done.
Altogether a superb team and tribute to both Costa Rica and Exodus.
Advice for Potential Travellers
1. Whilst there are climbs, largely in the Central Highlands, the cycling is not overly difficult and heat & humidity more of an issue than the terrain. You don't notice it whilst riding but certainly do when you stop. Regular sunscreen and fluids a must.
2. My wife and I wore arm screens as sun protection and these were such a big hit that we lent our spare ones to our fellow riders. A buff/snood can also be handy.
3. I tried my brand new SPD-cleat cycling sandals on this trip and there were a revelation - highly recommended.
4. Take a light rain top for the occasional (heavy though not cold) shower.
5. Food is plentiful and good quality, and you do develop a taste for rice with beans in varying permutations. Fish good and some excellent steak also. Fruit plentiful - pineapple, watermelon, papaya, banana & mango.
6. You can drink the water in most places and in the few where you cannot, bottled water is available/provided. In the alternative, Chilean red wine or the local ("Imperial") beer will do.
7. There are a couple of laundry opportunities mid-trip so resist the temptation to pack too much kit - both on and off bike.
8. You don't need any local currency (colones) as US Dollars in cash (though not GBP) plus credit cards suffice everywhere.
I spent much off Week 2 chatting to Roberto about the Nicaragua/Costa Rica/ Panama trip, the hopefully re-launched new Guatemala/Honduras/El Salvador trip and the in-plan alternative Colombia trip. I have a feeling my wife and I will be returning to this part of the world.