Costa Rica/Panamá: Alajuela to Bocas del Toro – with off-bike side-trip to Quépos and Montezuma (Nicoya)

While I was still in Alajuela doing some bike sorting, Sarah headed off with our friends to Quépos. Beaches and a guided trip around the local national park ensued, with sightings of 5 sloths. I am jealous as I've always wanted to see one - hurrumph! Miguel, the guide got some great shots by putting Tashana's camera to his big telescope.
The Manuel Antonio national park has some other, more familiar residents. Miguel got this shot the same way, thankfully reducing the risk of being chomped!
Our friend Sharon even managed to get a photo of me contemplating my cycle-touring induced spare tyres
Eduardo, who runs the Hotel Cortez Azul in Alajuela, let us stash our bikes while we took our side-trip by bus. As well as being an active road and mountain biker, he's also a sculptor and mosaicist. The hotel is littered with his work :-)
The scene of the crime... Our first day back on the route from Alajuela towards the Caribbean coast saw us making a late start and working our way past San José on non-major roads. That night we camped on this basketball court at the back of the local police station. Unfortunately we didn't take up their offer to keep our bikes inside, as during the night my waterproof and Sarah's helmet were stolen
The next night after a day of climbing round Volcan Irazu on nice quiet rural roads in pouring rain, we put our tents up under the watchful guard of this frog... He proved more of a deterrent than the police, and all went well :-)
A much faster day spat us onto Costa Rica route 32, a much busier and flatter road connecting San José to Puerto Limón. Just as we were beginning to feel camp o'clock-ish we spotted this nice shiny fire engine parked on the side of the road. Following repeated advice from our friend Javier, who we'd left in Mayapedal, we got chatting to the Bomberos. A short while later we were heading towards their secure and very shiny 2 year old fire station and its dormitorio! (Photo S.Hedges)
While I was busy un-flattening my glass-spiked tyre, Anna was using some black silicone to try and make some of her stuff a bit more waterproof. There's nothing like this for stopping the rain in its tracks though, so the result is as yet unproven! (Photo S.Hedges)
Before we left the Batán Bomberos, Anna and Sarah got in there with the cameras. The bomberos added us to their book of passing cycle tourists, and posed benignly for some photos (Photo S.Hedges)
Anna, plugged in for road-riding, is showing signs of banana overload. They're impossible to escape all along this stretch of coast
The border crossing into Panamá at Sixaola is a rickety old rail bridge - now into country no. 8! (and no. 11 for Anna)
Hoping for superior equipment and some parts, Anna takes centre-stage at the Almirante bike mechanic shop. In the end, we dismantle the hub, and put it back together again ourselves.
A hub in bits... Her later comment "what else could go wrong with my bike" sums up her mood :-(
Remarkably, our bikes made it from the mainland to the islands without getting wet, even with Tom's extra-long bike taxing the lancha's capacity

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