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Costa Rica (Part 2) PDF Print E-mail

Costa Rica (part 2)


August 29th to September 10th, 2006



Tuesday August 29th, Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st we stayed at campsite Los Cocos on the beach in Sámara. Mostly nice weather, sometimes a rain shower. We can make use of the rain by filling our watertank.  Friday September 1st we drove to Montezuma, at the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula. According to out Footprint guide (Central American Handbook) we should find there a nice campground. We took a route along the coastline over unpaved roads and we had to cross through rivers as bridges are non-existing. Arriving in Montezuma it appeared that the campground was closed and a nearby campsite we could not reach with our Land Rover through loose sand and over rocks. Further on to Malpais. We saw a sign along the road that in Santa Teresa near Malpais a nice campground would be available. But having arrived at that site, we were told that there was certainly no campsites, we could only sleep in hammocks or rent a cabin. But close by is camping Zeneida, also at Sta Teresa on the beach, where we were welcome for USD10 a night incl. electricity.


Saturday there was a championship surfing. Unfortunately there were only low waves, so a not very exciting happening. On the road back we bought a new watch for Kees and DVDs for filing photographs. Really everything breaks down or corrodes in this climate.  Saturday night we got a thunderstorm, even under our awning one gets wet. But is was dry again at dinner time, so we could eat again for 8 USD per person, including beers and coffee.


Sunday we had a quiet day with nice warm weather, some 30°C. Still no news from the shipping agent. Monday September 4 we again downloaded mails, still no news. Via Internet we couldn’t make a connection with our e-mail server, which happened to be due to a wrong address. This is important as we will put our laptop in the car during the shipment; in that period we will be dependent on Internet cafés for our mail.


Tuesday we left for Paquera to fetch the ferry to Puntarenas, every 2 hours for USD 10. At two pm we were at Puntarenas and from there we went to Puerto Caldera, from where our car will be shipped. Here we took a cabin at Cabinas Calderas for USD 24 a night.


Wednesday we went to an internet café; fortunately there was news from the agent Milton Madriz on the shipment of our car with the MV Baltic Leader. The planned date is still actual, September 9.  This means we have to take the car on Friday to the port. So we packed our backpack for a week without the car, we had it washed, we removed the roof boxes and put them within the car.


Thursday in the internet café it appears that the schedule is unchanged so that we have time to go Jacó and Playa Hermoso, south of Pto Caldera. Friday we first checked the mail, no news.  Then at 9 am to the customs broker Mr. Cesar Clark of Humberto Alvarez. Finally after a long wait due to customs formalities we had finished on 3 pm, with the Bill of Lading, after paying the shipment fee of USD 650 and the broker’s fee of USD 120. From the port we took a taxi to Puntarenas/El Roble (USD 5) for the bus to San José USD 2,50). The bus of 3.30 pm appeared at 3.50 pm, so that we were at 5.30 pm at the San José airport from where we took a taxi to our hotel La Riviera in San António. There was the voucher for the hotel in Quito. In the restaurant we talked all night with the Chef Hazel Hidalgo.


Saturday we walked in San António de Belén, had coffee and were reading at the pool. At night in the restaurant our Hazel made her aubergine-specialty for us, very tasty. We went early to bed. Sunday September 10th at 5 am we got up and  after Hazel’s breakfast we went to the airport Juan Santamaria International. We left on time, at 8.18 am. and had a stop-over in Panama at the Tocumen Airport. From the air we saw the Panama canal and saw many ships waiting to enter the canal. At 1.43 pm, exactly on time we landed in Quito, Ecuador, at the Aeropuerto Mariscal Sucre.


In total we have driven now 40.000 km, of which 10.000 km in Central America.


To be continued in the next part, South America.

Costa Rica (Part 1) PDF Print E-mail

Costa Rica (part 1)



August 17th to August 29th, 2006



After we crossed the border of Nicaragua with Costa Rica on Thursday 17th of August we looked for a nice campground on the beach, according to the Footprint of Central America & Mexico. After some 12 km on a terrible dirt road it appeared to have ceased operations. So back the on the same road. Then we looked for the entrance of  Parque National de Santa Rosa. This was wrongly indicated on our map, but we got another map from a car driver in which it appeared that we had to go 40 km in the other direction. We found the entrance easily by now. It also appeared that the clock had to be set back an hour, so now it is 8 hours of difference with Holland and Switzerland. It gets dark over here at 6 p.m. We were settled at 3 p.m. and ate some potato chips, as the comedor, a simple restaurant, had not been restocked that day. In the evening we could eat rice and beans with some meat, and juice for USD 5 per person. We were the only occupants at the campsite, but it still was noisy from cicades and howler monkeys. Friday morning we did the laundry. At lunch a leguan came to join us, he liked pasta from the soup.


Saturday morning we left, continuing on the CA-1. In Libéria we did some shopping and went back some kilometers to Parque National de Rincón de la Vieja, a volcanic area. The in the Footprint indicated campground at the Hacienda did not exist anymore, but 5 km farther on the road a campground had been started at the Rincón de la Vieja Lodge, at a cost of USD 5 per person per night. In the evening one could eat a fixed menu in the comedor/restaurant: chicken, fish, salad, rice and beans. Including dessert and coffee USD10. Great sleeping at temperatures of 15 to 20°C.


Sunday morning we went for a hike in the National Park around the volcano: sulphur vapors, fog and boiling mud. Not much wild life to be seen with lots of loudly talking visitors, only some beautiful, large butterflies and a toad. Moreover it started showering during a thunderstorm, my waterproof jacket appeared not to be waterproof anymore after being laundered of late.


Monday 21st of August is a day off at here as Assumption Day is added to a weekend. We left in the direction of San José, capital of Costa Rica. Just west of the capital and south east of the airport we found a campsite in San António de Belén, the Belén Trailerpark.

At the camping is also the Dutch family Vink, traveling the Pan Americana in a Dodge truck and an American trailer. In view of their problems up to now, they expect more to come shipping their truck to South America. Close to the campsite is a Chinese restaurant which serves a tasty meal for USD 7 including beer and coffee. Cooking yourself is more expensive!


Tuesday morning we made an appointment with the agent for shipment of the Laro for 3 PM in Pavas, a suburb of San José. Mr. Milton Madriz of Barlovento Agencia Marítimo appears to be a nice and helpful man. We agreed to ship our car on September 9th from Puerto Caldera to Manta, Ecuador. It appears that we are the first to experience this routing, so we hope everything will work out OK. From there we went to the nearby town of Santa Ana where a  Land Rover representative is, Motores Británicos. The manager Mario Naranjo is again most helpful. He has spare brake pads for us and has the transmission line checked and lubricated as a service!


Wednesday after breakfast Ton did the laundry at the camping and it appears that Rodrigo, the son of the campground manager, can provide tickets to Ecuador.  After buying packaging material in a libreria we sent a DVD home with our photo’s.


Thursday August 24 is a quiet and rainy day, and we prepared some text for the website. Friday again cloudy, and warm, some 29°C. The tickets for the flight from San José to Quito, are ready at the Travel Agency Pure Nature. After this has been done we went to the most active volcano of Central-America, the Arenal. We did camp on the completely abandoned camping near the entrance of the Parque National de Arenal. It rained all afternoon and night.


Saturday morning August 26th the volcano was reasonably visible, with a plume of smoke and some underground roaring. We packed the car and drove into the National Park. We did some hiking but when we arrived at the 1992 lava field it started raining again, so we went back. We drove around the Lake Arenal to Caňas where we found the campground Capazuri for 9 USD incl. a copious breakfast.


Sunday we went to Libéria, where we met a American/Belgian couple before an Internet café which appeared to be closed. They suggested not to take the road along the coast as in this rainy period one has to cross rivers with quite some water. So we went directly via Santa Cruz and Nicoya to Sámara. Here we camped at campsite Los Cocos, indeed under the coco palms. Cost is USD 4 pppn., incl. electricity. The latter is installed at a sad quality: pieces of cable just in the sand, connected sometimes with tape. Where is appears above ground the cables are within a tube alongside a palm.


Monday was a lazy day, swimming and some laundry. At the campground is a kind of squirrel unknown to us: grey tail, light brown body with white head. Tuesday August 29th we continued working on the text of the website, and of course some swimming. Here on the beach the weather is marvelous, air and water temperature both some 29°C and sunny.
Honduras and Nicaragua PDF Print E-mail

Honduras and Nicaragua


August 11th to August 17th, 2006



After we crossed the border of  Guatemala with  Honduras at  El Florido on Friday August 11th  we tried to find a campsite. We found a nice place at Hacienda San Lucas, but the hacienda was fully occupied during the weekend. So we had to book an hotel in the village of Ruinas de Copán.  The Laro could be parked within the gate of Hotel San José. Parking the car securely is always on our minds in these countries.  After a breakfast of tropical fruits in hotel Yaragua on Saturday morning we took a tuk tuk, a kind of covered Vespa scooter seating 2 or 3 persons, to the park of Copán where the excavations are. Costs of transport is 10 lempiras p.p.  At first we visited the Anthropological Museum, where the most beautiful stelae and other highlights are nicely exhibited. Copán is smaller than the other Maya excavations, but is very interesting because of the inscriptions and relief’s. And still a lot has to be found so it seems.


Sunday morning again a fruity breakfast in Yaragua, where the owner let us use his wifi to receive and send mails. Our intention was to stay in the colonial village of Gracias, but that appeared to be a dusty and unclean place. So we continued the road to La Esperanza. Such appeared to be harder than we thought, the blacktop came to an end and the road got bumpy and was washed away at places. But the road did not end and at last we arrived in La Esperanza. From there to Comayagua the road was asphalt again and there we found hotel Santa Maria. As the restaurant was closed, we had a meal in El Torito, the “best steakhouse of Honduras”. Indeed we had a very tasty churrasco.


On Monday we had breakfast in the hotel. We continued via the capital Tegucigalpa on the CA-6 to the Nicaraguan border, where we arrived at noon. An hour later we were on the road again after buying a car insurance, 1 month for 215 C$ and changed the remaining Lempiras against Córdobas (C$), at a rate of 100 Lps for 80 C$. Or 17 C$ for 1 USD. On the CA-1 (CA means that the road is a part of the Central-American road system) in the direction of Managua. Not far before the capital we took in Sébaco hotel Sebac-hotel for C$ 300, incl. TV and air co. But you need electricity for such amenities, and that is a problem in this country with frequent interruptions and ransooning. This Monday was a day with no sun at all, and that was a long time ago. In the hotel we talked to two young farmers keeping cows and growing onions and rice. When we told them at ours cows are yielding some 30 liters of milk per day, they asked for a phone number for information how to manage that as their cows only yield 1 liter per day. But that is less simple than it looks like…


Tuesday August 15th we were on the road to Managua. In the city we missed a sign (or it was behind a tree), anyway we got lost. But with help of our GPS we can determine the direction and that is great help as there are not so many roads. We intended to stay in Granada, according to the guides it would be a nice colonial town. This was a disappointment, it appeared to be a crowded, dirty town with too much people wanting something from you, guard your car, must have a T-shirt, etc.. Moreover we could not find a hotel with a secure parking lot, so we continued to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. At an internet café we sent and downloaded mails and we took a room in Hotel Colonial. The place indicated to us by fellow travelers at the beach was deserted and away from the village so was decided not to stay there.


Wednesday August 16th we stayed here to read about Costa Rica and to write the website text. An elderly French lady was robbed of  her purse with passport and money while she was with her group in a beach restaurant.


Thursday morning we drove to the border of Costa Rica. There it appears to be very muddy due to the rain (and many trucks) and crowded with people. With help of a “handy man” and some money we don’t have to queue… We spoke to 3 German guys in a Toyota Land Cruiser, driving from Michigan USA to Panama. From their car in Granada the mirrors were stolen and the locks were forced. Good that we did not stay there! Before crossing the border the car has to go through a carwash to decontaminate it. Why nobody knows. To enter Costa Rica again long queues and bureaucracy; with some help we save lots of time. All in all we drive again after 2 in stead of 4 hours.


Tomorrow we plan to go to Costa Rica, which we hope is cleaner than Honduras and Nicaragua. These countries are disappointing after the clean Guatemala. In these countries you will see many people with long knives, machetes, used for mowing grass, removing weeds, cutting trees and cutting firewood. Also one sees many dead animals such as cows and dogs along the road on which vultures are feasting. Good that photos don’t smell.


In Honduras and Nicaragua we drove  a little more than 1000 km. We still appreciate your comments or questions in our guestbook!
Guatemala PDF Print E-mail



August 3rd to August 11th, 2006




Thursday August 3rd we left  San Cristóbal da las Casas, still cold and humid, for Guatemala. As a consequence we could not do our laundry. The road to Ciudad Cuauhtemoc went fast, so that on 14 h we already arrived at the border. Just before the border the Mexican army had made a roadblock and they wanted to see the contents of our roof boxes. Excellent waterproof boxes from a Swiss army dump. After invalidating the temporary import permit of our car in Mexico, we had to comply with the Guatemaltec bureaucracy at La Mesilla: disinfecting our car at the in- and outside, stamps in the passports and a permit for temporary import of the car in Gualtemala. Payments in Quetzales (Q), which we did not yet have, so we had to exchange at a miserable rate, 600 Qtz for 1000 pesos, i.e. some 0,15 USD dollar per Q. All in 45 minutes! So we decided to continue to Huehuetenango via the Carretera CA-1. In that town we tried to get money from an ATM, but it appears that in this country this can only be done in one or two banks, among others the Banco Industrial. Then we had to have a room for the night, not easy the first 2 hotels were fully booked.  The third hotel was bingo, hotel Krystal, with a safe parking.


The next Friday morning there was no electricity nor water. After an hour, the water started dripping, so could ‘shower’. On the road to Lake Atitlán, no wifi could be found, the cell phone had no connection.  At the hotel Tzanjuyú along the old Panamericana in Panajachel we found a campsite for 25 Q a night. In the afternoon we went with a boat over the lake to visit some Maya places, of which Santiago de Atitlán at the foot of a volcano is the most interesting. There we visited with a local guide, Francisco, a house in which the locals worshipped the old Maya god Maximón, in a smelly, hot  room, full of people and candles. The god loves cigarettes and beer, which was noticeable. But also a lying statue of Jesus Christ was present over there. Furthermore you may visit an historic roman-catholic church from 1547, with saints in Mayan clothing. From there we visited San Antonio Palopó and Santa Caterina Palopó, not very interesting villages.


This morning Saturday August 5th, the ‘Brazilian’ shower (electrical heating of the water at the shower outlet) at the campground is not working. And showering in cold water is a punishment to Ton. Our dirty clothes we took to the village where they could be washed and dried for 5 Q a pound. In an internet café we tried unsuccessfully to connect the laptop, appeared incompatible. So we read and sent e-mail via the internet. Nice weather some 25°C, and at 3 h a thunderstorm.


Sunday August 6th we drove to Antigua Guatemala, where we arrived on 13 h. Some nice hotel were already fully occupied, at last we found a room in hotel San Miguel. In the afternoon we walked through the old city. This city was founded in 1543 after the first capital Ciudad Vieja was destroyed by earthquakes. Subsequently Antigua was destroyed in 1773 and abandoned. The actual capital Ciudad de Guatemala became the capital from that moment on. The Santa Clara Convent in Antigua made quite an impression on us. In the Laro Kees did install an emergency connection, so that we now have continually the lights of the Laro available, without taking the complete dashboard apart.


Monday morning had a slow start: on the road to Ciudad de Guatemala a bus blocked the road, upside down. No serious injuries to be observed. Guatemala really seems to be the country with the most risk taking bus drivers. Passing in road curves is normal, continuous lines don’t seem to have any significance, as well as maximum velocities. Coming from Mexico it is nice to observe clean road sides. Guatemala City is the most (air) polluted town we ever saw or smelled. More than half of the trucks, cars and buses smells and emits dirt and soot in a terrible way. Further along the Carretera CA13 in the direction of Puerto Barrios, shortly before we turned left to Tikal on Carretera CA13. Just before San Luis we took hotel Prados del Sol.


Tuesday on the way to Tikal, we stopped in Flores for an internet café and lunch. We can confirm our ship to Ecuador! We camped in the Laro in the National Park of Tikal at the site of the Jaguar Inn (with Wifi!) close to the ruins. Wednesday we visited the Maya ruins of Tikal. Beautiful, large, and some are very high. These ruins are now in the middle of a jungle, but in the Maya period, before AD 900 the land was cultured. We saw a beautiful keel-billed toucan, macaws, spider monkeys, a scorpion, a tarantula, ocellated turkeys and a small kind of fox.


Thursday going south again from where we came. While getting seated in the car Ton was stung in his upper leg by some animal, a large kind of  ant. Disappeared from its own during the day. So Kees drove the car. In Chiquimula we found a hotel, hotel Kfar, 150 Q, with TV and aircon.


Friday August 11th on our way to the border of Honduras at El Florido, where we arrived at 10 h. Within an hour everything was cleared, incl. changing Quetzales in Lempiras at a rate of 2,2 Lps/Q and the answering of an enquiry of the tourist office Inguat by Ton on Guatemala. Nowhere in Guatemala our Dutch KPN phone has functioned, now in Honduras we had connection again.


In total from Baltimore we made now nearly 38.000 km; in Guatemala 1450 km.
Mexico, Teacapan to Guatemala PDF Print E-mail

Mexico, Teacapan to Guatemala



July 21st to August 3rd, 2006


Friday July 21st we started from Teacapan via Carretera 15 to Tepic and from there via Carretera 200 to Puerto Vallarta. Here you see orchards with mango’s, wonderful taste, 4 for 5 pesos. Shortly before Pto. Vallarta we found a campground in the village of Sayulita, Salon das Palmares. It was a cloudy day, 30°C. During the night we had a thunderstorm. As we sleep at the high temperatures with open windows and backdoor, our car got wet inside. We had breakfast in the car and off we went again. Puerto Vallarta appears to be a busy town on Saturday morning. It is situated on a beautiful bay. We did some shopping in the local Wal-Mart and continued to Tenacatita, where we found a campsite on the beach under coconut trees, Trailer park Tenacatita. It was a cloudy day, sometimes raining and 27°C. Everything wet stays wet: it is the rainy season now out here, although this is often limited to an hour or so in the afternoon. In the evening we had a glass of wine with an Austrian couple, Heinz and Irene Leitermann from Krems. They are of our age and have started in September 2005 in Ushuaia in a Toyota Land cruiser with a self designed living department. As they are now too late for Alaska, they decided to go home and make improvements in the RV for their next trip. Sunday it was raining all day with lots of rocks and branches on the road and cars off the road. Bald tires do aquaplane pretty well! We took a hotel in Caleto de Campos, hotel Yuritza. Yolanda’s Restaurant, indicated by the Aussies in Victorville, we could not find.


Monday morning still a bit of rain, but soon it got dry. We continued on Carretera 200 until just before Acapulco and found the trailer park Pie de Cuesta on the beach. Today we saw lots of coconuts on heaps for further processing. Tuesday morning it took us 2,5 hours to get through Acapulco, which is situated on some beautiful bays. Not very interesting to us, a lot of high rise American hotels. Due to this delay we arrived only at 7 in the night at Puerto Escondida in Trailer park Palmar de Cortes. Along the way beautifully dressed people for the fiesta of San Francisco. Dry weather 33°C.


Wednesday on the road again, but the brakes at the back of the Laro started to scream louder and louder. Small wonder as we have to brake and accelerate all the time for bumps, which at here are called topes, reductores or vibradores. Any 2 houses need at last 5 of such spring killers. At Llantas y Refacciones Huatelco, dealer of Goodyear, on Boulevard Chahue at Santa Cruz de Huatulco we stopped. Land rover parts are not available anywhere in Mexico apparently. Therefore new brake material was mounted on the old brake plates. Well done! After dinner we went in the dark to our campsite. We got to know very friendly Mexicans from Chihuahua.


Thursday on the road Carretera 200 again to Tenanahuelpa. From there via Road 190 to Tuxtla Gutierrez where we camped at Hotel and Trailer park La Hacienda. Situated along Carretera 190 it is extremely noisy over there.


Friday July 28th to San Cristobal de las Casas, where we arrived at 11 in the morning at Trailer park and camping Rancho San Nicholas. First thing we did is the laundry, as Ton could not get rid of itching legs. Sand fleas? Here it is cool, more than 2100 m. The wife of the camping boss cooked a good  meal for us for 70 pesos. Saturday we walked through the town, with beautiful and ugly churches and nice colonial buildings. For lunch we had quesadillos with juice. It appeared that without a hotmail account one is not able to send emails in internet cafés. In the internet café closest by the campsite we connected the laptop to the router  and so we got and excellent connection for 2,5 pesos.


Sunday we went to Palenque. Along the road are many people selling corn, banana’s etc,. One may understand that they want to make some money, but the way they do is not always friendly, but rather annoying, such are pulling ropes on the road. At Palenque it is hot, sunny but humid. But it’s in the jungle and you see and hear the monkeys. We stopped for a campsite at Hotel y Trailer park Mayabelles and had dinner with live South American music.


Monday morning with the collectivo (kind of taxi) to the ruins for 10 pesos per person. In Palenque you can visit some 20 ruins of 1000 years and older, mostly temples and a large Palacio. Tuesday August 1st back again to San Cristobal de las Casas, with rain and thunderstorms in the mountains. Much cooler, some 15°C.


Wednesday morning firstly to the internet café, where Ton is known by now as Mr. Laptop. After that we went into town to do some shopping. It appeared that the ATM’s did not work on our cards for no reason at all. As it is humid today, it makes no sense to do the laundry. We think we will leave tomorrow for Guatemala. At San Cristobal de las Casas we happen to be in the State of Chiapas, where in 1994 an uprising against the government took place by the Zapatistas. You still can see signs, graffiti, etc.


From Baltimore on we now have driven 36.000 km of which some 6300 km in Mexico According to our GPS we are now 9040 km from home.