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Wed Oct 16 2013: Costa Rican Thanksgiving

We originally started keeping a blog of all our motorcycle travels a few years ago because we didn't want to forget all of the cool places we visited and the fantastic things we've seen. When we shared it on the Internet, we got a lot of positive feedback and encouragement, but amazingly, we also received invitations from all over the world for warm meals and a place to sleep whilst on our travels. The kindness and the hospitality we've experienced was and still is overwhelming!

Riding around the suburbs of San Jose

A few months ago, Yanil emailed us and told us that if we were ever in Costa Rica, he would love to have us stay with him and his family. So we decided to take him up on his offer!

But right after my reply, he emailed me back and told me he had to ask his wife for permission first. LOL!

Pulling into Yanil and Evelyn's driveway

Weary travelers at the doorstep!

In the end we got the nod of approval. Yanil, his wife Evelyn and his young son Evan, met us at a restaurant in the suburbs of San Jose where we were finishing up a late lunch. We got to talk with them for awhile before heading back to their place and we were struck by how super-nice Evelyn was, and how gregarious and funny Yanil was.

Yanil, Evelyn and Evan

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and is its largest city. We're staying less than 30 minutes to the north, in a quiet suburb away from the hubbub of the capital. Yanil was very excited about having us over. He gave us a ton of options of things we could see and do while we were around San Jose, but we were so tired from traveling the past few weeks, all we wanted to do was just to chill out. So while the family was out at work and school, we got some relax-time in.

This is Misty, the real boss of the house

Neda is happy she is able to cook again

In the evenings, when Yanil and Evelyn came back from work, we all took Misty for her evening walk around the neighbourhood. It was exactly the relaxing kind of stay we wanted and we got a chance to spend some time with our hosts. Yanil used to live and work in the US, so his English was perfect. Because Evelyn was more comfortable with Spanish, I got an opportunity to show how bad my Espanol was. Turns out her English was way better than my Spanish, so we all ended up talking English anyway just to accommodate me... :(

Yanil on his pride and joy: G650GS!

The next day, Yanil led us out to the BMW dealership in San Jose where I needed to get my EWS ring sensor replaced. We are instructed to remove our sidecases from off our bikes because we're going to be riding through the morning rush hour. Commute time with lane-splitting: 30 minutes. Commute time with our sidecases on: Better pack a lunch.

Neda waits outside

Neda waits inside

A couple of hours of minor surgery and we're out the door

I kept the old ring sensor that Rafael at San Salvador BMW gave me just in case the dreaded EWS problem cropped up again. The sensor is interchangeable among a lot of BMW motorcycles, including Neda's model.

After the service, we went grocery shopping because we're treating Yanil and his family to a proper Thanksgiving dinner that night!

Thanksgiving with our new friends

Latin America doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, and to be honest, it's not that big for us either, but it was nice to be able to have an excuse to eat lots of food (no turkey though - Neda made beef stirfry!) with good company. This is our second Thanksgiving on the road, and every holiday or birthday, I'm reminded of just how long we've been traveling and where we were 12 months ago. Last year, we were eating turkey sandwiches at the Stonehenge memorial in Washington!

Evan and his most favorite toy in the whole wide world!

A couple of days later, Yanil, Evelyn and Evan all took the day off to take us up to the Poas volcano, about a scenic hour and half drive through small towns and coffee fields. On the ride up, Yanil tried to teach me some Costa Rican slang. "Pura vida" is the most common phrase and is used as a greeting or a farewell. "Tuanis, mae" means, "What's up, man!", another greeting and "Tico" is the nickname that Costa Ricans call themselves. While talking to Yanil, I got that there's quite a rivalry between the Central American countries, especially between the Ticos and the Nicas (Nicaraguans). Apparently the Nicas are jealous of the Costa Ricans, because, well... Costa Rica is just more awesome.

As we pulled up to the gate of the park, Yanil told me that he was going to try to score us some local admission tickets instead of having us pay the full tourist price. All I had to do was convince the guard at the gate that I was a "Tico"... He rolled down the window to talk to the guard with a jovial, "Pura vida, mae!" After some chit chat, the guard looked at all the occupants of the car and fixed his glare at me. I tried to stammer out a "Tuanis, mae! Pura vida!", almost certain that I screwed up something that simple.

The guard's eyes narrowed as he turned back to Yanil and sold him 5 local admission tickets. It worked! Yeah, right. I'm sure the guard had a good chuckle over the asian guy trying to speak Tico with a bad gringo accent.

Poas volcano is Costa Rica's largest and most active volcano

It wasn't the best day to visit the volcano as the clouds and the rain hampered our view a little but we could still see the steam rising from the volcano.

Ladies mug for the camera

In front of Poas volcano

That evening was the big Costa Rica vs Mexico soccer match for the World Cup qualifiers. Yanil had been talking about this all week. Evelyn made us some hot dogs and we all crowded in front of the TV. I don't know much about the World Cup, but apparently Mexico, who was the big favorite and perennial powerhouse, wasn't doing very well this year and was facing elimination - something that Yanil was very happy about. If there was a rivalry between Ticos and Nicas, it paled in comparison to the one between the whole of Central America vs Mexico, especially during World Cup season!

It was a close match going back and forth, but Costa Rica pulled an upset by defeating Mexico 2-1. Yanil went nuts! And outside, it sounded like every car in Costa Rica was honking their horn. Unfortunately, the celebrations became slightly more muted as a few minutes later, the USA won their game against Panama, saving Mexico from elimination.

It was so interesting and funny seeing these rivalries in Central America that I wasn't even aware of. Reminds me of all the Canada vs US ribbing.

After the game, Evelyn tries out Neda's bike for size. Looking good!

We stayed for four days at Yanil and Evelyn's place, and we had such a good time hanging out with them that we didn't want to leave, but we were on a schedule again. So the next morning we said a sad farewell to Evelyn, Evan and Misty as Yanil joined us on his bike to take us back out on the road.

Saddlebags and luggage remounted. Ugh. Back on the road again!

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