Yet another month’s worth of touring reduced to a dozen or so rotten photographs. The other pages in this ‘Snaps’ series are lurking, a little sheepishly, behind this link.



merkel-900Half the rooms at the Paradise Inn, where we waited out a day of storms, are named and themed after countries, with garish murals providing the decoration. Should any guests in Germany feel that Mrs Merkel is distracting them from closer European integration, a blind may be drawn over her sidelong gaze.
Lajas Adentro, Chiriquí, Panama
1 September 2014



Few fishermen on Panama’s Pacific coast bother setting up formal stalls from which to hawk their wares. Nearly three feet long, this monster catch was hanging from a tree, beneath which dozed its beer-impaired salesman.
en route to San José de David, Chiriquí, Panama
3 September 2014



Our hope that Costa Ricans – or, informally, Ticos – would prove a friendlier bunch than their Panamanian neighbours was bolstered barely 10km into the country. This is Edgar, a charming, talkative seventysomething who’s chosen to spend his retirement making incredibly rich milky drinks such as chicheme and rompope in his small shack, decanting them into empty beer bottles and selling them at a roadside stall. It’s the only food stand we’ve yet encountered to be decorated with a quote from Voltaire.
near Ciudad Neily, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
5 September 2014



We’ve grown used to seeing our bicycles strapped to boats, cars and buses in improvised, that’ll-do fashion, and have learned to trust those doing the strapping. Even so, we were slightly alarmed when the captain of the bashed-up ferry for our hour-long ride across the Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica decided to secure them inside the vessel’s only two lifeboats.
Golfito, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
6 September 2014



Costa Rica has been suffering from a terrible apostrophe drought. Please do whatever you can to help. (The owners of this beachside hotel are American, and thus have no second-language excuse.)
Carate, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
10 September 2014



We documented our struggles with nature photography a couple of weeks ago, but it’s considerably easier when the subject of your picture lands on your leg. We’ve no idea whether this thing is harmless, but its malevolent expression didn’t inspire us to let it linger.
near Uvita, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
13 September 2014



Having seen only a couple of cyclists in the two weeks since crossing into Central America from Colombia, we then ran into a 20-strong peloton as we rode along the Costa Rican coast road on Independence Day. They turned out to be a serious bunch. This is Pablo, who slowed down long enough for us to learn that he’s part of the national triathlon team. We asked him to give us a hand with our luggage, but to no avail.
between Parrita & Jacó, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
15 September 2014



littledrummerboy-900Large or small, pretty much every town in Costa Rica has a parade for Independence Day. Few pueblos, though, have participants as casually hip as this little drummer boy, for whom the phrase ‘too cool for for school’ could have been coined.
Parrita, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
15 September 2014



The status of the Río Grande de Tárcoles as the most polluted river in Costa Rica doesn’t seem to have deterred a substantial number of crocodiles from calling it home. The cocodrilos attract tourists, who pull up on the bridge near the small town of Tárcoles and peer over the side. However, they also draw other, less desirable flotsam. Earlier this year, a reportedly drunk Nicaraguan visitor decided to take a dip in the river, with predictably horrific results. And then, about a week after this photo was taken, an unfortunate tourist who’d stopped to look at the crocodiles instead caught sight of a woman’s body, apparently tossed into the canal after she’d been strangled to death.
Río Grande de Tárcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
16 September 2014



Will pulled into the mid-sized town of Naranjo assuming there’d be a cheap hotel in which to room for the night, and dropped in at the alcaldía (town hall) for directions. There’s no hotel, admitted the first official he found. But a few phone calls later, the kindly chap had found a spare room with a friend of his named Damaris, who lives in a small finca at the foot of the hill leading up to the town centre. Lovely folk.
Naranjo, Alajuela, Costa Rica
17 September 2014



‘Stars in Their Eyes’, Costa Rican style. The singer was fine. The wigmaker, though? Simply the best.
Nicoya, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
19 September 2014



Tackling unpaved roads in central America’s rainy season necessitates a certain can-do attitude that occasionally verges on stupidity. Starting a dirt-road section of coast on the Nicoya Peninsula, Will knew from advance research that there was a river to ford just outside the beachside village of Sámara. (The scant motor traffic takes a far longer inland route.) Swollen by heavy rain and high tide, the river was rather deeper and faster than anticipated – somewhere between waist- and chest-high, as it turned out. Still, no crocodiles.
near Sámara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
20 September 2014



The dirt road south to the coast from La Cruz, the closest town to the main Costa Rica-Nicaragua border crossing, is a favourite detour among adventurous touring cyclists, who find a string of beautiful, isolated beaches on which to linger. To our surprise, the road is also popular with truckers such as these two genial Guatemalans, who’d camped out here the night before we arrived. Along with a third driver, still asleep in his cab, they’d spent the evening on the beach catching crabs, which they then cooked for breakfast on an improvised gas stove.
Playa Puerto Soley, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
25 September 2014



We’ve spent the last few weeks in the shadow of volcanoes. Above, that’s the now-dormant Arenal in northern Costa Rica. Below is the still-active Concepción, one of two volcanoes that dominate the beautiful Nicaraguan island of Ometepe.
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Alajuela, Costa Rica & Santa Cruz, Isla de Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua
18 & 26 September 2014



from Granada, Granada, Nicaragua