Last night after climbing about 6600 feet (~2010 m) through the rain and fog, we were wet and chilled thoroughly that neither one of us had feeling in the tips of our fingers or toes. After spending months in the heat and humidity, it seemed strange when the lady showing us the available rooms pointed out the “agua caliente”, or as we like the call the non-grounded electrical showers, “sparky jr”. We were so used to not needing, less wanting, hot water until our shivering bodies told us otherwise.
The day before the watch alarm went off at 5:30 in the morning. We have been getting up early to start out in the relative cool of the day for several months now. Before going to bed, I shut the watch alarm off. There was no need to start out early in the cold, wet weather.
The day was spent climbing through some of the most beautiful scenery we have biked through on this trip. The lush, rich, hilly grasslands support small herds of holsteins. Tens if not hundreds of years of grazing cattle have produced trails that give the hillsides a terraced look.
There is more grassland than the fat, well hydrated cows can chomp through, requiring some manual mowing (the hillsides are too steep for mechanized grass cutting plus manual labor is obviously cheaper here than using machines). These are not industrial milk farms. We see families milking cows by hand and transporting milk cans on horses or donkeys.
The families that have land and animals seem to be relatively well off, with sturdy block houses and a motorcycle if not a truck. Other families are not so fortunate and live along the road in frame houses with tarpaulin roofs and walls to keep the elements out.
We dodged a heavy downpour by ducking under an awning in a town through which we were passing. Rain has become a regular occurrence, typically once a day, feeding the numerous springs and cascades we pass. There is still the tangle of hoses running to houses, suppling water. We take advantage of the water also, using our new Steripen. The Steripen, which Sarah’s mom was kind enough to mule down to Costa Rica when she visited, disinfects the water using ultraviolet light.
We decided to add the Steripen to our kit for several reasons. When the local tap water is non-potable we end up buying water, and the cost adds up quickly. On a hot day I easily drink about two liters per hour. We also discovered that buying water in bulk (typically five gallons jugs) usually only costs a few cents more than buying the smaller 2 or 3 liter bottle. Between our dromedary bags, bike and nalgene bottles we can carry about 4 gallons between us. Carrying that much water at one time slows us down due to the weight. Now we carry less water than before, especially in populated areas where we can ask for water at a house or get it from business’ tap. One downside of the Steripen is that it does nothing to alter the taste of the water. Water from a rusty pipe or still tastes like rust.