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magnalog 11657
From the Mount of Death to a Pacific Beach

By car from the highest point of the Panamericana in Costa Rica (here called Interamericana) down to the beach of Dominical on the Pacific coast. That is a difference in altitude of 3.500 meters on only about 80 kilometers of road. The road is passable for any car all year round - except for the very first part where we made a short detour from the paved road. There a 4x4 vehicle is required.

Beat that at any other part of the world!
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Story 1/25,Sun Feb 12 08:08:16 2006, after 0d 00:00:00 Lat:9.575692 Lon:-83.758865 Elevation:3362 m

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For our friends from France:
- French translation of this explanation to follow -

Story 2/25,Sun Feb 12 08:19:57 2006, after 0d 00:11:41 Lat:9.574765 Lon:-83.758583 Elevation:3360 m

The excursion crew: Stéphanie and Georges from France, myself (left) and our 4x4 pick-up.
Story 3/25,Sun Feb 12 08:21:13 2006, after 0d 00:12:57 Lat:9.570355 Lon:-83.753922 Elevation:3493 m
Trucking on dangerous curves

"Cerro de la Muerte" means "Mount of Death". When the first settlers of European origins started to populate the southern zone of Costa Rica about 150 years ago, coming from the Central Valley around the (nowadays) capital San José they had to cross the Cordillera de Talamanca. That was a dangerous and exhausting treck by foot or on horseback which took them several days. While they stayed in the cold and adverse climate and high altitudes some may have died.
Story 4/25,Sun Feb 12 08:22:01 2006, after 0d 00:13:45 Lat:9.568661 Lon:-83.754295 Elevation:3366.3 m

About 60 years ago the Panamerican Highway was extended to Panamá. Meanwhile the road is paved and every day several thousand motorcycles, cars, busses and heavy trucks use the Interamericana, as it is called here. These days the main risk to die in the mountains comes from a traffic accident with one of those monsters on the road.
Story 5/25,Sun Feb 12 08:46:47 2006, after 0d 00:38:31 Lat:9.554632 Lon:-83.763092 Elevation:3468.1 m

Marvin is one of the technicians that maintain the plenty of antennas on the peaks of Cerro de la Muerte. He lives four weeks in the solitariness of the mountains and then returns for four weeks to his family in the lowlands.
Story 6/25,Sun Feb 12 09:10:06 2006, after 0d 01:01:50 Lat:9.553187 Lon:-83.758118 Elevation:3457.5 m

Marvin's mountain: one of the peaks of the Mountain of Death covered with antennas.
Story 7/25,Sun Feb 12 09:15:00 2006, after 0d 01:06:44 Lat:9.553829 Lon:-83.755882 Elevation:3492.3 m
Cordillera de Talamanca

Cerro Chirripó, thirty kilometers from our position:
Almost on eye level with Costa Rica’s highest peak (3820 meters).
Story 8/25,Sun Feb 12 09:23:06 2006, after 0d 01:14:50 Lat:9.555198 Lon:-83.755035 Elevation:3492.9 m

Paramo flower: “Paramo” is the low growing vegetation on high altitudes in the tropics.
Story 9/25,Sun Feb 12 09:28:46 2006, after 0d 01:20:30 Lat:9.559250 Lon:-83.754463 Elevation:3485.7 m

Blossoms in a harsh climate: burned by the sun at day, sometimes freezing in the night.
Story 10/25,Sun Feb 12 09:30:24 2006, after 0d 01:22:08 Lat:9.559435 Lon:-83.754654 Elevation:3483.1 m

Flowers are small, but there are many of them.
Story 11/25,Sun Feb 12 09:38:25 2006, after 0d 01:30:09 Lat:9.563051 Lon:-83.755142 Elevation:3447.8 m
Volcanos in clouds

Volcanos stick out of the clouds:
Volcano Turrialba (3328 meters) on the right, from our position in a distance of 50 kilometers to the north;
volcano Irazú (3432 meters) on the left between the close peaks of Cerro de la Muerte.
Story 12/25,Sun Feb 12 09:52:16 2006, after 0d 01:44:00 Lat:9.558570 Lon:-83.725372 Elevation:3109.7 m
La Georgina

This restaurant was founded when the Interamericana was built in 1947. Birdwatchers come here to see the famous quetzals, the most beautiful birds in this area.
Story 13/25,Sun Feb 12 09:57:06 2006, after 0d 01:48:50 Lat:9.558476 Lon:-83.725067 Elevation:3111.1 m

For a tropical country it is cold in the mountains! On a sunny morning 18 centigrade only. Sometimes in the night temperature drops below zero.
Story 14/25,Sun Feb 12 10:22:02 2006, after 0d 02:13:46 Lat:9.557987 Lon:-83.723488 Elevation:3118.5 m
Hummingbird feeder

Breakfast at “La Georgina” – served for humans as well as for hummingbirds.
Story 15/25,Sun Feb 12 10:59:16 2006, after 0d 02:51:00 Lat:9.493831 Lon:-83.693825 Elevation:2161.6 m

These huge leaves are called “Poor man’s umbrella”
Story 16/25,Sun Feb 12 11:53:04 2006, after 0d 03:44:48 Lat:9.403496 Lon:-83.714027 Elevation:937.6 m

On the road to San Isidro.

The Interamericana is the main highway in Costa Rica. It connects Nicaragua with Panamá.

In a larger scale the Panamerican Highway connects Alaska with Tierra del Fuego - in theory. In reality there is a missing link in the jungle between Panamá and Colombia where the road has never been built.
Story 17/25,Sun Feb 12 12:05:04 2006, after 0d 03:56:48 Lat:9.375340 Lon:-83.702911 Elevation:743.7 m
San Isidro

High noon on a quiet Sunday in San Isidro. This little town is the "capital" of the south of Costa Rica.

Here we leave the Interamericana and continue south-west towards Dominical.
Story 18/25,Sun Feb 12 12:28:59 2006, after 0d 04:20:43 Lat:9.327890 Lon:-83.751869 Elevation:1071.5 m

Delicious mangos. Tropical Costa Rica has an abundance of fruit all year round.
Story 19/25,Sun Feb 12 12:50:23 2006, after 0d 04:42:07 Lat:9.328384 Lon:-83.753235 Elevation:1067.1 m

What a beautiful ...ehh... fruit juice!!
Refreshment at the last stop before the beach.
Story 20/25,Sun Feb 12 13:15:35 2006, after 0d 05:07:19 Lat:9.271735 Lon:-83.817390 Elevation:284 m
My place

I live exactly in the center of this U-turn, about 50 meters above road level. When you pass here, I may hear your car. But I cannot see the road nor can you see my house.
Story 21/25,Sun Feb 12 13:42:23 2006, after 0d 05:34:07 Lat:9.250537 Lon:-83.862473 Elevation:15 m

Finally arrived on the Pacific coast near Dominical.
Story 22/25,Sun Feb 12 13:44:00 2006, after 0d 05:35:44 Lat:9.250537 Lon:-83.862473 Elevation:15 m

Dominical beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Totally overpopulated ...
Story 23/25,Sun Feb 12 13:46:15 2006, after 0d 05:37:59 Lat:9.250537 Lon:-83.862473 Elevation:15 m

Going west: From here it is only 16.000 kilometers to the Philippines ...
Story 24/25,Sun Feb 12 13:47:21 2006, after 0d 05:39:05 Lat:9.250537 Lon:-83.862473 Elevation:15 m

... if you continue on the same latitude and do not happen to hit one of those tiny islands of Micronesia ...
Story 25/25,Sun Feb 12 13:47:23 2006, after 0d 05:39:07 Lat:9.250537 Lon:-83.862473 Elevation:15 m

...but you may be wetting your trousers.