“You must have helmet to ride motorcycle in this country. You come with me to the Estacion de Policia,” he responded. Oh, oh! Even I understood Police Station. He’s not kidding! He motioned for us to follow him. Bill put up the stand on the bike and started to push it. The policeman said just leave it there.  We weren’t about to leave it on the street. So off we went up the street towards jail - the policeman, me behind him and Bill pushing the bike bringing up the rear. He kept looking over his shoulder to make sure we were still there.
The Estacion de Policia was only around the corner, it was a white wooden building with a heavy carved wooden door that was standing open.  Inside were a couple of beige metal desks and chairs, also four other men in uniform.  The oldest was sitting in a chair behind one of the desks.  He glanced up as I walked in, a puzzled expression on his face. Bill was parking the bike with the help of our guard.
Bill and the policeman came in; he was holding our passports which he gave to the man behind the desk. Bill whispered to me to just sit down and be quiet, nothing would happen to us.  Over at the desk a conversation was taking place in rapid Spanish. I could understand a few words here and there. (Bill of course knew everything that was being said and he told me about it later.) There was quite a bit of discussion about Bill being born in Argentina and claiming he didn’t speak Spanish. Again he was questioned about this. Again he said no, he didn’t speak Spanish he was American.
The conversation went something like this: He must speak Spanish - but he says he doesn’t - they were riding without helmets - that is against the law - they can’t ride the motorcycle with out helmets - Gringos think they can do anything they want - even break our laws. We’ll keep the motorcycle here and they can go get their helmets. Also there is the matter of a fine $50 US each for breaking the law.
The teniente (lieutenant) turned to Bill and told him in English that we would have to leave the motorcycle with them, walk back to the campground and get the helmets then walk back to the station. Then we could pay a fine of fifty dollars US and get the motorcycle.
Bill went over to the desk to speak directly to the commander. He asked him to call our new friend “who owned the town” and tell him what was happening.  The teniente was very hesitant about making the call but Bill insisted saying there would be problems if he didn’t.
The teniente made the call. He explained the situation and then listened. The expression on his face went from smug, to surprised, to resentment and then to acceptance. 
Everyone in the room could hear both sides of the conversation. After listening to the charges our friend told the teniente to let us go. When he protested he was soundly chastised. Our friend told him that either he did what he was told or he would be back out in the hills where he came from. He had given him the job and he could take it away. 
The phone hung up, the teniente sat there thinking for a minute. He stood up and came around the desk with our passports in his hand. He handed me mine and told me I could leave and go get the helmets. When I brought them back we could take the motorcycle. And that the fine would be forgotten, just a misunderstanding.
Smart ass that I was in my younger days, I got up and as I went out the door I bowed and very clearly said, “Grassy Ass!”  Bill almost choked.  I left and walked the short ways back to the campground and told the boys what was going on. John Mc offered to jump on a bicycle and take Bill a helmet.  He met Bill with the Honda about half way to the camp.
Bill told the rest of the story. After I left our friend called back. He was assured everything was okay, he asked to speak with Bill and of course this conversation was in Spanish. When he hung up the teniente handed him his passport and told him to leave and take the bike, just don’t ride it walk it.  Nothing was said about his sudden fluency in Spanish.
Everyone still likes to talk about Mom and Dad being arrested in Costa Rica.

The next day was so beautiful we decided to drive up to Irazu Volcano.

We left the trailer in the campground and took off in the motorhome for the day trip. The country side was absolutely breathtaking. So green. Plants that I had planted in California that grew to six inches and then died, grew wild, some over six feet tall. We drove through farming country then into the foothills up to the volcano. The well paved two-lane road wound up the mountain.
I cannot begin to describe how green and idyllic the countryside was. We kept expecting to see Heidi come over the ridge or hear The Sound of Music. The black and white cows standing in the fields were as big as Volkswagens. The houses off in the distance were painted in bright colors with red roofs.
Even the kids were sitting still gazing out the windows. The road became more winding and the turns sharper the higher we went.  On one particularly sharp curve the refrigerator door popped open and we heard Bang then a wet plopping thud. A whole watermelon had rolled out and exploded into a zillion wet mushy pieces all over the floor.
We all just stared at it, wondering what The Driver would say. Finally Randy who was closest jumped up and slammed the door close then put the little pin in place that locks it closed. (No one could remember who had opened it last and neglected to lock it.) What a mess, again thank goodness for the plastic runner over the shag carpet.  By now we had pulled over and stopped. There wasn’t a piece big enough to save so we scooped up what we could and put it into a garbage bag.  The mush, seeds and juice were mopped up and the plastic given a good rinse. No lasting mess thank goodness. It sure smelled good.
We continued on up the mountain, climbing to over 11,000 feet. The motorhome worked perfectly, no problems. As we climbed higher the vegetation changed, most of the beautiful green was gone replaced with strange looking plants here and there. We were above the clouds now.
When we reached the volcano everyone piled out. You can walk right to the edge of the crater. What a sight - it was only a few of years earlier in 1963 that it had covered San Jose in ash for almost two years. Up this high it was actually quite cool. We could see the craters, one with a weird colored lake, kind of greenish and all around puffs of steam.  John and Paul were bending down touching the ground and calling to us that the dirt was warm! We took pictures and admired the view until the clouds came in and covered the crater.
Back to Tres Rios, the next day we would leave for Panama.

Friday march 10th we started out bright and early as it was quite a ways to Panama and we would be driving over the highest point on the Pan-American Highway, over 11,500 feet. The road goes up and down in little over 40 miles.  Instead of putting the motorcycle back on the trailer Randy was going to ride it. The less weight we had to haul the easier it was on the motorhome. 
The landscape was becoming more tropical by the mile - six foot ferns, orchids and air plants growing on the limbs of strange looking trees. According to the guide book the volcanic eruptions enrich the soil.
We passed through several smaller towns, some with charcoal plants as their source of livelihood. The smoke rising from the plants hung in the air.
We slowly made our way up the winding but good two-lane road. Randy going ahead and then pulling over and waiting for us.  He was dressed typical Randy, black engineer boots, jeans, blue denim shirt and black helmet. As we came around one curve he was off his bike standing next to it and motioning for us to pull over and stop.  As we came to a halt he trotted up pulled open the door and informed us he had run out of gas.  Luckily we carried extra gasoline in a container on the trailer.  As he and John Mc filled the tank we all got out and looked around at the scenery. So green and now the valleys below us were covered by clouds. Seemed strange looking down on clouds!
As we continued up the mountain, we could see farm houses scattered through out the fields. We also started to see children in twos and threes walking up the mountain. Where could they be going? Around a few more bends and we came upon a little one-room school. The school was a white wooden building with a grey roof. Next to it was the teacher’s house, it was bright red.  The teacher and several children were outside. They started waving and walking towards the road.  Bill blew the air horn to get Randy’s attention then pulled over and stopped.  As the children and their teacher hurried towards us we all piled out of the motorhome. There were a lot of “Hellos” in English and few of the older, braver ones came up to Paul and Gill and spoke to them in halting English. Bill spoke to the teacher in Spanish and she answered him in English. This was a primary school all the children were learning English. Lots of questions about where we came from and where we were going. How long would it take? What was it like living in the motorhome?  John had gone back inside and now he was coming out with both hands full of Double Bubble Gum. We had stocked up on it before leaving home and had been passing it out to children and some adults along the way. Bill asked the teacher if it was okay to give it out. She said yes.  As John hung back and watched Paul handed the gum out.
It was funny to watch their reactions - some immediately took the wrapper off and stuck it in their mouths. Others just stared at it and turned it over and over in their hands.  A couple solemnly put it in their pockets to share with their families later. The teacher indicated it was time to go back to the school, as she led her charges away there was much waving and shouting of Thank You.

Before getting back into the motorhome we walked across the highway to look at all the clouds below us.  So eerie and so pretty.  We started off again and crested the highest point on the highway. Not long after we started down we saw Randy pulled over waiting for us again. He was out of gas again. Not possible. Bill, Randy and John Mc stood around looking at it, opening this, checking that, pulling at something else, after much discussion it was concluded that the fuel filter was clogged so the bike would have to go back on the trailer.  Stuff had to be taken off, the bike put on and everything loaded up again.  Just as they were putting the finishing tie downs on the trailer the sky OPENED UP! I had read about tropical rain storms but my imagination did not begin to live up to the real thing. One minute the sky was bright blue, the next it was gray and the rain was coming down so hard it hurt. From the motorhome it was hard to see the trailer. Everyone headed for the door at once. (Paul and I were already inside).  When they finally all pushed through they were soaked. By the time they dried off and changed the rain had stopped and the sky was bright blue. Amazing!
We arrived at the Costa Rican border in the late afternoon and pulled into the line waiting to cross. It was a long line and we would be in it for a while. There was plenty to see while waiting though.  All kinds of trucks loaded with produce and animals and a couple of big busses.  Klaus on his motorcycle was quite a bit ahead of us in line. They boys got out and went up to talk to him and everyone else who would stop.
Just about dusk we finally made it to the official border station. Everything was completed with great efficiency. It cost us $14 by the time we got all our stamps etc.
By now it was dark and we still had to drive about 50 miles to Liberia where there was a campground. There was a little bit of highway around the pot holes on this stretch of road. As Bill swerved to miss two he would hit another one. Everything and everyone was bouncing and rattling around. Luckily there was little traffic and no stray animals to contend with.  It was a very long 50 miles, took a couple of hours to do it.

At the campground we found Klaus. He didn’t fare as well as we had. Not too far before he reached the camp as he tried to miss one pot hole and came to an abrupt stop right in another one. This resulted in his head light popping out. As soon as we got settled Bill and the boys went over to see if they could help him. Bill said he learned some new words in German as Klaus repaired his bike.
We left early the next morning on our way to San Jose, only 150 miles away. And miracle of miracles the road was much better.  The scenery was improving, getting very, very green and tropical Seemed like everything was blooming.
We decided to get gas before heading for the campground. It was a little less than $1 US a gallon. Also filled the three propane tanks and went to the supermercado. Stocked up on bread, meat, milk and fruit as once we parked the motorhome we didn’t like to move it if we didn’t have to.
We stayed at a campground in Tres Rios a little town of about 5000, about 20 miles from San Jose. Again Klaus was there. At this time we also met three more young men on their way to Bolivia. They were driving a VW van with a soccer ball and Beckenbower (a German soccer player) painted on it.  Mark and Robert were brothers; they had been born in Bolivia but grew up in Phoenix, AZ. With them was Paul, he was born in Spain but lived in Scotland then in the Arizona where they met. Robert said they had been watching for us as they heard about the crazy gringos in the red, white and blue motorhome when they were camping in Oaxaca.
That night we all ate bar-b-que together and the guys played some soccer.  Later Mark, Robert, Paul and Klaus got all spiffied up and went into town for a little excitement.

The story they told us the next day was another “Klausism” - it seems they all went into a night club and were talking to some pretty young women from the twon. They had almost convinced the girls to take them out to see the rest of the town. Klaus had been away from the table for part of the conversation and when he returned Mark introduced him to the girls - Klaus gave them a big smile and said in his broken Spanish, “Oh, Putas” (loosely translated as ‘ladies of the evening.’)  Needless to say the girls were highly insulted, gave everyone dirty looks and immediately left. Klaus wondered what happened. No companionship that evening.
Again we were rearranging the trailer, off came the motorcycle and bikes. Bill took the Honda to the gas station to fill it. While there he started talking to the owner of the station and his wife. Seems like the gentleman owned most of the town of Tres Rios and half of the surrounding countryside. They spent quite a bit of time talking about the country and what we should try to see while there. This turned out to be a very important conversation.
The next day Bill suggested he and I take the Honda and go into the town and look around. Away we went not knowing we would soon end up in jail. 
Before we left we stuck our passports in our pockets. (To digress some - even though Bill was born in Argentina he is a naturalized U.S. citizen and carried an American passport.)


We arrived at the pretty plaza in the middle of the town, parked the motorcycle and walked around the village a little. As we were heading back towards the bike we noticed a young policeman, in his sharply pressed tan uniform, walking around it. He bent over and checked the California plates then looked up and down the street as if looking for the owner.  As we approached the bike and prepared to get on he stopped us. In Spanish he asked for our passports. We gave them to him - after seeing that Bill was born in Argentina he asked him if he spoke Spanish.  Bill replied that he didn’t, he only spoke English. The policeman didn’t look like he believed him. Bill held the bike and I started getting on - the policeman put his hand on the handlebars and asked in broken English where our helmets were. We said we didn’t have them with us; they were back at the campground. “You have to come with me,” he said. “Just leave the motorcycle here.”
“Where to? Why?” asked Bill.

Coasta Rica border

Coasta Rica border

Irazu Volcano

Irazu Volcano

Irazu Crater

Irazu Crater

Randy and his Bike

Randy and his Bike

Above the Clouds

Above the Clouds

School House

School House

School Kids

School Kids

Getting Arrested in Costa Rica