Harley Davidson in Costa Rica

As you all have probably surmised by now, Crazu is posting Product Reviews for all of the good stuff listed on the left hand side of every screen on the site.  What else can be said about Harley Davidson that hasn’t already been said?  Not much.  A lot, however, can probably be said to talk about the story of Harley Davidson and Costa Rica, and my tiny part in that.  Here, I will skim the surface of that story.

The first and only Harley Davidson Dealership arrived in Costa Rica the same year we did: 1996.  The owner of the dealership is/was the owner of the Apartotel at which the family had been staying as we toured the country in an attempt to determine if we wanted to relocate in general to this most wonderful Isthmus of Isthmuses and to Costa Rica specifically.  Joaquim, the owner of the dealership and the apartotel, approached us one day and asked if we would please be his “test subjects” as he had decided to start a touring agency affiliated with both the dealership and the apartotel.  Sure, we said.

That event in and of itself did not seal the beginnings of me and Harley Davidson in Central America, but, as we have seen more than once within the articles of Crazu, my Costa Rican family was a major influence.  Priscilla’s oldest daughter, Paula, was the boutique side manager of the agency, which was located just a few blocks away from our house.  Not daily but almost, I would drop in at the agency just to chat with Paula and Mario, the bike side manager.

It very quickly became obvious to me if to nobody else that a Harley Davidson was in my future.  It was practically preordained since I was a bike rider from the old days (read: pre-marriage and pre-son), my Tico family was deeply entrenched in Harley, plus my mother in the states lived about two miles from the Harley Davidson York plant and a few of my relatives worked there.  Slam dunk, huh?

Mario probably knew a Harley was in my future before anybody else when one day he came up to me and told me about a person who bought a Harley the year before but never or hardly ever rode it, and that it could no doubt be bought for a good price.  He was correct and not too longer afterward I rode home with The Betty; it was real easy to remember, she had 1,984 kilometers on the odometer, not even broken in yet.

Through Mario, and this is where the history of Harley Davidson in Costa Rica really begins, I met the Vargas brothers.  Their father, Francisco Vargas Monge, founded the first Harley Davidson group/club in 1941, fifty-five years before the first dealership arrived.  Seventy-one years later, the group still rides every Sunday.  There are more “big bike” clubs in Costa Rica such a M14 and Steel Angels which are also part of the history of Harley Davidson, and of course HOG is now deeply seated in that history also.  To write about all of that would take pages and pages and so we’ll set that aside until the next time.

My very first overnight, weekend ride (paseo) and I’ll never forget it, was with the Vargas brothers, the Harley Davidson Association.  We went to Limon, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, down almost to Panama to a pueblito called Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.  Just like, or so it seemed at the time, the first day at boot camp, or the first deep water dive and the like, I was a ball of nerves inside, but I was determined to do it, to keep up with the group.  If I didn’t keep up, I would have no idea where I was and at the time did not speak a word of Spanish; good incentive, huh?  I didn’t even have any proper gear at the time but my Lands End jacket and book bag  got the job done nicely.

It was quite a trip.  We started out to travel up through the Tunnel on Route 32 over to Puerto Limon, but the Tunnel was closed.  The guys huddled together while I had zero idea as to what was happening and they quickly decided to take the one remaining viable route option.  So then I got a tour of the east side of San Jose, over to Cartago, down through Turrialba, where if you will recall, every Major League Baseball is made, and then over back to Route 32 at Siquirres, some 60 klix west of Limon.

It was a momentous trip for me.  It was also where I met Dante who was also on the ride, a friend to this day, and a Texan with Mexican heritage.  He spoke English and I stuck to him like glue.  I also learned that with the kick stand down that the Harley Davidson is like a fine piece of sculpture suitable for museum viewing, if the throngs of people surrounding our bikes when at the gas station, restaurant, hotel, everywhere we went, was any indication.  I thought then and still think after over 100,000 klix and several countries later, that Harley Davidson is the true lingua francas of this multi-lingual world.

Paula, sweet thing that she can be, must have been worried about me and asked Mario if everything went ok on the trip, to which he replied, “he kept up.”  A smile on her face and music to my ears.  Pura vida


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