Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Isla Ometepe

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Nicaragua

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My final destination in Nicaragua was Isla Ometepe. It’s an island made out of 2 volcanoes with lakes in the crater. The island is pretty and chill. It has lots of tourists but definitely less gringos per capita than San Juan Del Sur.

The 1 hour ferry ride was under 10$ for me an the bike. I think it cost me around 7$ to the island and about 4-5$ on the way back. Yes, different prices depending on how they feel like charging you. But it’s definitely worth getting your bike on the island. You can cover a lot more surface for cheaper in less time once there. I was able to do the water falls and the natural swimming pool in one day while riding the bike all around the smaller volcano on the bad rocky road.

On the way in, I had the only vehicle on the ship

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The view from the “hotel”

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And the view from my “room”

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This is pretty much all for Nicaragua. I’m in Monteverde, Coasta Rica now and more on that will come later. Internet seems to be somewhat rare in a lot of the places I visit or at least the cheap ones I stay in, so posts might come in big waves like this one once I find a decent connection…


Chillin with Santiago

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Nicaragua

After spending almost a week camping in Hermosa beach and partying at their annual music fest, I decided it was time to head inland. I called up Santiago and he invited me over to do some work on the bike. I also wanted to check out his farm, his really cool house (see below), and a one of a kind Moto Guzzi.

Here is Mr. Santiago. He used to be a mechanic in the US and decided that life was better and more calm in Nicaragua. He sure is right on that one!

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He owns quite a few cool toys. The coolest of them all is probably this old (don’t remember the exact year), Moto Guzzi 1000. It’s a collector’s item that could be worth a lot in countries like the US… but he’s still fixing it up and riding it whenever possible.

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And he owns this cool old school military car.

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Along with this awesome TJ

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And here is his home. He drove down a school bus and decided to change it into a house. Sold everything off of it and modified it into a nice 1 bedroom home with windows all around it. Best idea ever! It’s a really nice and cozy place.

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Santiago had a really good welding machine and some great experience in welding. He offered to help me out as the welds on my not so Happy Trail pannier holders that kept breaking. I had them welded about 4 or 5 times up to now in the past 4.5 months.

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And the final result! He re-welded the old joints but also triangulated them. On top of it, he welded in on both sides a tough metal rod going through all 3 holders. Hey guys at Happy Trails, if you’re reading this, watch and learn! Your pannier holders are junk out of the factory! Get some real strength into them for the true travelers out there…

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Santiago, if you’re reading this, thanks again for everything buddy! For the amazing hospitality and for helping me out with the bike! I have since dropped the bike once and taken it through some of the worse roads possible and everything is holding up nice! You’re a life saver! Cheers bud!

San Juan Del Sur

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Nicaragua

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San Juan Del Sur is a nice small town invaded by American but mainly Canadian tourists. The second I entered town, I was asked to go sit down for a beer. I had lots of time, so why not? I joined Paul and Rachel over a cold one and Dave and Santiago joined shortly later. Dave gave me a couple of cool stickers while Santiago, another bike traveler who lives 8 km from town, invited me over to check out his farm and do some work on the bike whenever I feel like. Drink after drink, the sun went down and it was me, Paul and Rachel left at the table. It was dark and we had consumed a few beers for sure. Instead of me trying to stumble over and try to find a hostel, Paul and Rachel invited me to set-up my sleeping bag in their hotel room where I ended up spending the night.

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The next day, we decided to go and check out a camping spot at a cool beach near by called Hermosa Beach. This is the beach where they filmed a year and half ago the show named Nicaragua Survivor. We were camping on the same beach as the guys and girls from Survivor. The only difference was that we had access to showers, drinking water, and even a restaurant. At night time, it was the most tranquil beach ever. Secluded from all forms of artificial light and sound, it did feel like we were on a deserted island.

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Here is Paul.

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And here is Paul’s VW van. It’s the best and coolest set-up van ever. He had everything from solar panels to surf boards, a shit load of tools and even a ladder. On the back, he was transporting an FZ 1000 bike. That van has over 300k miles on it with original transmission and original engine. Straight up crazy van!

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A playa Hermosa sunset

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And a few days later, a surf competition. We woke up in the morning to a bunch of trucks coming in and setting everything up…

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… and changing the calm and raw beach into a Marketing show

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This kid was trying to sell his board. Hope he got it sold by the end of the day.

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Posted: March 1, 2011 in Nicaragua

In Leon, I met up with Indira, Julio’s sister. Julio is one of my best friends in Calgary. We hung out for a couple of nights in Leon and then she invited me over to Managua to stay over at her parent’s house and go out on the week-end for some partying. Julio’s family showed me an amazing hospitality and I still can’t thank them enough for it.

Here are some pics from my Managua stay…

Indira on the right and her 2 best friends. We went out to a local bar in the SW part of Managua.

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Marcos, Julio’s best friend

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Besides partying, we also went and visited a couple of local volcanoes.

Here are the pics from the active Volcano Masaya

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And a picture from Volcan Mombacho. You couldn’t really see the volcano, just walk around it and see really nice views of the surrounding area.

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Granada and Leon

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Nicaragua

From Juigalpa, I headed over to Leon, but I had to stop in Managua to get the paperwork done on my bike. It’s a simple 30 day temporary visa which I couldn’t get at the Leymus border crossing. Like always, the paperwork took hours and it was 5pm by the time I got out. It was getting dark fast, so I decided to head over to Granada for the night as it was only 30 minutes away. I ended up staying there for 2 nights and then headed over to Leon. Both towns are old school colonial tourist attractions. Lots of hostels and locals who want your cash. You will get hassled, offered things, talked into “charity”… but you will have a great time. I really liked Leon for it’s night life and close by beaches.

Here are some building shots…

An old and abandoned hospital

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And a church

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Got speed?

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Nicaragua

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One night while chilling over at Hector’s house, his cousin showed up on a 350 two stroke banshee. It had some sweet upgrades to it and Alan, Hector’s cousin seemed to know quite a bit about the beast. We had to pick up some stuff from the gas station so we decided to take the 350 out for a short spin. The next thing I know, we’re flying up and down the dark streets of Juigalpa, jumping over stuff and riding mainly on 2 wheels while enjoying tunnel vision between the cars and bikes on the road. The adrenaline rush was so intense that I had a hard time sleeping that night. It felt like I was in some kind of video game… I wish I had a camera to get it all on film…

Turns out that Alan is a 2 time national motocross (4 wheel) champion while holding many other important trophies!

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Got Gold?

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Nicaragua

We all have some kind of gold jewelry. It’s a “precious” metal that we find “attractive” because of it being expensive and somewhat rare.

While in Juigalpa and touring around with Carlos, we found an old gold extraction facility. And by old, I mean really old… over 100 years of non-stop hammering on the rocks.

Here is the gold extraction process…

The mines go over 100 feet deep. The rock is extracted from the mines with really old school technology… or no technology at all. The environment is so dangerous that tourists or outsiders are not allowed in… not even in a country where money gives you great access to anything. The rocks and dirt are brought over in bags to the extracting facilities. Here, it’s dropped into this old school grinder. When there is electricity, the grinder is turning by the power of an electrical motor connected to an old truck transmission. The big rocks grind down the rocks and dirt to really fine particles.

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And there is also this other old school machine that hammers down the rock with 4 large piston like hammers. The noise is incredibly loud.

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This guy takes the fine sand and adds mercury to it in a bowl. The mercury, a highly toxic substance, coagulates the gold into larger particles. The guy plays around in the bowl with the mercury and the sand bare handed. He filters it out many times, dropping the water and parts of the mercury down the water drain in front of him.

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Here is the final product. About 3 grams of 14k gold.

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And here is the river coming out of the factory. It’s filled with dirt and small particles of mercury. It flows down right by a village and passes a few more on it’s way to a big lake or to the ocean. There are no filtration systems what so ever. On the right side, you can see the clear water coming and mixing in with the dirty one. Just a few meters up the road, there were some nice small falls. Over 100 years of gold processing and mercury spreading in the river from this one facility alone.

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Juigalpa with Hector

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Nicaragua

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Trying to make my way west towards the paved roads and colonial touristic towns, I stopped in a hotel for the night and met Hector. After talking for a bit and telling him about my trip, he invited me to stay over at his house in Juigalpa. I thought I’d stop by for a night and check out the this city of just over 50 000 people, but once I got there, Hector decided that I should spend the week-end and I ended up staying 5 nights. He showed me around town, hooked me up with a local guide, Carlos, and we had an awesome time hanging out. I will meet him in San Juan Del Sur on Monday most likely as he’s taking some time off by the beach. Hector buddy, THANKS again for the hospitality!

Some pictures from the road to Juigalpa

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And here is Hector’s neighborhood. It has security at the entrance and fairly new modernized homes.

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The first day, we went to a local natural reserve and saw this guy relaxing on the side of the road.

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Rice farm

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Going through the river was safer

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The natural reserve was flooded. A few of the buildings were sitting on water. You can see the middle of this bridge right at the water level.

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Hector posing

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Our lunch

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And then we went to the local zoo which is pretty cool. It’s mainly a really big yard with some monkeys, birds and cats

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I was talking to this guy for a bit

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His reaction when I told him about global warming

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The other 2 guys didn’t even listen

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Then we went to a side park just in the middle of the city and shot this view

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Posted: February 11, 2011 in Nicaragua, Uncategorized

I met Anthony in Leon and he wrote me this super sweet jingle…

His blog can be seen HERE.

Leimus Nicaragua Crossing

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Nicaragua

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After arriving to Puerto Lempira, I filled up on gas and headed down towards Nicaragua. There is only one “highway” available. It’s mainly a forestry road in a pretty bad shape. You need an SUV to drive it or a big truck. It also started raining which made it a lot worse. Some of the “puddles” could eat my bike alive. Traffic on the road was almost non existent but if you stopped for any reason and a truck would pass by, it would stop and the driver would ask you if you were ok.

Around this area of the world, sometimes it’s easier to take it through the river than the actual “bridge”. Luckily, I was standing on another newer bridge while taking this photo so I didn’t have to ride the river.

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Had to stop at a military checkpoint. The guys were really nice and let me relax with them for a bit as it was pouring hard when I stopped. They also told me that there was a comedor a few minutes down the road so when the rain calmed down, I went into the hopes of a good warm soup.

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And they did have some really good chicken soup. Adalberto was enjoying a bowl of it.

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And more military guys:

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The local dog

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The military all terrain vehicle… almost like a Hummer…

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And none other but the Colonel himself. He is responsible for the whole border on the Honduras side between Honduras and Nicaragua. Right away he asked me what I had on my bike and what I was transporting along with many other questions.

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Here is what happens when they find out that you have about 10 kilos of coke on you:

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But I didn’t have any so it was all good. After talking over a “few” beers and enjoying a meal, he said that the rain was really bad and it was getting late, so he invited me to stay over at his batallion along with about 200 other soldiers. I couldn’t refuse his generous invitation.

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My sleeping quarters. This is the bunker they use for the US military guys when they come over. The US military helps with some really basic technology stuff, some emergency food and other basic equipment. Now the bunker had noone there so I had it pretty much all to myself.

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A comfy bed, clean bathroom with showers! Food and drinks included too! It was nice change after the skid plates on the boat and no shower in 3 days.

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Back on the road the next morning, you could see the aftermath of the rain. Some parts of this road would have been really hard if I didn’t stop over at the military base. Lots of fun the next morning though!

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A few miles down the road, I see a bicycle with saddle bags. Must be another tourist! As I pass by I see it’s Cass! He is the one who told me about the possible boat ride in La Ceiba. While I was up on the island partying and diving, he rode the whole Moskita on his bicycle. Brave guy!

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We kinda rode together till the border. He was just a few minutes behind me actually but caught up as I was doing my “paperwork” with the military guy sitting in a shack. The is no duana here or actual border people. It’s just a military guy writing down your information in a school type notebook. No stamp in the passport either or a bridge as a matter of fact to cross over.

On the other side of the river you can see Honduras. We crossed over in a Lancha. Made the bike fit into that small green kayak with no problems.

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Getting it out of it was a different story! We were at the base of a super steep hill that was pure mud because of the rain.

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Here’s the guys who helped me get the bike across and push it up the hill. The kid on the left is the captain of the boat and the one on the right is just a really nice guy who helped me find gas for the boat, load the bike and everything else. As you can see by their shirts it was no easy task! We dropped the bike off the boat, welds broke on the pannier holders, dropped the bike in the mud….

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As I came up on the hill, flooring the bike in the muddy trail in first gear and wheeling off the last bump, this family living on top of the hill thought they saw a ghost. They were literally speechless.

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On the Nicaragua side, there was another military checkpoint where the guys were really nice and polite. Did all the writing down of the paperwork, called our info in on their old school radio to the main base and we were on our way to Waspan, a border town about an hour away.

I got my welds done up again for the 2nd time in the same spots.

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And the welder’s kids were happy too. Meanwhile Cass had already left about 2 hours earlier.

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But I met him down the road as he was helping a local guy fix a puncture.

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We’re headed that way….

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Poser! 😀

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On this side of this bridge there was another military checkpoint. After writing down our info, the captain offered us the backyard to set-up camp for the night. Free camping, body guards with automatic guns and a great scenery was backpackers luxury.

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Here’s my campsite. In the pic is my Big Agnes SL2 tent which is having some major issues with the zipper as both front zippers on the inner part are broken or braking. I will e-mail Big Agnes and see if they will help me solve the issue, but meanwhile I will have to get a mosquito net to set over the door.

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