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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