12-04-2012, 06:34 AM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Nov 25 Into Nicaragua
Got an early start so I could hit the border while it was still cool and hopefully less busy.
The highway turned from the nice pavement I had been on most of yesterday to the frickin face of the moon. Potholes and more potholes, potholes in potholes. Everybody dodging them - looked like a giant pinball machine sometimes with cars, trucks and buses all weaving back and forth. The folks in the other lane wanted to be in our lane and everybody in our lane wanted to be over there. Most buses and some trucks wanting to maintain speed snaking back and forth Ė looked like a choreographed ballet going on in front of me. Turned my camera on and got a little bit of this stretch.
Have to say the rumors I had heard about Honduras corruption, both at the borders and at police checkpoints proved to be unfounded in my case. The Honduras border folks were reasonably efficient, courteous, friendly, did all the paper work themselves and did their best to help. I came across 3 or 4 police checkpoints in Honduras and was waived through all of them. In fact, so far, the only checkpoint I have been stopped at since Mexico was one in Guatemala where the kid was more interested in talking about my trip and looking at my bike Ė didnít ask for papers nor to look in luggage.
Stopped to dig out some documents I realized I would need and didnít have readily available and realized I was already at the border as money changers and helpers descended on me.
The Honduras Aduana and Migracion were real straight forward . . . stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp and Iím on my way.
Changed my loot over Ė got a half assed rate. After my exit stuff is completed, I get rid of all the currency I have left from the previous country and convert it to the next countryís currency. Money changers are good for that and are handy. I always check the rate before I leave so Iím not negotiating blind. This is a website I use to easily convert between any two currencies.
Now across the bridge to Nicaragua. Trucks are backed up on the bridge and I notice a girl further down on the bridge waiving at me. Not much traffic the other way so sprint down to her and she wants to sell me insurance. Now I know I have to get insurance so I stop. Here I am parked in the middle of the only lane where people/cars/trucks/busses can get from Nicaraugra to Honduras in this neck of the woods, digging out my documentation so she can issue my insurance certificate. Took a few minutes - good thing nobody was going to Honduras that morning.
First stop is to get the bike fumigated. Cost $3. They spray some apparently nasty stuff on the bottom of the bike and the bottom of the wheels. What that is supposed to do is beyond me but you canít get in if it ainít done, so it gets done.
Find Migraciůn, lots of passing my passport around and laughing (I didnít understand what they found so humorous but I think it was something like ďHey Raoul, look at this guyís picture Ė must have been his prison pictureĒ) Lots of filling out forms and typing on the computer. Finally pulls out a small booklet of press through forms and goes through a huge routine of finding the next unused page and sticking the cardboard in exactly right. Writes about two things on it, tears the top one off and then picks up an even smaller pad and does the same thing. Pay him something like $26 which pretty well cleans out my Cordobas (Like 650 Cordobas) I got from the money changer. He hands back my passport and the two pieces of paper he labored over. I ask him if he is going to stamp my passport and he says no, they will when I leave. OK then.
Go next door to the Aduana to check in my bike. Stand in line for a bit, finally hand my documents to the lady, she fills in a couple of forms, stamps them, hands me one and thatís it. Donít have to pay anything? Nope. OK, Iím outa here before they change their minds.
And, Iím in Nicaragua.Total time, 1 Ĺ hours. Easy peazy.
Nicaragua is noticeably different than Honduras. Firstly notice a few volcanoes Ė the first one must of just had sex because it looked relaxed and was having a smoke.
The biggest thing I noticed was the number of three-wheeler peddle taxis and the number of horse drawn carts. Certainly fewer cars around.
Was getting hungry so stopped at the edge of Leon to see if I could score some street food. Saw a bunch of ladies with tables set up but whatever it was they were selling didnít get my drool reflex stimulated. Walking back to the bike and some guy from across the street hollers at me in English. I go over to say hi and ask him where I can find some chow and he says not here and invites me to sit down with his family and gets me a Coke. He could speak a little English which worked well with my little Spanish. Nice people Ė Daniel is on the left.
Was stopped on the side of the road and these three kids appear to check out the bike.
There always seem to be people staring at me and the bike as we travel down the road. Some wave, some smile, most stare, lots of cars, little motorcycles, trucks, buses will honk at me. Central Americans love to honk their horns Ė it can mean any one of the following: Iím coming through; Iím here where you canít see me - donít run into me; Get out of my way idiot and; Hey dude Ė cool bike . So, when you hear a honk you have to quickly run through the list meanings to see if you might die shortly or just pissed someone off or, need to accept a compliment. Usually the latter.
Got out of Leon and traveling to Managua on what is supposed to be the Pan American Highway and it just turns to crap. Worse potholes than that last stretch in Honduras and it eventually got to the point where it was just gravel road. Iím thinking Iím going to be screwed as I planned on a little dirt road to bypass Managua and if this is supposed to be the main highway, then that bypass will surely be no more than a goat trail. Maybe I missed a turn off and this is an old road. All the maps just show this is the only road but they have been wrong before. Very little traffic which is weird, just a few trucks. Then it got a bit better.
I had heard that Managua is a big city (1.4 million) that is kind of seedy and had some real crooked traffic cops. So I found a shortcut that bypassed the city. It was only about 15km of dirt road Ė started out rough and got rougher. Glad it wasnít raining or it would have been mud. This is a better part
Came around one corner and here is about 5 roads coming together with a nasty stretch up a little hill and some guy walking down right where I had to go. Thought I would ask him to make sure this is still going to take me to the highway. I donít think he had any teeth cause all I heard was muh muh muh muh Ė ask again and the same. Finally asked him some yes/no questions and figured out I was on the right track.
Got up to the top of this little crappy piece and here is a guy with an ice cream cart selling ice cream. It was frickin surreal - one instant I'm concerned the road will peter out and the next here is a street vendor. Thought I was in some Rod Serling movie. Got to the highway fine.
Entering this one town and come across what had to be the ugliest piece of art decorating a town's entrance. Must have been a gift from the Russians when they were hanging around this country a lot.
Rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. Arrived at Hotel California in Rivas on Lake Nicaragra Ė decent place. Iím the only one here. My bike in front of the room
Pig out at Ena's
Went down to the beach at about 7:30 and grabbed dinner. As Iím finishing up the people running the restaurant come over to ask me where Iím staying. The Hotel California is a couple of blocks away and they kind of freak out and tell me that is a dangerous walk at night. I try to tell them no stinking thief is going to want to mess with this Ė donít you know I am RexBuck? They shake their heads, close their restaurant for the night and walk me to my hotel. Pansies! (Umm, thanks folks)
There is kind of a hostel hotel a couple of doors down from Hotel California with the backpacker crowd. There always seems to be someone with bongo drums, the sound of which travels for miles. I wonder to myself, why do people with bongos (or the bigger drums they also beat on with their hands) think that is somehow music and anybody else in the world wants to listen? Many times you hear some pretty good musicians jamming and some idiot with bongos is screwing the whole thing up. Talentless idiots! Just sayin.
- RexBuck's Latin America
Information on travelling in Latin America.
Includes links to ride reports to Mexico and to South America