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Old 02-02-2011, 07:55 AM   #1
TeeVee OP
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Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Miami/Managua
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Day Ride to Laguna de Perlas, Nicaragua

So, three weeks ago, I head down to Nica to see my soon to be fiance, and my beloved DR650. (Oops! did I just say that? good thing she doesn't even know about this site).

My local riding buddies have "planned" a two day jaunt from Managua to Laguna de Perlas on the east coast of the country. I say "planned" cuz by the time I get there 1 day prior to departure, none of them even bothered to look into lodging for us.

As it turns out, a friend of a friend has like the only decent hotel in Laguna de Perlas, a small town/village of about 5000 people--the census may or may not be right.

Since most of us have no desire to ride on asphalt for any great length, we opt to trailer the bikes to a small spot called Acoyapa. So we meet up at a local Esso station, secure the bikes and off we go. THe mix is 4 DR650's, one Honda NX400, and a KLR, with what will turn out to be a ridiculously HUGE fuel tank.


The drive to Acoyapa goes by quickly. Since I was not driving, I was very




tempted to toss back a few ice cold Victorias, but somehow reason got in the way of fun so I stuck with water--trying to hydrate myself before what will certainly be a dehydrating ride.

We de-trailer in Acoyapa several hours later, suit up, and head off on the road to San Carlos.







This road is a typical Nica hard-pack, gravelly road but since so many buses ply this route, the government has widened it and is now in the process of paving it.

Here's a video of the early part of the road.
http://s830.photobucket.com/albums/z...rent=Gira2.mp4
They have not yet gotten to the dropping asphalt part, so it is still pretty horrendous for four wheeled vehicles. Our bikes loved it.

About 25 miles into the ride, my buddy on the KLR goes down right in front of me. I know this sounds horrible, but dammit! why wasn't the Contour HD recording??? Turns out, he had a front blowout, bike wiggled something wicked, he may or may not have hit the brakes, went sideways, then high sided it. He gets catapulted off the left side of the bike and came down fairly hard on his left shoulder. Here is the scene after.









Long story short, he dislocated his shoulder and put a nice gouge in his right knee. The KLR survived--barely--but was definitely not rideable. Having done 14 years as a medic in NYC, I had the honor of makeshifting an immobilzation device utilizing his fanny pack, some bandannas, and a jersey. not great but better than nothing. Note to self: make up proper field kit for future rides...

So, we call up the drivers who had taken the main road ahead of us to El Rama, to come back and pick-up our fallen comrade and his busted up KLR. Three hours later, they show up, secure the KLR on the trailer and cart him off to Managua to a real hospital.

Now, a bit of background info. we had not left ourselves much spare time and were counting on getting to El Rama around 2, leaving 3+ hours of daylight to make it from there to Laguna de Perlas. Hint: the road is not one you want to navigate at night for two reasons: random deep holes and large boulders strewn about and bandits--the kind with real guns and a penchant for stealing shiny things like expensive 650's, gps units and iphones. The crash set us back 3+ hours so there was no way we were gonna make it before nightfall. In fact, we barely made El Rama by dark.

back to regular programming...

the road was a mix of sharp rocks, gravel, hard-pack, ruts, washboard, puddles...everything DS riders live for.





we rode on the first road for 85.9 miles. unfortunately, due to time constraints we eventually had to continue on asphalt--Nica 7--for 44.4 miles. we high tailed it, but only averaged 60.1 mph because we got stopped by the popo (policia nacional) for about 10 minutes



and it started raining pretty hard for a spell. 20 or so miles out of El Rama, my bike quits during one of the few 80+ mph sprints we were doing. I'm now on reserve, but not worried cuz one guy is carrying a 1.5 gal. kolpin tank.

Right around dusk, we pulled into El Rama. El Rama is a major port town, even though it is pretty far inland. the Rio Escondido--a fairly wide and deep river, capable of handling decent sized cargo ships--leads there and a large amount of inbound and outbound cargo goes through the port there. the city itself is a mix of the english/creole speaking folks from the east coast of the country (mostly descendant of african slaves mixed with miskito indian) and the "spanish" from the "pacific side."






after fueling our rides and snapping some pics at the local Texaco, we head out to find a hotel. after a few "no vacancies" we end up just outside of town at a neat little spot called El Vivero Eco Hotel. Now, I have no clue what about it was "eco" but they served cold beer, the sheets were, ummm, clean, and they had running water. only 2 rooms had a/c but it was nice and cool so the fans did a fairly decent job.

this one is actually from the next day...

after downing a few icy ones and showering, we all piled into one impossibly small caponera or tuk tuk as they are called in Thailand, for a jaunt into town for dinner and hopefully some mayhem.



Town was a short if not cramped, ride away from the hotel. We wind up at a typical restaurant/drinkery for dinner. Can’t remember the name and don’t have pics. Sorry. Dinner was good—local food done right.
Following dinner, we head off to Bar Discotheque Caribbean. A neat little place with two bars: a quiet one downstairs with a slew of tables to sit around, drink, and relax; or upstairs, a much louder rowdier spot with a large dance floor and a few tables around the perimeter.
We spend entirely too many hours drinking entirely too much, considering we have an 75k ride over pretty rough terrain the following morning. But boyz will be boyz…
After abandoning the bar, we make an obligatory stop at a fritanga—where Nica’s famous street foods are sold. Late night munchies consisted over fried pork chunks, gallo pinto (Nica’s verson of rice and beans), enchiladas (no, not the Mexican type), and tajadas (thinly sliced fried plantain strips) also called mariquitas in Cuban cuisine, all doused in some outstanding vinegar based scotch bonnet hot sauce. Damn if that wasn’t some incredible munchies.




Morning comes and a few of us are feeling the inevitable effects of mixing different poisons the night before, but after a couple of cups of coffee and some quick breakfast snacks, we head off. Of course, it would have to start raining as soon as we mount up, but mud is what we live for, right?
The first 10 clicks are brutal. Razor sharp rocks litter the road. There is no smooth line to be had. I guess, if we had properly suspended bikes like KTM’s the road would have been more bearable, but God bless our DR’s…
The road to Laguna de Perlas is 75 kilometers long. It winds through an amazing array of flatlands, semi-twisty hills (don’t get too excited), and 10,000 hectares of African palms. Unlike the Pacific side of Nicaragua, which the vast majority of foreigners see, the Atlantic side is lush and green. Oh, and it’s usually a bit cooler as well.






We take our time, for the most part and make it to Laguna de Perlas in about 2.5 hours. As we get close, we stop to sk directions to the hotel.
http://s830.photobucket.com/albums/z...rrent=Hmmm.mp4
We find Hotel Casa Ulrich, a nice place on the water owned by a friend’s friend, and chill.





Our plan is to hang out there for a bit, eat a quick lunch and head back to El Rama. The best laid plans…


One beer leads to another, a huge plate of boiled shrimp


leads to a huge lunch of coconut rice & shrimp, and before you know it, it’s 2:30 and we’re about to run out of daylight.


We ride out at 2:30 make it about 5 miles and one guy gets a front flat.



A quick tube swap, hook-up my trusty Slime pump, and we’re thinking, “hey, we can still make El Rama before dark.” NOT. Funny thing is the pump is not working…or so we think. Turns out, we ripped the new tube putting it in. Well, whip out the second spare tube and put it in—with a bit more care this time. Sure enough, in five minutes the slime does its duty.
Trouble is, we are definitely out of daylight. So back to Casa Ulrich it is. We spend the night there, eat an absolutely fantastic dinner, oh did I forget to say that Fred Ulrich—the proprietor—is a European trained chef?, Yeah! Outstanding meal Fred, Thanks! You can find more info on Casa Ulrich here: http://vianica.com/hotels/346/hotel-casa-ulrich. Their own website is not up yet.

We depart at 5:30, just as the sun is coming up. I have to make a 1:50 p.m. flight from Managua which is at least 6 hours away—no time to spare. Once we get out of the town of Laguna, several of the guys need to drain their bladders from the 18 cups of coffee they drank. I take this opportunity to let them know that I’m gonna ride on ahead. No time to dilly-daly with 15 piss stops. My plan is to leave the bike at the hotel with the drivers and take a taxi back to Managua ($100).
So off I go. I make the 75 clicks is just over 2 hours, with my kidneys having aged a few extra years. Frank who was trying to catch up to me, stopped a local cattle rancher on the road to ask if he had seen a guy in a blue outfit on a blue bike go by. The guy responded, “well, I saw something blue go by, but I’m not sure it was a guy on a bike.” I was riding way to fast for that road.
At the end, I made it to the airport in Managua in time to see my soon to be fiancé, have a quick cigar and two beers, and get on the plane back to reality.


My bud's on the other hand, get a flat in one of the trailer tires and it turns out that the spare is no good!
thankfully, these guys are everywhere!





Almost forgot, the satellite view of our route...




I'll be headed back down in few days and have a shorter ride planned. Until then...
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TeeVee screwed with this post 02-03-2011 at 06:58 PM
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:29 AM   #2
GB
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Man, that looks like a good time, sore knee and all! Thanks for the report and pics
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:40 AM   #3
salcar
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good to know about casa ulrich. the hotels i've stayed in laguna de perla so far have been "sub-optimal"
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:48 AM   #4
santaferider
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I was there in 1978, not much seems to have changed.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:18 PM   #5
NMEXPAT
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Brings back some good memories of Nica! Thanks for posting.
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