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Old 02-18-2014, 06:49 PM   #241
Adios Pantalones
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Outstanding Sean! You're making magic, best post so far.

Your story of Luis reminded me of this old story. It's been around forever. I had the chance to tell it to a "Luis" of my own in a little village in Baja.

This story is my inspiration to slow down, reassess, and get real about how I want to live life...


An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, ďonly a little while. The American then asked why didnít he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his familyís immediate needs. The American then asked, ďbut what do you do with the rest of your time?Ē
The Mexican fisherman said, ďI sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.Ē The American scoffed, ďI am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.Ē
The Mexican fisherman asked, ďBut, how long will this all take?Ē
To which the American replied, ď15 Ė 20 years.Ē
ďBut what then?Ē Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, ďThatís the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!Ē
ďMillions Ė then what?Ē
The American said, ďThen you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.Ē
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:15 PM   #242
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True enough!
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:05 AM   #243
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When you come across people like Luis and his wife, you realize the world is a pretty awesome f#$%ing place!

If I've told my kids once, I've told them a thousand times, "People are inherently GOOD." You're trip has proven it in spades!

Thanks for the update. Lovin' each one on its own merit.
Being around someone like that makes it really hard to look at things negatively in the world. Their charisma and character fills the air around them and pushes all the other BS out. Whenever I have kids, hopefully they'll understand and be someone like Luis.

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Originally Posted by Adios Pantalones View Post
Outstanding Sean! You're making magic, best post so far.

Your story of Luis reminded me of this old story. It's been around forever. I had the chance to tell it to a "Luis" of my own in a little village in Baja.

This story is my inspiration to slow down, reassess, and get real about how I want to live life...


An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
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Originally Posted by sophijo View Post
True enough!
I like that story, it captures an idea that a lot of people I think wonder about, finding balance in life. The guy in your story has obviously found it.
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Old 02-19-2014, 01:40 PM   #244
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55. Summa'Time In Santa Tecla

After leaving Luis’s we headed for a town called Santa Tecla, just far enough outside the capital city of San Salvador to be much more relaxed and laid back.



We landed in the trendy sector of town with a neat little art scene.









We set up a couch surf for here a few days earlier with a lovely lady named Vera from BiciTecla cafe. We don’t have a phone so we borrow one to contact her, let her know we are in town, and set up shop to wait until she’s free to come meet up.

We found some good cheap food amongst the expensive ones more commonly found in this area. We chatted with the family who ran the place, nice people.



My soup had the ocean in it (El Salvador is on the coast).



Vera came and met up with us and then took us out to an open mic night at a local cafe. That night they were celebrating multicultural music so there was live music and a fair bit of cross cultural dialogue.



Vera got up and read some spoken word to the group of people that had gathered. The crowd wasn’t super big, so two big white guys rolling in on a motorcycle don’t exactly blend in. Vera took the opportunity ‘formally’ introduce us, so as to explain why we were there and break the ice. Earlier in the day I had asked Vera some questions that I have gotten in the habit of asking people while I’ve been on the road. Vera asked if I would be willing to ask one of them to the audience, to start some cultural dialogue with the other youngens there. I was nervous at first, as this would all need to be in spanish. I pussied out and told her that I was uncomfortable speaking to all of them so formally in spanish, and that I would rather not if I have the option. A few minutes later though I began to regret my decision. I can’t pass up an opportunity like this just because it makes me nervous! Luckily though, Vera knew that I would regret not doing it, and ignored my wishes earlier and gotten the mic anyways. Thanks vera. When the time came I stood up and introduced myself and James, as well as the reason why we were on this trip and here in the coffee shop with them this night, then asked them, “What do you want for the future of your country in the next 5 to 10 years?”. This is a question that I like asking because the can be very diverse, and dependent on the mentality of the individual (pos vs. neg), and it can also be a mirror into what is relevant to them on a daily level. There were many good responses from people, kids, teenagers, and young adults, but the most common answer was safety and security for the generation of children growing up right now. Today, El Salvador experiences some of the highest homicide rates in the world, with the majority of it being centered around gang violence. If you were to create a sinister ranking of the top 10 highest homicide rates since 1995, El Salvador would hold an incredible 6 of those rankings. Tonight, I couldn’t see a bit of this hostility and danger, but through their responses, I knew it was a common concern in their lives.

After the cafe, Vera took us to her favorite street food place for some late night pupusas and hot chocolate (hot chocolate here is pretty popular). Pretty good stuff.





Vera runs a cafe that is geared around bicycling and being active. She offered to show us around town via bikes. Well of course we are down to do that.



There has been a lot of infrastructure and work done lately to increase bicycling in Santa Tecla. Any major city would be proud to say that they have implemented as much as has been done here, yet here it has been done on a much smaller budget.







Vera has a bike group, they were the ones who did the art in this tunnel.







On the way back from the ride, we swung by another of Vera’s recommended street food places for lunch. Again we found good pupusas and hot chocolate. Not exactly sure why hot chocolate is an enjoyed drink when the weather is 95+ fahrenheit, but hey, do as the locals do. It might be just too damn tasty to not have it.



Here’s a video of the morning around town. Good times on two wheels and a great way to see the area.



We had the whole afternoon left, so James and I went to take a peek at the local Volcano.



James made his country proud at the onsite museum.



And I took some pictures of the area.







After we wound back down the mountain, we again found ourselves with plenty of time left in the afternoon. “Bout beer o’clock I think right?!”, “Yep, bout that time I think.” We decided to go to the same lovely place as the afternoon before and do some people watching from the street with a fresh brew and some food.



This place really doesn’t seem to be a tourist town, as I haven’t seen a single other tourist besides ourselves here. Bikes look pretty good over there if I must say so myself.



We sat, ate food, drank beer, and watched the people go by.



The owners remembered us from the day and offered us a discount on the beers. Thanks guys! We decided we might as well knock a few more back and just hang out for a bit then.



“A bit” turned to evening, and evening into night time. As the sun went away, this trendy part of town started to fill up and the characters came out.



Being two obvious tourists in a non-tourist town slaying beers out on the sidewalk like it’s our day job tends to attract a bit of attention. We ended up having quite a few people stop by over the evening to shoot the shit, share a beer, or ask about the bikes. Oddly good way to meet people.



Vera ran into us later in the night with a couple of other couch surfers, so we round out the night with them and getting some good spanish practice in. Thanks for the great time Vera, it’s been a treat seeing the side of El Salvador and Santa Tecla that you know so well.




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Old 02-19-2014, 04:36 PM   #245
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Thanks for the update Sean, the adventure continues
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:35 PM   #246
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Wow! Santa Tecla looks like Party Central Great ride Report and Pictures. Thanks for taking this Old Guy along..
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Old 02-21-2014, 01:19 PM   #247
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Wow! Santa Tecla looks like Party Central Great ride Report and Pictures. Thanks for taking this Old Guy along..
Doesn't it? To be fair, that area of town was the nicer drag, but the rest of town was perfectly pleasant as well. It was weird not seeing a single other tourist there, as a place like this I would assume would attract plenty of tourists. Maybe it was the 'off season', or maybe El Salvador just isn't high up on the list of places to go for many people. I definitely recommend it.
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:59 PM   #248
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Sean !... My Son lives in Vancouver Wa. And my daughter lives on Mercer Island Wa.... I keep my KLR at Mercer Island to ride around that beautiful area for a Couple of Months in the Summer. Hope we run across each other next Summer, Ill buy the first round ..
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Old 02-22-2014, 07:17 AM   #249
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Sean !... My Son lives in Vancouver Wa. And my daughter lives on Mercer Island Wa.... I keep my KLR at Mercer Island to ride around that beautiful area for a Couple of Months in the Summer. Hope we run across each other next Summer, Ill buy the first round ..
Deal, I can buy the second .
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Old 02-22-2014, 07:20 AM   #250
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56. Back To Our Roots

Itís morning in Santa Tecla. I can smell that Vera is already brewing coffee downstairs. Today James and I are headed further south towards El Salvador. We want more time here in this interesting country though, so we decided to stop just shy of the border near a place called San Miguel. A friend of Veraís has a farm here and was kind enough to invite us to come see it and maybe stay the night. We are roughly half way through El Salvador, as the crow flies, yet itís only another 2.5 hours to the border. Stopping at the farm will be a nice way to extend our stay a bit.

We say goodby to Vera as she rolls out for the day on one of her 20 some odd bikes. Today itís her custom low-rider chopper.



Itís supposed to be an easy ride to the farm, a smooth two hours, so we take our time. Crossing a bridge I spot people down below in the river. Not unusual in itself, but their group formation and movements seem familiar. They are playing soccer (football), but on a small sand island in the middle of the river.



Itís hot out. Over 105 degrees for sure, my bike tells me itís 112 but who knows how accurate that is. If I were running around playing soccer (football), Iíd want to be playing it here as well. When the ball gets kicked out of bounds, itís a race to the water for a nice cooldown and to retrieve the ball.



About two warm hours later we find the farm. We were told to look for the ďLeche de CabraĒ sign on the side of the road. There focus at the farm now is selling goat milk. Itís 100% natural, has more calcium and vitamins, less fat, and zero hormones. Itís a specialty item around here, as it sells for a premium, but itís also becoming a reasonable alternative to cow milk as well.

When we roll in I sense eyes on us from every direction. I donít think we are the typical passerbys that come in here seeking some fresh goat milk.



Veraís friend Orellana, the matriarch of this family run farm, has come by the farm in await of our arrival and greets us with open arms and a fresh glass oí milk. After chatting for a few, we take a peek at their small but beautiful farm.

Although itís an animal and feed farm, they also invest a fair amount of effort on the many ornamental plants that are on grounds at the request of the family. This takes an incredible amount of water in this hot and arid place, something not possible for most other farms. This farms land is unique though, as it has natural water aquifers throughout the 50 hectares, and these are all very close to the surface. Dig a small well wherever you need water, put in a pump, and you have water all year long. Most other farms in the area who have aquifers have to dig veeerrrry deep to access the water, this is cost intensive and so not many are built. Here though, the water flows liberally, thus making all these beautiful plants a possibility.





The pastures and space here seem comfortable for the animals. More like a contained space in a natural environment than what is my typical understanding of a farm back in the US. Itís a relaxing feeling, no mass production or hectic flurries of activity here, totaly stress free.





Today is Sunday and that means football here. We jump in one of the trucks with one of the younger lads, Moises, and head down to the pitch to catch a bit of a game.





We come back and Alberto, the groundskeeper and brother in law of the owner, is there and excited to show us around the place. We take a driving tour to the edge of the grounds.



Alberto talks about what they farm, what makes their farm different due to their unique availability of ample water year round, the livestock they have, and the feed that they grow to make it all go round. Heís proud and passionate about what they do here, you can tell that itís uniqueness and productivity makes him very happy with his work.



This whole area and all the lands surrounding it seem to be farms devoted to one thing or another. Their neighbor is a banana farmer so we go over their to take a peek at their operation. They also have readily accessible water, so their farm is quite unique as well.



Moises, ever the silent character, strikes a pose on the farm.



We walk throughout the grounds, scope the bananas, and work on our spanish. These guys know a lot, and are excited to share.



Pretty killer spot to have a farm.



We ask to spend the night, and thinking we would leave the next day we snap a group photo with the whole family. (Sessa on the left with his wife, me, Moises, Alberto, and James)



Orellana told us that the area can be dangerous at night for people that arenít from here. Most people around here have very little, and we stand out a lot and are seen as opportunities. She asks that we please donít leave the farm alone, and if we really want to, to not take the bikes and to go with Moises. The family all live in San Miguel, a 20 minute ride down the road, but Moises stays to kick it with us for the night on the farm. We heard them say there are bomb pupusas down the road, so we push him to take us. We take one of the beatup farm rigs to attract less attention. We have no keys for the truck, but Moises looks at my motorcycle keys and grabs one of them that is in the ballpark. He sticks it in and cranks her up. We all get a kick out of this.


We roll in and order some food and some beers at the bewilderment of the local stand crowd.



I ask Moises if this is a little weird for him, or if other people will look differently towards him for hanging out with us. He laughs and says that nothing is weird for him.



The next day we meet Glenn and tag along on his morning work.



First job is to feed the baby goats.



They are young and so are all bottle fed fresh goat milk. They are kept separate so that they can be sure to get the amount of food they need without having to compete with the others.



We meet some of the other animals. These two geese were the local Nazis. As far as I could tell they just paraded around all day honking and aggressing anyone that they could find.



They seemed to have a certain hatred for anyone but themselves, as if they had a twin brother that was neglected and killed unceremoniously, so they then made a life pact to hate and terrify anyone and everyone on the farm who had a role in it. Really were assholes through and through.



These calves are kept separate for the same reason as the baby goats. They were licking the milk froth off each others faces after morning breakfast.



We met up with Glenn again to see what they do with the adult goats.



First is feeding. A mix of grains, oats, and honey is served up.





While the goats eat, Glenn offers us a goat milk frapacino. We heard this is a must while here, ďweíll take two pleaseĒ



Just instant El Salvadorian coffee, bit of cane sugar, and some fresh squeezed hot-out-of-the-utter goat milk. Creamy, and fucking delicious.



James isnít a big milk drinker like me, and even he thought it tasted pretty good.



Glenn also showed us how to milk a goat. This was also a first for me. Preeeeetttyyy darn weird I have to admit, but oddly connecting as well. No, not connecting with the goat, but to how people have obtained milk for thousands of years. Kind of cool.





Not sure why these baby goats were in baby-goat prison, but they seemed content.



From all the milk they then separate the cream and make cheese.



They make a number of different types. Most common though is Ďqueseoí, which is cheese made from cows milk and is what people use in pupusas. Today that is what they are making.



Itís a fast and interesting process. The cheese curd is first melted down and the other ingredients are mixed in with wooden sticks. Mostly cream, some salt, and a couple other simple ingredients. The killer flave comes from the naturally fed cows.



After itís all melted together itís dumped onto a table and magic is worked. They stretch and form the cheese with wooden sticks as it cools. Flipping, pulling, and lifting it up over their heads for gravity to pull it back down to the table.



Once itís the right consistency itís put into a bin and the next one is started. Each batch/bin of cheese takes about 15 minutes from curd to finished cheese product. This picture has the three general forms.



Itís a fast process, and thereís an obvious skill to crafting a good bin of cheese, but they still let us noobs give it a whirl.


Picking up 30lbs of cheese on the end of a stick was much harder than I thought.



To these guys, itís just another day of work.





When making another type of cheese they use these cool wooden presses.



This cheese is queseo though and now goes straight to the cooling table. Orellana watches over the process and gives the seal of approval for this batch.



After a morning of work we are beet. The sun is high in the sky now and itís getting piping hot. About this time everyone slows down, switches shifts, or takes a nap before starting the second half of the days work in the later afternoon.



After waking up we tried some of Orellanaís tamales with some of the strained cream from the milk we got earlier. Her tamales were delicious, but everything tastes better with cream.



That afternoon I took some time to do some maintenance on the bike, and Moises showed me how to fix some broken fuses. One copper wire is about a 10 he says, so 2 will be about 20. The ingenuity around here is pretty clever. Thanks Moises.



We chatted with the family for a while that night, talking about lots of stuff from different ethics of farming in the Americas to the cultures of the surrounding countries. Eventually it came time to say goodbye though.



After everyone went back to San Miguel, James and I pulled out the cards, cracked a few beers, and enjoyed the last night in this special place. Itís been great getting our hands dirty and learning about what these people do here on a daily basis. James being a farmer himself is familiar with this way of life, but even for him, things are done with a very different mentality down here. Itís less about efficiency or mass production, and more about the way of life. Iíve had a really great time here, and in El Salvador as a whole. Tomorrow we are leaving this special country, and heading to Honduras. Itís difficult to leave this small country after having had such a unique and special time here, Honduras, you have big shoes to fill.

Hereís a video from our time on the farm:




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Old 02-22-2014, 11:59 AM   #251
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Funny how you think sitting in the back of the truck is dangerous when you ride way faster on 2 wheels ...coming in hot..
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:21 PM   #252
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Amazing RR -- great photos, great narrative. Loving what you're doing so far and looking forward to more.
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:05 PM   #253
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Funny how you think sitting in the back of the truck is dangerous when you ride way faster on 2 wheels ...coming in hot..
It's that lack of control, riding anywhere but in the pilot seat is not for me. "Coming in HOT"

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Amazing RR -- great photos, great narrative. Loving what you're doing so far and looking forward to more.
Thanks I appreciate that, having a great time doing it. More to come.
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Old 02-24-2014, 12:51 AM   #254
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:32 AM   #255
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57. Break-Ups and Rebounds

It’s a new morning at the farm and the sun is just now cresting, people have already been up for several hours though, and much work has already been accomplished. James and I are just guests, so we take the morning slowly and wake up leisurely. When we awake Glenn has a fresh cup of freshly squeezed goat milk cappuccino ready. Perfect kick while packing up. We are heading off today for Honduras, a new country awaits. It’s already scalding hot out, so we start the morning right with a cold beer, fried plantains cooked up by Glenn’s partner, and goat cream fresh from the farm. Breakfast of champions.



We say our goodbyes and hit the road.



It’s dry here, and getting hotter and hotter as we move south.



Welcome to Honduras!



It’s James’ turn to do the paperwork, so I watch the bikes and shoot the shit with some locals. Funny guys. They work here alllll daaaay long changing money. For the two hours that we’ll probably be waiting here to finish our paperwork, I can’t complain.



So we wait.



And wait.



Make fotocopies, turn them in, and wait some more.



Boom, finally done. Hey Honduras, nice to meet you. First stop, get me some o’ dat friiieeed chicken!



We hit the road and make tracks for Choluteca. We have a couch surf set up there for the night, maybe two. It’s arid and dry right now but judging by the landscape this seems to be normal.





An hour or so past the border and we make it in to Choluteca. We pull into a mall type place to find some wifi and get in touch with Manuel, or couch surf host here. While waiting we meet several people who come to chat about the bikes, one of them is Ewin. He’s got a Harley, and is a local professor at one of the universities. Funny guy, and probably a badass professor.



He lets us use his phone to get ahold of Manuel. A short time later we are making tracks out of Choluteca towards Manuel’s place. The sun was close to setting, and doing nice things with the clouds.



Manuel is in his late 20’s and works for a corporate sugar farm as an engineer. The gig hooks him up with housing right on the farm so he can come in and solve problems real quick like. It’s a big place, so they have a fair amount of security. We get checked in and they take down our license plate numbers. This will be our place for the night.



All for them sugars.





Manuel showed us some good pupusas that night, probably the best ones I’ve had yet. The next day James and I hit the town. After getting some internet stuff done we went searching for balibadas (sp?), which are a typical Honduran dish here. We found some, they are tasty and similar to a burrito in design.



We sat, ate our food, and watched the traffic go by.



We had some time to kill before Manuel would be back from work so we bought some beers and went to a park to kick back for a bit. Nice views. Chill place.





Soon we were flocked by a group of school kids. They were very curious about us gringos sitting in the park drinking beer with two motorcycles near by. James showed them some knife tricks. They seemed impressed.





The kids were very engaging and had so many questions. Kids minds are so much less impeded by social normalities. If they have something to say they say it. I like this. They ask about what the US and Canada is like, what we think of Honduras, where our wives are, and why we don’t have jobs. There attention is periodically punctuated by spurts of kicking each other or slapping their friend in the head when wearing one of our helmets. James draws my attention, some military have shown up in the park and appear to be watching us, but not in the normal curious way. Maybe we aren’t suppose to be drinking in the park? Nah I asked earlier, I know it’s legal. Something just doesn’t feel normal about this. James and I lower our beers and inconspicuously pour them out on the ground. We look around like animals being stalked in a field. Everything seems to be in place though, nothing is sticking out as odd. It’s after sunset now, the lights in the park are on, a few people are milling about doing the same old same old as earlier. As it has gotten darker some of the kids have reluctantly peeled off and gone home. A few kids are left talking to us now. The kids seem a bit distracted though, but not by each other. As they talk their attention gets drawn to their surroundings. As people walk by they take notice. If a person sits down on another bench across the way they take notice. Like deer in a herd with others sniffing something out, we ask the kids what’s up. Is it safe here at night?



“No. After 8:30 or so the bad people come out and the roads become dangerous.” It’s only about 6:30 now. Things still feel weird though. Two people walk by and I see that one of the kids takes notice of them. I nudge the kid and ask if it’s dangerous here right now, if there are dangerous people in this park. The kid says “Yeah, after dark the parks get dangerous. Did you see those two people that just walked by us? They held up the next town over a couple weeks ago.” I take another look around the park, looking for cues to corroborate the feeling in my gut that something isn’t right. There aren't a lot of people in the park, but I catch too many of their eyes on us. They look away as I make contact with them. The one group of eyes that aren’t on us are those of the military. They are fixed on the other people in the park. Things start clicking and I understand the situation. I look to James through the group of kids, they are talking to him but he’s not paying them attention anymore. From his nod I know he has figured it out as well. Time to go.

We give high-fives all around to the kids, tell them to stay in school, and we pack up our stuff. As we make movement towards the bikes James notices another girl has as well. When we get to the bikes she is now there too, but at a distance. I can tell she’s watching us, but trying to not give it away. She’s not trying hard enough, it’s obvious. I turn and square up to her, make it known I acknowledge her presence. She looks again, “Que onda amiga (How’s it going girl).” She smirks, but not in the flattered way. She turns back the other way and quietly makes an odd whistle. The kids are still around helping us get packed, the bikes are on now and warming up fast. I look and see a few of the military have moved as well. James and I acknowledge how fast that got weird. We agree to just take it slow, no odd riding, and definitely no breaking down or crashing. We ride through town on our way out, I plug in our couch surfers location on the move into my GPS and hit ‘route’. We snake through the streets, left here, one way street there, right turn here as we follow it. There is an odd amount of activity out at night, but it’s of a different kind than during the day. It’s like two different ‘shifts’ of people working. As we roll by every conversation stops, all eyes seem to be on us.

As we get out of town things relax and the vibe seems to lighten up. It’s a 15 minute ride through farmlands and country roads to the sugar cane plantation. Security lets us through after our plate check. This place is operational 24/7. We are a bit tired, but the workers here will be going all night.



James and Manuel play some Rock Band and I read a few pages of a book before calling it a night.



It was a weird day today. So far our time in Honduras has been mixed. We’ve met nice people, and enjoyed ourselves. But there is an underlying feeling that seems unsettling here. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but James and I have both taken note of it.

In the morning we will pack up and head out. The strip of Honduras that sits below El Salvador before Nicaragua is small. You can cross from El Salvador into Honduras, and then into Nicaragua in a day if you wanted to. We want to spend more time here in Honduras, so we decide to head northeast towards the capital tomorrow and see how things are up there.



The road north is hot, but slightly greener. It should be about a 2hr ride.



We get into the capital, Tegucigalpa, and look around for a place to use the internet and grab some food. Downtown is hectic, maybe a bit too hectic. Whenever we stop the bikes, people flood to us with an ernesty that is unsettling. They don’t come with conversation, only with propositions to ‘help’ us or to buy things. There is a desperation in their eyes and intensity that runs into you like a wall. It clashes heavily with our relaxed and laid back mood. There is a stark contrast to the underlying tone of the population here in Honduras compared to what we have so recently gotten accustomed to in El Salvador. We have a couch surfer willing to host us for tonight, but we have several hours to kill until he will be off work. We head back to the outskirts of town to find a less populated place to pass the time.

On the outskirts of town we find a stripmall type place with a knock-off Baskin Robbins. These places always have wifi. We walk in, order up some ice cream deliciousness and sit down. The mall is more or less empty. It’s a weekday and people are not out shopping. The ice cream is cold, rich, and delicious. Our attitudes are lifted with each bite. Funny how ice cream can turn you right around. We both undecided about Honduras so far, and we try to figure out what feels different here compared to El Salvador. Is it the people? Is it the culture? We don’t come to any conclusions.

After getting some work done on the internet we leave to grab some food and an afternoon drink. We are a bit tired of the type of interactions with people we’ve been having, so look for a tienda to buy some beer and drink it in our own privacy in a back parking lot. We find none but do find a very cheap bar that seems relaxed. It doesn’t take long and people are flocked around the bikes. I go outside to grab something off the bike and as usual people have many questions. The questions are all about cost and value though. These questions are fired out of mouths like bullets from a gun. “How much is the bike worth?”, “How much does this tank cost?”, “How much was your jacket?”. It’s 110 F out, I’m hungry, thirsty, and my mood is starting to decline again. A lady wants me to buy her socks, I politely tell her I’m not in need of any socks. She swears at me and calls me a “bad gringo”. I shrug it off and walk back into the bar. A large jovial man comes up to the bar smiling from outside and puts a plastic bag of takeout food on the table near us. He says
“It’s for you!” For a brief moment I think it was a kind of friendly gesture after seeing the looks of previous frustration on our faces. In El Salvador this wouldn’t be an abnormal act of kindness or welcoming. I realize that it is not an offering though, but rather for sale. Not offered to anyone else in the bar though, just to us, in assumption that we are tourists and thus foolish enough to pay twice the priced value for this takeout food. Seeing that I understand this is a shit deal and that he’s trying to rip us off he says ‘special price for us’ with a smirk. I say “Thank you, but we are not hungry right now” and return to my beer and the conversation James and I are having with one of the more relaxed locals. He pulls my attention back to him and says “Yes you are, it’s chicken and rice! You’re hungry, buy it!” My patience is wearing thin, I turn to him and decide to squash this “Do
you really know for a fact that I’m hungry? Why haven’t you offered this food to anyone else? And why do you think that I would buy this bag of cold food for double the fair price? I know for a fact that I’m not hungry. So I don’t know how you could know that I am.” I wait for a response. Nothing but a knowing smirk is returned though. To him it’s just a game for a sale, and this sale was lost. To me it’s frustrating, and another tick on the negative mood tally. I return to the conversation with James and the other local we are chatting with, I apologize for my hostile behavior. I don’t like accepting that I’m worn down by this, or feeling like I have have no patience left. I can’t deny it though, this place is rubbing me the wrong way, whether I want to admit it or not.


Our conversation with the local goes on. We ask about the country, what he likes about it, what he doesn’t, what he would change if he could. His responses are thoughtful and insightful. For him, it’s the delinquency that he would change. It’s a hard life here he says, and “with so many people not having any work, it makes it that much harder, people end up having to find other ways to make money. Sometimes those ways aren’t good.” Before we leave I remind myself to check my attitude. Although it can be frustrating to me, these people are from a different culture, and are just trying to get through the day. What may be rude and tiring to me, is only just that. But to them, getting a sale out of me can mean the difference between putting their kids in school or paying their bills, and a sale to me is a much higher payoff than one to a local. I need to carry myself with thicker skin, and more patience.

James and I head across town to meet up with David, our couch surfing host. RIP Mr. Mandela.



David is a nice guy and he greets us with open arms. He hosts a lot of couch surfers, almost like it’s a second job. He’s used to how things go and has a smooth operation here.



In the side street out behind his place we hear bikes revving and ripping around. We go out there and there are some kids practicing their stunting.





Nice work guys, keep it up.



We go out for a walk later that night to get some street food and a feel for this area of town. David says it can be dangerous here, but people said that about El Salvador as well. We leave all our valuables at the house just to be careful. We find some Garifundian street food and give that a try. The Garifuna people are descendants of West/Central Africans or Carib people, after a series of land wars they were split up by the british into two groups depending on whether you looked more African in decent, or more Amerindian. Those looking more African were seen as enemies and exiled to the island of Roatan off the coast of northern Honduras. Of the 5,000 that were exiled, only 2,500 made the sailing. The island was too small to support that number of people though, and they petitioned the government to let some of them move to the mainland. The food we tried was good. Basically a bed of fried plantains with some sort of ‘sloppy joe’ type topping and some minced veggies on top. It was 40 Limperas per plate ($2) and tasty. Calorie rich for sure, you could fuel a nuclear submarine off it if you wanted.

In the morning David went off to work and James and I decided to stay another day and chill out for the afternoon. James went to the market to grab some food, and I got some writing done. He bought a whole fried chicken, some avocados for guac, and tortillas. Nice to be making our own food a bit.



That night two other couch surfers rolled in on a world backpacking trip from Spain, Victor and Ruth. We hung out, drank some beers, and they cooked some typical spanish food for everyone.



Things are pretty fucked over there they said. Before this trip he had owned a company with mostly government contracts, planning events and stuff for kids. He said that the government had a delinquent debt to his company for services already rendered of over $2 million. The government simply wasn’t able to pay his company for the work they had already completed for them. When he asked when they would be able to pay him his owed $2 million, they wrote him and said that in 50 years they could start to make payments on it. Ironically enough though, with the government being the majority of his companies contracts, he was not able to keep the company afloat and he was forced to shut it down last year. With the company technically not existing anymore, the cool $2 million the government owed him was technically not owed anymore. He and his wife decided to get the fuck out of Spain and go travel for a while on the money they had left. Let things blow over and check back in later. They cooked a mean spanish tortilla.



James and I slept outside that night to ward off the heat and give some extra space to the new guests. Tomorrow, we’ll go to the border and cross into Nicaragua. Sorry Honduras, but I think we just want to move on to something else now.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the morning we loaded up the bikes and headed out. The border was a few hours ride so we tried to not lollygag in the morning. The clouds were brewing and it looked like we would have some rain for the first time in recent memory.



It rained a bit throughout the morning, but nothing too crazy. As we rode I tried to think about what it was in Honduras that rubbed me the wrong way.



We climbed up into the hills and pushed our way to clearer skies. The views were nice.



This upper highlands area reminds me of riding in eastern Washington. Lots of pine trees. Funny how a place can be so far away, yet seem so familiar. The riding was nice here, and we both could tell our spirits were lifting as we came closer and closer to Nicaragua. Maybe it was just the relaxing scenic riding, or maybe it was knowing that we would be crossing to a new place.





We got to the border with Nicaragua and went through the paperwork process. First to exit Honduras, then to enter Nicaragua. It was a smooth process for the Nicaraguan side, a bit slow and tedious as usual, but smooth.



We have a contact for a couch surfing host in the town of Esteli. It’s late afternoon and about a 40 minute ride, but we should still be there before dark. The roads leading to Esteli are perfectly paved with not a pothole in sight. As we ride by, people wave and things seem inviting here in Nicaragua. I can’t help but wonder if it’s just all in my head, or if there really is a noticeable difference already. Did I really not like Honduras? Or was it something else?



We got into Esteli and rolled up to a gas station to try and make contact with our couch surfing host Marc. We had been confirmed a week or so earlier, but hadn’t heard any further from him in the last few days. We called him from a gas station employees phone but the automated message on the other end told us his phone number had been canceled. Looks like we need to find another place.



We knew this might be a possibility, so we had a plan B. Sitting around and drinking beer in a public space seemed to do the trick nicely for meeting people over the last few days. We had been wanting to try this out for finding a place to stay so we gave it a whirl here. After a few minutes chatting to the workers at the gas station and we had a place to sleep if we wanted to pitch up in the parking lot there. Good enough for us in a pinch, but we held out hoping something else might present itself. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later a fire truck pulled in and the guys starting chatting with us. They asked us where we were staying that night and we said we didn’t have a place yet. The Fire Captain was there and said we could throw our tents up at the firestation. Please and thank you, that’ll be just fucking splendid. He radioed in saying that two guys on bikes would be coming to the station to stay the night, he even showed us where some saweet and cheap street food was just outside the station. Thanks!





We ate a ton of food and it was all pretty good. We ended up hanging out and shooting the shit with the ladies working the stand. Fun crowd. We paid $3.50 for each of our plates.



Back at the fire department we set up our tents inside the locked fire truck bays.





Before heading to bed, James and I walked over to the central park to hang out for a bit and wind down the day. We had a couple beers, and mulled over the last few days in Honduras. Still, neither of us could put a name to exactly what our overall experience in Honduras was like, other than it wasn’t one that we were looking to extend. It’s odd trying to think about it, as there isn’t a single thing that we encountered their that we haven’t encountered in other places earlier and not been overly bothered by. Yet the country as a whole just felt...’on edge’. The people themselves felt...hectic, and maybe uneasy. A stark change to what we encountered in El Salvador. Yet you would think that El Salvador would have a similar atmosphere to Honduras, given both of their histories with civil war and recent general cultural unrest. Maybe the issue is that we are comparing them too much. Maybe the problem is that we did have such a good time in El Salvador, and then Honduras just had the unfortunate bad luck of having to follow the act. Maybe it’s like breaking it off with a great girlfriend, no matter how hard you try with the next one, the relationship is just destined to be a re-bound. There could be nothing wrong with the person themselves, they could maybe even have a lot of great characteristics, it’s just hard to not compare them to the previous one. Being in Nicaragua now, it’s obvious that the mood is different here though, and I honestly don’t know how much of Honduras was all up in my head, and how much of it really did just rub me the wrong way. I still want to believe that there are great things to see in Honduras, and I’m sure that there are. Maybe we just had all the pieces fall in the wrong directions, and all fall at the wrong time. Sort of like a perfect mini-storm of frustration and lack of patience. We didn’t see much of Honduras, as there is an entire northern section to explore. Maybe after we have had some time away from El Salvador, maybe on a return back north, we can give Honduras another fair shot. Until then though, onward. As of right now, sitting here in this park, I sure am liking the change in vibes that we are getting from Nicaragua.




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