An overlander's account of South and Central America by motorbike - the trusty Suzuki DR650. Within are great travel tips and hints (2011).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nicaragua (27-29 May 2011)

27 May 2011 (274 km) – Merida, Isla de Ometepe (Camp)
So after grabbing the new currency (changing Costa Rica colones for Nicaragua cordobas) and some petrol in Rivas, I headed down the road towards San Jorge and the ferry port to Isla de Ometepe.  Isla de Ometepe is a fairytale kind of island, formed when two volcanoes rose out of the centre of a lake and eventually were joined by an isthmus between them.  On the way to the port I bumped into Eduardo, Colin and Derrick again which was a pleasant surprise as I'd been trying to catch em up!  They'd just come from the isla and I was going so I was still a day or 2 behind!  The ferry cost 140 C ($6 AUD) and while waiting I grabbed the good ol special of refried beans (frijoles) and rice, sharing half of it with the friendly swarm of insects which outnumbered oxygen molecules in the air. 

Upon arriving at Moyogalpa port in Isla de Ometepe half an hour later, I got my bearings and headed off towards the second volcano.  I stopped in at Punta Jesus Maria for a moment to check out the beautiful beach, of which one side of the point is always glassy smooth.  Eventually I headed off to the second part of the Isle in search of camp.  I grabbed a meal at a cosy little beachside shack and as the mother cooked, her children mounted the bike investigating everything.  Mischief was at work, until finally their mother told them to hop off it.  I found camp at Merida on the black sands of the lakeside beach, TWO towering volcanoes above and a crimson sunset bringing the day to an end.  I watched on whilst showering in the lake, as something crept up on me.  I heard scuffling around my tent and looked over to find my new best mate...a skinny old bitch, wagging her tail excitedly!  The sad thing was at some stage in the afternoon I had to run to the bushes to lay some fertilizer for the plants, and soon after I saw her eating something in that direction...and I had no food to offer.  She loyally stayed by my side all night and camped outside my tent awaiting her orders in the morning...

Windmills as I entered Nicaragua from the south.

A money changer (official and identified) in Rivas with wads of Nicaraguan Cordobas

There are thousands of tiny insects flying in the air here...Where's Wally!

The view from my lakeside campsite

Isla de Ometepe from the ferry

Punta Jesus Maria

Punta Jesus Maria


Dinner at the lakeside restaurant
My campsite and the guard camped outside

Cocky buggers...

On the second island the roads deteriorate a little, this was still good!

A turtle race track on the model of the Isle.

28 May 2011 (90 km) – Granada (Hostel)
I left my amigo and caught the ferry back to San Jorge (144 C, $6 AUD) and headed on to the main square in Granada.  I pulled up next to 4 touring motorbikers from Brazil and had a yarn.  I warned 2 of the possibility of corrupt police on "the gauntlet", the 100 or so kilometre stretch of road through Honduras between Nicaragua and El Salvador.  The other 2 decided to search for a hostel (with inside parking) with me which we found on the same street as 'The Bearded Monkey' hostel.  We shared stories and went for a nice meal in the colonial city.  Thanks for the meal Renato & Edson!  It was a beautiful place to visit and would recommend to anyone looking for a nice colonial city to relax in for a day or two.

A cemetery in Granada

Colonial much?

29 May 2011 (552 km) – Lago Yojoa (Camp) BORDER CROSSING (Nica > Hond @ Las Manos)
My plan for the day was to stay in Esteli and check out the cigar farms and shops there.  Unfortunately it was Sunday and I ended up deciding to join the Brazilian fellas and make a break for the Honduran border at 'Las Manos' and avoiding 'the gauntlet' highway in the south of Honduras.  The border was nice and quiet and only a few helpers bothered us, saying you HAVE to have a helper, its the rules.  We didn't get one but they did end up volunteering.  The trick is they will try do your photocopying for you and charge you a few times the normal price, just find the photocopier and do it yourself!  It's piss easy, you never need a helper.  Fees included a $1 municipal fee, $3 Honduran entry fee, $2 Nicaragua exit and $34 motorbike entry!  This is the most expensive fee for crossing in Central America I think (minus Mexico).  The border took about 3 hours and photocopies were needed of your license, passport, passport stamp, moto rego and 6 copies at the end of the final motorbike import paper.  The notice outside mentioned it was $34 to enter the motorbike, but the lady said $35.50...the three of us rallied and told em we weren't payin anymore than what the notice said!  The same notice also described the $34 fee breakdown, which included a fee for "fingering of the paper" and $1.50 for inspecting the bikes!  Crikey mick these guys are unreal!  Another currency changed took place at the border this time (Nicaraguan Cordobas to Honduran Lempiras).  A few hours and a lot of sweat later we were off.  Hasta luego Nicaragua, bienvenidos Honduras!

Renato and Edson, my Brazilian amigos

Old American school buses are massively popular down here.  After they are expelled from the US after 10 years or not meeting standards anymore they are bought up here and painted beautifully, unfortunately there were even better ones than these that I missed a photo with.

Renato and Edson taking a timeout

Close to Honduras!

The notice outside detailing what the $34 motorbike entry was it, hilarious!

Outside the Honduran Aduana (customs)

Renato and Edson doing their best with the Aduana lady and "volunteer" helper.  He was pretty good actually and friendly.
 Next...Honduras baby!!!

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