©2019 by Jelle.

Rushing through Nicaragua

21/12/2018

After some rest days in the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, I continued my journey to Danlí. The plan was to go to Danlí with Nilsa, the person who was helping me with accommodation. She would return in car and they could have transported my bags as well so it would have been an easy day. Unfortunately, she was too busy with her work and was not able to accompany me, so I left alone. The fact that I already had a place to stay in Danlí gave me a lot of energy, because you just have to arrive. The altitude of Tegucigalpa is pretty high, so I thought I could start the day easily with a nice scenic descent. I was wrong! There was a big climb to get out of the city. Cycling out of cities is not my biggest hobby, it looks like the cities never end, it’s dirty, there is a lot of glass on the side of the road and the there are many trailers. It was a relieve to be finally out of Tegucigalpa.

 

Later that day, I encountered a tropical storm, so I arrived soaking wet in Danlí. I was lucky to have the opportunity to take a warm shower (something that is pretty rare!) and slept like a baby to prepare myself to cross into Nicaragua.

 

The last ten kilometers to the border were the toughest of the day. The border was located at the top of a mountain, so I had to climb like a maniac to get there. I noticed that climbing is getting easier and easier. I lost a lot of strength during my months of doing nothing in Mexico and of course my sudden return to the Netherlands, but it feels like I’m regaining that strength. Once I arrived at the border, I had to wait for an hour and a half before they let me through. They had not received a document that I sent them 4 days earlier, so they had to fill in everything manually. When they finally let me through, I could descend like a maniac to the first town: Ocotal. That’s where I decided to stay. My plan was to advance a bit more, but I lost a lot of time at the border crossing and also had a flat tire earlier that day (that was about time after 3 weeks of no flats!). The square of the city was beautiful and I bought a big plate of food for only €2. I keep surprising myself with the amount of hunger that I have, it just seems impossible to eat enough for my hunger to go away.

 

Climbing to the border area

 

For the first time in weeks, I was disciplined enough to leave early. Relatively early…. I was on the road at 07:15 AM because I knew that there were a couple of mountains on my way. In contrast with the previous days, the weather was beautiful and the sun shined all day long. While it was almost freezing in the Netherlands, I was cycling in 30 centigrade. There was a lot of coffee production in the border region in Honduras and that region stretched way into Nicaragua. I’m a big coffee fan, so I thought that I could treat myself with many delicious cups of coffee. However, the Nicaraguans never learned how to drink it properly, because they all drink it with a big amount of sugar. It’s really hard to even find coffee without sugar, because they serve it out of big tanks where the sugar is already added. Apart from the coffee industry, there is also a tobacco industry in the mountainous region. After 85 kilometers, I saw a small cigar shop on the side of the road and I decided to have a look inside. The business is owned by a Cuban man (Julio) and an American women (Brenda). They produce high-quality wooden boxes/cases to store the cigars. I bought one cigar with a case, there will probably be a moment to smoke that cigar. They kindly offered me to sleep at their secured property, an offer that I accepted. I wasn’t planning to stay here, so I didn’t bring any food, but Brenda brought me a platter with delicious fruit. Before I left the next morning, they even gave me another cigar in a case with a personal message. I’m allowed to smoke it once I arrive at my destination Ushuaia. That is a great gift!

 

 Selfie 1: Julio & Brenda

 

Omar gave me a number of Jopo. Jopo lives in the capital of Nicaragau (Managua) and met with Omar when he passed through the capital about a month and a half earlier. Jopo unfortunately was not in town at that moment, so I was already looking for accommodation for a couple of days when I suddenly received a message from someone who could help me out. Apparently, Jopo had published a message on the Instagram page of the local bike club to ask if someone could help me out, and Manuel replied. I felt surprised, grateful and burdened at the same time by the help I was getting. I cycled to Manuel’s place. He owns a small apartment in a neighborhood 7 km from the city centre. He owns a small business on the corner of the street where he lives and sells electronics like chargers, audio cables, mobile phones etc.

 

I stayed two days at the capital and Manual was my personal guide for those two days. The first day with the car, the other day on a motorbike. Managua is in my opinion much prettier than Tegucigalpa. They city is transformed with the Christmas lights and decoration and there are many big nativity scenes. There was a Christmas fair and many people selling food on the street. The city is located next to a big lake that is surrounded by multiple volcanos. A beautiful location. In those two days, I haven’t seen a single foreigner. Tourism completely collapsed after the political unrest earlier this year, just like Honduras. I didn’t know a lot about this situation but the consequences are more than clear. Everything seems to be more quiet now but Brenda and Julio warned me that this could change overnight and recommended me to leave the country as quickly as possible.

 

The old cathedral, closed after the 1979 earthquake

 

Striking similarities with Cuba's socialism

 

After the capital, I quickly visitied a couple of well-known spots in Nicaragua. I first went to Granada, a small city that kept its colonial style from hundreds of years ago. I agreed to meet with Angel, I cycled with him in Mexico. It was fun to see him again, but he was in a hurry to leave the country in time before his visa expires.

 

Granada

 

Selfie 2: Angel + Samuel (from Guatemala)

 

I met Jim, an American, at the chocolate museum and we decided to visit a volcano together later that day. From the edge of the crater, it was possible to see the lava bubbling in some sort of lake. I had never seen anything like that before, so it was pretty impressive! Because of the distance and light, it was difficult to take a good picture of the lava. This is the result:

 

Lava!

 

Rivas was my next stop, and I took a ferry to the Ometepe-island from there. This island is known for its two volcanos and read that this island has a high concentration of some monkeys. I decided to cycle around the biggest volcano, a trip of about 30-40 km with some very rough parts. Most people live very down to earth over here. The ground is extremly fertile because of the volcanos, so there are trees, plants or flowers all over the place. The majority of the available ground is used for banana production. While cycling around the volcano, I initially ran out of luck because of clouds surrounding the volcano. I couldn’t see anything of the volcano. However, later that morning, the clouds disappeared with some astonishing views as a result. After a photo-session, I took a ferry back. Didn’t see a single monkey….

 

Life embracing the death

 

Runway view

 

After a quick circle around the island, I took the ferry back.

 

After a photo-session, I took the ferry back. By the way, I didn’t see a single monkey….With the remaining hours of sunlight, I managed to arrive in San Juan Del Sur, another (once) touristic town on the Pacific Coast. That is where I am right know. I will continue to Costa Rica the 21st of December. The nature is supposed to be impressive, so I’m looking forward to it. I will probably be in Costa Rica during new years eve. My first big logistical problem of 2019 will be the connection between Panama and Colombia. There are no roads at all, so I’ll have to fly or take a boat.

 

 

 

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