Part Twenty Nine – Nicaragua

16th March (Ocotal – Esteli) (90km)

The vibe has changed in Nicaragua and things are a lot more relaxed than in southern Honduras where the interactions with the road-side lads [under-employed, under-educated, under-mannered and under-IQed] were starting to get a tad tedious. The roadside stalls now seem to focus on rocking chairs and hammocks which is indicative of the seemingly more relaxed attitude of the local Nicaraguan folk.

Road Tribute to Cyclist
Shop Fronts in Granada

17th March (Esteli) (0km)

The Luna Café is replete with lovely coffee, beer, chocolate, overpriced food and enthusiastic gringo volunteers and backpackers all toting their little kit bags of inspirational anecdotes of empowerment and participation. Bless their cotton socks for working so assiduously to stack their CVs with credit for pending college applications. I resist temptation to be visibly ill. A café here actually has an ‘Italian’ lasagna which is well worth eating so am hanging around for the day to eat these at regular intervals. Sucking back real coffee and doing what all the other gringos in this town appear to be doing – looking at their laptops and checking facebook.

Civic Monument - What were they thinking?

18th March (Esteli – Tipitapa) (130km)

Big ride down to the lowland lakes. Into the afternoon the wind from the east picks up making the going pretty tough. Legs are well and truly toasted by Tipitapa, a rough and ready little market town short of Granada, full of taxis and buses blasting their horns for sport.

Basket on Head

19th March (Tipitapa – Granada) (42km)

20th March (Granada) ‘Bird Shits on Head’

Back in the land of the USA Retirees sitting around in cafes waffling on about what didn’t happen yesterday and seemingly waiting to die. O’Shea’s Irish Pub in Granada is a godsend with great battered fish & chips and Guinness. I have  news which I was reluctant to share on this blog, knowing the sensitivities of my readership. However, in line with the policy of giving all aspects of this trip, I will share. A bird shat on my head today. Yes there I was sitting in the park having a nice juice just minding my own business, when a great dollop of bird turd lobbed onto my freshly shaved head (number two-ed twice!). I understand that in some cultures this is considered good luck. Sadly I do not belong to any of these cultures. First a frickin’ steam roller runs me over then a bird craps on my head. I am indeed a man more sinned against than sinning.

Bikes in St Jorge
Volcano across Lago de Nicaragua

21st March (Granada – St Jorge) (70km)

22nd March (St Jorge – Border –  Liberia) (117km)

Part Twenty Eight – Honduras to Nicaragua

7th March (Tela – La Ceiba) (100km + 15km)

Cat for Dinner

Tela is a grotty coastal town that really has nothing to recommend it. On a rainy day when you are not feeling too good, it has even less. The next day I had a lovely cruise across the flat countryside to La Ceiba and then having over shot the centro I  went for the ferry terminal only to miss the Atla Island ferry by a matter of minutes. Decided that it would be easier to board the ferry to another island (Roatan) rather than head back into town and wait until the next morning. Tonight therefore finds your correspondent in West End, diving central for the Bay Islands. Expensive little tourist locale with an odd collection of US and Canadian refugees and Caribbeans.

8th – 9th March (Isle of Roatan)

Roatan Island Honduras

10th March (Isle of Roatan – South of La Ceiba) (15km+15km)

Thankfully back on the mainland heading south into the jungle. Omega Trekking is a pleasant little trekking company nestled up in the jungle verge of the national park. Sonny and the guys (mostly from NZ are very hospitable.

11th March (Omega Lodge south of La Ceiba – Olanchito) (60km)

Big ride today up through a national park on dirt road and then merely track to the mountain pass at 1,000 metres then careening down the track on the other side. A bit of pushing near the top on single track and a lot of effort for the 60km but worth it in terms of the beautiful scenery and cutting off a big detour of the main road which loops east then south.

12th March (Olanchito – La Union) (100km)

A pretty good dirt road with no traffic through a remote valley up to 1,100 metres. Big rise up through a beautiful valley next to a pretty river looping up to 1,100 metres twice more then cascading along the undulating corrugated dirt through the afternoon. La Union is a grubby dark sewer of a town. The fat slags at the L150 ($8) hotel have seemingly at some time used the mattress in my room and crushed the life out of it so it sadly sags.

13th March (La Union – Campamento) (85km)

Rolling up and down across the pretty countryside on rutted dirt roads again today. Small rises and falls takes the energy after a while as 50 metre climbs and rolls sap the spirit. L100 ($5.50) for a room has to be one of the cheapest rooms around. 66km of dirt and a puncture then out onto the main road and thankfully some tar then 20km to the pleasant town of Campamento.

North Coast Honduras

14th March (Campamento – El Higarito) (110km)

Today was a pretty good ride…aside from the fact that I got run over by a steam roller. Yes dear reader, your long suffering correspondent was minding his own business waiting at a road construction delay when a steam roller driver decided to reverse without looking towards the queue of waiting traffic and then just kept on coming. At the very last minute before being crushed I lept out of the way dragging the bike with me but not in time to prevent the wheel of the roller from backing over the rear wheel of the bike and leaving me splayed in the dirt next to the roller. Amazingly the rear axle popped out of the frame when the roller went over it taking the pressure out and the dirt must have given a bit of cushioning because the wheel survived the ordeal mostly unscathed. The stream of invective rained down upon the driver has not been heard since the Las Pinos Hotel in Mexico. A scrum of road workers formed and against all expectations the bulk of the driver’s co-workers seemed to agree with my repeated assertion that the roller driver was in fact an “idiota, El stupido fuckin’ puta mother-fucker”. One even suggested [through a fist pounding gesture] that I should punch him in his stupid head.

As it turns out there would appear to be precious little, if anything that can harm the Co-motion/Buff3y combination. We have tested the bike by running it over with a frickin’ steam roller and even that could not stop it nor me.

On the track south of El Ceibo

15th March (El Higarito – Ocotal) (90km)

Another big climbing day but on tarmac at least after the last four days of dirt. The formalities crossing into Nicaragua archived without any problem and a roll down into the rough and ready border town of Ocotal.