In Nicaragua we had everything from beautiful beaches, fun dirt roads, broken bike, more parasites and lots of wonderful reggae music.
The border crossing into Nicaragua from Honduras took bloody ages and both me and Anders were tired, sweaty and hungry. We had to show our passports and papers countless times and when we really thought that it was the last time, there was yet another police officer who needed to see our passports.
Anyway when we finaly left it was already late so we decided to ride the 30 km to Ocotal to try to find a hotel. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anywhere to stay so we had to ride another 77 km to Esteli in the dark. However, the road was in a pretty good condition so it didn’t take that long.
Couldn’t start my bike in Esteli
Estelí is a city in northern Nicaragua. Located on the Pan-American Highway and there are about 119,000 people living there which makes it the third largest city in Nicaragua. It is a market centre for the thousands of farmers that populate its surrounding hills.
Earlier during the day I’d had some problem starting my bike and when we finally found a hotel I was just about to ride through the gate when my bike suddenly stalled and wouldn’t start again. Luckily we managed to get this far and we only had to push the bike through the gate. I don’t dare to think about what could have happened if we were stranded somewhere in the dark in Nicaragua.
We soon realised that it was my start button that was the problem but as we didn’t have the right size of the torx key, it was the Easter holiday and all the tool shops were closed, we couldn’t do anything that day. The next morning Ramon, a Nicaraguan biker, came to help us. We got in contact with Ramon through Eduardo that we met in Honduras. Amazing how you get help from people wherever we go. Anders and Ramon went away in his car to buy the tools we needed. After some time they came back and Ramon had not only bought the tools we needed but also taken Anders to his house to show him his colourful Harley-Davidson. After we had removed the start button and found out that it was the electronic switch that had jammed, it didn’t take long until my bike was temporary fixed and we headed for Pearl Lagoon (Laguna de Perlas).
The bearing on my bike collapsed
Then the next disaster happened. Half the way to Pearl Lagoon , while riding through a city called Juigalpa, my bike started to feel very weird. We checked the rear wheel and Anders thought it could be the bearing that was fucked. As we had heard that the road to Pearl Lagoon could be a challenge we decided to get my bearings sorted first. We were told they only had a garage in the Managua the capital in Nicaragua which was about 140 km from where we where. We decided to head back the same direction we had come but we only managed to ride a few km outside Juigalpa when I couldn’t ride the bike any longer. So there we where, next to the road extremely hot, no shade with a broken bearing…. Luckily we had new bearings with us but it took a fair amount of time to replace it as we didn’t have the right tool for the job but again Anders managed to improvise and after a few hours I had new bearings on my bike. I must say that having Anders as a ride companion is just awesome.
Again we turned around and headed towards Pearl Lagoon. But as it had started to become late we decided to make a stop in El Rama for the night. El Rama turned out to be a quiet and peaceful town but only a few years ago it was a road less traveled due to the danger and fear that had surrounded this little paradise.
At last Pearl Lagoon
Early the morning after we started our ride to Pearl Lagoon . We had read in different forums that the road should be pretty bad. However, it was a dirt road and not that bad, we really enjoyed the ride. There were potholes and a few slippery parts because of the rain but overall it wasn’t that bad. Actually the road is doable even for not experience riders so don’t let some forum scare you not to ride to Pearl Lagoon.
When we, after a few hours, arrived to Pearl Lagoon we could notice the difference of the mentality of the people straight away. We were met by smiling waving people and the reggae music filled the air. We found a hotel where they only charged us $12 per night for a room with shared bathroom. We had a quick shower to get the dust and sweat of and then headed to the bar to order cold beers. We were so worth it. We also had some food at the hotel which was super nice especially since we hadn’t had any proper food for a few days.
We spent the day in Pearl Lagoon walking around photographing, mostly gorgeous kids with huge smiles. When we were out for our second walk in the afternoon a man told me that I looked like a lobster in my face… Later when I come a across a mirror I couldn’t agree more with that man, I really looked like a lobster I might start to use some sun protection from now on. That evening we shared a tin of corn, a few peanuts and a hand full of cornflakes for dinner, yummy!
A very long day on the road
From Pearl Lagoon to Granada, 325 km, might not seem very long but that of course depends on the road condition. It started with 80 km of dirt road, the same as we had rode on the way to Pearl Lagoon. This time it only took us a couple of hours to ride to El Rama. It was about 3pm in the afternoon and we said that we could easily ride to Granada before it became dark. After El Rama, the road was very good but after a while we decided to take a smaller road to Granada it was maybe not the best decision as part of it was bloody sand. However to compensate the sand we also had some really fun water crossings and as much as I hate sand I love water crossings. Of course it became dark before we arrived to Granada and we drove past a few squatter settlements, which didn’t feel super safe to be in after dawn. Anyway the people seemed to be nice and they smiled when we passed by. It leaves a sad feeling to watch people living in such a poor standard and in houses that really can’t be called houses.
At last we arrived to Granada and it was hot hot hot
Well in Granada we had some difficulties to find a hostel or hotel. Not only they were far too expensive but also fully booked. However on the way out of Granada we saw a hostel sign and luckely they had a room available. Completely exhausted after a long day on a few challenging roads we had some soup and then went to bed in an overheated room with a fan that sounded like we shared the room with a Concorde airplane…earplugs and then zzzzzzzz
OMG it was so hot in Granada. We woke up ridiculously early the morning after, because of the heat. We took it easy in the morning, as we were just too tired to get out. Nowadays I get completely drained after a few days of riding. I remember the first year on the road we could ride every day for a week and that was ok …. Just wonder if it be because of the age or have we just become lazy….?
Stopped by the police for speeding and overtaking on double solid lines…
After a few relaxing days in Granada, which we mostly spent walking around in the city, we left for Island Ometepe. Halfway to the ferry we were stopped by the police when we overtook one car on a double solid lines road… Anders was riding in front of me and I saw the police and I hit the brake and was thinking ‘fuck this will cost money’. I never thought we would be able to get away with this again as we did in El Salvador. We had heard that the police in Nicaragua are very corrupt as well. Anyway I said to Anders via Intercom, ‘now we are fucked, but please try to be really really nice to them’. As soon as Anders stopped he took off his helmet and shake both the police men’s hands and asked, “do you want to see the papers”. As fast as I could, I got off the bike and walked over and also shook their hands and smiled. They checked the papers and I could see that they were ‘melting’ by our ‘charm’ … or maybe it was because we repeatedly said, ‘No hablar Español’ (I don´t speak Spanish) and ‘No Comprendo’ (I don’t understand). After a while they started to smile and even laugh and then they let us go… phew again we managed to escape paying a bribe or a fee.
When we arrived to the ferry it was very windy and I always get seasick so I must admit that I was a bit nervous for the ferry crossing. Anyway we got on the ferry and the bikes were tied up properly. We climbed up to the top of the boat and swoosh my hat, that I bought in and Alaska and that I loved, blew into the water… and Anders refused to jump in after it….bugger.
It took over an hour to get to Ometepe and my god the boat was jumping up and down the waves. I felt a bit sick and I was happy as a clam when we at last reached the island.
We rode the 30 km to Hacienda Marida where we pitched the tent on the pier and it was such a strong wind that we thought the tent would blow into the water. One day I was asked if I wanted to come with the owner on a tour around the place, which I of course did. He told me about the recycling they were doing. All his staff have to fill two big plastic bottles with plastic bags etc. every two weeks which they then build a school with. They fill the walls with plastic bottles and cement… not really sure I would call that recycling but I guess it is better than see them laying around in the nature. Before leaving Ometepe we rode around the whole island, which didn’t take long as it’s a tiny island.
A few pretty bad days in Nicaragua
I happened to end up in hospital in Nicaragua… which is nothing I can recommend to anyone. I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of days or actually I hadn’t been well since Guatemala but by now it was getting worse. We were staying in Rivas, a city located just by the lake Lago Nicaragua. Though I was poorly we decided to leave the hotel as it was too expensive.
Anders had found another hotel close by so we headed there. When we arrived the idiot who run the hotel had changed his mind and wanted more money for the room. I said to Anders that we should ride the 30 km to San Juan Del Sur and try to find something there instead. This became the worst 30 km I have been riding on this trip. I didn’t know it by then but I was suffering from a severe dehydration. I managed to ride to the town though I was very weak and felt very dizzy. When we arrived to San Juan Del Sur I was getting worse and outside a restaurant I just had to stop. I couldn’t even park the bike so Anders had to come and take care of it. I stumbled into the restaurant and fell to the floor. I can’t remember much of it but the staff at the restaurant had a car outside which they helped me into. I had cramp from my elbow and down to my hands and from the knees to my feet, I could see that my fingers pointed in all kind of directions and I couldn’t feel them and my vision started to get blurred. At this point I didn’t know it was dehydration and I was pretty convinced that I was dying and the strange thing was that I didn’t care, I just accepted it.
Anders was not with me in the beginning at the hospital as he had to stay and make sure my bike and our stuff were safe. When I arrived to the hospital they only spoke Spanish but I guess they knew what was wrong with me and provided me with intravenous fluid therapy. When Anders arrived I had already got some fluid into my system and started to realise that I was probably not going to die that day after all… After two bottles of fluid they ‘kindly’ threw me out of the hospital. As we didn’t have a hotel, Anders had to leave me lying on a bench just outside the hospital, and try to find a place where we could stay. The heat was unbearable and I was still wearing my boots and my motorcycle trousers. I saw people walking pass but no one stopped to ask how I was. At this moment I felt incredibly alone. It probably took about an hour until Anders came back and by then I felt really bad again. Anyway, Anders managed to get me up on his bike and then took me to a hotel. The room we first got was without air-condition and shared toilet but after me getting even worse we decided to pay the $45 for air-condition and our own toilet. I had an awful night and as that wasn’t enough the morning after the electricity in the whole city stopped working. We then moved into the cheaper room without toilet and air-condition as we thought it was stupid pay for air-condition that didn’t work. Anyway I had another awful day and the heat was unbearable. Anders put wet towels on me to try to get my temperature down but I was just boiling. Anders wanted to call a private doctor but I was stubborn and said that we should wait. Anyway later in the evening Anders decided to call the doctor anyway which probably was a very good decision. The doctor came and gave me liquid and also antibiotics intravenous. After he left, think it was at 11.30pm, I managed to sleep, at last, and except from running to the toilet several times during the night I could sleep. When I woke up the morning after I felt a bit better. The doctor came in the morning again and gave me more fluid and antibiotics intravenous. He did this every morning and every evening for three days.
Though I didn’t feel well after three days of antibiotic, I tried to put up a brave face to Anders as I really wanted to leave. During the night I had got pain from where the doctor placed the needle and I was worried that it had got infected so I removed the needle myself. In the morning when the doctor came to give me my last dose of antibiotic intravenous he had to put a new needle into my vein, which I don’t think he was very happy about. When that was done he gave me the tablets (antibiotic) I should take for a week. I also got some greyish stuff I should put in water and drink and my god that was the most disgusting shit I’ve ever tasted, yuk. After that we set off towards the border to Costa Rica and it was hot hot hot…
Nicaragua is a beautiful a country where we had some ups and downs and if you are ever offered home made sausages, DON’T EAT THEM….
Random photos from Nicaragua