Saturday, July 16, 2011

What do you do after that?!

We headed out of San Pedro, back toward Antigua. After the volcano hike, I ate two of the previously pictured steak dinners, drank two liters of Gallo beer, and promptly passed out at 7PM. Graceful. That little excess cost us nearly all of our local currency, so we were on a strict, $8.00 budget for lunch. This is what we came up with, on the side of Panamerican Highway 1:
Just kidding, there's no meat on that thing!!

The food was ok, but the view was FAB! 
You caught me, I'm actually writing this on a hot, rainy day in Nicaragua, while drinking Flor de Cana, a great local rum here in Granada. But the food there was great.

P.S. Hot and rainy is god's cruelest trick on humanity. It's at least 90 degrees and 90% humidity right now.

ANYWAY, We had a crazy drag race with a number of tractor trailers through some of the most curvy, road-work laden territory in Central America, and arrived safely back in Antigua, despite the best efforts of every local woman, tractor-trailer and dog.
Exhibit A:
Queens of the road.

Exhibit B:
Thanks for the input, but I was already terrified when I saw the rocks in the middle of the road.
We got back to Antigua, I changed the oil on the bike, Jill bought a complete map of Central America, and we said goodbye to our friends there, including Thomas, the most well traveled Kiwi on the planet.
Our bike in the living room, where it lived while we were back home.  Thomas, who has lived everywhere you've ever thought about going.
We spent a quiet night in Antigua, and split for the El Salvador border at first light. Or 11AM. Somewhere around there. Here's where I will have to refer you to Youtube, as I found a "creative" route to the Panamerican Highway.

It was a crazy couple of hours, but we hit the highway and made tracks for El Salvador, the smallest and most populated country in Central America. The border was a mess, and I don't think Jill has had as much unwanted attention since she spent a night out at the Hawk in Lawrence. According to legend, 40% of El Salvador's GDP is generated by expats in the US, and judging by the seemingly relaxed lifestyle we saw in every town, I would believe it. We've not seen such a highly prostrate population since Belize, and it's still a bit creepy to see everyone lying around on the ground at 2PM on a Tuesday. Try to look like you're doing something, creepy dudes!

Once through the border we got as far as La Liberdad, and then anything started to look good. We made it most of the way through town, found a low-level place to stay, and the only food in the area was a roadside trucker haven. As I learned in Japan and Mexico, if you want to find the good food, find the place the big trucks stop. We had a wonderful dinner of chicken, rice and beans, and I would have taken a picture, but doing so makes you look like a real weirdo. We stopped at an auto hotel next door, and it looked something like this:
We are homeless in any practical sense.
Here's what we looked like in the Auto-Hotel:
Still crazy, after all these years. I love you Jill.  

At the crack of 10AM we were off,  bound for the border of Honduras. We got there, and it was the worst border-crossing scene of the trip. Scammers everywhere, crazy little shacks, stray dogs and a strange, foul odor. Jill ignored the "officials," distributed a few WWF class elbow drops, and we were in the clear...except for the final checkpoint dude with the big shotgun. He turned us straight around, back to scammerville to do things the right way. When Jill turns in a border "helper" to the Federal Police, this is what it looks like:
Do you want to cross the gringa in the aviators?! I don't!
 We got ripped off for about $60, and made our way through the 80 miles of Honduras with a deep, abiding hatred for every man, woman, child and dog in the country.  Strange how things work out; we had planned to spend two blissful months in Honduras, and ended up spending two frantic hours blasting through the southern territories. Why did we have to get out of Honduras the same day? Well, the customs officials were not to pleased with our attempt to drive through the border and skip their authority, so they granted us a 12 hour visa to Honduras. If we spent the night there, we would be facing a $150 fine for overstaying our visa when we left the next day. Insert incredibly explicit language here. Cut to high speed 80mph drive-through.

We busted through Honduras like it was on fire, and hit the Nicaraguan border in a sunset downpour. Silliness ensued, but we managed to get through by 8PM. If you're planning on crossing two international borders on a motorcycles in one day, it's important to remember that each border is two separate struggles: one to get out of the country you're in, and another to get into the next. Going into Honduras we were taken for around $60, and on the way out, money changers took us for another $35. This would not have been important, had we not needed another $2 to get into Nicaragua legally.

Jill watched the bike, and I sorted out all of the border nonsense. Everything was good, until we tried to get bike insurance for Nicaragua. It was $12, and we had $10.50. Why did we only have $10.50? That sounds stupid. Well, we got taken for $30 on the exchange rate on the Honduran side of the border, confirming our eternal hatred for Honduras. Anyway, a guy showed up and gave our pitiful souls the $1.50 we needed to get out, and we got out.

We got out into a torrential downpour, and rode 90 miles in it, in pitch darkness, to the first sign of civilization in Nicaragua. In that lovely jaunt we ran through a huge road washout, and got a colossal steel rod through our rear tire. Luckily we didn't notice the puncture until the next day, after a lovely night of drinks and dancing in the hotel restaurant.
Here's the stupid flat.
Stupid flat.
I then fixed it, because that's how I roll.

Fixed, oh, snap!
Ok, I fixed the flat and we headed out for Granada. It was an easy drive, and during a gas stop a guy gave me a big picture of Che Guevara, which now adorns our top box. When we arrived in Granada, it looked something like this:
Kind of obvious.
We've been here for the last three or four days; and as soon as Jill feels better we're off again. See ya!


  1. Wow, the blog is in real time! Don't get used to it!

  2. So many things to comment on or ask about. The video. The border crossings. The field repairs on the bike.

    But instead I'll just ask: Was that a toilet paper dispenser mounted on the wall above the bed in the Auto Hotel?

  3. Jack, I've been trying to call you, but suffice to say auto-hotels are generally reserved by the hour, and that was an institutional toilet paper dispenser by the bed. Talk amongst yourselves!

  4. Watched the video...are you really riding a Power Wheels? Sure sounds like it.

  5. The low gearing and low speeds make it sound that way, and it might have been easier to ride a power wheels. Maybe next time...