My laptop has broken so it will be a lot harder to update this blog and add pictures for a while. I am really going to try my best though, but may it is a good time to enjoy the trip with less technology.
20th November border crossing in to Nicaragua
I had bumped in to Leah in Honduras 50km before the Nicaraguan border. Crossing the border into Nicaragua cost 12dollars , then a thunder storm meant that we got stranded in the immigration office as night was falling, we took this as an opportunity to buy some maize tamales from a street vender also taking shelter , first impressions of Nicaragua were good, some decent street food. By the time the storm stopped it was dark so we just blazed it to the next town 6km away, we checked in to a cheap hotel and together we lied in bed and showed each other pictures of the past 4 days, and watched family guy.
21st November Somatillo to Leon
22 -23rd November Leon
That morning we ate breakfast together, then I was ready and asked Leah if I should wait, but she said to go ahead, so I set out on the road. There haven’t been many times in the trip where I’ve been focused on the destination rather than enjoyed the ride, but today I just wanted to arrive at Leon. It was pretty hot and the countryside rather bland and I had done ‘ days of pretty intense cycling, crossing borders and doing it solo. Cycling through Nicaragua there were a noticeable increase in farm workers with horse and carts and child workers. The land was flat so it made for some quick kilometres, a view of a volcano to the left of me keeping things from getting too dull. Just before the town of Chinandega I bumped into a French couple riding a tandem, I’d heard about them from other warm showers hosts, they’d been travelling the world by bike for the past 2.5 years and were very lovely.
Id cycled around 70km and I arrived in Chinandega around lunch time and didn’t fancy staying there that night so pushed on to Leon, the road was busy and straight and pretty populated, just wasn’t enjoying riding but the relief to get to Leon was great.
Here I checked in to a quiet hostel and planned to stay a few nights in the town, I had some time before my friends arrived on Sunday. I felt a real sense of relief to make it there, for me it signified the end of time alone. I made friends with William from Bristol, England and that night we got drunk of some very fine Nicaraguan rum. I passed a lovely few days in Leon, which for me had a real gritty charm. I saw my friend Alex again who I had met in both Mexico and Guatemala, and passed the time wandering the streets and many markets with Will.
24th Leon to Managua
I woke at the crack of dawn and was on my bike by 7am, I felt the way I felt cycling through the whole of Nicaragua, the road was flat, plenty of rural scenes but it was for me pretty unfullfilling. I arrived in Managua, the capital around 1.30, doing the 100km in good time! This was the kind of place that most people don’t bother to make the detour too, a couple of earthquakes distroyed the old town and as a result there isn’t a centre to the city as such, most people refering to a pretty horrible shopping mall as the centre point. I checked in to a hostel and spent the rest of the afternoon skyping my familyand then chatting to William, a Brazillian cycle tourist whod come all the way from Brazil, we shared stories and tips and we got my excited for south America! Now that I am on the PanAmerican highway bumping in to other bike travellers will be a more common occurance.
I spent all evening getting more and more excited as my friends Sarah and Caroline were arriving off their flight, coming for a 2 week holiday! It was so special to see my girls! Sarah had done an amazing job of gathering a list of toiletaries for me and jars of peanut butter, my parents had given her some clothes, which meant I could send some other stuff home that was getting worn out. My mum and dad had made amazing cards and sent fudge and liquorice and a book for my birthday back in October. My friends had done an amazing job at organising a dress, a new cycle hat, a necklace for my birthday, so so spoilt! My friend Eve had organised some bike stuff for me and also some copies of the amazing Guardian supplement cook that she helps edit, what a wonder! Basically I was spoilt rotten and felt so much love!
25th November Managua to Granada
The following day I cycled to Granada and the girls got the bus. Again this was a hot sweaty ride along a very busy road and there wasn’t much to see, so it was just a case of powering through!
Ive been experiencing awful cramp in my hands, quite often the pins and needles in my first 3 fingers on both hands lasts all day, and most nights I am woken up by the cramp and numbness in my hands. I’m trying to do exercises to stretch my hands and fingers but think I might try and do something about my handlebars as the constant pressure on my wrists can’t be good.
26th – 28th Granada
28th November – 1st Dec Omotepe
1st 4th December San Juan del Sur
5th Dec San Juan to Rivas
Sarah, Caroline and I all lived together in Liverpool where we went to university, and 5 years ago we cycled from there to Spain, my first international bike tour, and now they were here to visit me on this adventure. The following 10 days were spent with my girls, in the colonial town of Granada, visting the beautiful Lake Apoyo, we stayed in the volcanic island of Omotepe where the girls hired bikes and we explored and enjoyed the peace. The last few days we went to the beach, so we managed to fit in a bit of everything.
The race of the boat, crossing the Darien Gap
Christmas was coming up, and I’d realised that I didn’t want to spend it in Panama, also I was keen to arrive in South America to leave a year to cycle there. South America was always my dream cycling location. To arrive to Colombia it is not possible to ride as there is no road through the Darien Gap, a swampy, mysterious place, some people say you could die of a tropical disease, others say FARC rebels hide out there. Some people have the theory that no road was ever built as the USA was afraid of increased narco trafficking that may come about if a direct link between Colombia and the north ever exhisted, but some people also have the theory that it’s because of so much wildlife living in this jungly swamp. Anyway, this means having to get a boat, flying isn’t easy with a bike and really not in the spirit of the trip. There isn’t really any way of escaping paying a hefty amount of this crossing, unless you want to go with a container ship, which didnt sound safe or fun. I’d booked on the Independence for 21st Dec, to arrive to Colombia Christmas day. This gave me a 2 week window to make the 1100km journey to Panama City. Everyone who knows me knows that I love a challenge, so I was nervous to hit the road but also excited about really covering some distance.
I left the girls in San Juan and they were spending the last few days of their holidays in Costa Rica and I made the 40km journey to Rivas to meet Phil from England who I’d met back in Guatemala, we’d been making plans to journey south together.
That evening Phil and I met, had a good chat and catch up and went to the supermarket to stock up on food as the next 2 countries are known to be expensive. We slept the night at the fire station, the bomberos. This is a favourite sleeping choice for bike tourers but the first time I’d tried it! There was a hall above the fire station and here was where we put our tents. There was a little fairground next to the station which I enjoyed watching before hitting the sack!
The transition from bike touring back to being a tourist had been strange, it’s just a different life. Id spend a few weeks with a bed, old friends and the comfort of being around people who are so familiar to me, we’d been drinking some cocktails and eating pretty well, so now it was back to the real world, sleeping on the floor of a fire station with mice running around, washing at a sink and making food on my camping stove. I must say I felt energised and raring to get back to what has now become my reality.
- El Salvador and Honduras
- Pura Vida, Costa Rica!