Month: March 2016

Bienvenu à Nicaragua!

This time the title is in French. Why? The answer is hidden in the following lines.
In El Salvador I somewhat befriended with the heat. No, Far from being thrilled about it, but I do accept it. Somehow it comes in a package with the countries I’m currently wandering through and exploring more or less hidden places. And is definitely part of the package in which you can fill yourself up on the street for 2 USD with delicious pupusas (tortilla filled with beans, cheese and pork rinds). And I did fill myself up. I have especially enjoyed the extra veggies in the form of pickled cabbage mixed with other vegetables, preferably chili, so that you get hot also on the inside a bit.
On my last afternoon in El Salvador I got an unsolicited gift in the shape of small pieces of wire coming from blown up car tires. The result – patching twice!
On the next day a short adventure of Honduras. There is so little of it on the Pacific side that I managed to stay there for entire 29 hours. Oh, and yes, had to do some more patching after which I have decided the time has come to use those brand new tires I brought with me from my vacations.
Here for the first time in Latin America I was denied hospitality at the fire station (bosses orders), thou they did pointed me in the direction of Cruz Roja (Red Cross). There I got a spot on the floor under a fan (luxury), cold shower (refreshment), washing basin to wash my clothes (work), dinner (spoiling) and access to WiFi (speechless).
Next day I said goodbye to the welcoming hosts and headed into the progressive heat. Kilometres were turning nicely and I was making good progress. But there was about 80 km to the border. I had tasked myself with leaving Honduras on that day. All nice and well, but I would have to cycle the hottest part of the day. And that was not all, the artist in me managed to catch a cold when it’s 35°C outside (probably the luxury of the fan). I was starting to develop a headache and my sinuses went into an overdrive.
Every kilometre I managed to get closer to the border, the roads were transforming into a mine field of potholes. A static danger. Trucks avoiding them turned out to be a moving danger.
Exhausted I reach the border where after more than an hour of formalities and waiting in line, I manage to enter Nicaragua (oh, and 12 USD tourist tax lighter). Slowly getting tired I do managed to make another over 5 km to the first town. I sit on the sidewalk next to a stand where I buy myself a cold coke. The effort of the day catching up with me. All my thoughts run towards sleeping in a bed. After unsuccessfully locating the fire department or Cruz Roja, I pay a visit to the police station where they direct me towards the town park (camping) or the only hotel in town. I decide to check the hotel and after short bargaining the lady agrees for 8 USD. Just as we are polishing the details someone talks to me in English. I turn around and see a man that does not quite fit to the local environment. After we establish that I come from Slovenia and he is from France and that I can speak French, he invites me to his home. He has seen me on the road as I was making my way from the border and then again while I was wandering the town streets and then he tracked me down to this hotel.
A move to his house, parking Lou on the back yard while I seek the comfort of the armchair, get a cold beer in my hands and with every sip of it the weariness in me is transforming into comfort. After gathering my strength I take a shower to wash off the dust and this is followed by a tasty dinner to recuperate the energy.
We start a conversation about the life here in Nicaragua. How handy it is to know someone in a position. For example, when you order a parcel of something from France and you do not want the content to disappear. You address it to the colonel whom you personally know in charge of this area.
Also interesting is driving around here. Once you go a bit away from the main road, a 4×4 drive becomes indispensable. Thou the roads here are, when comparing them to other Central American roads that I have travelled on, a big step up. Still it is not wise to drive during the night. Lots of people drive without their headlights on and there is a good chance you will cross paths with an odd cow on the road. Another option is there will be an overly exhausted men lying across the road, half on a shoulder, half on the road. Spotting him in time increases chances of survival for both of you.
Sometimes it would appear that a car is a fairly recent invention in these parts. In particularly when he mentions to me that when he first came here (about 6 years ago), it was not uncommon that people would rather walk for more than an hour than to catch a ride with a car. If he was going faster than 5 km/h people would rather jump off. It was going all too fast.
The conversation goes on well towards the midnight before sleepy and satisfied I head for bed.
How the Universe makes sure that you encounter just what you need at a given moment!

Merci Frederic & Anais

With a Smile on my face, until next time!
Simon

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Fredo & Anais

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Puffing Volcano

Minibus
Minibus

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It’s Not Only Me Who Is Cycling

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Temperature shock

After slow acclimatization to new/old environment in Ciudad de Guatemala, there was only one clear option ahead of me – if I want to (and I do want to) continue with my Dreams, then I have to again mount Lou and together we have to hit the road. Given the fact that the memories of my visit home were still so very fresh, I was somewhat reluctant to leave this little piece of familiar environment and head into the unknown. But like I have mentioned, if I wanted to continue the Dream, I had no other option.
To my great joy, the road from Ciudad de Guatemala lead downhill. A considerable descent from approx. 1.500 meters to a few 100 meters on the coastal plains of Pacific Guatemala. Alongside my descend to the lowlands, the temperature started to rise. From a gentle 25°C that, after the cold in the homeland, felt very pleasant to somewhat less bearable 30. The countryside slowly became dryer and dryer and by the side of the road fields of sugarcane started to emerge. These became a constant theme that still accompanies me. Some are freshly harvested, others still lush and green and some just planted. On the road this change of scenery resulted in an increased number of heavy trucks hauling two trailers fully loaded with sugarcane. In the air, beside the heat, a sweet smell of molasses started to appear.
Given the fact that there was a lot of downhill on my first day of cycling, it felt relatively nice. So that my legs could get slowly use to cycling, after almost 5 weeks of rest. Daily goal of 70 km seemed like reasonable. Obviously I did not take into the account the heat. Already the first day there were times when I felt the sun literally burning away my skin cells. A few days later I was already able to peel off the burnt skin.
Physically the hardest part of living on the road came at night. After two, due to the heat, sleepless nights, I made it to El Salvador. Here the sun was no less merciful on me and short brakes alongside finding a shady spot became more and more often. Sometimes this was a gas station, on another occasion a bus stop with a shelter or an abandoned house. Anything providing a shade and a spot to sit, if not lay, down did it. Sleepless and tired I decided that I’ll spent my first night in El Salvador in a hotel room. This is more of an exception for me since I rather spend my money on food and occasional cold drink instead of getting a hotel room. I sleep wherever I can. Well on this day, I have decided to break the bank and treat my body with a proper rest.
I have finished the day in a small town, Metalio. After refreshing myself with a pineapple juice, the locals pointed me in the direction of a so called auto hotel. This is some sort of a motel with parking areas beside or under the room. As opposed to the American motels, here you can park the car inside, sometimes being it a garage or just a space that can be curtained off with a curtain. Provides anonymity!
It’s clearly visible from the outside that it’s completely new. After seeing that every room has an AC unit I’m absolutely excited. Otherwise the room is nothing special, a bad, a table, bathroom and a strange reddish/orange light. And if the light itself was not a big enough clue to the true purpose of this “hotel”, then the facts that there were no windows and that the “bed” was basically a mattress on a concrete foundation made it obvious even to me that the majority of guest stop here just for an hour or two. Definitely an establishment of the oldest profession. I see more of them in the upcoming days.
Luckily for me in this case I was not charge an hourly rate just for sleeping. With 10 USD per night it is a relatively expensive option, but the promise of a sleep in an air conditioned room and a “real” bed was just too tempting.
I offer myself a nice and refreshing cold shower, wash my clothes in the washbasin and walk to the near roadside restaurant for a dinner. Upon return to a pleasantly chilled room, I can only just fall asleep. Nobody disturbs me during the night. I just get up to shut down the AC. Cannot be regulated.
This adjusting to the local temperatures is going to be tough.

With a Smile on my face, until next time!
Simon

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With My Host Sergio In Ciudad De Guatemala

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Street Shop

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Different Pedestrians In El Salvador

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Tunnel Traffic

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Hot Summer Day In El Salvador