Nicaragua (The North)

Once leaving Ometepe, it was a short ride to the colonial town of Granada. A picturesque place and an opportunity to wash a few cloths. In the main square we found this local dish of yuka (potato) cabbage and crackling. Not bad for a buck fifty.

From Granada we rode north in an attempt to avoid Managua the captial we stuck to the dirt up the eastern side of the Lake of Managua. Its a dry and harsh terrain that seems like it gets no rain at all.

There Nicaraguans out here are friendly and inquisitive. As always, shocked at the motor capacity.

As those who don’t know Central America├é┬┤, there are buses but this is the usual people moving practice. I vote for this simple, cheap and effective transport system for the commuters back at home.

The road continues north, its dirt, can be rough but is right up my alley. There is a section that definatly hits my top 10 roads in over the last year. Mark this down, El Sauce – Rio Grande – Limay – Pueblo Nvo. If your heading south, cross the Honduras/Nic boarder at El Espino, 33km or so, just after Yalaguina turn right/south and enjoy wind through the mountains, bridges and small river crossings.

These pics were from a late lunch on a Sunday in Achuapa, the local lads are on the nectar.

I love the price per beer, so there are no arguments no matter how many you have!

Current exchange rate is 21 to the dollar, nearly everyone will change at this rate (gas station, stores, border, banks etc.).

We grabbed some supplies and headed up the mountain road to look for a camp site.

On dark we approached a lone ranger bringing his horse up the hill. This guy gave us a spot in his yard with a view of a far reaching valley on sunset. He filled our water bottles then offered his house which we kindly refused. It was a great end, to a great day. Thank you nameless cowboy whose son is Mere of Limay.

The following day after a few brief stops in the villages on the way through..

(used to crush the maize)

… we made the border in good time. The customs guy eagerly grabbed my paperwork before we went to immigration. Only then to be awarded the wonderful news that Claudia, being Bolivian requires a visa for Honduras that can only be obtained in Chinandega or Managua 2.5 or 3 hours away. Frustrated we turned on our heels and left without collecting my bike clearance papers from customs.

The visa process ended up being a killer. Political instability a few months ago in Honduras meant the consulates based in Nicaragua were very difficult to find or not there at all. We searched Chinandega and the embassy in the capital Managua and couldn’t get hold of anyone for two days.

As a last resort we went to the El Salvadorian embassy and after a plea, a couple of glasses of water and a spot of route planning we were told we could pick up a visa for Central America in the morning!!!!

(El Salvadorian embassy, route planning)

We spent the night in Managua despite only having the clothes on our backs as everything else was in the hotel in Chinandega. Our choice in accommodation matched our wardrobe, it was a Love motel, 12 hours for 11 dollars with cable TV and internet… just DON’T touch the walls!!

Early the next day we were at the embassy to collect the visa.
Never a quick process….

An hour or two later, as promised the visa was issued for $30. Brilliant, no need to worry about borders to Mexico!!!!! I thought..

Claudia couldn’t resits as we headed for the Honduras border at Guasaule.

These guys wanted $4 for the big one, advising that the best way to have them is fried with rice and your favorite sauce.

The border again produced issues. As I didn’t have my bike clearance papers i decided to go straight through after immigration. I was again stopped by the last line of defence and when he told me to go back i attempted the ride to sanctuary across the bridge to Honduras. This method again FAILED, some officials soon appeared from Nicaragua on a lime green trike to take me back. I left Claudia and the panniers in Honduras, i stupidly brought my passport back with me.

Yes, it was soon confiscated and i had to wait for two hours while they pretended to wait for confirmation from the other border that i had given them my papers three days earlier.

Eventually i was back to a slightly concerned Claudia, patiently waiting on the Honduras side.

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