Honduras to Nicaragua
I left Zambrono early as the sun was rising but as I started riding the sun left and rain clouds came making the first hour a wet and slow ride. I heard the road I wanted I take into Nicaragua had a bridge that might be closed so I stopped by a McDonalds for free wifi. The wifi wasn’t working so instead I decided I’d take the CA-5 back to the CA-1 on the coast and cross into Nicaragua at Somotillo.
Once I started descending down the mountain the sun was out and the cool mountain air was quickly replaced with heat. Except for two trucks carrying oranges that collided and spilled thousands of oranges onto the road, the ride was easy. I didn’t encounter as many police checkpoints in Honduras as others have written about so I took full advantage of the open road.
I arrived at the Honduras border exit and went to get my passport stamps. I got the first of two stamps needed but when I went to the window for the second they had went on their lunch break. A woman standing outside said they would be on lunch for 90 minutes but I could go in and see if they’d stamp it. Inside the breakroom the border officials sat chatting and eating their lunches . They said If I didn’t want to wait 90 minutes I could pay $1 and they would stamp it now. I hated the idea of paying off officials but not as much as waiting 90 minutes doing nothing in the hot heat. I paid them a $1 and they stamped my passport and smiled. Hope they enjoy a nice cold soda with that dollar.
I crossed into Nicaragua where they sprayed my motorcycle with a cleaner to fumigate it. Then I went to the immigration office for my passport stamp. I had misread the border crossing guide and thought it was free. When the border agent said I needed to pay him $12 I thought I was getting scammed. I asked what for and he said no money, no stamp. I stepped away and re-read the guide. Oops there it was. “Pay $10 tourist fee and $2 tax”. Back to the window. Sorry sir, here’s $12 can I have a stamp please? Off I went to customs to get my motorcycle into the country.
I stood in the line in the non air-conditioned building waiting for the trucker in front of me to get his paperwork done. More people filed in behind me. Soon there were a dozen very sweaty people in a hot room. I was just thankful I was next in line. After an hour or so and about 2lbs of water loss, I had my paperwork and was on my way. But first I had to determine if the woman trying to sell me the required insurance was legit or a scam. It looked more official than the border process so I payed the $12 and was off.
Everyone says Honduras roads are bad but I haven’t seen anyone talk about how bad the first 30 miles or so of CA- in Nicaragua is. It’s like a mine field of potholes. In Honduras they are far enough apart to easily avoid. This one stretch of road was almost impossible to maneuver around all the potholes.
The thing I like about Nicaragua’s roads though is how fast I can go on them. The past few weeks in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have been mostly mountainous. Here there are long straightaways with volcanoes on the horizon.
As I was speeding along and enjoying the ride a fruit truck pulled out in front of me. Not wanting to hit the brakes, I passed the truck and crossed a solid yellow line. Not even a quarter mile up the hill two policemen pointed at me to pull over.
“Licensia, por favor.” They said they saw me cross the solid line. Thats about all I understood. I gave them my paper international license (which is almost worthless to me but they don’t know that) After a few minutes of them trying to explain things to me they handed me a ticket and kept my license. They said I could pay at the bank and get my license back after 5pm. I should have just waved back and kept going. Oh well.
At this time a British cyclist who I I met a few days earlier in Honduras rolled up. The police asked to see his permit. Clearly these guys were just trying to make some money for themselves or meet a quota. You don’t need a permit for a bicycle. James and I met up at the gas station minimart up the road and chatted over cold drinks.
I was going to ride all the way to Managua today but I needed to find internet to find the address of where I was staying there. James said he was staying in Leon tonight and that there were a lot of hostels and internet places in town. I road to the centro of Leon and began looking for the hostel he told me about.
After a few laps around Leon I couldn’t find the hostel. I passed about a dozen others and then I stopped at an internet place to check the map. I got directions and jumped on my bike. A few minutes later I was riding and realized I didn’t have my helmet. Did I set it on the back and it fell off? I tried to find the internet place again and after turning down a few streets I found it, parked and ran inside. Phewww. My helmet was still under the computer desk. This heat is affecting my memory.
I stood on the sidewalk and saw there was hostel right next to me. I went in to ask if they knew where the other hostel was. They didn’t. I decided I didn’t want to go to the other hostel and was perfectly content staying here for the night. They did have secure parking, dorms with AC, and a special on mojitos. Sold. Bigfoot Hostel just won my business. $8 for a bed in a cool room and a shower.
I ended up meeting up with James later that night. We got dinner and I did a quick calculation. The money I spend on gas is probably equal to the money he spends on his massive meals. He’s riding his bicycle from Alaska to Argentina and has been on the road for 5 1/2 months. I think that’s insane, just like the amount of food he has to eat to get all the calories he needs.
As you can tell there’s only one photo in this post which I actually took a day later. It was so hot my camera didn’t work. Ok that’s no true. I was just too hot to take any photos. I only had cold drinks and A/C on my mind which meant not stopping for photos.