Days 129 to 130 May 2024

Posted by The Madbiker on Sat, May 18, 2024

Day 129

I left San Miguel at about 6 ‘o’clock in the morning as I knew that I had 2 borders to cross and I wanted to leave sufficient time to do this and get to a place to stay in Nicaragua before it got dark. It took me just about an hour to get to the El Salvadorian Honduran border.

The El Salvadorian side was quick, I had to go to the customs first to get my TIP cancelled. That took all of 5 minutes at no cost. Then I rode about half a mile to the actual border and after my passport was checked I went to immigration. That took 10 minutes to get processed for leaving El Salvador and again at no cost.

Then I rode over a bridge

and I parked up outside the main building on the Honduras side of the bridge.

I went to immigration. That only took 10 minutes and I got processed for entering Honduras at no cost. Then I headed over to the customs to get my TIP and again I was fleeced by a “helper” for 50 US Dollars for my TIP but as it took a total of 30 minutes I thought that it was an acceptable cost for the time saved, and by just before 8 o’clock I was in Honduras and on my way to the Nicaraguan border about 100 miles away.

I rode from the border crossing at El Amatillo towards the city of Choluteca, it was very overcast but very warm and as I reached Choluteca I got caught in some very light rain for about 20 miles or so. By the time I had cleared Choluteca and I was on the way to the Honduran Nicaraguan border crossing at El Espino the rain had thankfully stopped.

The road climbed and climbed, up in to the warm clouds, and once over the mountains, as I was dropping down the other side, the sun started to appear. Eventually the extremely long line of parked articulated lorries told me that I was approaching the border crossing.

I got to the Honduran border crossing building at about 10 o’clock in the morning and I parked the bike directly outside. I found the immigration windows and I was processed for leaving Honduras within 5 minutes at no cost. I then went to the customs to have the 50 Dollar TIP that I had bough only 3 hours ago cancelled, but the guy there wanted in addition to my usual documentation, a copy of all of the CA-4 stamps in my passport.

As I did not have a copy of these, having just received three new ones earlier that day, I had to go and get a copy of these made. This is when I was pestered by another Honduran “helper” I tried to get rid of him as I knew what I was doing and I didn’t need his help but like a wasp around a jam jar, he constantly buzzed around me, tying to take the documents out of my hands, and rabbiting on in Spanish at 100 miles an hour.

Eventually I gave in, I gave him my documents, he then got me the photocopy that I needed, he then took all the documents to the customs guy, and I got my TIP cancelled in 5 minutes. I gave him 200 Honduran Lempira, about 8 US Dollars, he didn’t seem happy but that’s all the Honduran money that I had.

Then I got on the bike and rode 100 yards to the Nicaraguan border crossing buildings. This was the same procedure as my last entry except that I didn’t get charged the 13 US Dollar entry fee. I paid the 3 US Dollar tourist tax and the 4 US Dollar bike poison spraying fee. Then the customs did my bag search, then I had to find the police had to stamp my customs declaration form, then I had to go and obtain my TIP. The TIP only took 10 minutes to obtain and didn’t cost me anything but the whole process to enter Nicaragua took over an hour.

I was so distracted by my Honduran “helper” that I forgot to photograph my bike outside the relevant buildings at this border crossing. However, I did photograph the “Welcome to Nicaragua” sign as left the border area

and where I stopped a few hundred yards from this sign to sort out my bags, and I saw a couple of horses parked at the side of the road. A lot of people in Nicaragua still use horses as everyday transport and this was not an uncommon sight, but seeing horses tethered to trees and fences just reminded me of all of the cowboy films that I had seen as a child.

I had booked a rural Finca as my accommodation for the night so I rode from the border at El Espino to the town of Esteli and then I took the road to my accommodation which was allegedly 20 miles away. Google maps did it’s usual and after after an hour on tarmac roads I spent the next two hours scrambling up and down what can only be described as rocky goat tracks only just wide enough for a single four wheel drive vehicle, as no other type of car would be able to get up and down these so called roads.

I eventually got to the location as indicated by Google maps and there was nothing there. So I scrambled up and down some more, for about another hour, until I got to a paved road and headed for the nearest town, San Sebastian De Yali, where I found a very basic hotel which cost me 300 Cordobas for the night, about 8 US Dollars.

When I arrived at the town I bought a local SIM card and top up for about 7 US Dollars and I messaged the owners of the Finca to tell them that as I could not find the place, I would not be arriving. Their response was stunning.

“Yes this happens to most people who travel by car, it’s easier just to get the bus”

I then told them that their location of Google maps was wrong as I had been there and there was nothing there but as anticipated, I got no reply.

By the time that I got in to the hotel I was very hot and very tired so I had a cold water shower, got changed, and had couple of coffees at a nearby bar. Once finished my coffees and cigars I then went back to my hotel where I got some well needed sleep.

Day 130

I got up reasonably early, I had another cold water shower, and I started to get ready to leave the hotel for the city of Granada which I had decided was to be my destination for that night. However, as I was putting my bags on to the bike in order to leave I noticed that the front tyre looked a little flat, I checked the tyre pressure and it was only 10 PSI, I blew it up to 28 PSI with my air compressor and finished packing the bike. I checked the tyre pressure just before I set off and it was down to 25. This was about 8 o’clock in the morning.

I realised that I had a slow puncture so I set off to find a tyre repair place and I found one a short distance from the hotel. I took the front wheel off but I had to wait a while as the tyre guy was repairing a tyre from a large truck.

Once the guy could look at my tyre he took the inner tube out of the wheel and, Yes I did have a puncture! The tube was patched in no time and the guy then examined the tyre for the source of the puncture, he quickly found and removed a large thorn that I had obviously ran over whilst scrambling up and down the rocky trails the day before.

Once the front wheel was back on the bike it was now just after 9 o’clock in the morning and I set off back to the town of Esteli and then headed South on Highway 1 in the direction of the city of Granada that sits on the Western shore of lake Xolotian. I stopped on the road from Esteli and took a photo of the great view of the mountains in the distance that I got in this part of Nicaragua.

I then stopped about an hour further down the road to have a look at a river and as I did so I saw a guy on a bike with a huge parcel of stuff on the back of his bike. This is typical of how the people in Central America use their small bikes for, on one occasion whilst I was in Honduras I passed a guy who was carrying a 10 foot ladder over his shoulder whilst riding. All very surreal.

I got to the city of Granada at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon and quickly found my self contained apartment which I paid 780 Cordobas (21 US Dollars) The place that I had booked advertised that it had parking but when I got there it turned out not to be the case, unless I wanted to leave my bike parked outside in the street overnight.

As that was not an option the guy who let me in to my accommodation arranged for me to park the bike undercover overnight in a nearby house of someone that he knew for 50 Cordobas (1.40 US Dollars) which I thought was a great deal despite the 200 yard walk in 40 degree heat in my bike gear. After getting showered and changed I set out to explore Granada and I found the place to be very clean with lots of bars and restaurants.

The city also had a very relaxing atmosphere to it, I found it to be a smaller, nicer, less touristy version of Antigua Guatemala and it is a place that I would recommend to anyone visiting Nicaragua to go to as it is one of the best places that I had been to in that country.

I sat for a while inn the main square under some trees, drinking coffee and smoking my cigars, watching the world go by before returning to my hotel and attending to the usual stuff of writing about my day of travelling, checking my e-mails etc. J

As Granada seemed to be a very safe city I had considered going out to one of the bars after it got dark however, just shortly after I got back to the hotel a massive thunderstorm broke out and the rain hammered down for the rest of the night putting paid to any thought that I had of going out.

So, I then went about sorting out my travel and bike documents as I panned to cross the border from Nicaragua in to Costa Rica the following morning and then I sat and smoked a few cigars and watched the rain pour down and the lightning flash for an hour or so before it was time for bed.