This is part of the eighth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Honduras
7/3/02 Entered Nicaragua at Semotillo, another efficient border with a $US 5.00 tourist card and $US 2.00 processing fee each (both fees written in English and displayed on a large posted board). With a helpful efficient but corrupt government approved female helper we processed the motorcycle in 30 minutes for $US 10.00 plus photocopying costs. Receipts were issued for all costs. The helper originally wanted $US 20.00 for the motorcycle and said she would arrange all the paperwork. But with me following, her scam was revealed, despite another official writing a receipt for the $US 20.00. They simply wrote the receipt in both local and US currencies, adding the two together in a blank area at the bottom of the form. When queried, no explanation just a blank look and acceptance of the lesser $US 10.00 charge.
8/3/02 The roads here just a patchwork of repaired and unrepaired potholes making the surface uneven and again Jim's trailer succumbed, breaking at the same weak point at the hitch. We lay in the shade for a couple of hours, minders, while Jim had it welded. Wherever there are bad roads there are many people who do welding. We rode the flat land between ocean on our right and a series of volcanic cones on our left to Granada arriving in time for their Friday evening food fest and roving bands. The empty square evolved into food stalls and tables and chairs. About six bands moved from table to table playing easy listening music while children earned money selling anything from cashews to cigarettes and shined shoes. Away from the popular touristed countries, here a mix of backpackers and locals.
9-10/3/02 We had been moving quickly and with a reassessment of time gave ourselves a couple of days rest. Nicaragua is one of those relatively rare countries where the prices of things is low but most things are available. African prices are low but no quality or availability. In the USA you can buy anything, if you can afford it. Our budget allows us to buy here without being overly concerned with the price. A beer here, an ice cream there, better accommodation, and a reason to stay a couple of days longer. Granada, surprisingly quiet, even on weekends, a tropically slow pace to life. Horse drawn carriages are the taxi's, clip clopping down narrow streets, echoing off the house walls behind which lie enclosed private garden courtyards.
11/3/02 We tried to catch the cargo boat from Granada to the island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua but at the last minute loading the bikes became a problem so we rode to San Jorge to catch the vehicle ferry instead. Ometepe is made up of two volcanoes, one a mile high, last erupting in 1950 and usually surrounded in cloud at its summit. Both volcanos rise directly out of the enormous lake which is open to the Caribbean via a river and contains the only fresh water sharks in the world.
12/3/02 The quiet backwater island has only dirt roads around the savannah lowlands where the locals grow plantain bananas for cooking, ride their horses and run a few cattle. Further up the mountains the rainfall increases and the vegetation thickens. Most tourists come here to climb one of the volcanoes, 10 hours return, but we were just happy to ride the circumference, swim in the lake and eat its fish. The causeway between the two volcanoes is just a sandy beach one side and a series of wetland lagoons the other, making it quite a beautiful area of the island.
13/3/02 The 6.00 am vehicle ferry back across the lake with its overloaded banana trucks roped down against the roll of the waves on the overloaded boat. San Juan del Sur is Nicaragua's main tourist beach, both locals and predominantly Americans. These ones are now avoiding more than just one northern winter. Most have decided to avoid all the winters and many of the summers as well choosing the cheaper more relaxed tropical climate to while away the years. The problem is there is little to do and less reason to do it as labour is so cheap. After the initial building phase, the social interaction with restaurants and alcohol sets in, the waist line grows and the skin becomes blotchy, the hair is no longer tended and the clothes more casual, the conversation more mundane and slowly they waste their remaining years.
14/3/02 Out of Nicaragua and after arriving at the border
at 7.30 am we decided to wait till 8.00 am to avoid the "out of hours" surcharge
of an extra $US 2.00 each. Paperwork easy and just the standard $US 2.00
Move with us to Costa Rica
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Peter and Kay Forwood,