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Published: November 25th 2009
the sign we looked at for 4 hours!
We only have 2 days in Nicaragua - hardly enough time to see anything. A mere 300 miles and we have travelled from the northern border with Honduras to the southern border with Costa Rica.
We arrived at the Honduran border post at Los Manos at 8:10 - they opened at 8:00 but there was no sign of anyone official. Hung around in a typical Latin American way and eventually, after 20 minutes or so, someone strolled along and got to work. While waiting for all the processes to be complete we are entertained by small boys wanting to shine shoes and wash bikes for a few dollars. By 12:00 we are out zipping along Nicaraguan roads.
The roads are surprisingly good; nice smooth tarmac round sweeping bends. Unfortunately they are too good; we are riding by ourselves and round a bend to find two policemen sat under a nice shady tree with a hairdrier. As we approach they rise from their seat and claim we were going at 70kph in a 50kph zone. We claim we were going at the same speed as all the other traffic - not that there was much other traffic. We chat pleasantly
for 20 minutes or so during which time we discover, in passing, that the penalty for doing 70kph in a 50kph zone is to hand in your licence and have to go to Managua get your licence back and pay US$40. We mention that we are not going to Managua that we are off to Costa Rica and don't have enough time to get to Managua. Cant we pay now??? Seems that yes maybe we can, its still $40 though. Do I get a receipt???? No - oh that's not good. Ok - how about US$20 and no recipt?? OK - its a deal. No sooner was the $20 handed over than they were back in the police car and zipping down the road (at more than 50kph!!) The police had a good day that day - everyone got stopped for every imaginable technicallity e.g. crossing a solid white line, I've never seen a Latin American driver who doesn't cross a solid white line!! We reckon that the police got over $250 from the group, including $80 from one rider who was asked for $80 and just handed it over with no haggling.
Pass quite a few volcanoes as
we continue at 50kph. Drop in at Volcan Masaya for a closer look. From miles away you can see the sulphurous cloud its generating - it really was a browny yellow colour, thankfully the wind was blowing it away from the car park and viewpoint. You can drive right up to the rim of the volcano but you have to park facing away from the volcano ready for a quick get away if necessary.
We spent the night in Granada, a grand old colonial town - well once upon a time it would have been grand now its a bit run down but with lots of potential. The hotel was right on the plaza and to get to the restaurants you had to cross the plaza. A relatively simple task so it would seem. Well it was for the riders accompanied by their pillions. For the single males it proved slightly trickier as they were approached by a number of local ladies. On the way back several of the boys crossed the plaza holding hands in-order to fend them off. Its a totally different place in the light of day. Now the plaza is fully of old ladies selling
bangles and it is surrounded by horse and traps waiting to take you on city tours. In a tiny museum, down a little back street are some amazing statues from the ritual island of Zapatera in Lake Nicaragua - large basalt statues from 800-1200AD of half-man half-animal creatures.
We continue south along the shores of Lake Nicaragua with its scenic volcanoes at the centre. There should be nice spots along the shore to stop and have a picnic but there's nothing, you cant get near the shore. So we head for the pacific coast instead and San Juan del Sur which has great waves and a picture postcard perfect sunset.
Tomorrow is another country. Once again 2 days is just not enough to get to know Nicaragua, its another place we will have to come back to.
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