My big ride - A Kiwified Dutchman heading South from LA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Normlas, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. gman71

    gman71 Adventurer

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    She actually encourages me to go out after dark. And not come back.

    I've looked at it. I could fly direct into Santiago and just start riding north.......ish.

    But a bit of madness over the next 2.months makes it unlikely. Let's see where you are early July.....
  2. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    I shake off my hangover and after a bit of research decide to head North towards the Honduran Caribbean coast - supposed to be an absolute jewel and offer some of the best and the cheapest SCUBA diving in the world. Unfortunately, my NZ health insurance company has been completely useless in regards to extending my insurance and it turns out I am currently not insured, after half an hour on the road and three cars coming straight at me on my side of the road, I change my mind. It's just too big a risk to ride for 4-5 hours in this country without health insurance and I decide to turn around and head to the town of Gracias instead, just an hour down the road.

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    It really bugs me to miss out on this coastline but I don't really have a choice and now I don't have enough time, given I have to enter Nicaragua by Monday with their new entry system.... The insurance company have since apologised profusely and told me that I am insured....bastards!

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    Anyway, Gracias is a lovely old town and I really enjoy exploring it, it lies just beneath Honduran's biggest mountain range, with a lovely sunset. This is another place where they seem to enjoy burning land to clear it and the entire country is continuously covered in a grey smoky haze - which makes for a great sunset.

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    The food here continues to be good and they specialise in big gringas and empenadas, very good, quick and cheap.

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    The next day I head out for breakfast and a wander around the market

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    I then decide to check out the biggest lake in Honduras - Lago de Yojoa and make a rookie mistake...... I set the destination in my GPS and don't check the course carefully, forgetting about the terrible state of the roads here and end up routing myself through 4 hours of terrible gravel roads, including getting lost several times.

    One thing about the locals here is that if you ask them a question, you will get an answer,whether they know the answer or understand the question or not - seems to be a weird Centro-American thing, they don't like to say they don't know and this can be very frustrating, especially for directions.... Here's a taste of my day :)



    Rest stop along the way.

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    Cute kids at my lunch stop when I finally get back to the sealed road.

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    After a very long and hot day I get to my goal and settle in to a sweet cabania right on the lake - absolutely stunning although a little above my normal budget at about $35 USD a night, but I am so tired and hot I don't care.

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    And another stunning sunset Honduras style.

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    The place is literally in the jungle and I am surrounded by the sounds of wilderness, a stunning spot! Although it is thick with mossies, ants and biting flies. I have an early night and decide to stay the next day and really enjoy the lake, I hire a kayak for $3 and head out for the day.

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    Mango stop in the jungle

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    And I get back just in time to get invited to lunch by the guys who work here and it's a fantastic meal - one of the best I've had in ages, the people here are super nice.

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    I've made contact with a guy called Alfonso in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, about 5 hours from here, through the Apoyo CentroAmerica group and plan to head there tomorrow, hopefully crossing into Nicaragua on Monday if my border entry letter comes through in time.
  3. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Mate, there will always be more reasons not to go then there are to go, sometimes you just have to follow your heart and not your head.
    MrKiwi likes this.
  4. gman71

    gman71 Adventurer

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    $150k of new plant being installed in The Tron in 10 days time trumps whatever the fuck my heart says! Once that is put to bed anything is possible.
  5. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    A quick update, I leave the lake at mid morning to discover that the 4 hour hell-dirt road has cost me more than a sore back and my pannier rack is broken on both sides - seriously broken... :(

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    I get to Tegucigalpa without further incident and find Alfonso's place in one of the barios of the outskirts of the city, it turns out that there's another biker here from the whatsapp group, Victor from France on an 1150GS. We are both very warmly received by Alfonso and his wife and made to feel super welcome.

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    He immediately starts ringing around and manages to find a welder who will come out on Mother's Day Sunday - usually one of the few days a year when nothing happens here. The guys seems to know pretty well what he's doing and fixed the racks and adds a few extra strengthening pieces to hopefully prevent it from happening again.

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    The same day we end up meeting up with Johan - who asked for help with parts earlier on my blog on his '07KLR.

    He ends up doing some major work on his bike here and we decide to all head for Nicarague tomorrow.

    Nicaragua is not dong well right now, bordering on civil war with lots of protests and unrest, lots of road blocks and the army is out in force with tanks and heavy arms, but we all need to go and figure we will be safer going together. It seems most of the unrest is in the South, around Leon, Managua and the Southern coast, so we aim to try to stay North and make it to Esteli this morning. We are in touch with bikers n the group who will hopefully help if something goes wrong. Neither me nor Johan have our entry clearance letter from Nicaragua yet but we will try to cross anyways, we have heard from others that this is possible.

    Managua today....

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    Wish us luck , I'll try to report back ASAP.
  6. XR Valdeez

    XR Valdeez Been here awhile

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    As I am about 30 days behind you, I am following with great interest! Good luck and be safe!
  7. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    A quick update to say that we have made it safely into Nicaragua and have been warmly received by another biker brother

    Will try to update later with some more details, it was not all smooth sailing but the end result is all good
  8. gman71

    gman71 Adventurer

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    Shit you don't get that at Puhoi.....
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  9. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Another quick update from the road all is good in esteli and we have decided to head South because we want to explore Nicaragua and check out Ometepe and popoyo beach.

    We have good advice that things are calm this morning and we are hieadng away early to avoid the roadblocks hopefully, the biggest problem we have is that there is no Petrol in the petrol stations but hopefully we have some contacts on the way that will help us with fuel.
    goodcat likes this.
  10. Phlyn' Phil

    Phlyn' Phil Been here awhile

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    Now the adventure is starting eh? Still watching your progress and keeping track, Get lots of pics!! and also report border crossing info!!
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  11. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    We have a lovely day with Alfonso and his family and get taken to a "tipico" Honduran Sunday lunch at a road side stall where everything is made of corn, pancakes, soup, porridge, tamales, tamalitos and a few other thing i don't remember. We gorge ourselves and this meal for 6 people ends up costing just $8.

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    After we return to Alfonso's house Johan gets stuck into his bike, opening the entire engine to try and fix his leajy water pump, which he does but it ends up being a long day. I also get some maintenance wrenching done and give my air filter a much needed clean amongst other things.

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    We are getting continual updates about the situation in Nicaragua and the news is constantly changing, from total chaos and riots to advice about specific roads being OK to travel on at certain times of day - particularly early in the morning and at night.

    Johan and I still don't have confirmation from the customs office that we are allowed to enter the country but Victor does, but then others tell us that we can probably get through the border without it. We decide to try and agree that we will leave Tegucigulpa early in the morning for the 2 hour ride to the border.

    Ready to rock and roll.......

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    The ride is lovely, the road is interesting and we get to the border around 11 AM.
    Leaving Honduras is no problem and we all get through in less than an hour, including getting money changed before we head to the Nicaraguan side. I end up going first and for once terrible Spanish is a big advantage because I don't understand most of what they are asking or telling me and they just end up pointing me to the next booth and the next.....

    Before I know it I am completely signed into Nicaragua, have my bike imported and with a fistfull of paperwork I am through in about 10 minutes, no one asks me for my permission email (I think) and it's smiles all around. Victor is right behind me, goes to the same counters and is also through in 10 minutes and is also not asked for his permission (even though he has it). SO we chill out get a drink an sit in the shade waiting for Johan.

    Unfortunately he ends up at a different immigration counter with an aggressive lady customs agent and his French charm completely fails him :) After an hour we go and see what is going on (at least Victor does, since he has official permission and I didn't want to risk going back to the counter) and we are told that Johan has serious issues because of not having the permission email and they are going to write a new email request and wait for a reply from Government which could take days.....

    We stay in a remarkably good mood and settle in for lunch at the border and a wait....

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    Border stray benefiting from the cat food I am carrying

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    Half way through lunch the border agent finds us and pulls Johan back to the counter and within half an hour he returns smiling with his cleared passport - all is good again.

    Salut !

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    We are through!

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    The Apoyo CentroAmerica group is awesome once again with lots of advice and support and they arrange for a biker in Esteli to receive us about 2 hours into Nicaragua. We are also told that if we see petrol that we should fill up as petrol is severely restricted right now to prevent the rioters making Molotov cocktails!

    We see a couple of petrol stations that are open (most are closed and out of petrol) but these have huge queues in front of them - easily a couple of hours wait so we decide to risk it and arrive in Esteli low on fuel to be met by Jose.

    Jose is a fantastic host and a super guy, he immediatley arranges for us to go to a petrol station owned by a friend of his and we get pushed straight to the front of the queue, instantly upsetting about 200 people who have been waiting there for a long time (whoops).

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    We're taken out for a typical Nicaraguan meal and end up at a bar having a super night, finishing off at Jose's Harley tribute man-cave, we are made to feel super welcome - people are again awesome!

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    We also get news from around the country about which roads are least dangerous and although we had planned to cross the country in a day or two and stay North where it is calmer, we decide that since we are loving Nicaragua that it would be a shame to miss out on it and so a new plan is hatched.......

    We decide we want to go South and try to make it to the beach of Popoyo, supposedly a gem on the Pacific coast, but we will have to cross some seriously troubled areas. The resounding advice is to go early and take as many back roads as possible, avoiding the big cities and if we are stopped, to plead ignorance, to not speak Spanish and say we are simply crossing the country to get to Costa Rica.

    OK, so we have a plan.
    goodcat, ONandOFF, roadcapDen and 3 others like this.
  12. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    OK, this is going to be a big post.

    The next day we rise early and are packed up and on the road just after 7AM - a record for all of us as none of us morning people ! It's amazing what a little tension will do.....

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    We ride for about two hours and although we see lots of abandoned road blocks, with burned out tires, rocks and debris all over the roads, we are not stopped anywhere. At one bridge in a small town a large group of rioters are literally just getting ready to block the road, they have masks on their faces and carry baseball bats and machetes, things are clearly heating up as come closer to Managua, the capital.

    At about 11 we stop for a late breakfast at a tiny little town, people seem friendly and they greet us warmly, we have a typical meal of rice mixed with brown beans and a little meat on the side. However, as we eat things are tensing up and we see crows of people gathering just down the road, we finish lunch quickly and head out to see our first real road block just 200 metres from the cafe we ate at....

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    Cars are already backed up but the rioters see us arrive and gesture for us to come to the front, they are all smiles and waving and super friendly, move the rocks out of the road and let us past, just us. So we are thinking this is great, they have no issues with us tourist bikers, they clearly love our bikes and this is going to be a good day........



    Unfortunately, this was not the case as we were soon to find out, not all road blocks are created equally and things are about to take a serious turn for the worse.

    Just a few km's down the road and we come across a huge roadblock with a very long queue of cars and trucks, we decide to go past the queue and gets lots of people shouting at us to turn around, that it's very dangerous and that we should definitely not be there. At the front there are a few hundred rioters, tires on fire, rocks and cut down trees across the road and people have helmets on, face masks and are carrying machetes, baseball bats and home made bazuka-type rocket launchers. The sh1t just got real and we are thinking that we have made a big mistake, within seconds our bikes are completely surrounded by rioters and Johan and Victor are in front of me trying to calm things down and get us through. An older guys talks to us, again tells us we should not be there and that we are at real risk, he says "it's your life not mine".....gulp

    Thankfully he convinces the crowd to leave us alone and they make a small gap in the blockade and let us through - again just us...... No pics for obvious reasons.

    A km or so down the road we pull over for a chat and to revise our strategy, there are riots ahead of us, but also behind us, probably just as many, we decide to push on........ Johan's bike won't start and we find he has blown a fuse, as we stand there fixing his bike a car pulls over and gives us advice on which route to take to avoid the worst riots - this turns out to be good advice.

    We cross two more roadblocks and again we are let to the front and let through, but things are feeling super tense, people are not happy, we are not welcome and are mostly pushed through to get us out the way and to try and have use not hurt. The we come to the biggest one yet, massive queues of cars and trucks and again we ride to the front, many people are calling for us to turn around and flashing lights at us and shaking their heads, but we don't really have a choice, so we push on. At the front the rioters are super aggressive, we are immediately mobbed and they start pushing our bikes around, trying to open our cases and take things off the bikes, the guys harassing me are clearly wasted on something, most likely cocaine or amphetamines, their eyes are huge they are jittery and aggressive, screaming at us to give them money, pointing their machetes and baseball bats at us, I am very glad I took my gopro off, I'm sure that would have only made things worse, if that's possible.

    f$ck

    Thankfully again, an older guy sees us getting mobbed and starts shouting at the guys by the rubble on the road to make a path, and they do, as soon as we can we rush through, my bike won't start..... the boys head off in front of me but I'm stuck, in the stress of the situation I realise my bike is still in gear (and hence won't start), I quickly find neutral and race off almost bowling a couple of rioters over, I am through caring and just want to get the f4ck out of there.

    This was the worst of the road blocks, as we get closer to the Pacific coast we pass a couple more but they are smaller and more friendly, we are ushered through and stop for a break, glad to be OK, and full of energy and excitement, none of us will forget this day and we are all very glad to have each other, this would not have gone well if any of us tried this alone. Today we really lived the adventure.

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    But the adventure hasn't ended yet, as we get close to the beach we end up on a 30km gravel road and about half way in I get my first flat tire of the trip, and am again super happy to have friends with me to help.....

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    Someone stops by and tells us there is a lanteria (tire repair place) just 1km down the road, so off comes the tire and the boys take it to get fixed while I stay with my broken bike.

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    They are back within half an hour with my nicely fixed tire !! woop woop!!

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    And in no time we are back on the road heading to the beach of Popoyo

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    Where we decide to spoil ourselves and check into a VERY nice hotel right on the beach and we celebrate, big time, the day of days!

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    Full on Navolato style party and we make it a very late night, finishing off with a fire on the beach and a lazy and chilled out next day.
    griz2, Mainecoons, goodcat and 6 others like this.
  13. Phlyn' Phil

    Phlyn' Phil Been here awhile

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    Oh shit, not Navolato syle again..... Hahahaha
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  14. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi Love my Tranny

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    crickey that is worse than coming accidentally to a military zone in Russia and being told in Russian to fuck off but not understanding a word they're saying.
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  15. gman71

    gman71 Adventurer

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    :clap :superYou Go Boy!
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  16. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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    Glad everything turned out good for you and buddies! Sounded a little sketch at times......that kid breaking the bead on your tire, I like the safety shoes he is wearing!!
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  17. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    A quick update from Popoyo beach - a true piece of paradise which is why we are still here......

    We were aiming to head for Ometepe tomorrow, the volcano island in the big lake here and huge tourist draw-card but plans have had to change once again.

    The head of the rioters made an announcement on nationwide TV this afternoon, a direct call to arms for the protesters to step up the protests, to close all main roads and border crossings starting at 4pm today. This is seriously bad news and so we are aiming to head away early tomorrow, forget Ometepe and head straight for the Costa Rican border.

    Wish us luck, and I will hopefully make the next report from Costa Rica.
    fasttortoise, griz2, goodcat and 3 others like this.
  18. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi Love my Tranny

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    Man, that does not sound good. Hope all goes well.
  19. gman71

    gman71 Adventurer

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    Yup I did some research on the "unrest". Time to go.
  20. XR Valdeez

    XR Valdeez Been here awhile

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    Serious bad news! I hope you guys are o.k. and get into C.R. without issue!

    This may put a hitch in my trip south...... Thanks for all the info!