TRAIL BEATEN GRINGO LOOKING FOR SANTA CLAUS AT LA PLAYA! Several weeks ago, my Spanish speaking friends, Elina, 27(Russian/German) & Jonas, 23(Switzerland) had made plans to meet for Christmas somewhere on the coast of Nicaragua. In the last few weeks, we zeroed in on a Hostel/camp place called, Matilda's at La Playa de Maderas...just north of San Juan de Sol. After my Angel Buds blessed me with a new/used tire I pulled out of the busy city of Managua and headed straight to a town called Granada, on a large lake. As I entered town, I headed to the old square. Now if you don't have the fancy GPS systems or a great guide book...if all you have is a AAA map of Mexico/Central America, which is outstanding to use if you want to determine that Central America is just below Mexico...then one goes to the old town square, park, turn off your engine and wait! Now this only works if you are on a motorcycle that is full of road dust, piled high with gear and look like a trail beaten Gringo. Now this is a bit like fishing. If you do this and are patient, you eventually will draw the other Gringos who just arrived in town before you. Sure enough, 15 minutes after my setup, one Gringo, then a minute later, two more. The first guys name was Willam, from Chicago (originally Dutch, the Chicago, now Thailand. The next two, Sam & Carrie were from Michigan. Willam was on a typical Suzuki V-Strom, piled high with all the gadgets. But Sam & Carrie were on a 2006 Triumph Scrambler 900 with aluminum side and back boxed he had welded up himself. But the cool factor and final touch were their retro 70's helmets! I couldn't help but think of that movie, "Dumb and Dumber"...no reflection on them, but their gear was perfectly cool and refreshing! Sam & Carrie guided me to their hostel and we all met up at Willam's estate hotel for refreshments by the pool. Now let me pause here for a minute and make a disclaimer. Sam & Carrie are on their honeymoon. Can you imagine the stories their grand children will have about them? I don't know what it is about this trip or motorcycles or both, but you've heard the term..."drove them to drinking"...right? Well I have yet to meet one motorcycle driver who doesn't smoke. And the crazy thing is, they had usually smoked before and had quit, but started back up on this trip. It must be a smoother for the nerves. The driving down hear is enough to drive one to drinking and I guess smoking. It makes me wonder how it will effect me? I have this feeling it is going to make me a stellar riding lawn mower driver or just think about how good I'll be on a golf cart! After refreshments, then dinner at an outdoor Irish Pub, that a street scammer walked us to for traditional Nicaraguan food? I swear these street guys wear you down until you buy into their little scam. This little scammer hung nearby for all of dinner and then for dessert he offered Willam and me some...shall we say...prostitutes! Ahhh, we passed! I would rather sleep with my motorcycle, than have the little street scammer picking out my next date. Come to think of it, I haven't had a date since Jessica, one year ago! I'm either really picky or getting really in attractive or maybe a bit of both! Anyway and moving on... We met up the next morning and all rode to San Juan del Sol. After lunch I went back to my bike and guess who I ran into...my friends, Jonas & Elana. We are having staying and having Christmas at this beautiful little hostel...right on this cozy beach! Once here, a guy named John pulls up on a 250cc Kawasaki dirt bike. Now for you non motorcyclists, this is not a big bike and John had ridden it from Nebraska! Now this is not from inexperience. No this is from A LOT OF EXPERIENCE! And he hardly had any gear! I'm mean the guy look like he was out for a Sunday dirt bike ride. I'm mean this guys doesn't even sport a windshield. He made me feel like the fatted calf. He made me feel like the yuppy with ALL THE GEAR! He made me feel like I needed to go on a gear and bike diet! What a great guy Dave is! Oh...and he smokes...shocker! Jonas, Carrie and I walked down the beach for pizza. what a great and soothing dinner. On our way back we ran across a beautiful camp fire and two people sleeping in front of the red ambers...how romantic is their Christmas! My plan is to be here through Christmas and then shove off for Costa Rica probably on the 26th or 27th. Then Panama and then try and see about a boat to take me around the snake and swamp invested jungles of The Darien Gap, to Columbia...the part my classmate, Keith Jackson hiked through in 1974!