The Grand Tour Year 3

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JackL, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    The border crossing from Belize to Guatemala was one of the easiest of the trip. No Helper needed. There was a gas station with an ATM just inside the border so no need to exchange much at the border rates. I headed straight to
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    I had read that if you entered the park after 3 PM they stamp you for the next day so you get 27 hours there. While waiting for 3 to come around i talked to a German girl who had bicycled there from Ushuia. It had taken here 15 months and she figured she had that much more to go to get to Alaska. Talk about a long trip.
    First time I'd seen one of these signs.
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    Jaguar crossing.

    I set up camp and immediately headed out to the ruins. First I came across this type of wild Ocellated Turkey
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    This is Temple V.
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    You can pay a bit of extra money to go watch the sunrise from one of the larger temples. I was going to do it but when I rolled out of bed at 3 AM there was heavy overcast so I went back to sleep. No one saw the sunrise that day. After the skies cleared I headed out. Tikal really is the best set of Mayan ruins in Central America.
    What do you call a bunch of Coatls? A herd? A flock? Well here's a video of them.
    http://s83.photobucket.com/albums/j...Guatemala/?action=view&current=P1050400-1.mp4

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    There were also monkeys
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    And Ant Superhighways
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    And of course more ruins
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    If you're in Tikal with your own vehicle you can ride about 20km to another set of ruins, Uaxactun just outside a native village. I recommend it. It's the only place down there you can do this.
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    On the way through the village I saw the most amazing native girl. She looked and was dressed traditionally but had stunning blue eyes. Like aquamarine gems.
    On my way back to Tikal I didn't see a Jaguar. I did see a rare jungle Fox. Then it was on to Flores. As you may know Flores is built on an ilsland in lake Peten Itza and connected to shore by a 500m causeway.
    I stayed at the Dona Goya hostel and had lunch at a great little restaurant called Cool Beans.
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    It's a very pretty area.
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    View from the roof of the guest house
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    From FB, 'Went out looking for a St Patrick 's day party. Found the just opened Buccaneers Bar. They had Jack. I spent almost. $7 on 3 stiff drinks there. They have no Pirate music, just Bob Marley's which I told them not to play. Brittany Spears which I threw away for them, and some average 70s rock and some Metal. Tomorrow I am burning all my Pirate music for them. The Wages of Sin, Alestorm, Rum Rebellion, etc."
    As I was wandering back to my guest house I came across a black KLR with an ADV sticker on it. I left a note and the next day ADV Rider Old-N-Slow found me. We did breakfast then headed around the lake to what was supposed to be a big party. it wasn't but later we hit the Buccaneers Bar.
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    Old-N-Slow himself
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    We had a good local meal down the street. This fish can only be found in lake Peten Itza.
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    The owners of the Buccaneers loved the pirate music and wouldn't play anything else. The gave me a bottle of rum which I shared with them and things got silly.
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    The next morning, surprisingly not hung over, it was back to Cool Beans for breakfast and then on the road SE to Honduras
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    I stopped for lunch here at Rio Dulce
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    Then on to the border
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    I'll end with this from FB, "3 1/2 hour border crossing into Honduras. You'd think if they require you to have a copy of the stamp they put in your passport they might have a copier machine. No, they rely on a hotel 500m down the road in no-mans land. Which wasn't open. Fortunately a nice Honduran-American Grandmother in Immigration helped me out. All I had to do was send my passport and drivers license with a kid on a bike to who knows where. Everything returned by taxi and said grandmother, Juanita, then gave me a place to stay in her huge house up the road. :) I thought I was going to be camping in No-Man's land for the night.



    #21
  2. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    As I mentioned Honduras was a bit of a bitch to get into but with a bit of help from the locals it worked out. Since evening was closing in and I had an offer of a place to stay I only drove about 30 km to Masca. Juanita the grandmother Immigration woman from Brooklyn wasn't home yet so I had a couple beers at a little joint just down the street and ended up "talking" with a deaf kid who was into bikes. Here he is trying on my body armor.
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    Juanita had a big house that her son had built or her. I had the whole upstairs to myself. It was weird, like a US log cabin and reminded me of where I grew up in Indiana
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    She called up her nephew and he and his girlfriend took me down to the coast for dinner.
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    Another bit from FB here about that night. "I was awoken about 4 am by a dog, maybe 200 meters away, that wouldn't stop barking. He went on for about 30 minutes before Bang, Bang, Bang! 3 pistol shots rang out. No more barking dog. As cruel as it is I'm glad the dog was quiet. I may be a bad person but also dogs there aren't the same. They're not really pets."
    Up the next morning and back to the beach for breakfast and local sights.
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    Jaunita saying goodbye on her way to work in the morning
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    I headed on into Honduras low on gas and with no local currency. I was getting worried for the first 2 hours because I was getting low on fuel and then was able to get both. Riding in Honduras is the most extreme I came across in Central America. They have, fortunately, a lot fewer speed bumps than the rest of the countries but this just makes the multitude of little towns you cross through trickier. 60 mph with big buses behind you watching for/dodging (in order) small children, horse/cow drawn wagons, dogs, entering vehicles, adults. Each one was intense and exhilarating. I stopped here in Tela for lunch.
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    Nice view from the porch.
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    I made it to La Ceiba on the north coast. I found a hostel. I don't remember the name but that's ok because I wasn't that impressed with it. The woman they had working there could barely be bothered to stop watching soap operas and get out of her hammock to help you. The good thing about it is it was owned by the same people who owned the Jungle River Lodge (http://www.jungleriverlodge.com/) up in the mountains where, if you'd stayed at the place in La Ceiba, you could go white water rafting/zip lining and get a night free.
    After the last couple days complications I treated myself to a nice steak dinner on the beach.
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    Some of my friends will get the significance of finding this card on the street as I walked around
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    This was the only place I felt I was intentionally ripped off in all of Central America. I bought a 6 pack of beer and was given a lot less change than I should have gotten. It was my fault for not counting it and I wasn't yet familiar with the currency there. It really pissed me off at the time and gave me a bad taste for La Ceiba for a few days before I chalked it up to accident or learning.
    I headed out to the Jungle River Lodge late the next day. No one else was up for a Zip-line Canopy trip but they allowed me to squeak in on the bouldering/rafting trip. I was still a bit hung over at first so some of the swimming against the current bits was a difficult and my guide looked a bit worried about me. About 15 minutes in the water and jumping and sliding off boulders and I was back in form. No pictures from that adventure but it was a lot of fun. Good rafting back to the Lodge. Here's a few pics from after.
    The river with one of the rafts down below.
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    The valley we came down. Middle of summer so water levels were low. They say in the rainy season the water is 20ft higher.
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    Their friendly parrot.
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    Their bar where I spent the afternoon
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    Some of the workers I met there invited me up to their village further into the mountains for a local village on village soccer (football) match the next day. I was in a hurry to get on further east but now wish I had done it.
    I headed on out towards the NE corner of Honduras to the "Mesquito coast." Named after the people, not the insect. Damn it was hot. Had to increase my water intake by double a day." Even the locals said it was unusually hot.
    Typical road hazards.
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    The hostel I was intending to stay at was closed. Did I mention the guide book I'd downloaded for free was about 5 years old? After driving around a bit and being rejected by one hotel that wouldn't take me because they couldn't secure my bike I found the Hotel Tujillo for 150 of the local currency. I can't say much about my room except it was cheap, had clean sheets, and a fan. Even my own bathroom. About all you really need.
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    I only spent one afternoon and night there but walked around a lot.
    There's quite a bit of interesting and odd history linked to Trujillo. You can read about it on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trujillo,_Colón). One of the most interesting characters was an American mercenary who tried to invade Central America and found a new republic, William Walker. He met his end here.
    The cemetery where he's buried.
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    Butcher shop. That's one well behaved dog
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    Just off the central square
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    Great view from Cafe Vino Tinto
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    The old fort
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    Another good bit from FB here. "So the night I was out in Trujillo, Honduras I was wandering around. I noticed an Internet cafe which was closed. A young well dressed guy from down the street asks me, in perfect English, if I'm looking for Internet. He and his friend offer to walk me to a place that was still open. Of course they turn out to be Mormons. I regaled them with tales of my motorbike adventures on this trip. I figure always good to rub it in a bit to those on the other side. So they can see what they're missing.

    Just a funny picture of my arm after a few days wearing my body armor without a shirt over it. Geometric tan lines
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    My intention was to ride from Trujillo SSW to Tegucigalpa. After about 2 hours on the road, where I stopped twice to show my map to locals and make sure I was on the right road, I ended up in Limon. Not on the road to Tegucigalpa but near where they filmed the movie The Mosquito Coast with Harrison Ford. Even my good Central American map of this area was pretty off. I decided to ride back to La Ceiba and check out an interesting bar I saw on the way out. It was a pretty ride.
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    Met up with these guys coming the other way.
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    Went to the bar.
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    As you can tell it's motorsports themed. Met the nephews of the owner who run the place. Watched some races. Drank with the locals. Had a lot of fun.
    I decided to spent one more day in La Ceiba now that my opinion of it had changed. I ended up at the appropriately named The Expat Bar. They had good German Beer. It'd been so long since I'd had anything other than lager.
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    I ended up talking to an X-Honduran Air Force pilot who is now a judge and learned they confiscate a lot of nice light aircraft there that are hauling drugs to the US. I may be going back to pick up a nice twin engine for my current friend/boss in the near future. Yes I'm a pilot but it's been a while.

    I had found something about a hostel/brewery in Honduras. I looked it up and it was on the main route to Tegucigalpa. I've wanted to go to Tegucigalpa since I first learned of it in 3rd grade. What a great exotic sounding name. I left Ceiba and made it to the D&D guest house in one day. A few pics.
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    D&D guest house/brewery. I highly recommend it. For only about $1 US more a night I got a room and bathroom to myself. They even have a pool.
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    I'll end this part with another Facebook post about this days ride. It was surreal.
    "In the voice of Eddie Izzard 'Beer or Death?' Beer please.
    First I saw 2 pretty serious car accidents. An ambulance leaving one. Then a small black and yellow bird flew up and hit my right peg and foot. In my rearview I saw its body tumble along the road.
    A little later I slowed down to drive around some cops. A truck was parked on a small bridge. As I passed it I looked right and under some palm fronds was a dead human. Adult male I'd guess by the size.
    Now I'm at the guest house with a private room having my first micro-brew since San Diego. Life is strange. Or as the people here said, "Welcome to Honduras."
    #22
  3. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    I met an odd American couple, Spencer and Amy and we drove up to Palhapanzak water fall. It's 140 ft (42m) tall. Only 30 ft shorter than Niagara. You can get a guide and go in along the side and then under the falls. Prepare to get Very wet since for a good portion you are in the direct fall of water. There's also a zip line there which I regret not doing. Just didn't have the cash with me.
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    Amy had a waterproof camera so we got some good photos
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    I spent a couple days at D & D before heading towards Tegucigalpa. This part of Honduras reminded me a lot of the mountains of California. Hot and dry with mostly pine and great, smooth 2 lane Hwy. Not what I expected. As I was driving along I passed a bike that sure looked liked like an ADV Rider. I looked back and saw him braking and we both swung around. As we got to talking we realized we knew each other from this website. We'd actually been talking about meeting up and riding together. It was Tengai in Toronto.
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    Unfortunately he was already on his way back north. I headed on up over the mountains where I stopped for a snack.
    I wasn't the only one having a bite.
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    I hadn't heard much good about Tegucigalpa so after a quick swing through for money and gas I headed NE into the mountains to Valle de Angeles.
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    I found a nice guest house with cabins that had good views.
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    Then wandered into town for some dinner. This pair looked like best friends.
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    The next day I thought I'd swing back through Tegus as the locals call it and see if I could find a hostel that was in my book. Like many Central American cities the streets are not marked. I stopped in a gas station on one of the major streets and tried to find someone who could show me where I was on my map. Nobody could, not even one woman who worked there. It struck me later that they may not learn that skill in school there and just know how to get around there part of the city from experience.
    Next it was on south with a trip off the main road up to a little town called Tatumbla. It was a pretty old mountain village but the road to get to it was atrocious.
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    I almost spent the night there but was feeling the urge to get on to Nicaragua.
    That's where I'll pick up next time.
    #23
  4. Tengai In Toronto

    Tengai In Toronto Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    186
    Location:
    Toronto
    Glad I finally found this thread!! What a thorough account! Great pictures too. Especially the one of me in Honduras....:lol3

    Let me know when you head to the great white north
    #24
  5. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    I'm just going to post a lot of pics and come back and fill in the detail later.
    Reminds me of where I grew up.
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    The road from Esteli to Leon
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    Managua
    My guest house
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    Sandino
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    The mall
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    The famous Adv Rider Salcar
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    His mothers new puppy Nikita
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    His house and bike collection
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    One nights collection
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    My good friend Kirk flew down from Seattle and we spent a couple weeks traveling Nicaragua.
    The cool Pyramid GH where he stayed in Managua before we headed out to
    #25
  6. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
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    The ferry to Ometepe island.
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    Hospedaje SOMA. Our place for the week
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    We rented a couple little 200cc dirt bikes since I'd left mine at Salcar's. Riding the north end of the island from Moyogalpa to Atigracia.
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    Beer break
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    Down on the southern part of the island
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    Little Morgan's GH
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    Kirk, on the right, runs into his nemesis. Seattle and Portland FB clubs.
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    The northern voclano, still active, Concepcion
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    We took a kayake trip up the only river on the island: Istian
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    Stopped for a great meal after the river. Local fish.
    Bit of food porn for you all.
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    Had a little company.
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    Then we stopped at Ojo de Agua springs. Beautiful place to swim...and drink.
    Coco Locos
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    Shape up a coconut, pour rum in it, add straw. perfect.
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    Last ferry of the day coming in
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    Every night we'd walk down to the beach for a few beers at sunset. This guy was always watering his horse there.
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    From Tulum I'd been going pretty hard to meet up with my buddy. It was nice to relax a bit.
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    #26
  7. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    We hopped the ferry back to Rivas.
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    then up to Managua and caught a flight to Big Corn island for a night.
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    From there up to the much nicer Little Corn island by boat. Guess which head is mine.
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    No roads, no cars, only a few hours a day of electricity. We found a hut on the beach at Cool Breeze GH on the windward (east) side ad did a whole lot of nothing. Our biggest adventure for 3 days was walking to the other side of the island for dinner.
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    And this.
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    From there it was a flight back to Managua and then down to the SE corner of Lago de Nicaragua to San Carlos.
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    #27
  8. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    We flew out over Grenada and the nearby islands.
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    We got a good view of Ometepe island
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    San Carlos is an interesting little town.
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    Oh that looks like a small runway
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    Just an optical illusion since it curves over the hilltop. Plenty of room and a nice gravel strip.

    We stopped for a bit at the friend of a friends pizza place then found a room at Hotel Cabinas Leyko.
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    Took a little walk down by the water
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    And enjoyed another sunset over Lago de Nicaragua.
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    The next morning we were up early but almost missed our boat because we were told the wrong time so we couldn't stop here.
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    Off we went down river towards the Caribbean along the Rio San Juan on the sister boat to this.
    #28
  9. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    4th attempt to get this section posted. The browser has crshed 3 times. The last time I was able to post just a little, Pt 4. let's try 2 different browsers.

    The sister to this boat.
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    Well that seems to have worked. One browser just crashed but no affect on the browser I'm working in.
    So now a bunch of pictures of traveling down the river and the life there.
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    We stopped in Sabalos which is the end of the road. From here it's only boat.
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    After a few hours we reached our destination: El Castillo.
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    El Castillo has avery interesting history which you can read about here. The fortress changed hands almost every 20 years for 200 years between the Spanish and the British/Americans/Miskito/Zambo/pirates because it was the gateway to the gold of Grenada.
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    The fort was built at this point because of the rapids here. Only some of the smaller boats can navigate it even now.
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    Here's a little info from the tour. All the major pirates of the Caribbean seem have been here at some point.
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    We stayed at the Hotel Victoria which I highly recommend and splurged for the luxury of seperate rooms with air conditioning. Honestly it was dirt cheap.
    We arragned for a guided tour out through the rain forrest for the next day which was exceptional.
    Our female guide, Seyla Bustos had grown up in the area and was excellent.
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    Hotel Vic is on the left
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    Lots of wildlife as we headed down river
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    Green poison dart frog
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    Red poison dart frog
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    They're both pretty common in this area
    We went on a 3 hour hike through the bush. Gorgeous out there
    Strangle vine.
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    Fairly fresh Jaguar print.
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    They call this plant Monkey Ladder
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    Spider monkey on the boat trip back.
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    We stopped by a farm on the way back to pick up a boatload of fruit to take to town. One of the things I love about tours is in this part of the world is everything is very casual. Pick up some fruit, drop off some school kids, ferry a horse. It's all part of the experience.

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    We only had one day in El Castillo so headed back to San Carlos.
    Where Egrets Dare
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    Then it was another flight back to Managua where Kirk got on a plane back to Seattle and I caught a taxi to Grenada.
    #29
  10. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    519
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Great RR, The photos are wonderful. Waiting for more of your adventures. Thanks.
    #30
  11. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    Thanks. More soon. I had some internet problems last night and power outages the day before.
    #31
  12. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    Got into town after a crazy ride with a driver blasting Disco the whole way. Got a bed at the Bearded Monkey hostel. I immediately met
    a gang of Swiss and Aussies and headed out to pool and drinks with them.
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    Grenada is the most touristy city in Nicaragua. They even have an Irish bar, which we ended up at.

    The next day, Weds Apr 18, or Day 132 of traveling, I wandered to Poets Park and the old train station.
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    One thing I'd noticed is a lack of trains in MX and Central America.

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    I toured the Cacoa Museum and found this nice hotel when I wandered in the back.
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    I then wandered towards the water from the central square.
    Bikers are the same everywhere.
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    I got accosted by a literally crazy tean but a local shopkeeper chased him off.

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    I found a little sculpture garden.
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    I suddenly hear the most beautiful music. It was coming from somewhere up a side street so I followed my ears. I eventually found the source
    inside a bared church. A kid practicing piano. He wasn't perfect and was obviously preacticing the piece but the accoustics were magical. I tried
    to record him but it just didn't come out on my camera.
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    Here's a link to it. Ignore the video. Maybe someone can tell me the song.
    http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j292/JackLowry/2011%20MX%20and%20Central%20America/Nicaragua/P1050977.jpg

    Hanging out waiting for a friend and found my lucky number.
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    I walked by this.
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    I headed to O'Shea's, the Irish bar for a change of diet and to catch a soccer game. Barcelona lost. Food porn.
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    Met the gang later and played in a Trivia game at one of the bars. We came in first and were awarded to bottles of Rum which we proceded two consume.
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    #32
  13. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    I took a Collectivo from Grenada to Managua and then a taxi to Salvador's. Grabbed the bike and then headed west-ish to Leon.
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    I made it there and got a bed at Hostel Lazy Bones
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    I went out for a couple beers and got a burger from a street vendor. I think the kid was drunk. He was laughing and bouncing around the whole time for no reason and dumped a
    massive quantity of
    ketchup on it. I literally had to scrap most of it off with a paper plate before it was remotely edible.

    The next day I woke up not feeling too well but still went Volcano Sledding. We drove from Leon and hiked up a volcano.
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    I was getting sick so I didn't jump.
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    Our sledding outfits
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    And what it looks like going down the volcano at 30 mph
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    I got back to Leon just in time to get violent food poisoning from the street burger. Only later did people tell me that Gringos should not eat the street food in Leon.
    I was sick from mid day Saturday until Tuesday evening. Fortunately a couple nice Dutch girls took care of me and brought me water and juice.
    By Tuesday I was feeling better and ravenous since I hadn't had any solid food since Sat AM so I took us out to steaks. It's hard not to eat a lot of Filet Mignon when they're US $10.
    Leon was a pretty city and much less touristy than Grenada. You could walk a few blocks from the Center, which I did, and you were in the real city where the locals lived.
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    I went to an interesting insect museum. The bugs were massive so I've included my hand so you can get the proper perspective.
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    I took some new French friends advice and rode out to the beach at Las Penitas. I stayed at an unremarkable guest house. When I arrived the tide was out
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    And then it came back in.
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    There's big surf on the west coast of Nicaragua. A lot of it is still undiscovered
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    And the crazy French guy from the gang I'd met in Leon
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    And that's it for Nicaragua this time. My old friend who is now my business partner is developing 2000 acres there as a resort and eco-park and I may be picking up a light airplane to fly him around a bit. I might even finally get my float plane rating.
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    Goodbye Nicaragua. You were my favorite country of this trip. See you soon.
    #33
  14. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    Crossed from Nicaragua through the flat west side of Honduras and then into El Salvador. It was the longest and most complicated border crossing of the trip but don't let that stop you from going there. It was one of the most interesting and most friendly countries I rode through.
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    Lots of Volcanos in El Salvador
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    As I was driving along a noticed a cow ambling down to the road. It wasn't close enough to concern me but just after I passed it I saw a Cop truck going the other way and heard
    BANG!
    I doubled back
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    Truck: 0
    Cow: 0
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    Strange sites down along the coast
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    Pretty route
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    Lunch break
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    Bathroom at hostel
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    View from hostel
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    My room in San Salvador
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    Street art[​IMG]

    Cafe I like
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    #34
  15. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    Between the cafe I liked and my room I came across an Irish bar. It was a Fri night and getting lively and I started talking to a local gent. He introduced me to his English
    friends of his and we were all drinking Jameson. We decided to move the party on and the Brits said they'd drive. They had their cars 'brought around' and they turned out to be
    an Audi and an Austin Martin. I straighrt away said I was riding in the Austin.
    Off we went on an adventure. The kind where you know there were bars and strip clubs in the mix and then you walk outside into blinding sunlight with no idea what time it is or
    where you are but there's a driver ready to take you back to your place.
    Yeah, one of those nights.

    When I finally left San Salvador I headed NNW up along Lago de Coatepeque and then up the Ruta de Las Flores for lunch at Juayua.
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    Coming back down on the mountain I saw these guys. They loaded stacks of firewood on these skids and sledded them downhill. I looked like fun.
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    I continued on to Apaneca and found a nice guest house. The next day it was off to the most difficult border crossin an then back into Guatemala.
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    #35
  16. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    So I'll just throw up some photos of central and western Guatemala.
    Antigua
    El Gato Negro Hostel
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    The Market
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    Everybody loves ice cream
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    Lago de Atitlan
    My room, up on the left
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    View from my room
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    Around town and the lake
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    Water levels have risen a bit
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    Leaving Guat. First day I'd ridden in rain since Belize a few thousand miles and months ago.
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    #36