The Lost Road to Bluefields, Nicaragua....

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by brecchi, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Man......totally been slacking on this report. I'm at the airport in Managua right now returning to the States form another trip and a bit more riding. I promise this report will be finished!
    #21
  2. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Headed out of Playa Majagual in the afternoon after 8 days and took a back unpaved dirt road called El Chocolate about 20 miles back to the city of Rivas. Rode back up the main highway north until I hit the T-jucntion at San Benito. Took a right and headed west towards the Atlantic. It was getting dark however, and I gingerly made my way towards the next major town, Boaco. With my sunglasses removed and tons of bugs hitting me in the face and eyes (the 'helmet" I was given had no visor) I turned left after 30 chilly miles and made my way up a steep and winding, although well paved road for 30 minutes and entered Boaco.

    Boaco is a cowboy town, set pretty high up and in 2 distinct parts. The lower section is newer section and up a very steep road to a second level is the old town. I found a nice hotel with a really nice bilingual girl working there names Ana who gave me a great deal on a clean and private room with a bathroom attached for about 10 bucks for the night. The view from the balcony was pretty amazing and I spent the rest of the night wandering around and excited to be back on the bike again after the beach-break.

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    #22
  3. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Woke up with the intention of making it to El Rama, the traditional end of the road for those heading to the Atlantic coast. Its about a 4-5 hour ride ( longer on a 200cc Chinese dirt bike) from Boaco. From El Rama, one traditionally needs to take a panga (big-ass canoe with a big ass Yamaha outboard motor) down the river for a couple of hours before hitting the port town of Bluefield, the only major city on the southern Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. However, I would be inquiring as to the supposed new road that was now available to get to Bluefields, circumventing my need to take a boat and allowing me to have my bike there.

    Passed through the city of Juigalpa, the center of cattle production in Nicaragua. The scenery began to get more lush and tropical. Well -paved highway with both long straight sections and gentle sweepers, mixed in with slow, small-town riding every so often was making for some great riding. Mountains, farms, etc. After a few hours, about 15 minutes from El Rama, the bike began to sputter. Yup, ran out of gas.

    I was right beside a really busted up village - more like just a corner store and a few shacks. A kid on a bike got off to help me. The store had no gas, but they pointed me to a house. I said hello over the gate and a woman came out who looked like she was in the middle of just another day doing whatever manual labor survival required out here. There didn't seem to be anyone else around. She had a few gallons of pink gas and poured me out a gallon or so, and I gladly paid her a good bit over market value. She didn't even ask for anything, which I though was really nice. Poured in the gas and fired the bike back up, hit a gas station and topped off on the outskirts of El Rama. Went into the middle of town, through the main market and bus station. It was everything you might imagine a Nicaraguan river town to be - hot, dirty, filled with people, cars, trucks - hustle and bustle everywhere. Tons of little crappy casinos too. I headed to the mayor's office/taxi stand to inquire about a highway to Bluefields....

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    #23
  4. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    #24
  5. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Hey romafras, just got done reading your Nicaragua posts....cool stuff! Looks like there is at least one way to ride to Bluefields, getting off the highway before El Rama and going to New Guinea - basically the reverse of what you did, minus the boat ride. Wish I had known.....:clap
    Where in Italy are you from? I have a lot of family there. Good luck on the rest of the trip, Ill be following your progress!
    #25
  6. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Thanks Brecchi. I am from Tuscany.
    #26
  7. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer

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    Great photos... like being there.
    #27
  8. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    #28
  9. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    So I ended up at the mayors office asking a bunch of people who work there, as well as taxi drivers outside about a road to Bluefields. They all insisted there was none to be found. I know now through Romafras that there is a way to get to the coast by land if you take a detour about 40 miles before El Rama, head south to Nueva Guinea, and then make your way east through some very difficult "roads".

    Everyone was telling me that the only road to the coast was a really bad gravel and dirt highway to Lagunas Perlas, which is north of Bluefields on the coast. I believe Salcar came through in reverse on his circumnavigation of Nicaragua a few years back. So I decided to park my bike, go to Bluefields for a day or 2 by water taxi, and then return and go to Lagunas Perlas with the bike. I found a nice safe hotel and paid a couple of bucks to park it and my gear for the night, and headed to the dock to catch the last water taxi at 4 in the afternoon for the 1.5 hour ride to Bluefields. Paid 10 bucks or so for a ticket and queued up in line, got a seat and enjoyed a nice ride to the Atlantic coast. Those water taxis go pretty fast!

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    #29
  10. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    So now I'm in Bluefields. Its pretty much exactly what I expected - a sort of interesting for a day or so place, humid, a lot of English and creole being spoken, seafood, run down, and ready to bail after a day. I checked into the Hotel Oasis which was decent, and headed to an internet cafe. I downloaded a few pictures off of my memory card and left the card in the computer. Yeah, it was gone when I returned to get it. We will call this Mistake Number 1. I lost some nice pictures of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Vanderbilt Mansion tha I had on there, but I had the rest backed up in my laptop. You can probably see where this is going....

    I spent the next half day taking in the sights and booked a ticket for the last boat back to El Rama. A walk in the park, some churches, and I was ready to hit the road. I did have a really nice encounter with a family working one of the food stalls in the dark, dank Mercado Municipal which was really cool. Back at the dock I book a ticket and wait to get on a boat. There is a lady there wh will not move to accomodate me and the driver doesn't seem to care, and the boat takes off. This is why I dont like islands very much - being at the mercy of things out of your control to come and go as you please. Which is ironic because I live in Brooklyn, which is technically on Long Island, which people forget. Luckily Im squeezed onto the next and last boat and make my way back to El Rama. I spend the night in the decent hotel where I stored my bike and make plans to take the road to Lagunas Perlas, which many people are discouraging me from doing. Should I have taken their advice?.....
    #30
  11. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    Very cool photos of the area. Those two guys in the video look absolutely spent.

    First time I heard of Bluefields was back in 1988. Hurricane Juana swept north along the CA Carribean coast and hit Bluefields hard. I'll always remember that hurricane because it was largely responsible for my wife and I getting together!

    Look forward to more.
    #31
  12. aviatorbdm

    aviatorbdm Been here awhile

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    It is amazing to see some of your photos. I was in Nicaragua in 2008 and many of the places look familiar.
    #32
  13. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the responses guys, Im glad a few folks are reading this! Pictures are coming which tie into the previous post. Im in Cartagena, Colombia at the moment about to start a new adventure....a good connection is a bit hard to find. Just picked up a Chinese bike and will start slowly heading South tomorrow. Ill be trying to complete this report before too long.
    #33
  14. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    #34
  15. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

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    Interesting place. Was the statue on page 1 of Daniel Ortega?
    Good luck with your travels south and keep us posted.
    #35
  16. salcar

    salcar Riding 4 Health

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    :clap

    I was wondering what happened with you and if you made it to Bluefields!
    I'm currently wrapping up my trip across Africa (currently in Luxor, Egypt) and in June heading to Nicaragua to Ride from Waspam Atlantic Coast to the pacific coast. Let me know when/if you go back to Nicaragua.
    #36
  17. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Hey Art thanks for reading. The statues are in the central park in Matagalpa and are of Thomas Borges on the left and Carlos Fonseca in the middle, founder of the Sandinistas and born locally

    Sal! Good to hear from you. I hope your Africa trip is going well and that there will be a ride report following:D. I wish I could join you in Nica and I am sure it will be an adventure! I just got done my first day riding in South America....am currently in Mompos by way of Cartagena.
    #37
  18. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    So....back at El Rama, I stay the night at the Hotel Oasis and decide that if I cant make it to Bluefields by road, at least Ill be able to take the road to Lagunas Perlas, and then be able to say that I rode to the Atlantic. I head off down a gnarly path and soon end up in a bit of a wasteland of stray dogs and hollowed out big buildings. I turn around and get on the right path. Its pretty unpleasant, the road is littered with sharp softball sized rocks all over the place, and the Yumbo is definitely not up to the task. I keep waiting for the frame to crack in half. I think its about 100 miles to the coast, but I am going about 30 mph max. My duffel which has been fine up till now strapped on the back keeps getting shaken loose and I have to stop about 10 times to adjust and re- adjust. It is nice out here though, rolling hills and farms, cows, etc. There are a couple of towns dotted along the way and the road starts to get more difficult. It is starting to get dark at this point, and a female cop and her partner on a little motorbike leads me into the settlement of Fonseca, which is halfway between Lagunas Perlas and El Rama. You will not find this place on a map. It is definitely lacking in infrastructure. I am lead to the ¨guesthouse¨. It is a big weird structure, made of planks of wood with pieces missing everywhere, like it was only halfway built out of Lincoln Logs. By someone who is way into MC Escher. A strange mazelike contraption that is hard to describe. There is a kind of cantina on the bottom and I am led upstars to my room. There is no electricity here, or working bathroom. It is basically a dirty wooden box with a bed. Its kind of depressing. I dont need much , but I am a bit sketched out. The lady cop is weirdly aggressive - not really towards me but she has an alpha - asserting her power with a loud voice and swift movements - type of presence. I thank her and her partner and they leave. It is then that I look at my bike, and see no duffel........:huh
    #38
  19. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    #39
  20. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    so......with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, I start looking around and backtracking trying to find the back. Im exhausted, my Spanish is faltering, and Im attracting a bit of a crowd which under the present circumstances is irritating. The lady cop comes back and takes control, asking questions, and helping me backtrack. Although she insists that she didnt see a duffel on my bike when I rolled up, I am pretty sure it has been stolen and I say so. At the police station. I file a report and it is then that I hit my low of the trip- I decide I really dont want to continue and that I want to get the hell out of here and go back to El Rama in the dark. I am pretty sure at this point that I just lost the bag, and when I tell the cops my plans they insist that I stay in town, that it is dangerous. Even though they are right, this frustrates me even more and when they ask where I am going I say something like ¨back to my country¨.....yeah, not really my finest moment. They give me a look like ¨whatever¨and I dont blame them.

    I start the very slow crawl back to El Rama keeping an eye out for the bag. I know though, that the first person who saw it has grabbed it.....that shit is gone :dunno. I run into 2 young guys on bicycles and get to talking about my situation - I say that if they see the bag Ill give them a decent reward. They see this as a great opportunity and say they will help me search but for quadruple the amount I offered. They are really animated and very into taking advantage of this potentially big windfall, but I really dont need this right now. I mention that I am not into this hustle on a dirt track in the middle of nowhere at night, and I roll out. Im crawling along at 15-20 mph. The bike is doing badly and is sounding horrible. I stop and check it out. Oh - it sounds like that because .....the entire exhaust has disappeared! The owners of the bike are not going to be happy. Also, where did the turn signals and the kickstand go? On top of that, the mud is caking on the engine and causing it to overheat. I do what I can and eventually crawl into town a couple of hours later and go back to the Hotel Oasis, planning to deal with the bike in the morning. Before I hit the sack I take a mental inventory of what I lost: All my clothes, toiletries, netbook (with the backup photos from the memory card I lost in Bluefields, so now those are gone), a couple of books, and a camera lens worth a few hundred bucks that I borrowed from a friend. At least I had my passport on me and my camera on my hip. I just want this night to be done, and hope I´ll feel better in the morning.
    #40