North to South America on a Honda 250

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Donson

    Donson Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Thanks for letting me tag along.
    Your Certifications sounds very simple and easy. When I got my NAUI dive ticket in 73, it was a 3 month ordeal, almost like SEAL training. Many, many hours underwater, one hour survival float with weight belt and hands above the water, and if you missed ONE question of the dive tables, you fluked the entire course. Times have changed! Stay safe!
    Joris van O, Xkactetx and wilfred like this.
  2. Red-hungarian

    Red-hungarian Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'm so jealous, I want to do this (and be 30 years younger while doing it too). I THOUGHT I was badass doing two Alaska trips from the lower 48. Phhhhhh I'm an amateur.
  3. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    No better way to kick off your day than to cross a border.. Leaving Honduras was pretty straightforward, once you're passed the million patiently waiting trucks things go smooth. Leaving a country hardly ever opposes a problem, it's getting in that is the annoying part. A while ago Nicaragua changed their rules for overlanders, you're now supposed to fill in and send an online application to be allowed entry via land border 7 days in advance. Luckily I had heard about this change and had send in this application when I was on Utila. Not expecting anything of it, I was amazed when I had the approval in my inbox 30 minutes later. I also heard that people still get through without this form, so not sure how strict they are. Entering Nicaragua was still a pain, even with this application. They still asked all kinds of questions, ones that I had answered on the form. And took them a long time to find my application in the system. But finally I was in.. Now the bike. First went to get a TIP, no.. First need to get a piece of paper from some guy walking around outside. Then get my bags scanned, get that signed off too and then we can start the TIP process. Oh and then insurance, they're building a new border station so everything is a mess and finding the woman who's selling insurance proved quite the challenge. All done, I got on the bike and speeded away from this hellish place. Only to hear a whistle, apparently I didn't see (or pretended not to) the last checkpoint. Ahh gaaad, efficiency is non-existend in these countries. Here we go again.. Take of helmet, gloves, show passpoort, show TIP and registration.. Yes thank you, of course everything is alright (that's what your thousand colleagues also checked) bye! Needless to say, I wasn't in a good mood when I crossed this border. I always try to be friendly and happy, but sometimes it's so hard not to lose your cool. Does it speed up the process, no.. Does it feel good to shout at those cunts from inside your helmet, definitely!
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    Nevertheless, after a few hours I was in Nicaragua! Whoohoo. Riding towards León there are many volcanos to admire.
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    Found myself another hostel in León, kick the legs up in a hammock, national brew in hand.. All is forgotten.
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    Whit all the borderhassle out of the way, I was able to appreciate the beauty of León and its inhabitants again. It reminded me a lot of México, and that's a good thing. The people were friendly, smiling and said hello to you on the street. To be honest with you guys, after seven months on the road I was feeling the travel blues. After Mexico, there are a lot of small countries to traverse. Although they're still pretty awesome, it also wears you out. Borders, different currencies, slight cultural differences, different foods (not always good), another plaza, another church. It might be hard to comprehend, but I think it's definitely possible to get tired of traveling. But... Nicaragua charged my battery again! Walking through the streets of León I felt good, there were a lot of things to see and to do here and in the whole country.
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    What better way than to start the evening with a little parade!
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    It's always nice when you end up in a social hostel.. Makes it so much more fun. So bunch of people, some beers, cheerful locals dancing and good music. Went from a stressful morning to feeling wonderful in the evening.
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    All these cervezas do have one downside though.. Well two, but I didn't have a hangover when I climbed in the back of this pickup to go volcano boarding in the morning. The issue was that during the hour ride to the Cerro Negro, my intestines had enough and wanted to be relieved of their toxicity. Normally when I'm riding, I either try to find a gasstation or restaurant or worst case some bushes. But.. I wasn't riding, I was in the back of a pickup truck in the middle of nowhere together with a dozen other people. Oh and the bumps on this dirt road.. Not good, not good at all. Could I hold it until we were at the volcano, and then hopefully find a bush? Should I ask the driver to pull over, hop out and have a dozen people waiting for me? Not much longer and I'm losing this battle I thought.. But like a godsend, there was a park entry where we stopped and they had a bathroom. I was first in, and they almost drove off without me.. But once relieved I was fine the rest of the day. See, that's why there's no smile on this picture. Buttcheeks clenched together to survive this bumpy dirt road.
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    Alright.. With that out of the way it was time to walk up this volcano and slide down it sitting on not more than wooden board with piece of rope attached to it.
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    It's about an hour walk to the top, with plenty of photo breaks.
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    This is Julia, from Germany. And Kimmy, not from Germany (forgotten). They were fun, so I tagged along with them.
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    We made it to the top of the volcano and the colors were beautiful! Although not active, the volcano is still hot. I sat down for a picture and my bum was burning. First I thought it was just the sun heating up the black rocks, but no it's being heated from underneath.
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    Preparing for the ride down.. My impression of a pregnant teletubby.
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    Last minute instructions. And guess who was volunteered to go first.. I'm ready on your right!
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    Off you go!
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    That was cool, short but cool! (hehe) Because I went first I got a nice view of the rest racing down. Everyone survived, but that volcanic dust gets absolutely everywhere.
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    Back in the pickup truck and back to León. This time the ride was much more pleasant.
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    Plebeian, jowul, Cloud-9 and 17 others like this.
  4. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Wow, yes times have changed indeed! That's definitely more than just a beginnerscourse I would say. Pretty sweet that you managed to get it though! Getting through 'almost' SEAL training is no small feat. I probably wouldn't have finished it.

    Well, I still think it's pretty badass to ride that loaded up GS all the way up the Dempster. Carries a fricking spare tire all the way but refuses to change it haha.

    But, there's always a way.. If you really really want it (it gonna be hard to get those 30 years back though). Met Gregg (in his 60's) from New Zealand on the Stahlratte. After his best friend died he realized life was short so he sold his business, got divorced, got on his bike and started riding around the world.

    I'm not advocating what he did, but you might be able to free up some time, get on a plane to Colombia and rent a bike for two weeks or a month. Absolutely stunning rides around here!


    Funny thing, sometimes I think back to some weekend trips I did in Europe. And even getting out there for two or three days was already such a good experience. Don't need to go far or long to have fun. I always love to find some unknown road close to where I live.
    jowul, Lost Cartographer, Cal and 3 others like this.
  5. Runaway Train

    Runaway Train The Left-Right Tourer

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    I was in Leon in ‘08 when Obama won his first election. We stayed at the Hotel America, take a pic if you come across it.
    We had to ride our bikes along the sidewalk to get to the front door, to then lift our bikes into the lobby for “secure” parking. It was crazy but our bikes were secure and just outside our room. I think we were the only guests on this decrepit old Inn. Didn’t look like it had seen many guests in years either.
    Leon is where the Sandinista movement started, great story behind that too.
  6. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Joris, Carrie said that pic in Guat captioned "my mind was blown" with the smoke coming from the volcano behind your head would make a great "gif"! Sorry I'm not that computerate:photog
  7. nbottning

    nbottning n00b

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    Sweden (Luleå)
    Thanks for sharing your ride <3
    Just wanted to send greetings from Sweden.
    Take care and keep them updates coming!
  8. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    The tourcompany that did the volcano boarding also provided a free shuttle to Las Penitas on the coast in the afternoon. And like in the Tellsell commercials, there's always something extra. For just 15 bucks more they'll take you through the mangroves to a remote beach, see new born sea turtles being released and have a BBQ. Ho hum.. Are they gathering these sea turtle eggs to make money of tourists or is it actually a conservation effort? I think it was a conservation program, so that made it more acceptable for me.
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    These little fellas had hatched during the day, and to give them the best chance it is important to release them just before sunset. It is also important that they get from the beach to the ocean on their own. Apparently they have to 'smell' or 'feel' the beach they are born on to be able to return to lay their own eggs. You can see the small white teeth thay they use to break free from the egg.
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    Then it was time to release them on the beach. Hundreds of little turtles crawling and flapping their way over the sand, racing each other to be the first to be swept away by the waves. It was a great sight, but you can't help but think what will happen with them. Statistically their chances are really low. We cheered them on regardless, until the very last one finally reached the ocean.
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    After seeing the turtles off, we got back in the lancha and continued on through the mangrove to another beach.
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    A quick dip in the ocean before it really got dark and then the food was ready.
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    Back in León, for a fitting end of the day we went to a local bar and got a bottle of Flor de Cana rum. Nicaragua's national liquor.
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    Rolled the bike out the hostel door the next morning and within a couple of hours was at my next destination, Laguna de Apoyo. I asked the receptionist at Paradiso hostel for a bed for one night, but soon realized that this place was sweet and that I would skip Grenada to spend some more time here. It was cheap, the restaurant on site served some delicious food and from the private beach the view over the crater lake didn't disappoint.
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    I also met some fun people there, so that made it even better. Some Dutch guys, a few from England, France, Canada and Germany. And then there was Nancy, an older woman from the US who sort of managed the place.
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    Three days of doing absolutely nothing was great and I felt it was time to move on. I left the crater lake, took one last look back when I reached the edge. Skipping Grenada I followed the shores of Lago Nicaragua to catch a ferry to Isla de Ometepe.
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    Who needs a fence if you got a set of giant windmill blades laying around..
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    Getting on the ferry was another great example of Nicaraguan efficiency. First you pay a 1 dollar 'tourist tax' to enter the port area. Then I thought I bought a ticket for the bike and at another booth a ticket for myself. But the ticket for the bike turned out to be a tax of some sort to get your vehicle on the island and the actual ticket for the vehicle was to be bought on the ferry. Four tickets to get on a ferry. The loading was interesting too, like a big Tetris puzzle.
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    Everyone had to wear life jackets, that does not boost much confidence.
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    The trucks were strapped down to stop them wiggling around.
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    Almost there!
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  9. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Hahaha, would be a good one indeed! I'm not that great either but might give it a try if I get to a real computer one day.

    Tack tack! Glad you like it ;) I've never been there but hope to visit Sweden in the near future, I think the riding and camping there should be pretty good!
  10. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Great update and pics!
    That 12 year old "flower of the cane" rum is the best.
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    Cal and Joris van O like this.
  11. nbottning

    nbottning n00b

    Joined:
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    Sweden (Luleå)
    I´ll show you my neighbourhoods any time. For real. ( https://goo.gl/maps/sKAmgd2q4hdtFEur9 )
    In summer it nerver gets dark, and now, well...almost the opposit :-)
  12. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    The ferry dropped me off on Isla Ometepe around noon. No real plan for what to do I set off to ride around Volcan Conception, which is the bigger one of the two volcanos making up the island. From Moyogalpa I headed north-east and once out of town the pavement ended.
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    The paved road only runs from Moyogalpa south and around the volcano to Santa Cruz. The rest are nice dirt roads. Thing I noticed is that because of these dirt roads and the abundance of rental scooters there are a lot of scratched and bruised tourists. Don't grab the front brake! I rejoined the pavement on the other side of the volcano and made my way back to Moyogalpa to spend the night there. Many cheap hostels around.
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    The town wasn't really worth staying as there's not a lot to do or to see. After finding some dinner I went to sit on the dock to watch the sunset. No matter how many times you see one, it never gets old.
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    There are some things to do and to see on the island, one of them is the Cascade de San Ramon. It's located on the southern slope of the Volcan Maderas. To get there you follow the pavement until it ends at Santa Cruz and then continue to the little village of San Ramon. The road crosses the only airport on the island. Imagine landing or taking off with such a view.
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    From the entrance to the waterfall (nothing is free here) you can hike two kilometers on a dirt road and then another two kilometers on a small trail to the actual falls. Or.. You can ride you bike up this dirt road. It was quite challenging, steep, rocky and difficult corners. Bottomed out a couple of times, denting the exhaust (that's my bash plate) and scraped the side bags along some trees. But didn't go down and it's always enjoyable to ride some shitty road.
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    Parking the bike, locking the jacket and helmet to the bars I got on with the hike up the canyon.
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    Yay, a waterfall! Bloody cold though. There were some people already (a German couple overlanding in a VW combi) and another German girl there insisted that I should stand under the fall and she would take a photo.
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    I sat down on a rock to finish my book and enjoyed the sound from the falling water, once everyone had left. Well, until other people showed up a couple minutes later.
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    The thing about being on the touristtrail is that you meet the same people over and over. This couls either be good or bad, but this time it was good. Bryn, Bram and Jip, the guys I had met a couple days before were staying in a hostel closeby so it made sense to go there for the night. El Zopilote is a bit of a hippy place, and started out as a permaculture farm/hostel. The food was really good, all biological and homegrown ingredients. And after doing a number 2 on the composting toilet you had to cover it with a scoop of brown rice to help the composting process. The dorm was just a wooden structure with nets against insects. Some beers and a game of cards in the evening.
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    Another thing to visit on the island is the Ojo de Agua. A natural spring that feeds into a pool. Bart, Jip and I wanted to go. But walking was a bit far.. Luckily Honda's are build though and can carry three people. Was it comfortable, no. Was it fun, definitely. Doesn't surpass Ed's effort with two girls on his Duke though.
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    An evening of more card games and cervezas later it was time to move on again. Back to mainland after getting four more tickets for the ferry. That took so long that the ferry literally set off when my rear wheel was on the ramp. Much to the amusement of the crew.
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    Last stop in Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur. Only an hour riding from the ferry. [​IMG]

    There's a thing going on there every Sunday, aptly named 'Sunday Funday'. It's just a big pub crawl actually. Which means lots of intoxicated (mostly) young travelers. Admittedly, I did my fair share of consuming cervezas. Although there were many European and north American tourists there were also some locals to balance things out a bit. Ended up 'talking' with a girl from Granada the whole evening.
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    Sleeping in the next morning, it also rained so I was in no hurry to get up. Did walk to the Cristo de la Misericordia for an overview of the beach. Later it cleared and together with the two Dutch guys we watched a soccer match and for dinner had a BBQ on a beach close by.
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    And that concluded Nicaragua. Great country, lots to see and to do and not that large so easy to travel. Even after the political problems and protests last year there are still a fair amount of tourists. Is the matter resolved now, according to some locals it's not and the situation can escalate at any moment. Time for another border and another country, Costa Rica!
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    Can't get away from these two Canadians.
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