Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.

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  1. Paydrow

    Paydrow n00b

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    So this is what it's like to read a fresh/ongoing report. I can not wait to follow along with your journey!
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  2. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne I got my wings back. Supporter

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    It takes some time out of the day to write and organize photos, but it's nice to be able to share your trip with those of us that are waiting for our turn to break away.
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  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    While we were on Utila, we went scuba diving! I never thought Carol would go for it - but she did and we booth loved it. We did not take a (multi-day) certification course. When we were staying at Jorge Del Carmen's Finca Xejuyu out of Antigua, Guatemala (see post #85) his cousin Roberto, who owns a diving business (Pana Divers), recommended we try a "Discover Scuba" experience, where you get some basic training and then do a couple of dives with a certified dive instructor. Roberto even gave us a recommendation for the dive shop we used, "Utila Water Sports", which we were very happy with. We did two dives with the instructor one day, then on the next day we went along on a dive boat to snorkel. One the second of the two dives, the instructor let me bring along my go pro, and I got some great footage -



    And here are a few pics ..

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    Us with our dive instructor, Cyrill, and the captain of the dive ship, Captain Kerry. Captain Kerry was born and still lives on one of the keys off of Utila, and has this wonderful island english that I just loved - sort of a Scottish accent. Cyrill, Kerry and everyone at Utila Water Sports were just wonderful people.
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    That's my wife, Carol, scuba diving. I would never ...

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    At the dock in Utila waiting to go out
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    Utila Water Sports. There is one (!) main street in Utila - pretty much every business is right on this street.
  4. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Here are some more Utila pictures - and ... a video. You have to get there from La Ceiba by ferry. Recall I get sea sick - and watch this short video below that Carol took while we were on the ferry. I held it together on the way there but was not happy - on the way back I took meds (two Benydryll) and that definitely helped, which was encouraging. I have been worried about the Stahlratte - the sailing ship we are taking (with our bikes) from Panama to Columbia. Several people along the way (all expats) have said that the Scopolamine patch works really well - but it is prescription only in the USA, and I have not been able to find it here in Mexico or Central America. So I contacted my doctor back in San Jose and he agreed to give me a prescription, which my son picked up and has mailed to a hotel in Panama we will be staying at. The package arrived - I'm hoping the contents are intact! It has a few other supplies I've been wanting, including a replacement for Carol's Giant Loop gas bladder that was stolen in Mexico. Crazy expensive to mail stuff - hope to minimize the number of times we have to do that!



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    Our Tree House was just up the street from a Iguana research station - every day we would walk down to town past Iguanas scuttling across the road.

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    This was really strange - they have these land crabs that dig holes in the sandy soil. At evening they come out .

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    Main street, Utila. One thing about Utila - it is a young persons hang out. I don't know where all these 20-somethings get the money and time to take off and travel to the Caribbean and elsewhere for (from conversations we had) months or year at a time! But they are there in mass, and we had to be some of the oldest tourists on the island. So many toned bodies, made me feel old :-) But none of them were ridding motorcycles to Usuaiah!

    DSC01144.JPG Sunset from the Tree House
  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    I will probably do a blog post on our web site later, discussion our experience with Chris, Sharon and the mission works we visited - it deserves a fuller telling. But for this trip report I'll try to be succinct.

    We left Utila Saturday May 4, and checked back into the Hotel Las Hamacas in La Ceiba where we had left our motorcycles parked. The next day we met up with our new friends, Chris and Sharon Struna, and went to a local church with them and their long time friends Earl and Sharon, who were fascinating people that have dedicated much of their life to developing schools in rural Honduras. Recall that we met Chris and Sharon in Baja (twice!). They were missionaries for six years in Honduras and are headed back to the same area after they finish their grand trip. We had asked if we could stop in Honduras to see the school and hospital where they had worked, and they had recently agreed to personally host there if we could match up our schedules, which we did.

    On Monday, we met up with Chris and Sharon and headed up the dirt road into the mountains, following along the River Congrejal. Most of the road was ok - but there were a few very rocky sections that were challenging, and Carol did great! The off-road class we took in Guatemala from Jose Pinto definitely has paid off. She only dropped her bike once on the way up - when coming to a stop with bad footing underneath. She has probably dropped her bike half a dozen times in same situation - stopping on a bad road for some valid reason - only to loose it due to bad footing - she does not have a lot of "foot on the ground" even on a flat surface! The challenge of being short of stature.

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    Chris and Sharon in the lead, headed up the road that follows the Rio Congrejal out of La Ceiba.

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    Jim and Carol behind.

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    Very common sight along the road.
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    We arrived at the school - but it was late afternoon and we had to make quite a racket to get someones attention and open the gate!
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  6. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    The school is called the "Instituto El Rey", and is located where the tributary Rio Viejo runs into the Rio Congrejal - the village here is called "Rio Viejo". They teach from 7th grade up through high school. Government schools run through grade six (end of mandatory education), and before this school was built children living in the villages in the hills on either side of this river had little chance to go beyond sixth grade, with obvious implications as to their options for the future. The school started accepting students in 2001 into 7th grade and then adding a grade level each year as that first class moved up the ranks. We were told that much of the first year (year 7) is spent catching the students up to grade level - the "6th grade" graduate from the rural government schools is in reality likely somewhere between grade 3 and 5 in scholastic ability. The main track ends at grade 9, and admission for grades 10-12 is competitive - they can only accept roughly half of the graduating 9th graders. But even graduating from this school with a 9th grade education puts you way above the average child in rural Honduras! In Honduras schools have to offer an "emphasis" for grades 10-12, in one or more approved subject areas, academic or vocational. Larger schools in the city will have many to choose from, but Instituto El Rey realized they could only do one, and they chose Computer Technology. Chris Struna was teaching at the school at that time, and he was the founder of that program, and built up their computer programming curriculum from scratch.

    They have many success stories; over 50% of their 12th grade graduates go on to University, many of the teachers are former students and the school is recognized for its excellence in education. The high school students compete in national competitions for computer programming, and have been very competitive, winning first place a few years ago. This against the larger city schools that have much more in terms of resources. The competition they won was for web site development - and the school computer lab did not even have internet access! They have a linux web server running and they do all the development and teaching in a "virtural web" environment.

    Many or most of the students come from villages up in the mountains They have to walk hours on paths to get to the road and then catch a local bus to get to schoo. Some of the students stay with local families during the week because their village is to far away to make daily commuting practical.

    I put a hyper link on the schools name in the first paragraph - one of the cool things you can do is sponsor a student. All students are required to pay part of their tuition and buy their uniforms, but the tuition payment they make, though a large sum for them, is short of the actual cost. The balance is made up by "Sponsors" - you can sponsor a child and give them the opportunity to have an education, for not very much money, that will literally change the course of their life. There are large and complicated problems in the world that need money and resources, where progress and success are slow and hard to measure. Sponsoring a third world student so they can get an education they could otherwise not afford makes a real, measurable impact in the life of a young person. Institute El Rey is an excellent opportunity to do so - we saw it first hand and endorse it without reserve.

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    Instituto El Rey

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    We were there for a special Mother's Day presentation. Mid-morning, the mother's came in by bus and filled the covered, outdoor assembly area. The power went out (the power went out every day we were there) and the generator had to be put into action to get the show going, but it did go, and it was fun to watch. There was singing, dancing, puppet shows and theater, all centered around Mom's.

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    This groupis about to sing for the Mom's.

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    End of the day - this bus goes back down the road, dropping kids off along the way. Some live at villages that are on the road, but many will walk up into the mountains, some several hours, to get back home.
  7. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    The hospital is directly across the street from the school, and is named Dyer Rural Hospital (click on name for web site). They started as a clinic and were fully certified as a hospital in 2013. Sharon Struna had previously opened a clinic at another location, and when Dr. Martin and Wendy Williams were trying to get theirs off the ground, they learned of Sharon and enlisted her help. She eventually switched to working full time with Dr. Martin, and was the first full time nurse. For years this was the only medical facility in this valley - but no more. Two students from Instituto El Rey's first graduating class, Melvin and Anna, went on to University and then Medical School. They are now married and have started a clinic further down the road, closer to La Ceiba. When Chris and Sharon Struna complete their motorcycle wanderings, Sharon will be working with Dyer Rural Hospital to open another clinic further up the road (end of the road actually), which is where the orphanage is. The hospital and eventually two clinics will provide distributed points for medical services along the Rio Congrejal basin, so that care is more accessible to these people who are largely relying on transportation by foot.

    Dr. Martin is a true visionary. He decided from youth that he was going to be a doctor in rural Honduras, and determined that given that, it was best to do his medical training in Honduras, which he did. This gives him an "in" within the local medical professional and bureaucratic spheres; he understands how Honduras works. Having been successful with this hospital, he wants to use it as a training center for other doctors who want to replicate similar in other rural parts of Honduras. To that end the hospital recently purchased an adjacent piece of property, where they will build housing for doctors-in-training who will commit two years to working and learning at Dyer Rural Hospital.

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    The hospital entrance - as seen from the entrance to the school. They are literally across the road from each other. People line up hours before opening - some will have left their village in the dark in order to walk and get here in the morning, so they can be seen.

    DSC01307.JPG Dr. Martin with his former nurse, Sharon, and Tabitha, the current staff RN. It was sort of a homecoming for Sharon - everyone was so glad to see her. Several said "we didn't think you were coming back!" to which she and Chris reply - "We sent all of our belongings here - what did you think?!" :-) They have all of their "stuff" here for some time, in storage, waiting for their return.

    DSC01308.JPG This otherwise boring photo of the records room is my favorite, because we had Sharon to make it significant for us. She was so excited about this room, it really made her emotional. The reason - as she said - "When I started here, there were no charts - no patients. I saw the first patients come in, and now this!" The growth of the reach of the hospital over the years Sharon has been gone is impressive. They take groups of visiting doctors up into the mountains to the villages to give them care, medical training and make them aware of the hospital. Sharon came up with the record numbering system they still use, which is based on a series of numbers indicating your village and which household in that village you live in. There may be 10 or more people in a household. Anyway - if you had been there listening to Sharon, you'd think this was the coolest photo too!

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    Jungle hospital surgical suite. Love the tool box. They also have a maternity ward that is waiting accreditation by the government, and a dental suite with two dentist chairs, used by visiting dentist (no resident dentist). We were told that what they really need is dental hygenists in addition to dentist. Often, teeth are extracted (rather than say a root canal and crown), but there are local "jungle dentists" who have no training that sometimes botch the job, leaving complications for the "patient".
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  8. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    The orphanage, "Give Hope 2 Kids" (name is hyperlink to website) is another 10 miles or so up the road, basically at the end of the road. This is the area where Sharon will start a clinic, and the orphanage is going to allow them to live there. Chris will help out at the orphanage and help Sharon get the clinic up and running.
    The model the orphanage uses is a household-unit model. There are couples, some with their own kids, who commit to living in a home at the orphanage full time, and they take in a certain number of orphans (usually siblings are kept together if possible), and they become a family, and the couple become the parents for those kids. There are typically around 10-12 kids in a household.

    One interesting thing we learned is that actual adoption is rare in Honduras, because of the social stigma associated with giving a child up. These children are abandoned, but not necessarily legally separated from their parents. For a parent to actually consent to have their child legally adopted by someone else is admitting to a failure that has very weighty social implications here.

    Long before we got here, I told the Struna's that I would love to help out in any way I could. I am a Ph. D. Experimental Physicist with an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering, and a good DIY mechanic. I can fix almost anything - and I enjoy it. I was told they did have a problem I might be able to help with, with their solar power system. I consulted someone I knew back in California in the Solar Power business and got some pointers, and was quickly able to identify the problem. I couldn't fix it because they need parts, but now they know and are taking steps to get it fixed.

    DSC01409.JPG This is one of the house-families, with most but not all of the chldren present. The house Dad was working.

    DSC01405.JPG Main living area in one of the houses visiting with one of the familes. Chris Struana in the hammock, Carol sitting.

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    Long before we got here, I told the Struna's that I would love to help out in any way I could. I can fix almost anything - and I enjoy it. I was told they did have a problem I might be able to help with, with their solar power system. I consulted someone I knew back in California in the Solar Power business and got some pointers, and was quickly able to identify the problem. I couldn't fix it because they need parts, but now they know and are taking steps to get it fixed. How hot was it?!?! It was well over 100F in this utility room and the humidity was 85% or more. Look at my T-shirt!
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    The little guy standing by my shoulder was really fascinated with my motorcycle, and the work I was doing in the Solar Power utility room. Very bright and precocious. The other boy at my chest was a late-comer that was pulled into the picture by the other boy.
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  9. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Just a few more random pictures from our time at Rio Viejo, and a parting comment. The thing that really impressed Carol and I is this: These three ministries; the school, hospital and orphanage, are not officially connected in any way. They come from different organizations and their church affiliations are similar but not the same. The only thing connecting them is that they are all here, trying to help these people in direct but different ways, and they work together to do so. There is a wonderful since of cooperation between them. The leadership all know each other, and have shared staff over the years (the Strunas being an example) and they try to help each other to help these people. That was nice to observe - and is something rare from my experiences in the US with church-related organizations.

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    Kitchen/living area in the guest-house at the school, where we stayed with Chris and Sharon.

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    This one is for 95Monster if he is still following. The dogs that guard the school compound were well fed and happy!

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    This landed on Sharon as we were standing by the school office the morning we were leaving for the orphanage. I think it is on Carol's hand here - she wanted to see it. Quite a bug!

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    Two Suzuki's and two Beemer's about to head up the road for the orphanage. Carol and I are way behind Chris and Sharon in the matching gear category.
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  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Came back down from the mountains and spent yet another night at Las Hamacas Hotel in La Ceiba, and then chartered our course south towards the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. Another inmate, "ThirtyOne" (Greg) had reached out to me earlier. He is a USA ex-pat living in Tegucigalpa, and he offered to give me advice on route planning. Based on input from Greg as well as the Strunas, we decided that the only reasonable route was to take CA5, which involved some back-tracking. Greg suggested D&D Brewery and Lodge as a stopping point - it is on Lake Yojoa. And his recommendation was spot on! We were running out of time otherwise we would have spent a couple of days there to do some exploring and kayaking. But we were and are running out of time (Stahlratte, June 4!) so we moved on towards Tegus (as the locals call it) and met up with Greg at a little town he suggested - Comayagua. This little village has a clock tower, with a clock engine that was built in 1100AD and was in the famous Moorish castle "Alhambra" in Granada, Spain, until it was donated to Comoyagua by King Phillip III in 1620. A clock engine that is nearly a thousand years old! That was cool. After we chatted at a cafe and toured the clock tower, Greg escorted us into Tegus to our hotel. Thanks Greg!
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    Greg coming to meet us - our bikes are behind them in their "invisibility cloaks" - there were some questionable people hanging around us as we got off, so we put the covers on over our gear that we left on our seats. We sat at a cafe (where I took this pic) where I could see the bikes - no one paid them any notice with the covers on. Even Greg circled the block once, driving right past our bikes, looking for us.

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    Church that houses the clock - lots of pigeons.

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    Note the Roman numerals - this apparently was how "4" was represented in 1100AD!

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    A clock engine that was constructed in 1100AD - very cool (my kind of cool anyway!).
  11. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We stayed a couple of nights at the hotel in Tegus (Marriott - I still have lots of points from work travel), so we could do some planing for the upcoming border crossing, and catch up on some financial/etc stuff that needed attention, with reasonable internet. We also went to see "End Game" (English with Spanish subtitles). Greg has a Honduran friend, Jorge, who is a motorcycle enthusiast and Jorge and Greg treated us to diner one night. Enjoyed talking with Jorge about motorcycling in Honduras, and he enjoyed seeing our big adv bikes.

    20190513_201650.jpg L to R: Greg, Carol, Jim and Jorge. Thanks for dinner guys!
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  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We planned to leave Tegus for an easy half day ride on CA6 to Danli, and stay in a hotel there and get an early start the next day across the border at Frontera Las Manos. But when we got to the hotel we were hoping to stay at - they had no room! That is the first time that has happened to us - I've gotten lazy about making reservations. It was still early afternoon, so we decided "let's go for it" and we headed to the border. Based on input from some fellow CA riders we met in Guatemala, I decided I would pay fixers to get us across this border (a fixer is a privateer that you pay to help you get your paperwork filled out and walked through the system - they basically do all the leg work for you). There is a special form you are supposed to email to Nicaragua to get permission to enter the country, after which you get an email from them granting permission. Apparently it is not a hard requirement, but will save you time. I sent ours in several days before, but never received a reply (my guess is that I filled it out incorrectly - the Strunas got their authorization back in one day). But with the help of the fixers (both on Guatemala and Nicaragua side) and a relatively slow day, the whole process went fairly quickly.

    Except .... I ran out of cash. I just screwed up and did them math wrong, in determining how many Limpira I needed to pay the Honduran exit fees with enough left over to exchange to Cordoba to pay for the Nicaragua fees. Simple math error. Ph.D. is in Physics, not arithmetic! Give me a differential equation or vector calculus problem - not a problem. Simple arithmetic however ....

    So - I ask where the Cajaro Automatico (ATM) is. Back in town - 20 minutes at least. I tell my Guatemalan fixer that I'll go back and get cash - and start to get on my bike. He gets animated and then I understand - my bike is stamped out of Honduras - I can't ride it back in! It is in limbo land - out of Honduras but not yet in Nicaragua. So he gets a friend to taxi me back into town while Carol stayed with the bikes. I told her it was good she stayed because that ride would have given her a heart attach! Crazy fast. But I got there, got back , exchanged funds, and we made it through. Aside from the self-inflicted pain due to lack of cash, it was actually not a bad crossing. We didn't need the invitation email from Nicaragua - but my Nicaragua fixer did say that it would have helped if we had it, but I'm not sure how. Helped that the temperature and humidity was reasonable - around 90F but low humidity. But somewhere in teh process I lost my reading glasses - I think I left them on my duffel bag as we were leaving - same thing I did with my keys earlier. Hmm. I had a spare pare that are ok but not as good as what I lost.

    Once we were through, we made the short ride to the Hotel Frontera in Ocotal, Nicaragua on CA6 - a truly amazing road. Nicaragua is a poor country, but they have some really good (by CA standards) roads. We got there just before dark - but then I did a ride back to the border looking for my glasses, which I'm sure fell off some where along the way, but no joy.

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    On the Nicaragua side - not to many people. Lots of trucks - not sure why there weren't as many people as trucks in line. But ok - good for us!

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    That is our Nicaraguan fixer walking towards me, with Carol in the background. He ran from place to place, getting copies, talking to the officials, and all the while holding our passports, vehicle titles and driver's licenses. Gulp. Sort of goes against instinct to hand all that over to a stranger - but this is what he does, and he was good at it. It was worth the $10 or so I paid him.

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    Please note the high quality construction of the Nicaraguan immigration and customs buildings. They were all like this - repurposed cargo containers.
  13. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    From the Hotel Frontera in Ocatal, we headed SW to the town of Masaya. We got a late start but still made it in before dark. We are realizing how small Nicaragua (and all the CA countries are) - we realize we could, in principle, be out of the country the next day if we wanted. But we didn't want - we wanted instead to visit a volcano, and then head to Rivas, where we spent a night before going to Ometepe island, where we are as I write this (I think this is only the second time I've actually completely caught up with where we are as I am writing!). From here we will head back for one night in Rivas before heading across the border to Costa Rica to stay with some folks we met while we were at the jungle lodge in Guatemala.

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    Yeah - that is my bike, not Carol's. I finally dropped it - first time it has been down. On our way from Maysaya to Parque Nacional Volcan Masayay, I stopped to take some pictures of these flowering trees. I have a good feel for how level the ground needs to be for the kickstand to hold the bike up - but I forgot I had raised the suspension to full height earlier due to another parking challenge. So the bike was to tall for the lean, and as I confidently lowered the kick stand and started to get off, it just went down. Ok - did that.
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    These were the trees I was stopping to photo (after getting bike upright!)
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    Closeup of the blossoms. The rains have started, and all sorts of colorful trees are blooming.
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    Little bananna grove behind the hotel we stayed at in Rivas.
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  14. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Ok - so now I have stared into the mouth of an active volcano. Check! Volcan Masaya

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    There is a sister caldera next to Volcan Masaya, but it is not active. These trees were down in that caldera.
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    Carol on the hike we did on the trail that rims the dormant caldera.

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    Parking lot at the Volcan Masaya Park - we were pretty much the only people there.
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  15. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We took the ferry (one hour ride) to Ometepe island on Lake Nicaragua (Lake Cocibolca to locals). The lake was calm so no sea-sick issues. Ometepe has two volcanos. We got there early so we took the scenic route around the back of the island (dirt road of variable quality) and then another dirt road to a swimming hole, Ojo de Agua, which was wonderfully cool on a hot day.
    20190518_090603.jpg Ferry from San Jorge (mainland) to Moyogalpa (Ometepe island)

    DSC01626.JPG We arrived mid morning, so we had time to kill before our hotel was ready. So we took the "back road" around Volcan Conceptcion and got a view that most tourist wouldn't get. Road was not great - Carol wasn't to happy. But she did it!

    GOPR6544.JPG Then we took this nice dirt road to Ojo de Agua, a swimming hole formed by a natural spring.

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    Ojo de agua. It is a sort of swimming pool made by a river flowing through this area of partly natural, partly man made barriers. And the water was heavenly - cool but not cold. Perfect.
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  16. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    Looking great! I love that the two of you get to share this adventure!

    So far so good, but I’d be (and others too I’m sure) interested in your observations of stability in Nicaragua. I’ve not heard of any problems, at least recently, but it seems to be a more frequently volatile area then most.
  17. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We hired a guide (mandatory) to go see some petroglyphs in the jungle, and as a bonus we ran into a bunch of howler monkeys in this huge mango tree!
    The tourism industry in Nicaragua was crucial for places like Ometepe, and it has almost dried up due to last years political unrest. This has hit the local communities hard. Our guide (clearly educated) gave us some inside view on the impact - he feels he can never again rely on tourism as his only source of income, because it so quickly disappeared (down 85% we were told by another source). But the problem is that the other ways of generating income on the island are few, and like farming, are not so easy to start back up, because tourism has been the main focus for decades now.

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    View of Volcan Concepcion from the finca we parked at to walk to see petroglyphs. Finca Magdalena - one of the oldest on the island. We learned a lot about the history of the island and Nicaragua from our guide, which I later confirmed from some on-line research. Fascinating and sort of tragic. I can't believe I went through my entire formal education and never learned about William Walker. Look him up.
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    Baby howler monkey

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    Howler monkey
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    One of the petrogyphs and our guide Arlin. Since there is no Rosetta stone for these, you are on your own and pretty much your guess is as good as any, from what I could tell! They all look sort of like a Rorschach test to me.
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  18. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    353
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    And here is tonight's sunset, which means I am actually 100% current. Tomorrow we are going to Canopy Mirador Del Diablo before we take the ferry back to the mainland. And just possibly I will capture footage of Carol riding a zip-line, which is right up there with scuba diving in the "my wife will never do that" category. We'll see!
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    BigDogRaven, KLRalph, NSFW and 2 others like this.
  19. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    353
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    That is definitely worthy of comment - glad to give our observations. We were watching the situation very closely since the events of April 2018, and all indications were that things have remained calm since around this past fall (Sept/Oct time frame). I was worried that there would be some trouble this April as it was the 1 yr anniversary of the shooting death of the students. But from what we read, things remained quiet. I asked plenty of people in Honduras and Guatemala, people with Nicaraguan connections or experience, and they said same. So I felt reasonably confident entering the country - but was still not sure what to expect.

    And now that we are here, I can say that from what we have seen and experienced, things are indeed quiet. We have not hit a single police checkpoint (which is surprising because people I know who passed through a month ago, by car, hit many). And we have not once felt uneasy or noticed anything that would give me reason for concern. This has all really surprised me - I came into Nicaragua half expecting to decide "we'll just ride through and skip any tourism". But so far we feel more comfortable here than we did in parts of Honduras. What we have noticed is that the hotels are empty and people talk about it. The unrest last year led to a "blacklist" effect that is having serious impact to the tourism industry. I'm typing this in the common area of a nice hotel/resort on the Ometepe beach, and there may be one other couple here. Last night they told us we were the only guests. And this is still in the "tourism season".

    As far as I understand, the conditions that led to the unrest are still present, so the potential for more seems real. But at the same time, right now it seems very safe, and it is actually hard to reconcile all I read last year with what I see now. The only shadow of those events we've seen have been the economic one, due to the tourism collapse.

    That is our experience - but we're not out of the country yet!
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  20. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    353
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    It does! And I appreciate that you appreciate that. I think having this record of our trip will have value not only now, for those following, but for us, to look back on later and remember. And it is comforting to know you have people following along in case stuff goes south.
    ThirtyOne likes this.