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Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Day 42 – Hot Springs (La Fortuna, Costa Rica)

14 Nov

We left San Juan del Sur at 8:00 am and forty minutes later reached the border town with Costa Rica – Penas Blancas.  We saw a couple of windfarms on the way, where the Panamerican Highway meets Lake Nicaragua.

Long lines of trucks were waiting at the border; we passed them and rode straight to the migration / customs offices.  As usual, one guy offered to guide us through the Nicaraguan border for 100 cordobas (5 USD).  We followed him, got our passports stamped (Vadim had to pay few extra bucks to jump the queue, after an official refused to stamp the passport in his absence), and received all necessary motorcycle papers in less than an hour.

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At the Nicaragua – Costa Rica Border

Things were quite simple on the Costa Rican side as well, since one customs officer explained the procedure quite clearly.  Again, we got out passports stamped, purchased motorbike insurance, submitted copies of all necessary documents and promptly received entry permits for our motorbikes.  All in all, we crossed the border in less than two hours, which was a pleasant surprise.

We continued at a fast pace down the Panamerican highway and only stopped for a quick lunch in a food mall, that looked exactly like one in the US, near Liberia.  At Canas, we turned northeast towards Lake Arenal and continued for a couple of hours down beautiful twisty roads to La Fortuna – our destination for today.

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Arenal Lake and Volcano

After unloading all our stuff at the hotel room with a beautiful view of the Arenal Volcano, we took a cab to Baldi, one of several hot spring and spa resorts in the area.  What a relaxing time we had, while soaking our tired bodies in a dozen of pools with different water temperatures, from boiling hot to icy cold, and sipping cold beer!

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Standing Like a Rock (at Baldi Hot Springs in La Fortuna)

Few hours later, we called a cab and went to a nearby Mexican restaurant for a nice dinner of churrasco and BBQ pork ribs.  The cab driver told us about a bikini contest “from all over Central America” at El Establo – a place close to our hotel.  Unfortunately, our high expectations were crushed later that night.  The bus with the girls was leaving in an unknown direction, as we were entering the bar.  We returned back to our hotel after a couple of beers.

Routes taken: CA1, 142

Miles ridden: 164 miles (264 km)

 

Day 41 – The Catch (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua)

13 Nov

We procrastinated all morning, while waiting for a boat to take us on a three-hour fishing tour.  Finally, a small boat for 5-7 people arrived at the beach at 1:30 pm, and few minutes later we were heading out of the bay and then turned north along the rocky coast intercepted by sandy beaches.  The ocean was very calm, Yamaha engine rumbled quietly, the sun was hot, and we hid under the roof with all our cameras ready for the shot of the day.

One of the locals was steering the boat; the other one set up a couple rods, while we were sitting and watching curiously (none of us have much fishing experience).  Back in the town some people told us about plenty of tuna in these waters at this time of the year.  What a great opportunity for an epic battle with a big fish!

Hour and a half later the boat turned back, but we had not seen any fish yet, except for some tiny ones jumping out of water.  We kept watching big rocks slowly pass by and pelicans land on water, and, at the same time, were scanning beaches with an eye of a real estate agent.

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Pacific Coast North of San Juan del Sur

As the boat was approaching an interesting rock formation, one of the locals suddenly jumped up and shouted “Pescado!”.  He handed the rod to Gintaras, who started spinning it furiously.  The fish, taken by surprise, offered no resistance and was quickly pulled into the boat.  What a catch!  We set up a quick photo shoot session on the boat, but the fish turned out much smaller in the pictures than it was in real life though…  We landed on the beach half an hour later, proud and happy.

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The Catch

In the evening, we had early dinner at a random waterfront restaurant.  The food was terrible, even hungry dogs refused to eat it.  We decided to skip the bar crawl tonight and headed straight back to our hotel to get ready for the ride to Costa Rica tomorrow.

Routes taken: None

Miles ridden: None

 
 

Day 40 – Playa El Coco (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua)

12 Nov

We left Granada without hurry at 11 am and headed south to San Juan del Sur (SJDS), a resort and fishing town on the Pacific coast.  It was very hot, but the road was good and we flew down the Panamerican highway with wind in our ears.  SJDS is a small fishing town with beautiful beaches to the north and south.  We found our hotel rather easily, after riding a couple of blocks against the traffic off the main road.  After parking our motorbikes under palm trees in the courtyard of the hotel and dumping all motorcycle gear, we called a cab to bring us to El Coco beach, 18 km south of the town.  It took us an hour to get to the beach down bumpy unpaved roads and three shallow river crossings.

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The Man and His Shadow

The white sand beach was pristine, with only a couple of surfers on the horizon and hundreds of crabs running around.  We saw a lot of wildlife all around and also learned about turtles that come every year to lay eggs on nearby beaches .  We stayed at El Coco till sunset, enjoying beautiful weather, warm water, and good food at the beach restaurant.


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Evening at El Coco Beach

The ride back was bumpy and slow; it got completely dark, as we passed though several small villages and saw people sitting outside their homes and kids playing on the main road.

In the evening, we had some nice seafood (grilled octopus being the highlight) at one of the waterfront restaurants in SJDS and then went to a couple of bars for some drinks.  There was little going on in the town, only after 11 pm a mixed crowd of aging surfers, few random tourists and locals started crawling through the bars, but by that time we felt tired and went back to the hotel.

Routes taken: CA1, 16

Miles ridden: 61 mile (98 km)

 
 

Day 39 – Guapote (Granada, Nicaragua)

11 Nov

In the morning, Vadim went to a nearby gym, owned by an American from Washington state.  After an hour of exercising, he got back to the hotel and, to his great surprise, found out that the water supply to our room had been cut off for unknown reasons.  The hotel staff was very helpful and offered him to take a shower in another room, but while everybody was running around for new towels and soap, the water stopped running in the other room as well.  The staff then brought a couple of buckets of icy water, so that Vadim could enjoy the true polar bear experience.  Fortunately, the water came back soon after Vadim had finished the first bucket.

We met the omnipresent Ricardo at the hotel at noon, then took a cab, driven by a former professional baseball player (baseball is the number one sports in the country), to the Lake Nicaragua, where we jumped into a small boat and went to see Las Isletas – hundreds of small tropical islands.

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Vadim’s Private Island

It was a beautiful ride, as we navigated through the archipelago; some islands had nice villas on them, while the others were only populated by cappuccino monkeys and parrots.

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Parrot in One of the Islands

We stopped at one island, owned by an extended fishermen family, to taste some freshly caught guapote.  The fish was amazing; we could not stop licking our fingers off.

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Guapote (Yum!)

We spent the evening strolling up and down the restaurant row in Calle La Calzada, and sat down at a table outside to try some traditional Nicaraguan food, which was heavy on meat.  The dish was huge, enough for both of us and the three hungry dogs that were running around.  While we were eating and watching street break dancers entertain the crowd, swarms of street vendors kept attacking us, offering cigars, hammocks, ceramic bowls, whistles, chocolate, etc.  We politely declined all the offers with “no, gracias”, and only gave few bucks to a woman with a baby on her hands.  It was a very pleasant evening, as the heat of the day disappeared and it seemed like everybody was out and enjoying themselves.

Routes taken: None

Miles ridden: None

 
 

Day 38 – Granada (Granada, Nicaragua)

10 Nov

Loud noises of tropical birds and some partying crowd woke us up at sunrise.  The walls of the building were so thin that we could talk to each other through the wall without even raising our voices.  After taking cold showers (warm water was not available), we slowly packed our cases and bags, took breakfast and were ready to go.  At the checkout, we started a conversation with the owner of the hotel and few other properties in the area, who took us to the backyard to see his mini-zoo with several cappuccino monkeys and local birds.

The road to Granada was excellent and the landscape was beautiful.  We drove through some rural areas, where cows, goats, horses and donkeys were roaming freely, and occasionally crossing the highway, despite the efforts of herdsmen with whips in their hands to keep them off the road.  We saw several policemen, but fortunately, they did not pay any attention to us.

Three hours later, we stopped for lunch at a gas station, swallowed few hotdogs, poured down some bottled water and then were approached by two kids who appeared to be asking for money.  Only after some time we realized that they were asking for food leftovers.  We gave them a couple of buns, bought some Snicker bars and let them go.

After asking for directions (there are very few signs on the roads and our maps are not very detailed), we continued to Granada and reached the city in less than an hour.  We rode straight to the central park, where a crowd of kids led us through the square to a hotel.  A policemen was watching us with a surprise on his face, as we muscled through a pedestrian-only area and then against the traffic.  We quickly booked a room, unloaded and parked our bikes in a secured area, and sat down for some cold local Tona beer.  It was unbearably hot and humid.

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Central Square (Granada)

An hour later, we were sitting in a horse carriage with Ricardo, an “independent guide”, who spoke good English and offered us to show the city.  We circled around for an hour, visited several churches and also went to the Lake Nicaragua.

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Horse Carriages in the Central Square

In the evening, we went to a wonderful local restaurant and tried some churrasco.  The meat was so good, probably, the best we have tried so far on our trip.  We love Nicaragua!

Routes taken: CA1; 4

Miles ridden: 150 miles (241 km)