a breath of fresh air

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it’s hard to believe that we are in south america! but, it’s about time. we ended up spending a little more time than planned in central america and i think it was starting to wear on us. once we walked out of the bogota airport into the crisp mountain air, we knew things were about to change. and what a drastic change it has been! bogota is definitely the biggest city we’ve visited on this trip. getting our bike out of aduana ended up proving to be the longest ordeal of our journey. but, it mostly involved us sitting in different offices and waiting on paperwork to be filled out and local politics between the shipping company and the aduana officials to play out. at one point we thought they were tired of dealing with us, and they even told us we had to come back the next morning. so, we headed back over to the girag office one more time to make sure that was the case. a nice, young girl immediately got on the phone and told us we’d have our bike shortly. so, we aren’t sure what happended with aduana, but they definitely didn’t act like they wanted to work that day.

here's bob with our newly freed bike, which he had to drive down a makeshift ramp off the cargo deck. we were pretty excited to actually have it back in our care after a long day of waiting and wondering.

with 8 million people out and about on a friday evening, it was no surprise that it took us an hour to get from the airport to the neighborhood where we wanted to stay. but, it was an entertaining hour, for sure. with so much traffic in the city, about half the residents (it seems) drive small motorcycles or mopeds. and they zip through traffic like no other city we’ve riden in. once we found the area of town we were looking for we were fairly numb from not preparing well to drive in the cold rain. but, we were excited to be in a city that was full of life and activity after dark and didn’t mind the hunt for a hostel while trying to warm up.

we found a great deal at a hostel called tip top in the candeleria district. it’s the historic part of town, converted into an artsy, young, alternative crowd’s stomping grounds. it was a breath of fresh air after months of seeing nothing in comparison.

there's pretty amazing graffiti all over bogota, especially in the candeleria. here's a peek at some we passed... more to come on that theme

the church in the main square of the historic center. on sundays, this area is swamped with pedestrians and bicycles because bogota closes over 100km of highway and main streets for bicyclists for a large part of the day. pretty progressive idea for a huge city.

we also checked out the famous museo del oro (gold museum) because our new riding buddy, ryan from bellingham, told us it’s free on sundays. it was definitely impressive. but, my favorite part was an exhibit where you went into a dark room and then indigenous(?) music and chanting begins and a light show displays gold pieces behind a circular wall of glass. it was like being in an aquarium, except that the fish were ancient pieces of gold and the music was great. stunning.

this last one, one of my personal favorites, was this weird, modern-looking cartoon art piece. but, there were thousands to check out. if you're ever in bogota i suggest you head to this museum.

while in the city we also got to meet up with some friends of friends who live there. one, andrea, invited us to her birthday party at her grandpa’s house. and we had a wonderful time practicing our spanish with her family and trying all the colombian beers and colombian liquor (called aguardiente) that they could serve us. we also got a beer with a friend of our friend juliana, francisco. he’s a student at the national university, but was kind enough to take time out of his studies to chat with us, help us practice spanish and discuss things to see and do in colombia. we made a date to go out dancing with him and his friends this weekend. that’s something we haven’t done in ages, so i’m pretty excited. meeting people who feel like ‘friends’ has really revived us. there is new life in the trip now that we’re able to practice our spanish in a more meaningful way and learn about the culture we’re visiting.

speaking of friends… we have visitors coming! bob’s sister emily should be here on monday and our friend niki comes the next week. so, we’ll have a busy social life soon enough. we escaped the city for our last few solo days and headed to the mountains because we’ll get plenty of bogota time in the coming weeks.  just as we expected, colombia is gorgeous. i’ll post pictures from our days in the countryside soon.

bec and bob in panama

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alright, it’s done. we edited the video footage taken all along our route through panama and created a little treat for your viewing pleasure. we hope you enjoy it. most of it is taken from the bike and then some from our boat trip out to the islands of bocas del toro and a quick stop at the panama canal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQtsUCyCgS4

we flew the bike over the darien gap through a company called girag. they were very friendly and helpful and we would recommend them to anyone trying to get their bike to colombia. here’s the final mileage count from the trip so far after we parked the bike in the girag cargo warehouse…

6,751.6 miles from louisville to panama!

phew, what a great chapter in this crazy adventure. we are incredibly excited to be in colombia, heading for bigger mountains and more adventure in south america. so, all that’s left to say on this post is…

hasta luego central america! it’s been real.

 

 

the final central american frontier

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panama!

we made it to our final country in central america. it’s a pretty big milestone for us. and, though we are done with the heat and pretty ready to move onto to what lies ahead in south america, i have to say that panama has been a pleasant surprise in many ways. first, the border crossing at rio serreno was our favorite on the entire trip so far. it was in a tiny mountain town where we spent less than an hour.

our favorite part of the border crossing was the drastic difference in road conditions on either side of the border. this one was facing the costa rican side (dirt and gravel are standard there).

and the panama side: new, smooth pavement!

so, panama has been a mix of misty mountain towns, hot sunny islands and a crowded, noisy city to end the final central american adventure. i’ve been really neglecting the blog, i’ll admit. but, i think i’ve hit a point in the trip where it was hard to know what to write about. we have definitely been in a holding pattern, waiting to get to cooler weather and different cultural experiences.

i think its also hitting us that we are now very far from our social network: family, friends, coworkers, etc. we left a lot behind in louisville and we are definitely starting to feel that loss. travel is a wonderful way to learn about yourself and the world. but, i think it sometimes teaches you just as much about what is really important in life based on what you miss/don’t miss from life back home. there are a lot of things about american culture that we don’t miss at all, but the people in our lives, we miss dearly.

on that note, i think i’ll wrap this one up. i’m gonna leave you a few pics from the last few days. but, we have a special treat that we’re working on involving some ride footage from panama. so check back soon for that…

cows in the road

the rainy season is here and the germans are happy

bob knows how to chill in a hot spring

panama has a lot of cows. these three were happy to pose for our picture.

our new little friends love playing with the helmets.

well, i guess it’s time to say goodbye to central america… and HELLO to south america! see you in colombia!

 

 

more from manuel antonio

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 the rest of our week in manuel antonio was full of excercise, swimming, card playing and more use of the kitchen and laundry room. we actually left that place smelling ok, for once. we were able to give our gear a much needed wash. i gave myself my first haircut in 3 months (that’s a really long time for me!). and we got plenty of relaxing in, too. we headed into the manuel antonio nature reserve mid-week to check out some more wildlife and go swimming in some of the prettiest beaches the area has to offer. we saw a few sloths, some lizards, and a ton of monkeys. check out matt’s blog for a video of one of them in action, stealing a banana.

this pic’s for my sister and brother: remember the beach we swam at 13 years ago with about 5 other people? well, this is the new state of it’s popularity. here is a small crowd trying to snap pics of the monkeys as they look for some food to steal from the swimming tourists.

one of the smaller beaches in the manuel antonio reserve

 

sun-downers at one of the best hotels in the area for watching the sunset

our last full day there, we decided to go for one of the ziplining tours. we just couldn't get out of costa rica without doing one. it ended up being a really fun and educational adventure!

bob and matt getting ready for our final repel off one of the platforms

here's joyce, relaxed and happy after a week of vacation. thanks again for visiting us and bringing all the goodies that got us set up for the next phase of our trip! it was great to connect with some familiar faces after months on the road.

 

christmas in april

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we left santa elena on saturday morning and headed back to the coast. this time we would be spending a week in the small tourist town of manuel antonio. but, it was for a very specific reason. bob’s mom was coming to costa rica!! we were all pretty excited to have her around for a week, as she was the first family we’d seen in almost three months. but, the visitors didn’t stop there. we got to spend some time with my friend erin, who was teaching english in costa rica for three months and just so happened to be spending her last week in the country visiting the beach towns around manuel antonio. so, our first stop in route to manuel antonio was a tiny town on the pacific called jaco to have some lunch with erin and find out what her plans for the week were.

as we were leaving the little taco joint we ate lunch at, we realized that we forgot to get a picture before we suited up. it was hot so we snapped a quick one and got back on the road.

we made it to the condo an hour later and immediately realized we were in for a pretty swanky week compared to the way we have been living on the road. there are too many luxuries to name, but i’ll start with the ones we were most excited about: washing machine (!!!), swimming pool, fully stocked kitchen (with a great blender for smoothie making), amazing view of the ocean, AC… well, actually bob and i were a little scared of the AC at first. we had gotten so used to being in the heat all day and night, that we wondered what going in and out of a controlled, cooler climate would do to us. so, we decided to turn it as low as possible in our room and depend on the ceiling fan, which has been our savour in more than a few hotel rooms.

when bob’s mom, joyce, and her boyfriend john arrived they were already in full vacation mode. they had gotten a great tour of the area on their way from the airport by their van driver which included stopping to see alligators sunning under a bridge, tasting some nuts straight from the trees and stopping for a beer along the way. that’s an airport taxi that’s well worth it! so we all settled into the space and joyce brought out a bounty of items we had asked her to pick up for us in the US.

the soap, ibuprofen, and lotion are things we've found to be WAY more expensive down here. the skyline chili was a request from pete, which he thoroughly enjoyed cooking for himself in the condo that week (a taste he's been missing in the more limited cuisine options down here.) the riding gloves are a pair i had sent home, but then i lost my other pair the day we were stuck at the landslide because they flew off the bike before i realized they were gone. i'm excited to have a summer pair again.

as it’s plain to see, we are well taken care of by our moms on this trip (my mom helped get a new visor for my helmet in on this load of goodies). and it felt like christmas in april because we haven’t had this many new items at one time in a while. i actually got a little nervous about finding room for the extra supplies in our panniers. but, we rearranged and were able to make some space. with the new toiletries and the washing machine we quickly became cleaner than we’ve been in a long time. i was pretty happy that joyce was seeing this less stinky version of our traveling selves. i don’t think bob would have cared either way. overall, it was just really good to see her.

here's joyce preparing for her first motorcycle ride ever! she's a brave woman (and i think she even had fun on the ride).

and john hopping on the back of our bike. the boys took them down into town to make arrangements for their scuba diving adventure. they had to go up and then down some really steep hills, so they got a great introduction to motorcycle riding!

the view from our condo just before sunset. ridiculously pretty.

the boys chillin' on the beach, trying to find some shade from the heat

erin came down to manuel antonio for her birthday. we cooked dinner and gave her the last piece of rum cake we had and stuck a match in it. it was the best we could do in the way of birthday celebrations. but, it was a pretty enjoyable day for us, so i hope she felt the same!

bob and joyce on one of the beaches walkable from the condo.

it’s becoming clear to me that i have way too many pictures of the week for one post. so, more to come on manuel antonio to come…

 

fun in the cloud forest

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after getting settled at our hostal in santa elena, we wanted to check out the nature reserves in the area. our hostal owner gave us her opinion on which one she preferred (because it was transparent about where its money went: the local high school). so, for our first full day in the cloud forest we headed to the santa elena reserve.

checking out volcan arenal in the background from a fire tower in the reserve

we got pretty amazing views of the volcano, which is lucky because there's a large amount of time that it is totally covered by clouds

pete and bob playing with their differing ways of capturing the experience, bob recorded bird sounds all day and pete took lots of pictures of us goofing off

snack time is always important when hiking (yes, those are cool ranch doritos. and, yes, they were good.)

we had a good time at the reserve and got to cook our own dinner at the hostal that night, which felt novel. so, we were feeling better about our costa rica budget. we still didn’t want to push it, though. so, we opted to try a free activity the next day. once again the hostal owner came through with her knowledge of the area and sent us about twenty minutes out of town to a giant strangler fig that was supposed to be pretty cool. (and she was right!) we didn’t have a great map and the roads leading out of town weren’t well marked (surprise, surprise). so, when we came upon a group of high schoolers heading home from school, we asked if they knew where to find the tree. just our luck, they were going there! this was a little confusing to us because we headed up a steep gravel road and then one of the girls just veered off onto a dirt path and said to follow her. but, the other two kept walking up the road. but, she seemed like a harmless 15 year old. so, we let her lead us down the path. and, sure enough, a group of kids was hanging out just past the tree. her other friends had just taken a different route in. apparently this was the cool kids’ hang out after school. not a bad high school experience, in my mind. but, anyway, back to the tree. it was impressive to say the least. here it is in pictures..

bob is inside the tree getting ready to climb up

the view from inside

what happens with a strangler fig is that it grows around another tree and eventually suffocates it. the inside tree dies away and you are left with this cool jungle gym to climb up. it got narrower and narrower as we climbed, which was actually a nice thing because you felt cocooned and safe near the top.

we popped out of the small opening at the top and hung out about 70 feet in the air for awhile. it was a fun place to hang out and have a conversation.

here i am on the last few feet of the descent. my arms were a little shaky once we got down and i think it was because i was so concerned about not falling out of the tree. i've gotten this far on the back of a motorcycle in one piece, so falling out of a tree would be a sad way to end the adventure.

the road conditions of costa rica

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first, sorry for the long pause. we’ve been in costa rica with bob’s mom for a week and i decided she deserved more of my attention than the blog.

so, we crossed the border into costa rica with zero problems. this one was a little bigger so i got some good people watching while i guarded the bikes. in my role of bike watcher i’ve come to realize that no one really cares at all about our bikes (unless they are excited about getting a picture or chatting about how powerful it is). so, my job is nominal at best. the other thing i’ve come to realize about borders is that you get out of them what you put into them. it’s kind of similar to the relationship between a pet and it’s owner (in my mind). if you’re an uptight, high-strung person, chances are your pet is going to be that way too. if you’re laid back… you get the idea. so, when a traveler comes to a border needing to import themselves and a large motor vehicle, if they come into the situation full of agression and stress, well it seems like that’s the kind of response you’ll get on the other side of things. long ago we adopted the border crossing style of arriving as early as possible, taking our sweet time to make sure we get all the steps right, politely telling the ‘helpers’ that we don’t need their help, and respectfully asking questions when we need direction. this strategy could one day prove to fail us, but so far it has been a great way to cross borders.  but, anyway, enough of that.

we made it into costa rica early in the day and headed to find the national park where we wanted to camp.

we shared the camp site with a bus of traveling performers (in the background) and a large group of biology students studying abroad from california. we did a tiny bit of hiking in the heat and then had a surprisingly cool night for good tent sleep.

the next morning we headed out early as we were trying to make it up into the monteverde cloud forest and knew this could prove to be a difficult day of riding if the road conditions were bad. we had been told that all roads in costa rica were bad, other than the CA 1. so, we chose the route that looked like it had the longest stretch paved and were on our way.

we got through the small town that ended the paved section and hit gravel. it wasn’t bad at first. so we headed along through the winding road. there were a few forks where we had to ask if we were headed the right direction, and the locals would say, ‘yes, that’s the right way to monteverde.’ but, they also had an inquisitive look on their faces as they checked out our bikes. so, we trudged on until we got to the longest, steepest hill any of us have tried to climb in gravel on the bikes. but, the thing about steep, gravelly hills is that once you’ve committed to climbing them, there is really no turning back until you have reached the top. so, we all kept climbing and thanking our lucky stars that we didn’t wreck on the way up. as soon as pete could, he pulled the bike off the road and we all looked back at what we had just climbed.

this picture doesn't do it justice, but it shows a section and you can see how loose the gravel was

this was at the top of the climb. in the background where the road disappears is where we had just come up. and, i felt the need to be dramatic.

so, we had made it up the long, steep section and found ourselves in the middle of a beautiful expanse of countryside. it seemed like the craziest ascent was behind us, so we headed on down the road, hoping that it got easier from there. well, it did for a minute. then little steep, rocky hills would pop up and they were really hard to climb, too. so, halfway up one bob and i fell off. it was actually an easy fall when you’re going so slow. you kind of just topple over and roll off to the side. but the bike lost one of the side panniers in the fall. so, we had to take a break to get it back together and dust ourselves off.

here's a better idea of the steepness. and that's where we dropped the bike. it was proving to be a tough morning of riding.

so, pete and bob went ahead on the road (pete on his bike, bob on foot) while i worked on getting my pannier back on. they wanted to scope out the next section to see if things got any easier, because lifting hundreds of pounds of bike every few miles is not a fun way to spend a day. their verdict was what i expected at that point… the road only got worse from there. so, we all discussed and decided it was better to head back down and try a different route. part of the reason for retreating was that we hadn’t passed another car in about an hour and we knew bus loads of tourists go to monteverde. so, the boys determined that there had to be a better route that everyone was taking.

the crappy thing about giving up on that route was that none of us wanted to go back down that hill we had so luckily made it up without falling off. with the huge loose rocks and gravity working against us this time, we were sure that we wouldn’t be staying upright the entire way down. so, we got ourselves to the top of the hill and made a plan of action. i was going to walk down (as i would only add extra weight and stress to bob’s descent) and checked out the condition of the road as it curved. then i would radio back up to the guys about which side to stay on to avoid the worst of the big rocks. i stopped after a few curves down to wait and see if they would need my help if the bikes fell.

it was a slow process and i was super nervous. we hadn’t gotten hurt so far in the day, but i didn’t think that descending this hill was helping our chances at keeping it this way. our bike fell twice from getting caught up in the loose rocks and not being able to speed up to get out of it because of the steep downhill. so, i helped bob lift it back up and get it going again. he and pete made it to the bottom in one piece, though, and i walked down the rest of the way to meet them. what a morning! and it wasn’t even noon, yet. it was definitely feeling like a work day at this point.

bob taking a breather after the bike fell on the way down

so, we made it to the bottom and decided we needed some refueling. we had seen a barbeque place on our way in from the CA 1. so, we stopped there for lunch and to discuss our strategy. i think the morning had taken all sense of adventure out of me (and all my energy) and i wasn’t easily convinced that we should try a different route that afternoon. i started to expect that all costa rican roads were in that condition and i didn’t have it in me to go it again in the same day. but, we headed north to take the route that the buses took (we found out after doing a tiny bit more research). and made good time on the paved portion of the road. we asked a few locals about the condition of the gravel section and they seemed super confident that we would have no problems. so, we headed out with the plan that if it got too rough we’d turn back before sunset and try it in the morning.

this was the new version of gravel. beautiful views of farmland and much better road conditions!

so we made it to monteverde in one piece. exhausted, but in one piece. we stayed in the little tourist community of santa elena where all the cheap hostels were, and found a place run by two siblings from austin, tx that was pretty cool. they let us camp in the middle of the hostel’s grassy courtyard and they had a kitchen we could use and free coffee all day. after figuring out just how expensive costa rica was, we were pretty excited to have this setup. and, we quickly decided that this would be our spot until we met up with bob’s mom three days later.

oh, and after a tiny bit more research from checking where pete’s spot tracker placed us on the map from that morning, we found out we were out in the middle of nowhere, had missed the turn we were supposed to take to get to monteverde and were on a completely different route that no one uses to get up into the area. oh well, it was a fun adventure and will make a good story. i’m just glad we are off that hill and in one piece.

too much r&r

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well, laguna de apoyo was just what we wanted. it was cooler than the cities, we could swim any time we felt the slightest bit hot (which ended up being about 4x per day), and there wasn’t much to do but sit around and relax. so, we felt fully rejuvenated after a few days there. the tricky part was that we were staying through the entire weekend of semana santa to avoid the chaos elsewhere in the country. so, five nights ended up giving us a little too much down time. we realized that after the pace we’ve been traveling at and adapting to new places and sights, it was hard to stand still for so many days in a place where you really have no other choice than to take it extremely easy. (i know, you should feel really sorry for us at this point!) but, it was interesting to see what it did to us mentally.

this was our hotel and it had its own floating dock. pretty easy living at laguna de apoyo.

here's the hotel. it had lots of open levels where you could sit in the shade and get a breeze from the lake.

so, we felt extremely well rested by the time monday rolled around and we were pretty happy to be getting back on the bike, even in the heat with all our gear. we were headed to the coast, which would get us close to the costa rican border, to a small port town called san juan del sur. on our way out of laguna de apoyo we decided to head up to the little town, catarina, overlooking the lake and check out the view from above. we stopped just long enough to get a picture and got back on the road.

the laguna is in the near background and then you can also see granada and lake nicaragua in the distance.

so, back on the bikes and on our way to the beach. we were a little skeptical of san juan del sur, because we’d heard it was tourist central and super hot. but, we had a hotel in mind and headed to check it out. it had been there since the 1920s, way earlier than the tourist boom. the room was simple and cheap, and it had a great little balcony that got the breeze from the ocean.

so we got settled into our room and did the one thing we knew to cool down. we headed to the ocean to take a dip. and the water was surprisingly cold compared to the laguna. after our swim we headed to meet pete for dinner and to catch the sunset on the water.

it was a pretty good one

i’d have to say this was our favorite ‘border town’ so far. because we got there the monday after the biggest party weekend of the year (they were literally tearing down the stages and removing all the trash while we walked down the beach), the city seemed extra tranquil and a little deserted. the next morning we headed out early for our fifth border crossing of the trip. we had been told it could take hours, so we wanted to have plenty of time to get into costa rica and find a spot to camp that night. so, it was goodbye to nicaragua, the land of socialist, laid back, friendly people. we knew before we left that we’d miss it. hopefully one day we’ll get back there.

tooling around in nicaragua

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so, bob and i quickly tired of ometepe and decided we wanted to see a little more of nicaragua before meeting back up with matt at laguna de apoyo, where he was doing a week of language school. we had been chatting with our friend, amy, who lived in managua for a few years and still has many contacts there. her husband, marlon (from nicaragua), lived there too and has siblings who are there, so we thought it was worth a shot to try and connect to some folks who would know the city as their own and whom we could talk with in spanish. so, we headed out for the capital, with only a slight bit of trepidation (we had heard rumors that there are no street signs there and that navigating is a nightmare). but, we actually were pretty excited for the challenge after days of lounging and talking to too many english speaking travelers.

so, we headed to managua and got some beautiful views of the smaller (yet still huge) lake managua on our way in. we totally lucked out once we reached the city because we headed through a few spread out neighborhoods and decided that before we got too deep into the city we’d stop and flag down a taxi. well, we were stopped at a traffic light and a taxi driver pulled up next to us to chat and find out where we were from and where we were headed. we asked him where the ticabus (well known bus station next to our hotel) was and he took us there for a minimal fee. we were actually pretty close and had no idea.

so, we got settled at our hotel and decided to do something totally american for our first night in the big city. we went to the movies! it was luxurious. we had popcorn, coke, and more air conditioning than is good for even the most over-heated human. so, we left the theater actually feeling pretty gross after over-consuming and being in the freezing cold for a few hours. we made up for it the next day by walking all over the city in the hot sun, trying to track down some of amy and marlon’s contacts. it turned out that everyone was out of town for semana santa, which is quite a reason to take a vacation down here. so, we kept coming up short on contacts, but felt that we got a pretty good view of managua in a day. it’s very spread out. it isn’t touristy in the least. and is really just a large, functioning city, complete with supermarkets, big hotels for business men, residential neighborhoods, and (yes) movie theaters. oh, it also has an entire historic area that was devastated by the huge earthquake in the 70s that used to house many of the government buildings. we didn’t make it to that area. i know, we’re horrible tourists. the highlight of our day was stopping at one of the supermarkets before catching a cab back to our hotel. it was the first one we’d set foot in for quite a long time. so, we stocked up on veggies, pasta, rice, and beans. we knew we’d have a kitchen at our next stop. so, we were pretty thrilled to get the chance to cook again.

as managua is not much of a tourist town, we did a pretty bad job documenting our non-touristy adventure. so here is the one picture i took there…

a selection of spanish speaking parrots at our hotel that were pretty entertaining

we were pretty satisfied with our trip to the capital. we wanted something completely different from our experience at ometepe, and it proved to be just that. so, after two days and nights in the heat of the city we were ready for a change. we had one more day before our reservations at the laguna began, so we thought we shouldn’t leave nicaragua without experiencing granada. it was only a short drive up to the laguna from there, so we thought it’d be a good stop over for a night. we headed there midday, as it only took about an hour (once you’re in the heart of nicaragua, everything is pretty close by moto). so, we pulled into granada and weaved our way through the market traffic to check out a few hotels. we accidentally found ourselves in the worst few blocks of the city for driving, completely surrounded by pedestrian shoppers, people wheeling charts, selling stuff in the streets. anyway, it was a bit difficult to maneuver the bike through the route we were on. and to top it off we were in all our gear in the hottest part of the day. so, as quickly as we could, we found a shady side street and parked the bike. bob took off in search of a hotel and i stayed to watch our stuff. we checked two places and by the second one we had an epiphany. we did not want to be in granada. it was pretty, don’t get me wrong. but, we had been in too many colonial towns to count at this point, and the heat of the city was not appealing in the least. so, we decided to drive the 15 minutes up to the laguna and check to see if they had space for us a night early. it became one of the better decisions we have made on the trip. not an hour after we realized that we didn’t need to be in the city, we were in our swim suits floating in the clearest lake i’ve ever been in…

…and that is where we stayed for the next five days, while the rest of nicaragua got wasted (or went to church, but many prefered the latter) to celebrate the culmination of the holy week festivities. it was blissful. maybe even a bit too blissful for our always on the move, traveling brains. but either way, for the first few days we were in heaven.

 

 

time for some r&r

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after our intense miraflor adventure, we decided we weren’t quite ready to tackle a tourist city (granada) as our next stop. so, we followed pete’s lead and headed out to meet him at the island of ometepe in the middle of lake nicaragua. we caught the 4pm ferry, thinking that would give us plenty of time to get to the hotel where pete was staying before dark. well, it didn’t quite work out that way. it took awhile to get all the people and cars off the ferry and we were the last vehicle to pull off. so, we headed to the other side of the island and started down the 5km dirt road that would take us to hacienda merida right as it was getting dark. we decided that we were so close we might as well try it. little did we know, this would be the roughest road we’d gone down thus far in the trip and the darkness made it 50 times harder (which we found out leaving in the daylight three days later). it was tricky and insanely rocky. and we came close to dropping the bike more than once. but, bob championed the route straight through to the end and kept us upright. we were pretty relieved when we reached the end of the road. we just hoped they had a room for us, as we had no plans to head back out the same road that night.

other than being slightly overrun by young, early 20s travelers, the hacienda was a nice place to take it easy for a few days. and we ended up meeting a nice british couple, close to our age, that we really hit it off with who are traveling for 11 months, started in the US on greyhound buses and are headed to south america, and had a really similar story of trip planning/preparation/stress until they took off on their own adventure. so, we thoroughly enjoyed swapping stories with them and bonding over similar experiences. but, that was pretty much the highlight of our stay on ometepe. otherwise, we swam, ate, laid around in hammocks and planned what our next stop would be.

on the ferry

took the che guevara on the way over. oh, nicaragua!

caught some great sunsets on the water

our hotel was right on the water, and this was their dock. pretty sweet

we camped right on the water for $6 on our last night there. not bad for the travel budget!

pretty

and a bad, sappy picture to round out this post. enjoy!

 

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