Sunday, January 16, 2011

1/16/11 Into Nicaragua: La Esperanza, HD - Esteli, Nicaragua - 240 miles, 7 hours

Wake up and have quick breakfast and head out of this cold ass town. I take the highway east, it is pretty smooth, but with the previously mentioned pothole, light rain, and fog, it is more of the same. At least I know I am headed into flatlands soon, and warm weather. I continue on and realize I was given directions for the wrong highway, taking me through two big towns and adding some time to my trip today. No big deal though, all roads eventually lead to the capital, Tegucigalpa and after about 3 hours, the landscape changes, through more developed areas and then into the heart of the capital. It is the biggest shithole city I have ever been to. Dirty and congested, ramshackle buildings everywhere, not even a welcome sign, as if they embarrassed to acknowledge the capital. It seems a bunch of water pipes have also burst, with maintenance trying to clean up the mess and traffic ground to a halt. And I'm not sure what kind of "water" it is, it smells pretty bad. Good thing Im on a bike, Im up, over through, and around every vehicle or obstacle I come across and 25 minutes later I'm out of this place for good, on the other side of the city heading southeast to the border, a couple of hours away. I stop at a gas station and strike up a conversation with Luis, a kid with a sweet dirt bike who is way into mine. The weather is now cloud-free, and I have slowly been winding down out of the mountains and flattening out, the highway better maintained, not many pothole/obstructions, and after a couple of police checkpoints, I'm at the Honduras/Nicaragua border. It is backed up for a mile with tractor trailers, and a few personal vehicles thrown in. If I was not on a bike, I would surely be waiting for hours, but I am able to muscle my way through and around and get to Honduras migration, where I check out (slow service)for 3 bucks and also customs, where I check my bike out. I change some dollars into cordobas (Nicaraguan currency) with a money changer at a good rate and head over to the Nicaraguan side where I buy some mandatory insurance for 12 bucks and get myself processed in which also strangely costs 12 bucks which seems high. I get receipts though, so I think its legit. Import my bike at customs, no charge and then pay a 1 dollar exit fee. papers checked and now I'm in my 5th country of this trip legally. The road is mountainous, but fast and smooth. No checkpoints either, could have got away without that insurance but I guess it's good to have it. An hour and a half later, Im in Esteli where I find a nice private room for 11 bucks. This town was a hotbed of activity during the Sandanista revolution and was particularly targeted by Somoza's brutality. It still shows support with graffiti and slogans everywhere. Get some good local grub for less than 3 bucks a plate and an evening coffee and stroll. Checkout os not till 2pm tomorrow so sleeping in, some photos around town and a nice leisurely breakfast sounds in order for tomorrow before the short 2 hour journey to the colonial city of Leon, where I plan on ending this section of the trip and basing myself for 2 or 3 months to enroll in Spanish immersion school. Warm weather and 20 minutes to the closest beach is sounding pretty sweet right now.

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