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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Going Back, Back, Back... To Nica, Nica, Nica!!!

As with most places so far, due to new friends and a couple of really nice girls Graziella & Linda that I met the day before I was supposed to leave, I ended up staying in El Tunco longer than expected.  It turned out to be one of the best stops on the trip so far.  I fell in love with the place, had one of the craziest nights of my life, explored caves, had mud/sand fights, and also met two new amigos for life. Paul (the crazy Brit) and Jayden (the crazy Canuck) are traveling to Panama on bikes that they sourced in Guatemala City.  We got on well and decided that we would all ride together to Leon in Nicaragua.

The three of us met at 7am yesterday morning and got out of El Tunco, El Salvador rather quickly.  We knew it would be a long day as we had 287 miles of riding along with 2 border crossings into/out of Honduras.  Paul is on a large (loud as $hit) cruiser that fits his personality well.  Jayden is on a small Honda 230, perfect for dirt, but not so good on the highway. We kept a good pace through the twisting roads and made good time to the border.  We exited through El Salvador fairly easy and quickly, but the entrance into Honduras was a different story.  Remember my "you can't have the good without the bad" epiphany from before?  Well, my prediction about 'the bad' coming soon turned out to be spot on.  Honduras wasn't the best experience, which matched up with what I've read in other travel reports.    

I had decided to help out a local guy (helper) again, but this time the experience was much different.  He started out very friendly running around making copies of necessary documents, and helping me cut in lines here and there.  We made it to the end and he started telling me that there was a "road tax: and I also needed to get my bike sprayed for $45 USD.  I laughed at this and went to give him $5 for his troubles.  He wouldn't accept it and said, "follow me, I show you".  I walked with him towards a sketch building where he assured me I needed to go, but I turned around and promptly told him to F off.  I offered him the $5 and he said, "no $45".  Again, F off.  After going back and forth he then said, "OK, I accept $10 for my work".  I said "wait, I tried to give you $5, you then try to screw me, and now you want $10?".  I offered him $4 now and said "take it or leave it".  He did work, but I deducted $1 due to his attempt at fleecing me for $45.  Wanker.  He left in a bit of a huff, and I assume it would have gotten more heated had there not been a ton of people around.  So now I'm batting 50% with helpers.  Not sure if I'll use them from here on out.  

The three of us made it through Honduras fairly quickly.  It hit 99.5F during the ride, which is the hottest it has been during my trip.  We made it to the exit of Honduras, and said goodbye with a one finger salute.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the country is amazing, and the majority of the people fantastic, but the border and police roadblock/shakedown that we experienced left a bad taste.  We entered Nicaragua and immediately ran into another issue. Jayden has five months remaining on his passport.  The guy at immigracion was in a sour mood and refused to let him into the country without six months remaining.  At first I thought it would be a minor setback and they would eventually let him through.  After an hour of arguing with the guy, and his boss, there was nothing that they would do for us.  Unfortunately, both Paul and Jayden had to turn back, while I continued on towards Leon (sorry guys!).  

Upon arrival in Leon, I drove around for a bit and found a hostel.  However, they wouldn't allow me to park my bike inside, so I found another that would.  Tango's Hostel is a new place that is very clean, run by a nice young couple, and allowed me to roll the bike right up into the restaurant with no issue.  Since it is new, I'm the only guest.  I feel like a VIP and have a 4-bed dorm all to myself for $6/night.  I plan to explore Leon today, and then head out to Granada tomorrow.  After another two nights in Granada, the plan is to head back to the beach in San Juan del Sur.  I would highly recommend this place if you want a cheap, clean, safe place to stay very close to plaza central.  Ask for Nahuel and/or Alejandra when you arrive to Tango's, they'll get you sorted.  

On a random, but somber side note, I received loads of messages while in El Tunco reminding me to stay vigilant and safe during my travels.  Apparently, a guy doing a similar trip has gone missing in Michoacan, Mexico.  Read the article, join the Facebook page, and pass along the word.  Hopefully Harry is found safe and sound...  

See everyone on the flip...  Hasta pronto!

~ D 

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