Thursday, November 1, 2012

Noodling about Nicaragua

Hallowe'en was a bit of a bust for me, and by the end of the day I was cranky and overtired.

We had got a good start from D&D breweries, and the road towards the capital of Honduras was a blast, for the most part. Apparently with American help, the Hondurans had built 40 kilometers of a great road.  The twisties were unending, and the curves were designed to get the bikes over and stay over for great riding.  Somewhere towards the end of the ride down through the mountains, I became separated from Sith, and I didn't see him again.  I thought that I might have caught up to him, but it turns out that he was behind me.   I also missed an important turn in the capital, and ended up travelling to the southern most crossing between Honduras and Nicaragua.   I was heading south west, so I knew that sooner or later I would hit the Pacific or Nicaragua.  The aliens were back again:



While the countryside was really breathtaking, and the number of working volcanoes increased the further west and south that I got, the border crossing itself was frustrating and expensive.  It didn't matter that the 50 kilometers or so before the border was a terrible road, with minefields of potholes that made the Tahsis road look like the Indianappolis speedway.  I took my eyes off th road for a second to consult my map, and sure enough, Blondy found a bloody hole big enough to drown in.  As I was travelling at a good clip, I bounced through the pothole, and only discovered at the border that I had dented my bomb proof Excel rims.  I was pissed,  hot, and tired, which is not a good state of mind to hit a border crossing.  I felt like I could blow my top, just like these volcanoes:




To make matters worse, the scamming started before the border, and it was so damded patently obvious that I was pretty chippy with the National Cop who pulled me over.  He was the front man for about 2 shills who also surrounded me and started trying to sell me their services while I am dealing with this cop, who was obviously on the take with these "fixers".  The cop made a big deal out of the duplicate license that I gave him, and this of course made my temperature go up too.  In hindsight, the initial confrontation was purposively set up to rattle me and get me off guard.

After I had dealt with the cop, the fixers started in on me.  I initially told them I was going to handle it myself, and that I didn't need any help.  After the incident with the cop, I was mad and allowed one guy to impose himself on me, and clearly that was the goal all along.  I did see one old dude who was wearing a  Migracion shirt, but there again he was also part of the scam.  The fixer simply read off the VIN number of the bike to the guy, and he never even bothered looking for it himself.
Again, the vultures contributed to the confusion and I really have no one to blame but myself for getting scammed for about $80., as near as I can tell.  The problem is that after the initial old guy, I never saw a Honduran official, and while I ended up with the papers, I have no idea of the true costs.   I was getting more and more mad at myself that I had agreed to this process, because it stank at the beginning, and it simply became more and more rotten.

 I ran out of cash, feeding this helper machine, and the bizarre thing is that the only ATM was on the Nicaraguan side, and I was easily able to go over to the Nicaraguan side, leaving Blondy in the care of the vultures, only to find out that the machine only took VISA cards.  Sigh...I ended up using my stash money, and that quickly evaporated too.  By the time I was free and clear and riding away from the border, I wasn't really sure what it had cost me, and I had the distinct feeling that I had been scammed and ripped off to boot.  With only  a few bucks and darkness 1 hour away, I had visions of sleeping in the bush, and I remembered seeing this guy from this morning carrying this huge bloody snake out of the bush....

I managed to find a $10 love motel, and believe me, there wasn't any mirror on the ceiling. I managed to have enough cash for a chicken dinner, and Blondy was put to bed in a garage that certainly wasn't up to her auto motel standards, but beggars could not be choosers on Hallowe'en night.  Sure enough, rule#46 was invoked, just to remind me that at any time the you know what can hit the fan, and the discotecque next door fired up at about 8:00 pm, and didn't shut down until 2:00 the next moring.  This allowed me lots of time to chastize myself for being so stupid in allowing those characters to take ahold of the situation, and I promised myself that there was another lesson to be learned from border crossings, and particularly Honduran ones...

I also resolved to put the experience behind me, as I was bummed out, and there was no reason to carry on feeling that way, or I might as well pack it in..I  awoke to a bright blue sky and I set my course towards Managua, hoping that I could figure out how to get some money and how to avoid the city itself.





 I spent the next four or five hours sucessfully avoiding most of Managua, and zig zagged my way down the every narrowing country.  In the picture below are the two volcanoes that have grown out of the huge fresh water lake that splits the country.  I was travelling down the western portion, and the scenery was very reminiscent of the Okanagan again.  But of course, the cows were humpier, and the machetes that the cowboys carry had bigger curves than even their Mexican counterpoints.  Humpier cows with longer horns, and cowboys with knives are the kinds of things that you notice when you are on a moto...


 I had two more encounters with cops today.  I am getting better at play a dumb Canuck.  I had passed in a school zone, and the guy had me dead to rights, but he soon tired of my ignorant English.         The Nicaraguan cops are, so far, easier to deal with than the shysters further north...


I thought volcans were an issue in Guatemala, but these guys are currently cooking away, with a major eruption only a couple of weeks ago.   I ran into a guy who lives down here, and he filled me in on the effects of Hurricane Sandy on his wife in New York, and 8,000,0000 of her neighbours.  After hearing his story, I was embarassed to even be thinking about my Houndoran horde of scammers...this New Yorker said that God is pissed off and She is showing who is boss....

At a pit stop, I met a Nicaraguan from California who helped me with directions in terms of getting around Managua.  He was very helpful and thorough.  It is too bad that between my understanding of
of his directions and Mr. Garmin acting strangely, I predictably ended up in the back streets of Managua, just where I did not want to be.. Oh well, the sun was out, and I knew that if I kept it on my right shoulder, I would sooner or later hit Costa Rica or the Lake, so after an hour of city traffic, I began to see the burbs, and eventually got myself sorted out on the way south of Managua.

It wasnt too late in the day, and I landed in Granada which was my goal.  I found a decent, if not more expensive hotel, showered, and had my first walkabout.  Blondy is happy, being guarded by a playful mutt, and I have hot water and wi-fi...
































I thought of all the Mothers I know when I set up this shot.....
(read the inscription)





 This is for you, Doug...





This is for you, Bones...






 Ogopogo or Loch Ness, there are strange sights to be seen in this world...















 My sneaky way of getting the sound of the choir into the show....


Noodling about is a much better way to spend a day of ones' life.....