Posts tagged “Nicaragua

From Tom’s Bakery to the Caribbean

The countries in central america are pretty small. Therefore we need to cross a border every couple of days. The good thing however is that we always have some practice. 🙂 For Monday we planned to cross the border to Costa Rica and staid with our successful procedure to import both bikes at the same time. That was a good decision, because on Monday morning some hundred tourists wanted to cross the border to Costa Rica. Therefore the lines at the immigration were huge. The process itself went pretty smooth, but due to the long lines we needed to wait most of the time and the whole border crossing took solid four hours.

At the border we met a german/english couple, whom we got to know one day earlier in our hostel. They were full of blood stains, scrapes and lacerations. They took the bus from San Juan del Sur to Costa Rica. Just before the border a car crashed into their bus. The bus went off the street and rolled over. We were actually passing the crash with our bikes but we had no idea about the extend of the accident, because we could not see the bus from the road. Fortunately nobody seems to be deadly injured, but there must have been many injuries. With that accident still in our minds, we continued quite cautiously to Lago Arenal, our first destination in Costa Rica.

Since it was already getting dark, we just followed our GPS without thinking. The GPS suggested a shortcut. First the shortcut seemed to be a pretty good and paved road, but it was getting worse and worse and after some time it finally became a very steep, little dirt track out of mud and stones. Since it was not raining, it was still possible for us to drive on the track. At last we arrived at Hotel La Rana, which is led by a german. In the evening we enjoyed tasty german food and Michael could not resist to drink a german wheat beer.

On the next morning we actually wanted to do a much longer tour at last. For the planned 400 km we wanted to buy some food at a nearby german bakery, which had been recommended to us. But Tom, the german owner of the bakery, invited us to stay in his bakery overnight. So we stopped driving already after 12 km and helped Tom with his work in the bakery. Together we prepared a day’s stock of croissants, pasties, and other tasty german bakery products. After work was done, we had some time for fun. 🙂 Tom invited us to a little tour in his motorboat on Lago Arenal. We were driving with the boat for a few hours and talked about the live in Costa Rica.

Tom offered us to stay for a couple of days in his bakery. But since we want to cross the darien gap between Panama and Columbia with a sail boat in a couple of days, we wanted to continue our voyage. So we said good-bye to Tom and drove the winding road at the Lago Arenal to the caribbean town of Puerto Viejo.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

With Mathias and the ‘Dirty Skirts’ in San Juan del Sur

Before we left Nicaragua we spent a couple of days in San Juan del Sur at the pacific coast. There we met Mathias, whom we met already in San Francisco. Mathias is also on his way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego via motorcycle. We got a room in his same Hostel which is located right at the beach. Mathias got to know some people in the hostel already, e.g. two american girls who sang their own songs in the evening with their ukulele. They called themselves the ‘Dirty Skirts’ and they were pretty good, so that they were invited to perform at the pub ‘Black Whale’ as ‘special guests’. Of course we did not want to miss that and so we spent the evening together with Mathias and the two girls in the ‘Black Whale’.

Since Mathias is on a slightly more tight schedule than we are, he left already on the next morning, while we staid for one more day in the hostel. San Juan del Sur seems to be a popular destination for young, american tourists, who are attracted by the numerous restaurants, bars and the great surfing spots. We spent most of the next day in a bar at the beach as well and jumped into the waves every now and then.

On the next morning we left for Costa Rica, too. Although we did not spent much time in Nicaragua, we still liked it very much. Nicaragua has got very beautiful landscapes, great beaches and nice people.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Fairy tale island ‘Ometepe’

Carmen felt much better on the next day. Therefore we decided to stay for one day longer to join a tour on volcano Madeira. Together with a german and a spanish couple we were hiking for three hours, crossed jungle and banana plantations and finally arrived at a viewpoint on the volcano. From there we had a great view across the island and on the volcano on the opposite side. That hike was not really exhausting, but due to the high humidity we started sweating quite quickly. Thus we enjoyed cooling off in the laguna ‘Ojo de Agua’ right afterwards. The laguna is fed by an underground fountain and flows into a little river. We spent a few hours there eating coconuts, relaxing and swimming. Carmen had great fun using a liana to swing into the water.

So we arrived one day later at the pacific coast in San Juan del Sur. This time we were lucky with our ferry ride: The weather was great and lake Nicaragua was calm.

Beitrag von: michasifi und carmen.on.the.road

Turbulent ferry ride to the volcano island Ometepe

Mathias gave us a contact of two guys who travel the world by motorbike ( Heidi and Bernd ). They rode their KTMs from Europe via Asia and South America to North America and spend a couple of days at the volcano island Ometepe in the lake of Nicaragua, the biggest lake in central america. So we decided to drive to Ometepe as well to meet those two there.

We took the ferry from San Jorge to Moyogalpa, but the ride was quite adventurous. At the harbor’s entry the chaos started. First we needed to pay a fee at the entry. As the ferry arrived they asked for yet another fee. Later we found out that those fees were different taxes and not the real price for the ferry ride, which we needed to pay during the ride. After some stop and go we finally were able to put our bikes onto the ferry, but to our surprise the bikes were not tied down at all and other vehicles were tied down while we were already in the middle of the lake. In the meantime a storm came up which was shaking the ferry quite heavily. With our hands and feet we tried to keep our bikes standing. Finally we were able to put both of them on the main stand and were standing beside Carmen’s bike, because it seemed a bit unstable. The inevitable happened: Suddenly we heart a big bang right behind us. Michael’s bike fell from it’s main stand against the side wall of the ferry. After Michael and one of the ferry workers were able to put the bike back on it’s stand again, he realized that the left mirror was missing. After a brief search under the surrounding cars, he fortunately found the mirror. But who cares – we already have a little experience about welding mirrors onto a bike. 😉 Fortunately two workers now stand beside Michael’s bike for the remaining time on the ferry.

When we arrived on the Island, it was still raining heavily. Therefore we took a hostel near the harbor in Moyogalpa and spent the evening with a great italian meal in a nearby restaurant.

On the next morning we drove the 10 km to Finca Venecia to meet Heidi and Bernd. Since the two of them just came through South America, we took the opportunity to exchange information about the route, border crossing, road conditions, and good accommodations. We spent two very nice days with them, before they continued their voyage heading to Honduras.

Since Carmen caught quite a bad cold, we stay here in the Finca Venecia until Carmen is fit again.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Two borders in one day

Today we were facing another day of a nightmare: Our plan was to cross two borders in one day in order to avoid spending a night in Honduras. Honduras seems to be one of the most dangerous countries in central america. Therefore we did not want to test our luck and just drive through that country as fast as possible. So we got up very early at 5am and left for Honduras after a very good breakfast at Comfort Inn, in order to arrive at around 8am at the border.

So far we imported our bikes one after the other, which needed quite a lot of time. This time we tried to learn out of our mistakes and decided to import both bikes together. Besides we decided to split the tasks among ourselves, so that both of us can really “enjoy” the process of border crossing: Michael should do the crossing from Guatemala to Honduras, while Carmen was responsible for the crossing from Honduras to Nicaragua.

The complexity of crossing those two borders is unbelievable. However we did not want to hire any helpers either, because according to reports of other travelers, those helpers most of the time just rip off tourists. Fortunately we found a very detailed description of the border crossing process at the following – very helpful – web page: Honduras in one day.

Michael’s biggest concern with respect to crossing the El Salvador – Honduras border were the pushy helpers again. Fortunately this concern was not justified. Some helpers tried to offer us their service, but we were able to get rid of them very quickly. The first border crossing took about 2.5 to 3 hours, out of which we were spending most of the time with copying documents and waiting for the officials, who were processing those documents. Interestingly the whole process seems to be strictly for the birds, because all those nicely filled and stamped documents were just put on a huge pile of paper.

After we had our import papers and immigration stamps, we drove about 130km through Honduras. The country is well known due to it’s corrupt police, but we did not meet any of them and arrived at the border to Nicaragua without any issues.

The officials at the border to Nicaragua were just doing their ‘Siesta’ when we arrived. Beside that we did not have any problems here either, with one exception: According to our step by step description we should do three copies of the import papers after we had finished the import process. But both a customs and another border official told us that we would need only two copies. So we just trusted them and did only two copies. This was a mistake: The two copies were taken direct at the border and right behind the border two other officials asked for a third copy. So we needed to go back to get a third copy, which was not a big issue, but we were really surprised, because it seems that no one of the officials understands the complete process.

After this exhausting day we spent the night in Esteli in the north of Nicaragua.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road