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01.11.09 El Salvador: La Libertad
We had a mouse in our room, it ran over the pillows. I thought of the rat that we had about a week ago in our room. The mouse was only a third of the size, so I didn't mind so much. The hotels have no moscito screens at the windows. Despite the heat and humidity I covered myself with a sheet during the night but the moscitos ambushed me nevertheless. It was like yesterday, the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes in the morning, were moscitos flying close around my head. So many moscitos. I thought that an air traffic controller might be a good idea, so they don't bang into each other. We heard the doves in the morning. On our last evening in La Libertad, we ordered dinner, fish. After we ordered, the woman left, nobody was in the kitchen. What is that all about? After about 15 min she came back with fresh fish that she got from the wharf, then she started cooking. When we left the comedor we bought the 4 armed security men some coffee. We had some big downpours. It was not only the amount of raindrops, also the size of it. They were big and the rain sounded very loud. Soon the rain will stop for months. We walked along the promenade, also along the wharf until to the end. Lots and lots of fish was sold on the wharf, lots. One fish stand after another. At the end of the wharf were all the fisherman boats. There was a crane installed on the wharf to lift the boats out of the water. On the promenade were many people and stands, selling sweets, drinks and food. On the beach was lots of garbage, that was washed up on shore, piles of garbage. The people don't seem to mind, they walk over the piles into the water going for swims. Other people walk over the piles looking for things that they can use.
Resume: Rest in La Libertad
LINK: Photos 43-50, video 140

02.11.09 El Salvador
We left the fat moscitos behind and rode out of town. I gave some of my clothes away that I used in the mountains where it was cooler. Sure, I won't need them here in the heat and humidity. It was a cloudy day and the road was nice, quiet and flat with a big shoulder. We saw lots of cyclists. Professionals and other people. We even passed two bike repair shops. These were little shelters made of branches and palm leaves. All sorts of bike parts were hung up and people waited in their hammocks for customers, for people who passed by on their bikes or in their cars. Maybe someone has a breakdown right in front of the little 'store'... who knows. 25km later we rode into the hills. Stopped for a fresh coconut juice. After 4 hours on our bikes we arrived at our destination for today, in Zacatecoluca. We had a hammock in our room... nice. We checked out the town. Each street turned into a market. Lots of people sold flowers and wreathes. Every stand sold flowers. We asked for the reason and people told us that they celebrate the "Day of the Dead". It was a holiday and most of the commercial stores were closed. Int the distance was another vulcano. My legs almost cramped and I was glad to lie in the hammock. While I have been lying there I thougt of, in how many faces we have looked since we started our trip almost one year ago. How many smiles we have exchanged... We haven't seen many signs of wealth in this country. Everything is patched together somehow, just like the busses. They make use of all their recources. In La Libertad, which is one of the main beach destinations, there was even no travel agency. There are no international tourists, or hardly any. I was thinking of the civil war here in El Salvador, which started in 1989 and lasted almost 10 years. Ten years of murder, rape and stealing. What effect has that on people? Hard to imagine for me. Then 10 years later they had to give up their own currency. It got replaced by the US dollar and all the prices jumped right up. The people had so little, and on top of it the prices went up... People work so hard here. You can see it in their faces, still suffering from their past. We have 3 more riding days through El Salvador, then we ride into Honduras for a short while.
Resume: La Libertad-Zacatecoluca, 55km, 31-35 degrees.
LINK: Photos 51-57

03.11.09 El Salvador
Another warm night, we had the fan off, too noisy. We left and tried to buy some water, the stores only had water in 0.5 liter plastic bags, there weren't any bottle you could buy. We hit the road at 8.30am and had our coco juice stop after about 20 km. To each meal, we eat lots of garlic cloves. Garlic and coco juice keeps the tour going... While we were sitting on the side of the road, drinking our juice, we saw some men walking pass, taking their pigs for a walk on a liesh. The man who sold the cocos told us that the main product that El Salvador exported was fish, coffee and fruit. Back on our bikes we saw lots of horses and cows on the side on the road eating the grass right on the side of the road. Some cows didn't have a liesh, they took themselves for a walk, also decided to change the side of the road so the traffic had to stop. Even in towns they ran around freely. It reminded me a bit of India, where the cows walk around everywhere. We passed a motorcyclist having a siesta in his hammock on the side of the road. He stopped and got out his own hammock and attached it on two trees and had a snooze. After a while we stopped at a little store. The store had steel bars and the woman who sold the stuff looked like she was in prison. A truck, loaded with people drove pass. There were so many people on it that some of them were hanging on the side of the truck like monkeys. We passed more sweetcorn patches on the side of the road. Once we also saw fish patches. They used the side of the road to dry their fish. It looked like a fish carped. I guy waved to us, he had iguanas attached to a stick which he tried to sell. We passed three vulcanos on our left and lots of palm trees and sugar cane fields on our right. Our destination for today was a city called Usulutan. We got there in the early afternoon and checked out 4 hotels. The fourth one was ours. After we got rid of all the road grime we went food hunting, walking along the main higwhay and found a comedor. Ducks with their ducklings were running around. The owner of the comedor chased them away, but after 2 minutes they all walked back. The owner, again, chased them away. It didn't take long and they all came back. I guess this is what happens all day long... We walked back to our accommodation, did our chores like washing our clothes, fixing sunglasses, glueing broken things together, sewing stuff together... We had an early night, another early night.
Resume: Zacatecoluca-Usulutan, 57km, 31-40 degrees.
LINK: Photos 58-65

04.11.09 El Salvador
We had lots of rain during the night. We walked to the same comedor. There were these ducks and ducklings, getting chased away and keeping coming back. We had a typical breakfast: eggs, beans, tortillas, cheese and fried bananas.The woman who runs the little comedor, her name was Maria, asked us lots of questions about our trip. She looked at us as we were aliens, watching how we ate all these cloves of garlic... At the end she gave us her address. Her address was more a geographical description of where she lived: 1st line: comedor and the name of the village. 2nd line: that the comedor was at the opposite side of a certain hotel. 3rd line: in which way out of town her comedor was located, towards which bigger city. 4th line: the distance in km from the capital, San Salvador. There was no street name, no street number, no zip code. I guess it gets the job done. After yummy breakfast we left, again stopped after 30km for a coco juice at a roundabout. There was a cow sitting in the middle of that busy roundabout, having a siesta... On our left was a big vulcano, we rode around it and arrived in the 3rd biggest citly of El Salvador, in San Miguel. The border to Honduras was already signposted. We found a cheap hotel. It was the cheapest one where we stayed in this country. To our surprise, it had a moscito net on the windows, even bedside tables. And we had a toilet seat, which is really unusual. We walked through the city center, it started raining. It is less humid here and the temperature dropped too in the evening. At 5.30pm it was almost dark.
Resume: Usulutan-San Miguel, 52km, 31-38 degrees.
LINK: Photos 66-67

07.11.09 El Salvador
We stayed in San Miguel for 2 days. We heard lots of gunshots. Right next to our hotel was a workshop where they fixed guns and pistols. We passed a one-dollar-shop. What must it be for the locals to have a one-dollar-shop? In the Unitede States the one-dollar-shops are stores for poor people, everything is really cheap for them. But here, one dollar was a lot for the people, it was a store probably more for richer people. While we had something to eat in a comedor - they served the food with their bare fingers -, a man on a motor cycle stopped. It was a tiny scooter, the ones that little children use, but had a little 1/2 liter engine. A two cycle gas engine on a scooter with 8 inch wheels. He told us it speeds up to 35km per hour, then it starts to shake like crazy. He had to pull a string to turn on the engine. San Miguel is the third largest city in El Salvador and we didn't see anything fancy.We haven't seen any coffee shops in town. They grow so much coffee here and they only have instant coffee in the comedors. And chocolate, you can buy chocolate bars only in the few bigger supermarkets at the till. We haven't seen any restaurants, only simple comedors.We saw only a few internet cafes. I wonder, how many internet places there are in this country. You can see that this country is still suffering and is in pain because of the civil war and the currency change. In front of one store, they had already the Christmas decoration out, we saw our first Santa Clause.

We left at 7am, it was raining. We rode through the hills towards the border. As the rain got harder we stopped in front of a house on the side of the road. The people gave us shelter. They lived in a simple house without floor and carpet. They built some walls and a roof, the floor was all natural, nothing added, nothing taken away, just dirt and sand. They had a hammock in the middle of the room and sheets created 2 more rooms. 2 doughters, husband, wife and grandpa lived in it. The 2 children played on the ground, in the dirt. The rain got less and we started riding again. After 5 min it pourred down again, we had no shelter so we kept riding. Bhinti had a flat tire, the air went out slowly. Instead of changing the tire in the rain we stopped several times to pump it up. Finally we arrived at the border to Honduras. 4 km before the border were trucks already lining up for the crossing. Some of them had hammocks right underneath the trucks, so the rain didn't get to them. The first hotel we found looked like a prison. We went into a room, but nobody was there. So we kept riding. The second hotel was closed. We kept pumping up the tire and kept looking for a hotel. There was another hotel 200 meters before the border crossing. The rooms were upstairs, so we unloaded our bikes and hauled all our gear up. At every little store they had steel bars, just steel bars everywhere. Whenever we wanted to leave the hotel we had to ring the doorbell as there were 2 locks that had to be opened. When we wanted to talk to the owners we also rang the bell and a tiny window in the door opened, maybe 20cm by 40cm big, and a nose stuck out. The rest we couldn't see because the room behind that door was completely dark. Interesting system, lovely people. It rained less and we walked to a comedor which was around the corner, we had our garlic cloves with us. The woman who served us saw us peeling all the cloves and started helping us. Very kind of her. The sink where they did the dishes had a drain pipe coming from the roof where all the rain water went through into the overflowing sink. There were steel bars all around us. After we filled our tummies we walked back to our hotel room. We could see the brown muddy river, on the other side of it was Honduras. It rained very hard and we also had a powercut. We put our ear plugs in and fell asleep...
Resume: San Miguel-Amatillo, 59km, 25-32 degrees, hilly, 370km through El Salvador.
LINK: Photos 68-73 , video 141

08.11.09 El Salvador, Amatillo
It pourred the whole night, it was such a heavy rain. Even through our ear plugs it was really loud. So much water came down! We didn't leave today and stayed in Amatillo. People told us it had been raining for the last 3 days and this might be the last day of rain. We changed the flag, had lots of rest and listened to the rain, being glad we had a shelter. We borrowed an umbrella and went to the comedor in the evining. They had a birthday party going on. They played loud, happy music and they offered us pieces of their birthday cake and also drinks. They made us feel very welcome. It was the birthday of the owner of the comedor. His family pourred flour over his head, it is probably a tradition. Then his daughter appeared with padded boobs and bum, wearing a scary mask. She started dancing, everybody had so much fun. I asked the people if they had ever been on the other side of the border, the answer was: no. How must it be for them to live only 200 meters far away from a different country and never having been there??? This comedor is also the supermarket, the bar, the playground for the kids, the local hangout for this town. We walked back to the hotel and watched a DVD, the rain had stopped!
Resume: Rest in Amatillo, wait for the rain to stop.
LINK: Photos 74-77 , video 142

09.11.09 Honduras
We looked out of the window: blue sky! In the comedor we saw the damages of that heavy rainfall on TV. Floods everywhere, land slides and the water of the big Lempa-river went over the edges. At the border we asked an immigration officer if there was an ATM mashine on the other side of the border. He said: yes! Good that we also asked for the exact location. His answer was: In the next bigger city about 100km from here! Well, he was right, it was on the other side of the border... So we changed some money at the border and crossed it at 9am, started riding through Honduras. I didn't expect that many things would change, but I was wrong. The heaviness, that I felt in El Salvador was gone. It was much cleaner here. They pick up their garbage. The people in Honduras took more pride of their houses then the people in El Salvador. Their homes ars much more stylish and there is much more space around them. Even the scenery changed; the hills were more pointy, the trees were different too. No palm trees and sugar cane anymore. Everybody had their washed clothes out to dry using their fances or roofs. It has been the hottest day today. Some people swam in the river. Lots of horses and cows were on the side of the road, running around without being on a liesh. We looked for a place where we could eat something, but there was nothing. After 45km we found a place, but it was closed. It was only open from Friday to Sunday. After a while we arrived in San Lorenzo, which was our destination for today. Honduras really had lots of surprises for us. It was a posh town. We passed a monument on our way in, the city was very clean ans spacious. It had a nice park, planted trees on the side of the road and it was strange that there were not many people on the streets. Still, we haven't found a place where we could eat. We kept riding around and finally found a little comedor. Honduras feels so different. It feels lighter and there is no chaos here. There is money in the town, it has monuments and some posh restaurants. I was really tired and closed my eyes at 6pm. All I remember was Bhinti blowing up the camping mattress as a preparation for his yoga...
Resume: Amatillo-San Lorenzo, 55km, 31-43 degrees.
LINK: Photos 10-28 , video 143

10.11.09 Honduras
I slept 12 hours. I still felt exhausted when we got up. It took us a while until we found a breakfast place. The few comedores were all closed, but then finally we found one that was open. We sat down and asked for breakfast. Without ordering, telling her what we wanted to eat, the woman disappeared and not much later came back with 2 plates in her hands: Eggs, beans, cheese and tortillas. We listened to the radio. San Lorenzo even had his own radio station. The comedor had paintings on the wall. And our hotel room had a tooth brush holder!!! It even worked but swiveled and dropped on one side. We left San Lorenzo at 9am and rode for a few kms on a bicycle trail. The last bicycle trail we saw was in Mexico nearby Acapulco. After a while we passed a big power plant. We could here the deep loud noises of the working engines in the distance. They burn diesel to produce electricity, does it make sense? After about 35km we had lunch in a city and thought about if we stay or move on, fighting the heat. We decided to move on. We have never heard so many 'Gringo' yellings like in Honduras. From everywhere we heard it, all the time. The kids are much more vocal here. It just didn't stop. They didn't even only shout at us, they also ran after us. We passed more horeses and cows on the side of the road. We also passed lots of horseback riders and carts pulled by horses. Whole famlies were sitting on these carts. In one of the big trees were lots of kids sitting. They all poked their heads out of the leaf ball when they saw us and yelled 'gringos, gringos'. The whole tree was full of children. We kept riding, a pig was drinking out of a river. A man on a horse gathered his cattle, like these cowboys in the movies. We saw some boys on the side of the road pulling little cars on strings behind them. These cars were actually old plastic bottles, the wheels were made of lids. After another 20km we arrived in the town where we thought that there was a hotel. It was a humble little town with lots of mud houses, no hotel. This dot on the map looked the same as the dot for San Lorenzo. What a difference though! You never know what to expect. On the map, the dots and symbols look all the same. We kept ridig. Again, kids caught iguanas and sold them on the side of the road. One iguana was as big as the kid. It made me sad. We rode into the hills,thinking we were heading towards another city, as there was another dot on the map. But where the dot was, was no city. It was a mistake on the map... So we kept riding and riding, no hotel. After more hours on our bikes, the temperatures dropped, the shadows got longer and longer and the light changed to a golden colour. At the end we rode until we reached the border to Nicaragua, rode into a little border town. We just made it before it got dark. All in a sudden we saw many bicycle rickshas, pedaling happily away. When we rode into town, many people tried to stop us, running after us, they looked like officials. Was it the immigration already? We didn't stop and they all kept running after us, about 10 people. They were money changers and hunted us down like hungry animals. What a scene! We ignored them and kept riding. They were still after us. Then we had to stop because we reached the immigration building. We turned around and rode to the hotel that we overlooked first, all the men were following us. We were exhausted. The rooms were upstairs, so we had to unload our bikes and carried all our stuff up, inlcuding our bikes. After a nice shower we walked through the village, looking for food. Lots of people were on horses. After we filled our tummies we walked back to our hot and sticky room. I could hardly walk up the stairs. Who would have thought that we ride to the border today, having been almost 6 hours on the bike today. We had only 2 days in Honduras.
Resume: San Lorenzo-Guasaule, 83km, 29-43 degrees, 138km through Honduras.
LINK: Photos 29-35

11.11.09 Nicaragua
We dragged our tired bodies out of bed and crossed the border at 8.30am. The officers took their jobs serious. We had four stopps and people asked us lots of questions. After 30 min we were in Nicaragua, rode 6 km to the first village and had breakfast. There were so many people with bicycle taxis, people on bikes, just so many people. It was hot, and they played 'Jingle Bells'. It was 40km until we get to the next city, our destination for today. The road was new and wide with hardly any traffic on it. We left the hills and rode on the flat plane. Not long after we left we heard somebody yelling 'Gringo, Gringo'. I looked back and to our surprise it was another Gringo on a bicycle! The last long-distance-travelling cyclist that we saw was in Mexico, ages ago. What an event! We haven't seen any tourists from North America or Europe since we left lake Atitlan. He was also from Canada, from Vancouver and he was also on his way to 'Tierra del Fuego', the tip of South America. We were so happy to meet another cyclist. We cycled together, checked out each others bikes and exchanged our experiences. So many stories. We went to some same places, managed the same uphills, even stayed sometimes in the same hotels. In the distance we saw a vulcano, that we passed later on. We passed lots and lots of horses and cows eating the grass on the side of the road, being totally free. We also passed more cowboys gathering their cattle. After 45km we arrived in a village and asked for a hotel. There was no hotel. The next one was about 35km far away. A man offered us to stay at his place, offering us a room. Yes! He and his family were living in a simple house, made out of wooden planks and other 'stuff'. It took them 4 days to build it. They had no running water but a well. There was water 20 -25 meters deep down. So they get bucket by bucket with water from deep down there. They use it for cleaning themselves, for cooking, for doing the dishes and for drinking. They had an outside compost toilet, just 3 walls, a hole in the ground and a wooden plank as a seat. The 'shower' had also 3 walls that reached up to the shoulders, and a sheet as the shower door. They pourred the buckets of water over their heads to clean themselves. This was their shower. They were lovely people and told us that it was safe here. Then the man said: Don't worry about your bikes, I also have 'this', and he lifted up his shirt to show us his pistol. Okay... We set up our tent right next to some little piglets. Our cyclist friend slept in a one-room-house. He sat up his tent on the bed, very clever! We left our bikes loaded with our bags also in that little one-room-house, and washed the grease off our bodies. The woman got two buckets of water out of the well for us. She was so happy to have us here. the whole family was so lovely and welcoming. This was our first night in Nicaragua, staying at this beautiful place with these beautiful people. We went in our tent when it got dark. The crickets were singing and we heard the cars passing. Their property was right at the road, not much privacy. Everybody on the road including the neighbours could watch them, also when they had their 'showers'. But they don't mind. We had a powercut in the evening. We lied in our bed and heard lots of neighbours as the houses have no real walls, people were talking, children were screaming, lots of dogs were barking. After the powercut was over, we heard music in the distance, they played Michael Jackson songs. Even here in Nicaragua in a little humble village they play Michael Jackson. It was so hot and humid, there was no air. We were lying in our tent without a sheet, without clothes, just sweating and waiting to fall asleep...
Resume: Guasaule-Villa Salvadorita, 45km, 31-41 degrees.
LINK: Photos 001-038 , videos 144-145

12.11.09 Nicaragua
Lots of dogs were barking during the night. Also roosters, lots of roosters were doing their wake up calls in the middle of the night. We heard one of the neighbours snorring, even through our earplugs. All in a sudden, at 5.30am, we heard loud music coming from one of the neighbours, it just started to get bright. This is crazy! It reminded me of Mexico. Then 10 minutes later a car stopped with a microphone and loudspeakers shouting lots of fast words without taking a breath. We also heard the birds and the street traffic with tooting horns. What a chaos! This village is definetely waking up. Music in different directions, birds, dogs, traffic, tooting horns, voices, announcements through loudspeakers... We had hardly any sleep and got up at 6am. Left the lovely family at 10am, it was hot, blue sky. On our left we had this huge and beautiful active vulcano, it was smoking. After a while we stopped underneath a tree and rested, ate the watermelon that the family gave us. Lots of horsback riders and cyclists passed us. Two little children, not older than 5 years carried a big container with water that hung on a wooden stick which they lifted up with lots of effort. They are so young and they already work so hard. In the early afternoon we arrived in Chenandega. We saw some tourists. We haven't been amoung tourists for quite a while. The ATM mashines offer the local currency "Cordoba" and also US dollar which I found strange. Another early night...
Resume: Villa Salvadorita-Chenandega, 38km, 34-44 degrees.
LINK: Photos 039-048

13.11.09 Nicaragua
We had breakfast at the beautiful square with our ciclyst friend from Vancouver, then he left, heading to Leon at his own pace. He said he feels quite rested having ridden with us for the last 2 days. Hm... He started his cycling trip from Vancouver in June and was already here in Nicaragua. We were wondering how much time it will take him to get to Tierra del Fuego. A 80km day is only a half day of riding for him. Normally he does almost double... We left at about 9am, still riding around this huge volcano. We were now on the other side of it, it was much more tropical here, so different. On this road was more traffic. It was flat like a pancake. We passed some more volcanos and rode into Leon at 12pm. Nicaragua is the biggest country in Central America with the lowest population density. 70 % of the people are underneath the poverty line. Leon is the oldest city and used to be the capital. It is known for its old buildings with beautiful courtyards in the middle. It took 100 years to build this huge cathedral. Imagine, people who started to build it haven't even seen it in its finished state. Leon is a tourist destination. That means, that there is a variety of different food. Gringo food like ice coffee, bagels, smoked salmon, capers, creamcheese and other things like real coffee, tea and fruit shakes. I went crazy over the food! Merry Christmas!!! Eating something different! This is also the first place where people can drink the water out of the tap. The appreciation changed for many things: having running water, tap water that you can drink, which means no more hunting for water, no more plastic that we have to buy. Also there is a new appreciation for tea, coffee, salad, vegetables... and also having a drain! When I think of the family in Villa Salvadorita, where they had to pull up bucket for bucket full with water out of this deep well, and they had no drain. There was that sink, but the water went strait on the floor. We only saw 2 hotels in Leon. The hotel where we stayed in had an old phone. The ones with a dial disk and holes for each number. I haven't seen that for a while... We went for a ride on a bicycle ricksha. Our legs didn't get tired and we didn't feel exhausted, nice for a change....
Resume: Chenandega-Leon, 45km, 32-39 degrees.
LINK: Photos 049-050

20.11.09 Nicaragua
We stayed in Leon until 21.11.09. From our hotelroom we heard the horses passing in the morning, click, click,click, trotting along the streets pulling carts behind them. There are also lots of people on bicycles. Dads are taking out their little sons for a ride, they make them sitting on the frame. Also the whole family goes out for a family trip on one bicycle. One person sits on the saddle, the other ones on the frame somehow. The littly tiny children have no fear, neither do the parents. Would you see that in Europe or North America? No sweat here! Our hotel had a big courtyard in the middle of the building with a garden,which is typical for Leon. The houses are old and have high ceilings. And they love their rocking chairs. The people who ran our hotel always sat in rocking chairs. The owner, I have never seen him walking around. Once his chair was empty, but it was still moving. I used the time and printed out some of the photos I took when we stayed with families and sent them to their addresses. It took a while until we found the post office. We asked several people, they all either weren't sure or they sent us into different directions. Finally we got there. It was a tiny post office with only one person working there. Maybe people just don't use the service of the post office, having in mind that this used to be the capital of Nicaragua. Right next to that big old massive church is the town square. People chill, other people have a stand and sell things. One woman used a tree as a stand and hung up all the clothes that she wanted to sell. Then you heard bells from everywhere. People walk around and sell icecream, ringing the bells. We lied down on one of these benches, I looked into the sky, watched the clouds passing, listened to the bells from the moving street vendors, listened to all the birds, people were chatting, in the distance was some music. A man walked by with a scale in his hand, trying to make some money. Another man brought his mattress out of cardwood and lied down in the park in the evening. We saw him getting up in the morning, at the same spot. I guess that is his place to sleep. So much life all around us! I was asking myself is there is anything that irritates the people? In other countries I could make a long list of things. But here? Is it canons that are going off? No. Is it rubbish on the streets? No. The loud music and anouncements on the streets coming from big loudspeakers? No. Holes in the middle of the footpath? No. The chaos all around? No. Then we met a shoe shiner boy. He told us that both his parents were killed in the civil war when he was a baby. Yes, we found that people are more serious here in Nicaragua. Maybe because of the civil war that they went through. Being in a war is really hard to imagine for me.
My parents wanted to visit us. They booked a flight to Costa Rica for December. I had tears in my eyes, ufff... sometimes I really do miss them so much! I got thrilled to see them again, so soon!!!
Resume: Stay in Leon.
LINK: Photos 051-060 , videos 146-147

21.11.09 Nicaragua
We got up at 6am. I was excited to be on the road again. We left before 7am and enjoyed the not so hot temperatures. We passed more grafity sayings: "Viva la revolucion!" We saw another volcano in the distance, it was MOMOTOMBO!!! The first 25km were easy. The road was flat and we had hardly any wind. We passsed more cattle, so much cattle. A little boy, mabye 10 years old, galopped on a horse with a rope in his hand, following the cattle. We started to ride into the headwind, riding towards Lake Managua. We got closer to that proud looking volcano. In a village we looked for a green grassy spot for a rest. It wasn't much of a rest as we were surrounded by kids in no time. They asked all sorts of questions, which we patiently answered. After we answered enough questions we left, riding towards the lake. We passed more cattle, wide grass areas and cottonfields. Lots of birds and butterflies were flying around. And there were also lots of people on bikes, most of the time 2 or more people on one bike. We passed a man who had his maybe 1 year old son sitting on the frame in front of him. With one hand he was holding him, with the other hand he did the steering. They just have no fear and they are so confident! Not much later, a guy passed us with a dog sitting on his bike frame. After a while we arrived at the lake. It was windy, and the water was wild with a dark green brownish colour. There was hardly any traffic nor villages, only a few people. We stopped at a lookout and 2 police men stopped right next to us asking us how long we plan to stay. They told us that a dutch couple in a car had been robbed just 30 minutes ago. Okay, we decided to move on then and asked them for the nearest hotel. The nearest hotel was not near and the police offered us to stay at their office in the next town. What a kind move. Who would have thought that this beautiful lake area is so quiet and isolated with very few villages only, no hotels, no tourists. People and police men kept saying to us that we better don't stop at all on the side of the road because people get robbed all the time. We kept riding and riding. All in a sudden, a huge parade of busses and trucks overtook us with black-red flags, going crazy for Daniel Ortega, who is the current president. We rode through the hills and finally, almost in the capital Managua we found an accommodation.
Resume: Leon-Managua, 87km, 26-41 degrees.
LINK: Photos 061-063 ,video 148

24.11.09 Nicaragua
We rode through the outskirts of Managua, heading towards Granada. We had breakfast at a little comedor at a busy intersection. A little boy, maybe 12 years old, was dressed up as a clown. He had funny hair, colourful clothes, and his face was painted. He had some tennis balls and he walked to the middle of the intersection and juggled, tried to make some money. He was there the whole time when we were there. Bhinti walked over there and gave him some coins. We heard music from Boney M coming out of a car. I have heard Boney M so many times in the last months, in Guatemala, El Salvador and now here. Before I haven't heard that group for lots and lots of years. Strange. The road from Managua to Granada via Masaya seems to be the main road in Nicaraga with lots of traffic, stores and restaurants on the side of the road. After a while we saw the other lake in the distance, Lake Nicaragua, and enjoyed the last 15km downhill into Granada.
We walked around town, it was already dark. Granada had lots and lots of tourists, way more than Leon. We walked along the 'Food-Mile' with all its restaurants and bars, where you can sit outside. This street was closed for cars. Lots of horses with carriages were running around. Granada has two parts. One part is the busy crazy part with the mercado and the market street with lots and lots of simple stands on both footpaths selling all sorts of stuff, and lots of people and cars. As the stands are set up on the footpath people need to walk on that busy street sharing it with all the taxis, cars, busses and cyclists. It takes quite a while to get through that chaos. There are also lots of watchmakers and shoe makers that have their little stands on the footpath. The shoe makers use these old Singer sewing machines that are operated manually with the footpedal. Guys sold DVDs and their TVs are set up on the footpath right next to their collection, playing some of the movies. So many noises from all different directions. People yell the things that they are selling. Sometimes, especially at the square it sounds like an echo as lots of people sell the same stuff and scream the same words. Then there is the other part, the quiet part with the square, the church and the food-mile that leads to the quiet lake.
Resume: Managua-Granada.

27.11.09 Nicaragua
We stayed in Granada for a few days, listened to the doves in the morning. On our walk to the lake, loud and angelic music came out of one of the old churches. It sounded almost like chanting, so beautiful and pure. We stayed there for a while, then it started raining. We decided to take a ride through town in a carriage pulled by horses. So romantic. I remember when I met Binti in India, we took rickshas through the busy, noisy, bumpy and chaotic streets of India. It was romantic too, but so different. Our tour ended at the park. We sat there for a while and not even one minute after Bhinti lied down and put his head on my lab, the police came and told us off big time!!! First I though he is joking as he had such a grumpy face and I kept smiling to him not doing anything, but he wasn't... We realized that there were no bicycle rickshas in the city, and no tortillas which is quite unusual. I also talked to my parents. They are so esxited to come over to Costa Rica to spend 2 weeks with us. My dad even prepared some games that we could play. We are excited too!!! On one night we went to a baseball game, which is a big thing in Nicaragua. We took a taxi to the baseball field. The car was very old, lots of bits and pieces were loose or missing, the seats were superold, worn out and broken, some parts of the door were missing, it also could need a clean up... But it was still moving and got the job done. I had a candy apple while we were watching the game. The last candy apple I had was maybe 25 years ago???? It was good! Some evenings we spent at the food-mile, stuffing our faces. 4 boys came along. One boy had an at least 3 meters high doll. It was a 'she'. He could step in her, moved here around and made here dance. The other boy had a big male head on his head, also moving. The other 2 guys had a drum and were holding speaches while the doll and the male head were dancing. Once we saw them doing the 'love making act'. Okay... Their goal was to collect money. What did they do with the money? They bought cigarettes and smoked them on the streets. They boys were maybe 10 or 12 years old. What will they be doing in 10 years? More kids passed our table and tried to sell stuff like pottery and handycrafts, also chewing gum and cigarettes. A group of kids did a breakdance performance. Other guys made insects and hearts out of palm leafs trying to sell them. Some guys asked for money and food. What a scene!
Resume: Stay in Granada.
LINK: Photos 064-082 , video 149

28.11.09 Nicaragua
We left at 7am without breakfast. We rode along a quiet alley. Trees were bending above the street towards the other side to build an arch with the tress that grow on the other side. Roots were hanging down. After one hour we found a little comedor in that rural area where we had breakfast, sitting in a beautiful garden. We rode around the volcano Mombacho and met another cyclist couple from Germany. What a surprise! They came all the way up from Tierra del Fuego and are on their way to Alaska! They told us some breath taking stories about their trip, it got us really excited to ride to South America. It was nice to speak German. After we talked about one hour on the side of the road, exchanged email addresses and websites, we kept riding. And then.... all in a sudden, only 2 hours later we met another cyclist who came also all the way up from Tierra del Fuego!!! He cycled alone and also had some breath taking stories to tell. Riding alone, riding through the Andes alone, camping alone, cooking alone, always being alone... His front brakes were broken, he had no bike computer, only 2 rear bags and some stuff on top of it. He didn't wear a helmet nor a t-shirt. It said on his bike: "Live the life you love". What experience must that be! I was amazed. All these 12 months we had never met anybody coming up from Tierra del Fuego, and today we met even 3 people! After another decent chat we left and rode into Rivas, our destination for today. Tomorrow we want to take the boat to the Ometepe, the biggest island in a fresh water lake.
Resume: Granada-Rivas, 70km, 28-35 degrees.
LINK: Photos 083-090

29.11.09 Nicaragua
We took the 11am ferry from San Jorge, which was 5km far away from Rivas. After one our we got there. It was windy and the water was rough. The island is made of 2 volcanos (concepcion 1600m, maderas 1400m) that are melted together by their lava flows. 35000 people live here. It felt like diving into a different world. It was so quiet here and so relaxed. We could walk on the street without getting overrolled by traffic. It is very tropical here and the black soil is rich. Everything grows here. People are quite independent as they grow their own rice, beans,sweetcorn, vegetable, fruit and tobacco. The churchbell gets operated manually. A man climbs up and pushes it. In the evening we went for a stroll and there was party everywhere. Lots of music and partying, people sit in their rocking chairs and drink and eat. We had a beautiful sunset at the lake. A pig took himself for a walk looking for food and drank the water out of the lake. The Christmas decoration is up everywhere...
Resume: boat ride to Ometepe.
LINK: Photos 091-100

30.11.09 Nicaragua
We took the hourly island bus to some of the beaches, to Charco Verde. The busride took 30 min, then we had to walk 20 min to the beach. We passed grasing horses and cows. It was flat, behind us the beautiful volcano with some clouds around its peak. We had a swim in the calm water and sat in the sand for a while. Two igrits were making love in the water, lots of wingflapping. A cowboy on his horse rode to the lake with his 15 cows to let them drink the lake water. I felt like being in a movie. There was a one-hour walk along the lagoon which we did. It felt nice to be in a forest. On our left was the lagoon, on our right the lake. We saw lots of lizzards. It was so peaceful here, no cars, no tooting, no screaming, no people, no music, just the silent trees, lizzards and ants. There are supposed to be monkeys in the forest, but I didn't see any, I only saw Bhinti. The people on this island live in a beautiful bubble. They have everything they need. Why would they want to go to the mainland??? Lots of people use their horses for transport. People were doing Christmas ceremonies on the side of the road in their front yard. They set up lights, music, Jesus and sang, sitting in their rocking chairs. The police don't wear any guns here, which is a big statement I think. In our hostel were 2 parrots. One was really talkative, what a great immitator! When he talked it sounded like 2 women were chatting to each other. He sounded so human. He also could laugh, ha ha ha. His laughter sounded real. When we woke up in the morning we heard him talking... What a cool pet!
Resume: Rest in Ometepe.

LINK: Photos 101-124 , videos 150-151