I’d had a great time in Costa Rica but felt frustrated I had only seen a fraction, With limited time I knew it wasn’t possible to really explore and with everything two or three times more expensive I also couldn’t afford it. I had however seen some amazing places and met some incredible people but it was for my next country Nicaragua. I had heard good things about this country and was keen to find out for myself
Sunday 28th October
Once I was inside I was out like a light
Having slept well in my tent on the bed I got up and loaded my bike. It was 8am by the time I was ready and set off to have breakfast. I returned to where I had tea last night and turned out to be a good choice. With a good breakfast inside me I set out of town and headed for the border.
Heading past the last volcano In Costa Rica before my next country
It was about 15 miles to the Pan American highway where I turned right and rode the last 10 miles. It felt good to get this far and really felt like I was making progress but with each country being small I knew it wouldn’t last.
Getting close now
As I reached the border I stopped for lunch and went to stamp out. Having to pay to stamp out was weird and lucky I still had some currency left. Once out I then headed across the border the short distance to stamp in. Having to pay again to enter was annoying but knowing there was nothing I could do about it I paid and got my stamp.
I was now in Nicaragua and had to work out where I needed to go. Looking at the map and not being that far to the coast I followed the road next to the lake before turning south west towards the Pacific.
Following the lake was amazing
As I followed the lake the two volcanos rose up to my right. They looked incredible and were mesmerising as I rode. As I rode I passed a large wind farm which I loved to see.
The two volcanos on Isle de Ometepe
They looked incredible next to the volcanos that held their own hidden energy. On reaching the junction I headed south west for the coast and the small town of San Jaun del Sur. Being around 14 miles away I knew I should be there in good time and with a storm brewing from the south I knew there would be a good chance I should make it and wouldn’t get wet. Looking at the map I could see a hill next to the road that was 400 metres above where I was. As I got closer to the Pacific the road started to rise but only ended up climbing 150 metres. I was soon up and over then descended into town and looking for a place to stay. I found a place quite quickly but the first couple were full.
It felt good to be at the coast again
I then passed a cash point so went to see if my card would work only to find I was still having a problem withdrawing money. I found a hostel that had room and checked in and went out again with another card. Luckily this one worked but not having much in the account I now had to try and solve the problem. After a few calls I found there must be a problem with the chip and was stuck without a card. This wasn’t great and wasn’t sure what to do. I needed a plan but would take time. As I settled in I got a tap on the shoulder to see Lois was here. It was really great to see him again and in addition I got to meet a couple nice girls Marie and Flo. I knew I was going to enjoy my stay at the beach and the start of Nicaragua. My first day in the country had been good but I was now feeling a little less great with the problem with my card. As the storm moved in I started to feel rubbish. I knew it would work out ok but I wasn’t sure how just yet. All I could do was enjoy the great company I had and try and make a plan.
Monday 29th October
After my first half day in the country I had slept well but the issue with my cash card was playing on my mind. Along with a few other things that were going wrong I hoped it was the last of my run of bad luck. After spending over an hour trying to sort out my card and only getting a partial solution I just hoped my day went a little better. I joined Lois and the girls for breakfast and having met a cyclist called Carl I spent a while chatting to him about his bike he was touring on. It was good to meet another cyclist and compare notes.
Carl’s cool bike
After a slow start I was keen to make the most of the rest of the day and go for a surf. Not having had any lunch the four of us went to eat before setting off to the beach while I went to get a surf board. On arriving the surf was around 2-3 feet and clean and was great to warm up to.
This was perfect and an awesome spot
Looking down the beach the surf looked bigger so we wondered down and for some reason it was more like 3-4 foot with a slight off shore breeze. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to catch the waves and caught one after another. By the time the sun was starting up set I was tired but it gave me the chance to sit in the beach and take in the sunset.
Although I still hadn’t solved a my problems I had ended the day on a good note. Wanting to set off tomorrow I rested for a few hours before I joined Lois and the girls for a beer on the seafront. It was nice to have the company but I found it hard to relax. Still not being fluent in Spanish it was hard to understand the conversations so I decided to go and get some food. With a big day tomorrow I wanted to make good progress and try and cover the miles. It had been great to stop and to have the company but I was still behind and needed to keep moving.
Tuesday 30th October
With a 60 miles to Granada I got up early and loaded my bike. I was still half a sleep but a lovely lady brought me a coffee which was very kind. By the time I was ready the guys were awake and so said goodbye and set off. Even though I had only been at the beach for a day it felt good to have had the rest and time to surf. With a climb ahead of me I rode the 5 miles to the top and on towards a darkening sky.
Riding as the skies got ever darker
I descended the other side and seeing the rain coming towards me I stopped and found a small lean to and sheltered. I was soon joined by a guy with a donkey and a farm worker as the rain started to bounce off the roof and stood waiting while the rain clouds passed. As the clouds lightened the sky got brighter behind and soon the rain stopped and we all set off in our own directions. I reached the highway and headed north once again and was making good progress. As it neared mid day and not having had any breakfast I stopped at a restaurant where I ordered a lemonade and an chicken Asado. When the lemonade arrived not only was it fresh but in a large jug with a straw.
This ice filled lemonade was just incredible
It was amazing and I was soon at the bottom. After finishing my first and not quite quenching my thirst I ordered another to go with my meal. It was perfect and just what I needed. As I was finishing a German cyclist arrived called Andreas and joined me while he ordered food. It was nice having the company and listen to his advice. Knowing how quickly the clouds built in the afternoon I wished him luck and set off North again. As I neared the next volcano the road started to rise around it with the road climbing steadily. It stayed dry and by 3pm I descended into Granada started to look for a hostel.
Granada, another town situated at the base of a volcano
Finding a nice one that was full was annoying but after a few directions I found another that was nice but really quiet. I couldn’t believe just how quiet it was but it would give me the chance to work uninterrupted. With a day off planned for tomorrow I headed out to look around the town and take in the sights at sunset before finding another place to eat. Granada was a pretty town with lots of coloured houses and in the light of the setting sun seemed to enhance the colours. With food inside me I headed back to the hostel and got some work done to try and catch up. It felt good to do and I knew I would need to do a lot more tomorrow.
Wednesday 31st October
There were three people in my room and although I had tried to chat to all of them no one wanted to be social. It was the first time I had seen this and all were buried in their laptops or phones. It was unbelievable just how quiet the place was and it just felt strange. I knew it would be good to get some work done but a hello or hows your day would have been nice.
Receiving a message from a Kathy was amazing and kicked me up the bum to try and sort our flights to Cuba to see Yang. It took a while to work out my route which I had already started to do and then looked into flights. Having used a search engine before to find flights I used the same one but my card wouldn’t go through even though it didn’t need the chip. After a long winded conversation with my bank who told me I was do a transaction outside normal working hours even after I told them I was in a different country and was with in normal working hours I finally managed to book my flights at extra cost and through my credit card.
Still unsure how I was going to get over the problem with my card from a world bank that seems to not quite grasps what the world is I headed out to try and see a town I had yet to explore.
Spotting a sign for an evening tour I went to check it out only to find it left in half an hour. Needing to get a few things I ran around the town to pick up what I needed dropped it back at the hostel, got what I needed for the tour and raced back to the shop. I waited a few minutes before i was then taken off to meet a nice couple.
Everything felt a little rushed with 15 minutes in a market then once the couple arrived we were then taken to see an active volcano.
After a short drive to the top we reached the crater and looked down into the it with its almost vertical sides and down in the bottom was another hole that when even deeper. From here there was a thick potent acidic mist that made our eyes sting as it bellowed up into large plumbes. With the sun starting to set we walked up to the view point and watched as the colours changed before heading to the lava tubes. Once at the entrance we started to make our way into the tunnel which felt incredible it was made by molten lava.
Just a couple of the thousands of vampire bats that left the cave to feed
As we entered the cave thousands of vampire bats flew out and around us. They were amazing to watch and could’t believe how many there were of them. Once we had looked around the cave we headed back to the crater to see the red glow being emitted from the earth. Our planet is just amazing and holds so much power, yet we can stand next to a giant like this and enjoy its beauty.
The deep red glow from the magma
With it now being dark it was time to head back to the hostel and decide what I was going to do tomorrow. Not really had any time to look around town I thought it would be good to take another day off but now having booked my tickets to Cuba i had a dead line and still a long way to go. All I could do was sort my stuff incase I felt I needed to go and just sleep on it.
Thursday 1st November
Although I had slept well I was surprised at how early I woke. Although I had planned on staying another day having booked my flights to Cuba in just over 5 weeks time seemed to put the pressure. It wasn’t a bad thing as it did stop me hanging around but it would have been good to have had the extra day to finish off a few jobs and properly look around the city.
Looking south seeing a huge bad of cloud building and hoped it wasn’t heading my way
It was just before 6.30am when I had got my bike loaded and already the sun was beginning to warm me up. I settled my bill which was all of £10 for two nights, 2 cokes and my washing done which I thought was a bargain and nice to be out of Costa Rica where everything is much more expensive. Not wanting to head straight out I rode down to the lake through the quite streets and took in the sights.
Leaving through the quiet streets of Granada
I knew it would look a lot different during a weekday where all the shops and market would be open but I had to move on. Having looked around I headed west out of the city towards Masaya. Being Sunday the road was really quiet which I was pleased about as it made the journey west a lot more peaceful. It didn’t take me long to get to the town but I didn’t stop as I knew I had a long way to go. From Masaya I started the climb towards Managua passing the volcano I had been to yesterday. I was surprised how close I rode next to it and able to see the smoke pouring out of it as if someone had just poured water on to an open fire. Once I had climbed past the volcano I started to drop towards the capital. By the time I was getting close I was starting to get really hungry. Not having had any tea the night before and no breakfast I knew I needed to stop soon. Once past the city I headed more south west trying to find the road I needed to follow the lake but as I turned my phone on it went blank. I tried a few things but I think I turned the screen down so much I just couldn’t see it due to the bright sunlight. With no road signs I just followed the highway and peoples directions and soon got on the road to Leon all be it the longer one. Feeling hungrier then ever I spotted a restaurant off the road and took a seat. Most of the restaurants in Central America are open air but under a canopy so a nice break from the sun with the fresh air. Spotting something that looked nice on the sign I ordered it only to find it came with a pot of agri leche which is aggravated milk that smells and looks like gone off yogurt. I can tell you something when I’m hungry I’ll eat anything even if it looked and tasted foul yet if I was home I probably would have borrowed a barge pole to move it off the table. It was ok but the important thing was I had eaten and so I set off again. From the city it was a climb away from the lake over a ridge of mountains only rising 500 metres but enough to slow me down and make me tired. Once at the top I started to descend to ride past a car that had driven right into the end of the Armco barrier splitting the bonnet I’m half. Everyone looked fine if a little shocked so I rode on pleased I wasn’t there when it had lost control.
Looking back along the incredibly straight road
As I descended I enjoyed the view to my right of a chain of volcanos that disappeared into the haze of the mid day heat. Once the road levelled out it went into short sharp climbs and descents on a road that was so straight. As I neared the first bend a car was waiting near the top. They got out and wanted to chat.
It was so great to meet these guys
They were so excited to meet me and I always find that a little awkward. I find riding my bike quite normal and when I meet other cyclists riding as well it enforces normality but from time to time I meet people who are overwhelmed by what I’m doing yet to me I’m just riding my bike. The feeling would be like if you were riding your bike into work like you had for the last few years and someone stops you and wants to take a picture and be friends and that’s what it’s like for me. It’s great don’t get me wrong I just don’t think I’m any different to anyone else in fact I’m not. You could all do this!!!! Anyway once we had a mini photo shoot with them ignoring the large trucks that would have liked to have passed with ease we said goodbye and I set off once more still with a fare distance to cover. With the morning clouds now clear the sun tried its hardest to bake me as I rode.
Almost reaching the top of the climb and looking out across to a line of volcanos of in the distance
Stopping at a bar to cool and have a cold drink was great but it was here I realised I had lost my glasses. I was so annoyed even if I did have a spare I had lost them and I hated losing things. Luckily as a consolation I had got my phone working again so I knew where to head once I had reached town. As I reached the outskirts a couple on a motorbike got interested in what I was doing and after a bit of a conversation through the traffic I told them I was looking for a hostel. Showing them the address they kindly offered to escort me to the right place so I followed them and arrived with ease at the hostel. It was so kind of them and having already cover 87 miles it was a perfect end to a ride. I thanked them for their help and booked in. The hostel looked nice and with room for my bike in the room I could shower and take in the sights before the sun set. Although it had been a long and not that interesting day I had met some lovely people and covered the distance I wanted. Hoping to do the same tomorrow I grabbed food while I was out and headed back to the hostel to relax.
Friday 2nd November
Waking with the sun and knowing I had a long hot day ahead of me I got up and wheeled my bike out of the room. Once loaded I made a coffee and got my now frozen water bottle out of the freezer knowing it would be just perfect in a few hours. I said goodbye to my room mate who was off to a nearby volcano and I wished I had booked it earlier. With nothing for it I was just about to head out when the two guys that were on a motorbike and a car started to chat to me.
It was so great to meet these guys and as always wished I had more time hanging out
They were from Norway and really great to talk to. We swapped advice as they were heading south and with time getting away I wished them luck and rode out of town. The road to Chinandega was quite and flat which made for a good average speed and as I headed west I could see the string of volcanos that marked the spine of the country. I love the mountains but there is something about volcanos that fascinates me. I reached the town around 11am but wanting to get a little past before I stopped for breakfast I worked my way through the streets and rode a few miles to the next small town. Spotting a place to eat I stopped ordered food and a jug of lemonade while I changed the map over.
When I did I suddenly saw I had taken the wrong road. It was only 3 miles but there and back was 6 miles . I was so annoyed I made such a simple mistake but with no way out of it I knew I had to head back. Once I had demolished my second jug of lemonade I set off back down the road to the correct junction where I headed north west past the last volcano.
This was the last of a line on four volcanos I had to ride around to head north to the border
With a bit of a climb I slowly rose until I was next to it then descended the other side. It was a hot day and I was getting through so much water. I stopped at San Jóse for a cold drink and to fill my bottles before riding on hoping to reach town before dark. With the road having little in the way of climbs I rode on at a nice speed waving at people and joined at times by young kids who would ride next to me with a big smile before turning round and riding back to their village.
Once past the volcano it was a nice down hill towards the border town
After one more short stop I rode on once again for the last 8 miles to town. I had covered 76 miles by the time `i got into to town and it was still only 3.30pm. Pleased with my time I found a hotel and with my bike in the room, my clothes washed I headed out to look around town. Everyone seemed really friendly and felt good to sit in the park and watch the kids play football while I ate my ice-cream. It was my last night in Nicaragua and it had felt amazing, I just hoped my luck remained. Once I had dinner I would be ready for bed and another days riding in a new country.
My bed for the night and the end of the last day in Nicaragua
Nicaragua had been a complete surprise to me, I knew it had some gems but didn’t realise just how many. Every town I went to there was a huge list of things so see and do and yet I had only allowed a few days in the country. If I was looking for a two week holiday somewhere Nicaragua would be it. There is so much to see and do with such diversity it would be very hard to get bored. With my flights booked to Cuba out of Cancun I felt the pressure to push on through the next few countries so I made sure I was in Mexico with a few days to spare and so couldn’t relax and enjoy the country in its entirety. When doing a trip like mine I knew I could’d see everything in each country as I would soon run out of money and would never have the time. I was however pleased with what I had seen and would be more then happy to return to explore it properly. For now I had to keep focused on the next two countries Honduras and El Salvador both of which have the reputation of being extremely dangerous. I first had to get in and second stay safe and yet from my experience of other dangerous countries I would no doubt meet kind people who would make their country shine so all there was to do was to go and find out.
Thanks for reading xx
Currency: Nicaraguan Còrdoba approx £1=40.8 / $1=27
Number of days in country: 5.5 days
Total distance cycled: 249miles / 401km –
Running total: 27,313mls /43,946 km
Total altitude gain: 2,465 metres –
Running total: 427,521metres
Altitude gain per mile: 9.9 metres/mile
Totals from Ushuaia Southern tip of Argentina/ South America
11,420 miles/ 18,375 km total alt gain 233,717 metres