Nice and short blog this week – with photo’s
A hard, hard afternoon, knackered.
We had an easy day planned of a 45 mile ride to a beach area with just a 1000ft climb in the middle, we planned a short stay in this beach area for a break.
The morning was along a main road that turned onto a side road to a beach area called playa Del Espino. The road was sealed and had light traffic so was ok to cycle, the 1000ft climb wasn’t too bad but we were a bit weary from yesterday’s long ride. At the top we met a rare group of other fun cyclists (we see lots of locals on bikes but these few are the first MAMEL Lycra clad ones), one had good English and when we told him we were heading for Playa Coco his and his friends reaction was a bit of a shock, he then reassured us that the road was bad but we would be OK on our bikes as we had wide tyres. I wish he had been more pessimistic and warned us off.
Ginette – it felt pretty good cycling up this stretch of road on our fully laden bikes to see ‘fun cyclists’ struggling to climb the hill.
We cycled down the other side of the climb which was pretty steep but didn’t get to the beach area as our turning was up from the beach area. We could see that the road we needed to take was now a gravel one. We could have gone further down to the beach area but we knew we still had to either take this road or go back up the steep climb the next day so we opted to continue, how hard could it be!
The answer turned out to be very hard, we had 16 miles of off-road conditions which at times deteriorated to a single track with huge round stones making cycling impossible. We did manage to cycle about 60% of the route but this was a lot of getting on and off the bikes. Some of the ups were steep and pushing the bikes up over the rocky ground was a real effort, we both dropped our bikes a few times losing control of them. Ginette has now lost her teddy that has traveled with us all the time.
It was dark as we arrived at Playa Coco and the first accommodation we had marked from ioverlander (an app that identifies accommodation for campers) was near the small town and the room was a bit poor, The road improved and had tarmac so even though we were tired and tetchy we cycled on past other hotels (we asked at one and the price was to high we didn’t bother with the others) which meant another 3 miles to another ioverlander recommendation.
We finally stopped at Adelas restaurant and hotel, we opted to pay $25 for a room and ate in the restaurant. It was pitch black and late and we were both knackered.
Ginette – this was a really hard day, it is days like this that really test your relationship. It was hot, we were tired and having to work together to get the bikes from A to B. Fortunately we survived, but I do recall at one point telling Gary to ‘go away’ he was annoying me (he had chosen this route even if he didn’t know it was going to be bad and he was grumpy) and in fairness I was annoying him (I dropped my bike several times and I struggled to push it up the steep hills and I was grumpy). It can be incredibly challenging spending 24/7 with anyone, even if it is with the one you love.
Sun sea and sand.
A nice lazy day sunbathing swimming in a safer rolling wave Pacific Ocean and a walk to town.
We are still in Adelas but have moved out of the room and have set up the tent right by the beach, we have the place to ourselves and the rest is very welcome.
Ginette – we decided we had too many white bits so we spent the day trying to fill in our patchwork quilts of bodies. Would you believe it we had to do this on an empty sandy beach, with bright sunshine and a very warm sea to play in – do I hear the violins : )
Unlike Sampson Gary is still strong
The tent has been put up with the vestibule off the ground to let more air in, it helps but it’s still hot in the tent at night but ‘almost’ bearable.
Another day on the beach, a bit of bike maintenance, a short ride to a nearby town as a recce for when we leave, resulting in a good but steep road that cuts 10 miles off when we do leave.
I have had a haircut and the bearded has been lightly trimmed, it feels so much better to have short hair again. The barber had a job on his hands as he tried to use a comb in my hair which would be the first in 7 months.
Ginette – it feels like I have a new man, very sexy but I’ll be glad when the beard goes.
I really enjoyed waking up to the sound of the sea, doing yoga on the beach and having time to read.
We have both been looking at the UK political party manifestos and trying to work out who we should vote for. We have applied for a proxy vote but after several days of reading and discussing the options but we are still no wiser. What a mess…
After 3 nights at Adelas on Coco beach front we packed up and set of for the Honduras border which was 45 miles away.
We had a couple of hill climbs at the beginning of the day then the rest of the day was spent going up and down much shorter climbs.
Ginette had a slight twinge in her knee and had a constant thirst on today, I thought she would want to stop at the border but we pushed on past for another 20 miles into Honduras, so a long ride today.
Ginette – both of these comments are an under statement, my knee, thumb and other parts of my body ached, my knee was quite sore for the first 10 miles. I think this was due to the fact I was dehydrated, I had a constant thirst on for most of the day. At one pitstop I managed to guzzle a 1.5 litre of water and a fizzy drink.
The border crossing was relatively pain free, we changed €60 US for 1380 limpiras, these high number currencies are really hard to get your head around. For example I bought a beer later and thought I was being overcharged as they wanted 20 limpiras, when this is actually less than a pound.
Ginette – as the banker in our relationship, I really struggle for the first couple of days, in Honduras we only had two days so I didn’t think it would be an issue but by the end of day we had virtually spent $60. I had hoped this would last two days, but it only provided for lunch, visa payments, hotel and evening meal (which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t in Central America).
We had lunch just past the border control of rice and prawns and lots of drinks to sate the ever thirsty Net machine – all for £6
The 20 mile ride in Honduras was on the main Pan American highway but with good lanes for us to cycle in off the main road. Lots of calls of Gringo again and the people are quicker to shout hellos to us. For a country with such a bad reputation so far we have felt very welcome.
Ginette was not impressed with the love hotel we had made our way too, it was not as good a quality as the others we have been in. She is getting fussy and didn’t like the cockroaches and army of ants in some of the rooms. We cycled another 1.5 miles and arrived at Hotel Sunset exactly as the sun was actually setting.
Ginette – We were tired, hot and sweaty and it was dark. Gary would have stayed in this ‘hotel’ but no matter how many rooms they showed me I really couldn’t. The rooms were motel style, the first was covered in giant ants, all over the floor and in the bathroom wall was covered. As we opened the door for the second room, a big black insect, probably a cockroach scurried under the bed. In addition to the wildlife the toilet only had a plastic curtain around it and the door for the rooms was metal and had a bit gap under the door. I think you had to be there to see it. The next hotel we visited was cheaper and far better but still had a curtain to cover the toilet (this apparently is the norm.)
Dinner was a pizza cafe found after a short walk into town, it was a messy affair and probably the worse pizza we’ve had for a while but it filled a hole.
We past the young lady waiting outside our hotel for a lift! In a really short skirt outside our hotel. She was still there when we got back so business must be a bit slow tonight, seriously though it’s a shame to see these young girls having to make a living this way.
Goodbye Honduras hello Nicaragua.
We left Nacaome fairly early, we had decisions to make on route as to our final destination as the mileages to known accommodation did not work out well, so we would have had a short day or a long day.
We reached San Lorenzo and as it’s roads were busy we opted not to attempt to go to its centre and continued past on the main road. We did stop for drinks and fruit, the locals were friendly and curious about us and we felt pretty safe.
We have been raced along the road by a couple kids giving a backie all the time the one doing the pedalling having to work frantically whilst his passenger kept looking back at us smiling and geeing on his mate.
We have seen lots of horseback cowboys herding cattle in the fields and along the road, I am no rider but they have a different posture and riding style, just like the cowboy films.
Ginette – several of these ‘cowboys’ are very young children, we have been fascinated by the way they heard the cattle (horses and cows) along the grass bank right next to the main unfenced road. Poverty levels are high, therefore many children do not attend school and help in family businesses.
It appears to me that the collection of wood for fires is a chore given to the elderly as you will see them struggling along with their wood loaded on there backs or in wheel barrows.
We are still getting shouts of Gringo but also American sayings thrown at us “how you doing “ “what’s up man” but all in good jest and lots of waving. There are still a few that like to ignore us as we wave and say hello but mostly the locals are nice.
Ginette – Although we have a very wide hard shoulder to cycle on several vehicles have overtaken on the opposite side of the road and have had to use our hard shoulder to pass. It is quite disconcerting cycling along with a vehicle speeding towards you. With the exception of one vehicle they all were in total control and there was no risk to us but this would definitely be classed as reckless driving in the UK.
I have struggled today, by 11.30 at Choluteca I wanted to stop, we planned to do just that and used a cool air conditioned Wendy’s to have lunch and look at hotels. After a long break in this cold environment with food and three large fizzy drinks in me I felt a lot better, it was still early in the day so we decided to continue to the border which was 32 miles away.
The afternoon was better for my body but I was still not firing on all cylinders, the heat played it’s part as it reached 38 degrees so pretty sapping.
Ginette – the previous day I’d struggled to keep up with Gary, but today I felt like I was pushing him most of the way. It is amazing how the body works.
Approaching the border we past a queue of lorries 1.5 miles long. It was late but still light, the exit out of Honduras was straight forward but entry to Guatemala was not. We had to jump through a few hoops and wait around to be processed which took at least an hour, which meant when we left it was pitch black.
Ginette – I had not been looking forward to Honduras we had heard so many negative things about the country (drug gangs, one of the highest homicide rates in the world etc, it had been under a military coup only 10 years ago). But in our limited experience it did not feel that different to any other Central American country. The people were more friendly than they had been in El Salvador, we were instantly met with people happy to see us. Vehicles on the road gave us plenty of space (most of the time) and the road conditions were fairly good with a wide shoulder for us to cycle on. There’s still alot of rubbish by the roadside (my pet hate) and there was also a lot of dead animal smells. At one point we cycled past vultures eating a decomposing cow. The main food source seems to be corn and chicken, the weather conditions allow two crops of corn a year so it is a staple food for Central Americans. Personally I don’t like the smell and corn bread is served with everything. People are dressed in western clothes however women wear pinnies over their western clothes and in some areas wear a white scarf over their heads. There’s still lots of stray, very timid dogs, many of them look very ill (Julie you would hate it) we’ve bought dog biscuits to give out whenever we stop because Gary thinks they need fattening up.
During our very short stay we felt safe and welcome and would not hesitate visiting again. However I am not sure how I would feel as a solo female, I cycled ahead of Gary for 5-10 miles and during this time I was wolf whistled and blown kisses and received lechy looks from drivers. This has happened in other countries but was much more noticeable in Honduras. We also avoided cycling in the north of the country where apparently the crime levels are much higher.
We are now in Nicaragua and our chosen hostel Santa Cruz was only 4 miles from the border so we didn’t have to cycle far in the dark.
The border town was in full celebration, several streets had small parties going on and they all looked to be religious in nature. The plaza had a large Christmas tree and all in all the place had a lovely feel to it, surprisingly so for a small border town.