In the morning we packed the bikes before we had breakfast. We met Kathy again and had breakfast together. Rick was walking in the hills and joined us later. During our breakfast it started to rain, so we decided to take it easy and see if the rain would stop.
After the rain stopped, we took a couple of pictures and took off.
After an uneventful ride we arrived in Granada and tried to find the accomodation that we had selected in trip advisor. After riding back and forth, one person finally told us that we are in the wrong suburb and that we had to get out of the city again to get to the hotel. Finally we found it. It took us an hour! To put it in perspective, it was very hot, slow traffic in the city and then stopping, talking to people and starting again. It was tiring. I think all hotels should have their GPS position published, instead of the street address, since there are hardly any street signs in Central America. So we arrived at the hotel, hot and thirsty. The room was great, the pool was broken (the water was more green then blue) and the bar was closed, no beer available, bummer (Below the pool you can’t swim in and the bar without beer 😛
To fair, our room had a kitchen so we could cook for ourselves and Sigrid made a great breakfast in the morning.
Today was a day of sightseeing. We had a look at the cathedral on the main square, they were asking for an entrance fee, so we decided just to take some pictures from the outside.
Then we walk through pedestrian zone to the lake. There were plenty of restaurants, caffees, accommodation and colourfull houses around here.
The last bit of the road was still in the process of being paved, so the kids had a ball with the sand and the gravel.
In the end we arrived at the lake. On our way to the boat launching place we came across the entry to the lake. It seems that you normally have to pay if you like to get closer, but in our case the guys had lunch, so we didn’t have to pay!
After a nice walk we booked a boat tour and had a look at some nice islands. One island had some monkeys on it, some other had some big villas, including a big yacht and a heliport, and some were just nature.
That was a very nice day; tomorrow we will try to cross the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border.
Yesterday we bought some Christmas hats; it took a while before we found some. The people in the streets looked at us a bit strange when they saw us wearing them 😀.
Anyway, we decided to take some pictures with our new trophies before we leave.
Then we packed up the bikes and drove them through the small gap onto the street….-we only lost the plastic cap for the camera..;-)
The rest of the way to was without major incidents and we hardly got lost 😀
Looking forward to Costa Rica where the maps are much better… We arrived at Selva Negra by following the instructions.
Follow the Road to Jinotega and turn right on the broken Army Tank…
We settled in our room and decorated the window with our Christmas bits (we bought a tiny Christmas tree as well :). The picture on the right shows the view of our room.
For dinner we had some typical German food (Sausage with Sauerkraut and bacon potatoes) and the beer was served in a typical stein.
The next couple of days we won’t move and just relax. The most exciting part might be a tour through the farm, since they seemed to be very switched on with their environmental effort (Creating compost, using solar energy, creating hydroelectricity, recycle water, creating methane gas from waste products ……..).
Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas! Well that was our first time in our lives that we celebrated Christmas all by ourselves, without any of our family.
It was really quiet and relaxed and the restaurant was nicely decorated for Christmas. At coffee time a huge Christmas cake arrived.
Unfortunately the power went down around Christmas time in Australia, so we couldn’t Skype –bummer!! But sitting in the restaurant with our hats did draw the attention of Eddi, the owner of the farm. He talked to Sigrid for a while about the farm and our travel.
The next day we took a tour around the farm and had a look at their sustainable concepts. As far we could see they try to recycle everything and try to keep the carbon footprint as small as possible. During the tour we saw how the coffee cherries grow, were picked, sorted, pulped, washed and then dried. The beans were then sold to companies which do the sorting and roasting. During the trip we looked at the coffee cherry the first time and we realized that the coffee bean is the pip and that the flesh around the bean tastes sweet. I thought that you could only use the bean, but you can make all sorts of things of the flesh, like marmalade and spirits. Below are pictures of a coffee plantation, how the beans grow, the fermentation and washing process and the drying. The beans on the plant are hard to see since they grow in the shade of some trees or other plants.
After the farm tour we had a walk through the rainforest before we took a powernap 🙂
The next day we booked accommodation over New Year’s Eve. It is a nice place called Cabinas Villa Kunterbunt in Samara, a beach area in North-West of Costa Rica. At dinner we meet a nice couple – Kathy and Rick -from the Oregon. They lent us their playing cards for the night. 🙂
Tomorrow we will go the Granada, the oldest European city in mainland America.
In the middle of the night, around 3:30AM, there were fireworks and church bells ringing. We imagined that this was the way to inform the troops that the enemy was approaching and the fireworks were used to brighten the sky – doomsday was close after all. But..not in this case, it was just to signal that Christmas was close. It was the fourth day before Christmas celebration. I believe the line of thought of the church must be: if you’re awake, you can go to church, so the pastor made sure that everybody was awake (3 rounds of firework and church bell torture in 10 to 15 minute intervals). Anyway after the bell/firework torture was finished, we could finally sleep, the rest of the nigh was a bit more quiet.
In the morning we went back to the nice restaurant with peter, the one where we had dinner yesterday. There we had a great breakfast. It looked like this shop was popular with the people living here. Peter decided to travel to a lake, settle there for a couple of days and plan the rest of his Central America trip. We decided to have a look at Leon, a nice city with plenty of active Volcanos around.
Thinking about it, was it a good choice to travel to active Volcanos on DOOMS day?
Time will tell... So Peter left first, we said goodbye and off he went. We left a bit later and rode to Leon where we found a hostel with pool, WiFi in the rooms, hammocks and coffee the whole day… aka Paradise.
Since it was hot, we had to try the pool immediately; I couldn’t decide what to do first, so I drank the coffee in the pool 😀
We had a short look around the town, and guess what, there were plenty of churches. This time I could limit the visit to just one church, phew.
Hmm, let’s see what’s happening tomorrow (Doomsday).
I wrote a post in the morning and took a couple of pictures of how everybody was nervously waiting for the end of the world.
We thought that it would be the perfect time to slide down an active volcano – the Cerro Negro.
When we booked the trip for the afternoon we got told that we would ride as pillions on another motorcycle… Hrmmm why not? It’s doomsday after all 🙂 At two o’clock we jumped on the bikes with our drivers, after Bonny – my driver – assured us that he and his friend rode off-road races in Panama City and that we would be safe. So the journey started, first over roads with plenty of pebbles and then it got worse – the next 45 minutes we were riding/sliding through sand, dodging cows, horses and four wheel drives on a sandy road… Well, path.
Below is a picture of both riders and one bike, have a look at his protective gear (white top)
I guess it has a magic spell that protects the rider when he falls of the bike. 😛
At one place my driver got a bit close to a sandy dune, hit the boards at the back and both of them broke. Bonny told us that there are other boards at the office, so we continued. Below is the broken board, it wasn’t me J
He managed the bike really well, but still a sliding back wheel puts a knot into my stomach, I’m a bad pillion. After the longest 45min in the last couple of years, we arrived at the office, where we changed our gear to sport shoes and shorts. Then we started to walk up the Volcano, Sigrid was carrying the bag and the board, I couldn’t, as I had to take pictures 😀
Unfortunately, Sigrid figured it out quickly and asked for the camera, now I was carrying the board and the helmet :/
Towards the top it god really windy, but the view was magnificent. From the top we could see the two other active volcanos around here; one was consistently billowing white smoke, Doomsday?
When we looked down we could see the path we came up and the lava that had streamed out of the vulcano during the last eruption (1999).
At the top, our guide removed a bit of topsoil and the earth below was so hot that we couldn’t touch it… Amazing!
We took some pictures before we put our protective gear on.
When we walked to the launch place, we stumbled across a small critter who tried to hide from the wind, our guide said it is a porcupine.
Here we are ready for the slide down.
Off we go.
We arrived safe and sound – without any problems.
Now the next scary bit started – the ride back as a pillion through the sandy paths. Both our drivers did a great job to bring us back without any incidents. What a day, it looks like we’ve survived doomsday! Yippee!! 🙂
Hurray, now we are sure. We survived the 21th of December, the interpretation of that one Mayan about the Maya calendar was wrong! 🙂
Happy new start of the 14th Baktún! Today was a maintenance day so nothing exciting happened except that Sigrid went to the hairdresser and I polished our boots. 🙂
What a nice quiet day – don’t know if this is worth mentioning in our blog 😛
At night we saw some kids going from house to house and showing a parody of some Spanish conquistadors. This is commonly done from November to the end of December. The large puppet represents a Spanish lady and the small guy is the person making fun of her.
Later on there was a group of parents and kids going from house to house and singing, which gave us a bit of a Christmas feeling.
Tomorrow we leave Leon and ride to our Christmas retreat, the coffee plantation 160km from here.
We left a bit later, since I wanted to put some Christmas decorations onto our bikes and Almi had another PC for Sigrid to fix. Almi’s sister – Kathy – came to say goodbye as well.
At the Rio Dulce bridge we meet a Guatemalian couple and they suggested a nice hotel with a pool, which was just what we needed, so we called it a day.
We were 240km from the border, that meant an early start tomorrow so we can make the border and find a hotel before it is dark.
City: Metapan, El Salvador
Kilometres ridden: 275
Cumulative kilometre: 28090
Early start and it took us two hours to get to the Guatemala border. We overtook a long line of trucks until a guy stopped us and told us to park the bikes on the right hand side. To keep it short, we crossed the border successfully after spending three hours on the Guatemala border and two hours on the El Salvadorian side. During the process we met an Argentinian couple in a 2CV (Ente), which travelled north. They earned some money by performing puppet plays and using the car as their stage.
When we left the border it was 4PM, so we decided to find a hotel in the next town. When we found a nice hotel Sigrid drove her bike up the step and through the door herself 😀
The plan for tomorrow was to get as close as possible to the Honduras border, since we would like to pass through Honduras in one day.
City: Santa Rosa de Lima, El Salvador
Kilometres ridden: 353
Cumulative kilometre: 28443
We packed the bikes and went to an ATM to get some more money but my card didn’t work, luckily Sigrid’s did. In the end we left at about 9:30 AM. We bypassed San Salvador and with it a large stretch of road maintenance, which could have easily cost us a couple of hours. Finally we made it to Santa Rosa de Lima, which was just 30km from the border. The hotel was a mixture of normal hotel and car hotel (hourly rented rooms). We have heard from fellow travellers that these types of hotels are safe, clean and cheap, and it was. We had a warm shower the first time in weeks and a good WiFi connection as well.
Tomorrow we will try to get through four border crossings and to ride 160km through a road with large potholes. Honduras border crossing has the reputation of being the worst crossing in Central and South America. So tomorrow we will give it a try.
Started relative early and headed to the border. There was a long line of trucks that we ignored as usual and passed on the left hand side. When we finally stopped at a place that looked a bit official, plenty of helpers stormed toward us – a bit like flies. To cut is short, we met Peter -a fellow bike rider from England – on the border and we decided to share the cost for a helper to speed things up. Below is a picture of Peter and us on the bridge between El Salvador and Honduras.
The helper was doing all the work while we were chatting and after three and a half hours we were through the first two borders. That didn’t look too bad. Now there was plenty of time to ride the 160 km and to get through the other border as well before it gets dark. That was the first time that we rode a long stretch on the Pan American Highway. The first bit was like a normal highway, straight and reasonable well maintained. It was in no where near as bad as people described other roads in Honduras. Towards the Nicaragua border the highway changed into a nice twisty road, still well maintained, which was unexpected fun to ride it.
We arrived at the Honduras border around 1PM, so plenty of time to get through it. When we approached the border, a chain was tightened over the road, so we stopped and thought that an official would approach us. Instead the helpers were coming like flies again, we decided to take advantage of their service again to make the border crossing fast. Three and a half hours later we left the border and where in Nicaragua, Yippee, we made it in one day! To be honest, without the helpers we wouldn’t have made it in one day. We stopped at the next bigger town and had a look at the two hotels, one couldn’t park our bikes securely, the other was not flash, but it would do after a long day.
Tomorrow we have a look what we do for the next days, particular at the 21st December, Doomsday, the end of the world.