Tag Archives: cycling

“They’re EVERYWHERE!!”

“No…seriously man.. you don´t understand.. there are THOUSANDS of them. �

And that was actually an understatement. The constant itch on my legs had gone unaccounted for throughout the night. That is, until, I clicked on my headlamp and took a closer look.

The moles on my ankle seemed to be crawling around, and the dirt on my leg was migrating up towards my groin and waist. Armies of ticks were marching in droves up my body and every time I brushed them off, reinforcements arrived within minutes.

I was not content with my companions mundane reaction, so I further emphasized the situation, “You guys. This is not all right. I have never seen anything like this. Are ya´ll not getting attacked? How are you NOT freaking out?�
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The Island of Ometepe

“Look what the wind’s brought in!� joked one of the oil-stained dockworkers as we approached the ferry to Ometepe. Motor purring idle, ropes disentangled from its moors, our boat seemed to have been anxiously awaiting our arrival to venture out upon a turbulent Lake Nicaragua. Such was the volatile temperament of the lake that I felt that I was facing a storm stirred ocean rather than the land locked body of fresh water.

As the boat began to pull away from land, the few tourists remaining on the observation deck rushed into the passenger saloon. Water gushed in after them threatening to flood the cabin, but the deck hands followed close behind to brace the doors against the stormy waves.

Despite the splashed and misty side windows it was impossible not to be fixated in awe at Volcan la Conception, whose tapering form towered towards the heavens. It was the earth’s mighty bosom that appeared to heave and swell as if undergoing dramatic transformation (an impression most likely caused by the erratic swaying of the boat, but which I romantically attributed to its inner volatility. La Conception, after all, had erupted in both 2005 and 2007). Growing in immensity by the minute, I was convinced that by the time the boat reached its destination the volcano would blot out the whole sky.
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Honduras Highway Hag

Choosing the route we do (mountain dirt roads in the middle of nowhere) we usually manage to stay away from cars, but sometimes roads are unavoidable. Starting at the Artic Sea, we have been constantly and consistently warned about the drivers with whom we will have to share the road further south.  First were the “extreme truckers� on the haul road, whose loads are double long and oversize, and who literally own the road.  Then the “crazy cannucks� whose country is so sparsely populated the mere idea of traffic paralyzes them, and therefore don’t worry about little things like lanes and turn signals.  Next, “those Americans� who drive too much and too fast, “and they all have guns….�  Followed by “the Mexicans� who “have no laws down there� and so on until we learned to tune it out, as we do a large percentage of the advice we receive: “don’t go that way – the road is terrible – you’ll never make it� etc.


            Sure, drunk driving is a national past time in Mexico, and first time RVers up in Alaska, tend to leave their steps down (blocking/sweeping the shoulder), but the vast majority of drivers we have encountered have been competent, and courteous.  “South of the border,� drivers, forced into awareness by the condition of the roads, and used to sharing them with non-cars, are in general good drivers. And thanks to the cost and relative novelty of cars, drivers are much more likely to be professionals.  People who drive for a living, tend to be good/safe behind the wheel. In general, our pavement experiences have been much mellower than the advice-givers would have us fear.  Safer that is, until we hit Honduras, and the Pan-American Highway.


            Forced onto the ‘carretera’ by a tropical storm that flooded us out of the Caribbean coast, we were initially optimistic; the main roads in Mexico (the last place we had ridden highways) were nicely paved and equipped with generous shoulders, a little boring perhaps, but at least safe…no reason to assume Honduras would be much different.  The Pan-Am was nicely paved and provided reasonable shoulders. Unfortunately however, these factors didn’t add up in our favor.  The smoothness and width of the road just seemed to encourage recklessness. Drivers clearly didn’t feel constrained by the two lanes the engineers and road painters had provided for – thanks to the shoulders, there was plenty of room for a center (shared) lane or two if you didn’t mind squeezing, which they clearly didn’t.

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