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Borders and Boarders
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Borders and Boarders

I didn’t make such a big deal about losing my bike because it was temporary.

In SJDS, I bumped my head on the top bunk of my bunkbed and had a bit of a revelation – all pain is temporary. Now I will be thinking about the time I bumped my head on that bunk in La Casa Feliz for the rest of my life, but I won’t be feeling the pain. I thought of the worst thing I could possibly experience, at the time, it was the death of a child. Then it was being responsible for the death of another through negligence (like a drunk driving accident), so I understood that even those pains are temporary. Refute this if you must – I feel it is a universal truth, but many disagree.

I got the bike back after a quick jaunt to San Jose and back. Would have been a day trip if I’d had a 250cc engine and American roads, but it ended up being a solid 40 hours of travel. There was a Honduras vs. Costa Rica football match in Costa in the next day or so, and as we were coming from the direction of Honduras, our bus was stopped countless times by local police hoping to become local heroes for the weekend by busting some paperless Honduran. Yay national pride!

Oh yeah, and I boarded down a volcano. Watch.

Click the pictures – they open in the same window without leaving the page. That is all.

When I saw hombre’s bike at the Costa Rican border, I felt my manhood shrink an inch. Two German guys were travelling together and are obviously on a different level than I. Their Journey was from Alaska to Peru and they had a map on the side of their bikes announcing the fact.

I guess it wasn’t enough to cover every piece of bike with stickers from the places they’d been.

It became apparent to me that I have a problem signing off in these videos.

Weeks of waiting for my Salida de Pais and Placa Metal and I am ready to travel the rest of Central America! I am glad I didn’t bribe the guys in the beginning to get me across to Nicaragua, because it would have cost me a bunch in bribes every time I got stopped by the police, which was very often and I would have had to bribe people at every other border. The borders are expensive enough already down here.

In San Juan Del Sur, these Australian guys told me that they lit a cigarette on lava in Guatemala. Immediately, I thought that was just about the coolest thing in the world, so I started toward that volcano as soon as I got my wheels bsck. Of course, you have to take in the sights along with it, so I stopped in Granada.

Granada is a beautiful city with plenty of western influence. I saw western influence, but Granada is western itself and was founded by the Spaniards . . . I guess I really mean American influence, Plenty of shops, nearby nature reserves and eco-tourism, beautiful architecture, and helpful people. I really liked this place and immediately started looking at real estate opportunities (not that I need another headache with that – just to feel out the market).

I take a lot of pictures of markets, borders, and architecture . . . Maybe I should be an importer of something that deals with building stuff. From here to Honduras, the markets all look the same. but I think I have two or three more videos.

I am having the hardest time finding sunglasses here. I don’t know if the sunglass market has reached saturation or I am a really picky sunglass buyer.

But it sure is purty, and It’s in Granada, and there are five more buildings just like it here. This is pretty indicative of the architecture around the city (if it has been brought up to the local standards). The whole town is colorful and the main market/restaurant/tourist areas are well taken care of.

I stayed at the Oasis hostel when I was there and I highly recommend it, very traveller friendly and low-priced. They have a pool. It seems that the more upscale hostels with no popular nearby water features have pools.

After SJDS, I was thinking that they should have more musically-focused hostels, but then I went to one, and it was very poorly executed. I still think it’s a great idea.

They say that Leon is the city of love and Granada is the city of romance . . .
Easy to see why with all these horse-drawn carriages. There is so much horse poop on the pavement here you wonder why the streets aren’t blooming.
Try to imagine an Englishman saying massage . . . MASS-ahj. I went to a blind guy massage in China ( about halfway down that page) and it was worth the $6 there, so I figured that it would probably be worth the $6 here, too.

I don’t know if it was.

You ever get a massage that you think you really like while it’s happening because it really feels like the masseuse/eur is working the muscles deeply, but then, you get up, and it feels like someone as just been randomly pounding on your back? That was pretty much what I got here.

Maybe the knots in my back were too substantial to think I could ask them to be removed in a fifteen minute session. I’m writing this two weeks later and I still have them.

One night in Granada and I met up with Garth and Calvin; we went out anf had some gargantuan chicken wings at the Roadhouse Grill; exactly what I needed. An American meal with American portions . . . for an American price, of course, but you get what you pay for.

I asked the locals where Apoyo was and they told me pretty much how to get there as the crow flies. I got there in a lot shorter time than I had thought I was going to, but to the completely wrong side of the crater.

I had planned to spend two or three hours checking out this place: I talked to some Canadians who wanted to buy some shoreline in the crater and move down here, they were so taken with the beauty. Of course, I have run into that a lot in Central America.

I feel like if I went to Montana in America I would get that feeling . . . or Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. I don’t know anyone who has ever been to Coeur D’ Alene, but I saw a “What You Get For The Money” episode with a house in Coeur D’ Alene, and I really think it is a place where I could end up living.

Don’t make fun of me about Idaho; do some research.

Holy crap! It’s a real life volcano!

Never seen one of these before.

At the center of the city of Managua, there is a huge flag. I drove right through the center of the city and asked some kids waiting for the bus where the city center was. They pointed back at the flag. I was kind of amused more than anything else that Germantown, Maryland has more tall buildings than the capital of Nicaragua.

I didn’t stop.

This is the US Embassy in Nicaragua. I’ve never seen a US embassy before, so I figured that I would go check it out to see what it was all about. Turns out that the parts that are available to you in non-emergency situations are pretty boring.

I did learn that I could get a new passport in a week for $80, and in the morning, 500 or so Nicaraguans came in every day for visa service. There was this huge DMV like area (more than twice the size of any DMV that I have visited) that everyone could wait at, watching CNN in English for hours before their number was called.

This is one of those “see an area off the beaten path and go check it out for a minute” photos. This whole area that you are viewing (before those hills after the primary hill) is fenced in and owned by some American energy conglomerate. I don’t know if you can tell how big this place is, but for reference, it’s a shit-ton of fenced in area. Growing up in Yarmouth, Maine, I always kind of enjoyed the silhouette of the CMP painted against the sky in Casco Bay. Same with the ironworks in the Baltimore Harbor.

A lot of people love the untouched splendor of an area, but I don’t mind (and even kind of like) things like these to spice up a sunset.

This is nice, too. Some more stops on the way to León.

I can type that ó so quiclky, I don’t know how I am going to adapt to US keyboards when I get back.

In this picture, I drove by this restaurant, its sole draw being the view, and I wanted some kind of juice. They didn’t have any, so I asked if they had water. They brought out the water and it was warm, so I didn`t buy it.

I didn’t feel so bad taking in the view without paying for it, but maybe that is my American entitlement speaking.

I was wrong, Ashlee . . . They are pretty excited about Valentine’s Day over here. There were a bunch of stores that had single roses in the plastic like the latino guys try to sell you in Fanueil, a lot of these stuffed animals, even the Yamaha dealership I was at had some hearts hanging from the ceiling showing their holiday cheer.

I guess Hallmark has invaded Central America after all.

Don’t know what this building is, but this picture came out OK, so I figured I would include it. León is basically a crappy version of Granada with a bit better nightlife because of the University. Someone told me that I should pick one and go, but I say that it depends on what you like. I enjoyed Granada more for the life of the town, the market, the shops, and the architecture even though I stayed in León for two nights and Granada for only one, but that was solely a function of the timing for the volcano boarding.

Who else is psyched for some volcano boarding?

That is the badass mother that we were getting ready to board down. A very foreboding peak, and not the easiest hike, either.

A few of us were trying to get this shot in the truck on the way to the base (logo + mountain), getting jostled around in the bed of the pickup. When the driver finally stopped to park, the shot was perfect.

I know you have all seen the video of me lighting the cigarette on the lava, so this is pretty tame in comparison. This was simply the first time I had seen volcanic activity up close.

I have a lot of firsts on this trip. Two of my favorites (besides my interactions with the lava) have been 1) entering a new country by way of a country other than the United States and 2) getting two new passport stamps in a day.

In the picture, you can actually see the floes from three separate eruptions. From Youngest to oldest: to the left, the black flow behind me, to the right, the gray flow in front of me, drag over the picture to see where the third eruption expanded to. It is overgrown with vegetation, but the naked eye can see that there is black earth beneath it.

The photo has notes on Flickr.

Just a quick tour to the actual crater to go and we will be ready to rock. An English guy on the trip hooked up with a Swedish girl the night before and they were both on this tour. She was not the outdoorsy type, so out of chivalry/stupidity, he ended up carrying all the gear for both of them.

Maybe it’s the beginning of the greatest love story never told, but I would have to believe it was a sizable chunk of pussy-whipping.

This bee-looking thing was living at the top of the volcano. I would think the moon’s surface would be similar – this was the only sign of life up there. I figure he was lost since there was nothing else for this thing to feed on up there. He wasn’t pollinating shit.

The English.

These guys were taking pictures of each other with their backs in the sun and I guess the cockney colloquialism “in the glory ring” is when your head eclipses the sun from someone else’s perspective. They were running up and down this slope saying things like “You’re in my glory ring,” “Am I in the glory ring?” and “Get in my glory ring.”

I don’t know, I thought it was funny.

This was the eruption in 2000. It showered the town of Leon (I’m on an English keyboard in Belize now, so that o with the accent mark is kind of difficult today) with ash for forty-five days. Our guide said that a lot of people in town were diagnosed with respiratory problems after that.

Geez. Ya think?

This is a shot of a volcano I thought was really cool from just about the farthest I could get away from it and it still be recognizable as a volcano. Still quite excited about these things.

There are a bunch of different chemicals that are shown in this picture, few of which I remember (I think the white is lime, the greenish is sulfur, and the red is iron, but don’t hold me to the accuracy here), and all of which we got to touch. It was quite powdery.

If you dug below the surface a half inch, the ground was hot to the touch (you couldn’t keep your hand there for long), and if you dug down a full inch, you could boil water with the heat you would unearth.

One-size-fits-all jumpsuits were administered to everyone, but I am confident that I got the smallest one.

The day I arrived in Léon, a girl came back to the hostel after taking a pretty serious tumble. She had the beginnings of a black eye and scratched legs, arms, hands, and cheeks. I didn’t really feel like a rerun of that episode, so I brought my helmet and gloves from my motorcycle. The boys from Via Via the night before took no time ribbing me for my extra safety precautions the second I put them on.

Now I am sure that if I was in the US, I would have to sign forms in triplicate exempting the company from lawsuits, and helmets and gloves would be standard issue. Here in Nicaragua, it’s overkill.

You gotta love it.

At the bottom of the hill, everyone was complaining about how much of the rock got into the goggles. Now I decided that my helmet’s half shield would be better than the goggles, but it turns out that the rock just shot directly up into my eyes for the duration of the trip down since I needed my legs out for stabilization.

First I decided against stabilizing with my legs and tried to keep my self straight with my gloved hands. That didn’t work. The rock ripped through the fingers of the gloves in seconds. So then I decided that I just wouldn’t stabilize myself and see how fast I could go. That didn’t work either. I crashed as quickly as my gloves had disintegrated.

The only thing that worked was closing my eyes and stabilizing myself with my legs. Of course, that didn’t make for the most enjoyable trip down, but it was probably the most enjoyable given the circumstances. Other riders used a similar tactic when their goggles failed, so I didn’t feel too bad.

The guys in this video ended up being the fastest of the bunch. I was the slowest of the guys – I crashed right before I came over the crest with a line of sight to the speed gun (yes, they had a speed gun) otherwise I would obviously have been the fastest. The highest clocked speed here ever was 78 kph (50 today) and I ripped this baby a new one at a blazing 35.

I think I would have been better at the snowboarding, but I learned that this company didn’t offer it after I had already paid.

I am amazed at how many small Central American towns seem to be sustenance economies . . . on the way back to Leon, there’s a cattle drive. Two cows were peeing on the side of the road. It was like watching a levee break. Them’s big animals.

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