Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two Roads Diverge, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Although we were together for practically 24 hours a day for 3.5 weeks I`ll miss the kitty loving, puppy kicker!
Jesus saluts the people of San Juan Del Sur, but if you want to meet Jesus it`ll cost you 1 dollar US...well unless you`re local then its 10 cents...oh its for up keep of the statue!!

A shot of San Juan Del Sur from the west side of the beach looking east.

The hostal and surf board rental place at the beach where I got pummeled over and over again by sets of waves that completely exhausted any attempts to catch a ride.

Other tourists at the beach in need of a break and some sun after the punishment from the relentless crashing sets.

Ruta 4, an epic road through Costa Rica where this Volcano was occasionally puffing dark grey plumes of smoke providing for a awe inspiring back drop to an already beautiful scene.

A plantation of some sort of crop which I thought might be pineapple..but probably not...

The Infamous Bridge between Costa Rica and Panama which turned out to be more worry than trouble. Actually the most frustrating part was dealing with the fact that people down here are inconsiderate....no...actually dumb as...no...can`t quite figure out what to say....but nonetheless completely unresponsive to repeated horn beeping as you are navigating the planks trying not to drive off and onto the bumpy rail ties. The local dimwit(s) simply would not give way or remove their bicycles off the planks as you and the 800 pound motorcycle continued coming along with the rider tense and wobbling trying to maintain balance.

Grant verifying that the bearings needed replacing and thus I volunteered to get the job done in a jiffy riding the 126km round trip, finding a place, packing the bearings and then paying way too much to have a bunch of guys watch me work as I used their tools. In the end the entire job was Formula One worthy at 1:37 minutes!!

Zuly`s hostal in Panama City where Richard, the owner hosts guests, especially bikers including Grant and I and also some other bikers who I met down in Buenos Aires named Christoff and Silke from Germany riding their BMW GS1200 and GS 800 respectively. The bloke riding the cruiser was Tony from Austraila. The three of them arrived the day after Grant and I with Fritz on the Catamiran.

Leaving Panama City Grant and I made our way north along the most beautiful highways....well since I left Central America that is! The plan was to make it to the Town of David and from there take a secondary highway nothward up to a mountain town called Boquette which Julie and I stopped into on the way down. It was kind of comforting in a way to know where I was going for the first time in 7 and a half months. Along the road we were'nt without adventure however. Grant heard a squeeling and grinding type of noise which prompted him to pull over and employ my ears to verify the potential probelm. Grant determined that this was possibly a bearing problem so we coasted with the engines off down a long hill to the bottom where there happened to be a convenient pull off. From here we began the diagnosis and with the bike propped up on the centre stand we felt the back wheel wobble significantly indicating bearings which needed replacing. Without a moments hesitation we went to work with the tools and had the back wheel off the bike and loaded onto the back rack of my machine ready to head back to the nearest town some 62km away. My mission was to find a bearing place, get the bearings greased and installed and then get back to Grant who was waiting literally on the side of the road for my return. I took on the responsibility with honor knowing that Grant would save my life in any situation as only overland motorcyclists would understand. I rode the 124km round trip and had everything taken care of in exactly 1hour and 37 minutes which prompted Grant to ask on my return what went wrong. My response was "nothing went wrong ...you just sent the right man on the job...heh heh heh!!"
Grant and I ended up staying in Boquette for two nights since the bearing issue initiated a response in Grant that prompted him to replace his front tire with the spare that he carried from Ushuaia as well as the front bearings as a preventative measure.

After two nights in Boquette we rolled out of town toward the north eastern border of Panama and Costa Rica, at Sixaola. Here we encountered the infamous trestle Bridge that I actually lost sleep over. I had previously spoken to another rider who crossed the bridge and described it as hairy, however, I also knew of guys that crossed this bridge on Harley Davidsons so I knew in my heart that it could'nt be that bad. In the end the bridge was a minor challenge for Grant and I to cross after riding bazarre conditions all throughout South America. The border took 2 hours to cross because we did not account for lunch break and the 1 hour time change into Costa Rica which planted us at the border at 12:30 pm. Alas, after walking to the pharmacy some 300 meters away to pay for insurance and returning to Aduana to proove insurance, we had to return to the pharmacy to get a photocopy of our stamped passport, and then, return to Aduana to get our bike papers...it was an athletic endevor..we finally entered Costa Rica just as it began to down pour.
Grant and I made our way to the Town of Puerto Limon where Colombus apparently landed in 1492. Here we stayed at the hotel Contenential which was a budget hotel for 6 USD which the guide book suggested. First thing in the morning we arose to a car which wouldn`t start with barking dogs and a rooster crowing. It was 6 am and time to hit the highway for Nicaragua. I was toying with the idea of sticking around Costa Rica but the commercialism and the tousist industry of Costa Rica made it seem kind of ruined, so forward I followed Grant to the Nicaragua border with no regrets.
Arriving at the border was simple as I knew the whole drill and where to go. Instead of paying dozens of people 1 or 2 dollars a piece for nothing, I got through the border for only 9 USD .....3 for fumigation which I tried to skip but got caught and 7 for a tourist card. The fumigation is such a joke that I tried to refuse but they insisted on spraying the bike with soapy water. Before entering Nicaragua, however, we needed to find a police officer to sign a piece of paper before the customs agent would stamp our bikes in. The police down here are lazy and unavailable at the best of times so on a sunday late in the afternoon our guy was nowhere to be found. Grant and I split up and began asking and looking around for our fool. Alas, Grant and I ended up meeting in the Aduana where we both began asking the lady cop to come and help us. Nobody was particularily helpful treating it as ...`this ain`y mai jab!` Grant got pretty ticked off and proceeded out of the office into the parking lot yelling ..``Senoir Policiaaaaaaaaa` oh Senior Policiaaaaaaaa.....`` His stunt seemed to work pretty well and all of a sudden a man appeared in navy blue who seemed kind of embarrased. Grant has a special way of acting very apologetic and respectful when he knows he`s done bad and the cop bought his act and gleefully signed our papers which enabled us to gain stamps and entry into Nicaragua. In total the border took 2.5 hours which could have been much faster.
It was decided that we`d head for San Juan Del Sur, west of lake Nicaragua. Its a popular place for Americans to come to as well as lots of tourists from other countries. Grant and I celebrated our last night together with a few drinks and in the morning I said farewell to my friend whom I`ll never forget. Grant and I lived through some pretty challenging situations and seemed to keep our wits and humor about us. I was sad to finally see him pull away from the hostal this morning. I hope that Grant drops in to see me on a moto trip out east some day and share the memories that we created together in an epic 3.5 week oddesy.
Today I decided to chill out with a young American friend Josh, who I met at the hostal and invited me to go surfing. Together we hopped on my motorbike and headed down a terribly steep and muddy road to a beach that rented boards and offered accomidations. The waves were intense and I could only manage to get out past the break once and after that I was completely spent. Following surfing we cooked up some pasta and followed that up with a hike to the local Jesus mountain which seems to exits in every other town. The evening evolved into some beer and a few games of pool with a Yacht captain named Ken who has been in the area for 3.5 months and living on board his boat for 3 years after selling his computer company.
In the morning I`ll decide where I head to next...Possibly Granada and then continuing North from there.

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