Ride boldly, Lad, fear not the
spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson)
I'm not the man I used to think I was.
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)
For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for
the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.
|New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
|Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
Friday, December 29, 2006
It´s Leeeema, Not Lima, As In Bean
Friday, December 29, 2006 Day 48 LIMA, PERU
9:09 pm mst
Arrived Lima this afternoon, after another disconnect,
when John and I got separated about 50 miles north of town. We both headed for the hotel, and I made it about 10 minutes after
John, who had some idea of where it is located. I used the friendly services of a couple of motorcycle policemen (one
was a woman), who led me to the main street to the Miraflores district, and the rest of the way was shown by a cabbie ($5
fee). All`s still well that ends well.
Peru, from the border on the coast at Huaquilla clear to Lima, over
650 miles, is sand, rock, and barren hills. There are areas of cultivation, where rice, sugar, strawberries, to mention just
a few, are grown, but most of the way was bare, with lots of strong winds blowing in from off the coast. There were also lots
of long buildings out there in the sand where they raise chickens, some 25000 to each building, a fellow told me. The temperature
was nice, but the terrain was desert. It strongly reminds me of what I expect the Sahara Desert to look like. As to the winds,
we are getting a nice preview of what we surely will encounter in Patagonia, where the winds are reported to really blow.
I expect the winds we met yesterday and today were gusting into the low 40s, but they tell me Patagonia can be up into the
70s. We shall surely see....
Now where was I regarding changing money? Oh, yes. There we were, at Huaquilla, just
clearing out of Ecuadorian customs and getting the bike papers stamped. Money changers, as usual, were clamoring to change
dollars. We have done this in the past, and never been burned, but changing at the border is not advised, ever. One arrives
at a new border and has this strong urge to get some of the new cash for whatever, but there is no need to rush it, especially
in this day of ATMs (called cajero automatico hereabouts). This is the best way to get cash, be sure it is genuine, and get
the official exchange rate.
We knew all of this. We also knew not to change money if the offered rate is too great,
not to change and accept large bills, and not to accept new bills. To shorten this Tale Of Two Idiots, we each changed $100
US into Peruvian Soles. That got us 330 soles apiece. We moved on to the Peruvian border, and there a money changer asked
us if we wanted Soles. We said we had already made some exchange. He asked where, and we told him on the Ecuador side
of the frontier. Bad idea, he said, as there are many thieves there who will pass phony money on you. Let me see your bills.
We showed them, one at a time, and I am sure he did not palm them, and yes, you guessed it, we got clipped for $75 apiece.
We were left with 80 Soles in real money, but 250 was phony, in 100s and 50s. Lesson learned, and as I said yesterday, experience
can be much more costly than advice not heeded. We have no excuses, except that we were tired, in a hurry, and yes, quite
stupid. We got what we deserved. And I am sure those guys are still high-fiving one another. We were very fortunate that the
second changer alerted us to our misfortune, for, had we tried to spend the bogus bills, we may well have wound up in the
slammer for our trouble.
That said, we had a good couple of days riding into Lima, and met a lot of genuinely
We stopped in Chiclayo at a very upscale and nice Honda shop to get John`s chain tightened, which they
did quickly and free of charge. We tipped the mechanic $5 US, and were on our way. The people there were very kind and even
helped me a bit with my right turn signal which had been blinking for about 600 miles, and only stopped if I constantly held
the cancel button down. The service manager fooled around with it for a couple of minutes, and showed me how to get to
quit by first pressing the right turn button, then the cancel button, then the turn button. It worked, and still does! I need
a new switch, he told me, but would have to wait until a Beemer shop could be found with a part in stock.
in a section of Lima called Miraflores, a very upscale district, and in a good hotel where rooms are clean and reasonable.
We plan to stay here through NY Day, and head towards Cuzco on Tuesday. It is 680 miles, so we will do it in two days, as
it is quite a climb, with lots of twisties and I suppose, plenty of stinking trucks and slow, smelly exhausts to inhale.
Here`s wishing you each and every one a Happy and Prosperous 2007. Life is good, and there are still no bad days.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Escape From Ecuador
Thursday, December 28, 2006 Day 47 TRUJILLO, PERU
8:33 pm mst
We spent most of Tuesday running around in Quito,
trying to find the right office in which to register our motos, that we could ride south and exit the country. We first went
to the tourist office, and they told us where to head; to the Chief Transit Office, on the other side of town, of course.
Now, Quito is HUGE. We decided it best to hire a taxi to take us, and make notes on how to get there. At the same time, we
could get the paper work started, then return to the hotel, check out, and ride to the Transit office and finish things up.
Wrong. They informed us we had to bring the bikes before anything could be done. Taxi back to the hotel. Load bikes. Ride
to the transit office. Once there, we are informed that no, this is not a matter for transit, but for immigration. Where is
that office? On Amazona Avenida. We ride. We ride. We ride some more. We ask questions. We are told it is three blocks up
the avenue. We ride. We ride three blocks, four, five, six. No office. We ask directions, we are told it is back two, no three
blocks. We ride. Now, this is a divided avenue, and turning around is a major operation, what with returns spaced every ten
blocks or so, traffic, and not knowing where in the ---- we are. We pull up in front of the United Nations office. A man in
a Dunkin Donuts comes out, and points down the block, in the direction from which we have come to some flags. That is it.
We walk down. We take a number. We stand in line. We are at the head of the line. I explain the problem. The agent scratches
his head. Uno momento, por favor. He leaves. The queue groans. He is gone several minutes. He hands back the papers. Go upstairs,
he says. We are hopeful. Then end is near. Not to be. Upstairs tells us that this is immigration, and they have no interest
in motorcycles. He says he knows nothing about this topic, but suggest that we try the Aduana, at the airport. Aduana! The
word rings a bell. That is what the facilitator at the border, the guy who took our money and handed us the bootleg papers
said. When you get to Quito, go to the Aduana.
Head for the airport. Where is the Aduana? We look. We look some
more. I ask the tourist desk. She says, thataway, and waves her hand up to her right. Look for the yellow door. I walk. John
watches the bikes. I walk, I find naught. I go back to the bikes, and we ask someone else. He points to a distant building.
That is it. We finally figure out the road that leads us there, and we find several offices. We find a corner office, and
inquire. Yes! This is the place! But, the ever dreaded almuerzo is upon us. Lunch once again. It is 1200. Come back at two.
We lunch. We wait. Finally, two comes. We go to the office. The jefe has not returned from lunch. He shows at 2:40. He looks
at our papers, listens to my garbled explanation. He calls an underling. He tells him to check the VIN numbers on the bikes
and stamp our passports. It is over. It is now 3:30 (1530 to you civilians). We have the coveted permission to ride. We saddle
up and head south.
We ride until almost dark and arrive in Latacumba, find a hotel, and hunker down. We are on
our way out of Ecuador.
Next day, we ride south, into the mountainous terrain, rain, and some really stinky roads,
but it is all in good fun, and we survive nicely, and arrive at the border on the Pacific coast just about dark. But that
is an event for another day, as this blog is just about run out. Leave it at this; never, never, but NEVER change money at
the border with the money changers in the street. Experience over advice can be very costly...
Monday, December 25, 2006
Merry Christmas (A Bit Belatedly)
Monday, December 25, 2006 Day 44 QUITO, ECUADOR
4:40 pm mst
Merry Christmas to all from Quito. We made it
here this afternoon amidst a light rain. As to the previous lost in space, we rendezvoused in the town of Buga, where John
had gone for the night following our losing each other in Medellin.
We had a small glitch at the Ecuador border
this morning, as the people who register bikes had shut down for Christmas, and it looked like we might have to remain there
until tomorrow, but we had a facilitator who greased the palm of an official, and got us two official looking papers that
say we can ride the bikes into Quito, but have to re-register them here when the Aduana opens tomorrow. We fervently hope
we have not gotten ourselves a fine or worse, but won´t sweat that until tomorrow.
The ride today was most
pleasant, in and out of the mountains, up and down, and viewing many different types of terrain and flora. The most striking
thing about the ride through the last stretch of mountains, from the town of Ibarra into Quito was the enormous number of
children and others along the sides of the road, begging for anything. There must have been hundreds of them on that stretch
of about 75 to 100 miles. The proliferation of children among these indigenous people is enormous, and promises to be a major
problem for Ecuador, as it is in many of these countries. These people are barely hanging on, without much education possibilities,
and they continue to have too many children (now there`s a Gringo´s half-baked opinion. Who am I to make such a judgment?)
and pile burden upon burden. Often you see a woman walking along the side of the road with 5 or six little tiny children in
tow. Women`s liberation and rights have a long way to come in this part of the world.
Quito is beautiful, and very large.
We are in a hostel hotel near the Plaza San Francisco, and just two blocks from the Grand Plaza, which is indeed grand. Many
beautiful buildings abound, and I am impressed with the town.
Tomorrow, barring problems with the bikes, we will ride
toward Peru, and hope to make Lima by Thursday.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Lost In Space
Saturday, December 23, 2006 Day 42 PEREIRA, COLOMBIA
4:08 pm mst
It was inevitable. We were entering Medellin,
and the traffic was the usual horrendous mess. I was leading, and weaving in between the cars---white-lining it, they call
it in California---and I thought John was right behind me. Concentrating on keeping from bashing mirrors and cars as I edged
through the narrow files between lanes, I didn´t have much time to check my rear view mirrors, and besides, John white-lines
with the best of them. I approached a decision point: one series of lanes went straight, and the other curved to the right.
I looked for John, but saw nothing. I had to make a move, and chose the straight-ahead route. It later turned out to be the
correct one, but for now, I was unsure, and to let John catch up, I pulled over to the right and stopped. And waited. And
waited. And waited some more. Lots and lots of cars, trucks, bikes, but no John. Had he taken the right hand lanes? What to
do? I could go back to where I last saw him, but that necessitated going straight ahead to a place where the road was not
divided before reversing course, and we could easily lose each other in the mess. I decided the best course was to head south,
find a place for the night, and e-mail him to see where he had landed.
So, here I am, in Pereira, about 100 miles
south of Medellin. I have sent an e-mail, and will now hope that he gets it and calls my hotel, or sends a reply saying where
he is, and what he thinks the next move should be. We will get re-joined in a day or two. I knew this would happen sooner
or later, and it is just another part of the trip.
To back track to yesterday, we had a nice ride, and found a
motel for the night in a little mountain town called Valdivia. It is at an elevation of 3500 feet, and the evening breezes
were almost chilly. The terrain rises very quickly from just 30 or so Kilometers south of Valdivia, and continues climbing
to an altitude of 9000 feet in less than 100 K, then drops back down to around 4500 at Medellin. Medellin is very pretty,
and I hope to visit it on the way back and spend a day or so. We have made reservations at a hotel in Lima that John knows,
and have to make no delays in getting there by Thursday next.
The terrain after Medillin rises again to around
9000 feet, with more tight curves and lots of truck traffic. For those of you who drive "cages" it would be a revelation,
and perhaps an eye-opener to see motorcycles on these roads, because we can pass quickly, and there seems to be no resentment
among these drivers in SA, CA or Mexico that a bike can swish by them and then edge in smartly to miss oncoming traffic. We
make much better time in these conditions than cars. The same holds for lane splitting (white-lining). I had a guy casually
fold in his left hand mirror as I squeezed between him and another car yesterday. They seem to vicariously appreciate that
bikes can do it. A Mexican told Bob one time, "Go Between! That´s what you have a moto for, cabellero!"
This country is gorgeous. There is a wide variety of terrain and growth, from grasslands and cattle pastures to mountains
and wild prolific jungle-like growth (they do not call this "jungle" as that term is reserved for Africa and the
Amazon). Here, they refer to it as the forest (selva) or woods (bosque). We stopped for a few pics today, and I tried to get
shots of the old terracing that the indigenous people once laid. Beautiful, beautiful country.
All taken, it was
a very good day, being "lost" notwithstanding...
Thursday, December 21, 2006
El Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
10:45 am mst
Thursday, December 21, 2006 Day 40 CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
We visited the local castle today,
and were duly impressed. It is a huge fort, built in 1657 by the Spanish to defend the city. It is made of bricks and stone
blocks, with walls several meters thick, and sits on a site that overlooks the harbor, the city, and the ocean to the north.
We spent several hours there, roaming the ramparts and tunnels along with the other gawking tourists, almost all of whom were
hispanics. It is a site well worth the visit, and I will include some pictures when I get them downloaded from the camera.
In the meantime, I am adding a few snaps of previous days' travels and sights. I hope you find them interesting.
I might add here that the picture of the sail boat I did not buy is of the Dickinson 41 for sale, moored in the San Blas.
It gave me a severe recurrence of "sail boat fever," which may pass in due course, and then again, it may not. The
boat is named the "Nepenthe." I am familiar with that word, but for some very strange reason, I cannot remember
what it means. I recall that it appears in Poe´s "The Raven," but it is almost eerie that I cannot remember
how it was used, what it means, or where it came from...
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
We Are Not In A Hurry. Repeat. We Are Not In A Hurry...
Tuesday, December 19, 2006 Day 38 CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
3:37 pm mst
We got to the marina at 0900 and picked up my
bike registration and title, which I had forgotten to take out of my kit the night before. We caught another cab to the DIAN
Office. I don't know what that stands for, but it is the place where one registers a foreign vehicle for driving in Colombia.
We did not take the bikes straightaway, because we were afraid that if we were stopped, we would have a difficult time convincing
the authorities that we were in fact headed for that goal. We entered the office, and here it got a bit tight, as our skipper
had asked that we not tell them that we had come by boat with the bikes aboard, as he does not have a freight permit,
and they consider bikes freight. So, we were to tell them that we came by the skipper's boat, as that boat is entered
on our visas as the method of entry into the country as opposed to by airplane, and that the bikes came aboard "a banana
boat." He said it best we do not speak Spanish (not a problem with us, as neither of us is exactly fluent), and to play
dumb (all right, jokers, also not a problem). If asked the name of the boat the bikes came on, say, "Gena," as almost
all the banana boats have the home port, Cartagena on the stern, and they are all referred to as "Gena." The Captain?
If asked, just say, "Pedro," as a lot of them are named that here in Colombia. A popular name, no doubt. John went
first, and the young woman at the computer, filling out the form, was most helpful, although John showed off his knowledge
of Spanish entirely too much. She told him to come back before noon with the bikes, and he told me that we were to come back
after noon. I informed him that "ante" in Spanish means "before." I played dumb (yeah, right), and told
her I don't understand much Spanish, and that, my dears, is no lie. We got just about everything done. The official
who checks VINs came out to the gate, outside of which we had parked the bikes, and did his thing. He took our passports,
and we returned to the office. We were just about there---they needed a photo copy of our passports, stamped with
the entry into Colombia. We had already supplied them with photocopies of our Passports, drivers' licenses, registration,
and title. The same helpful young woman took our passports and made copies of the stamped entries. We were soooo close---and
then it struck. We needed one more signature and stamp, officially signed; just one more. The Jefe must sign. Another, more
matronly lady in another office told us dejectedly that we had been caught by---(the dreaded, not her term but mine) Almuerzo.
LUNCH! The Jefe would return at---wait for it---1400! Two O'Clock! The nice matronly one shrugged. "You might as
well have some lunch yourselves," she counseled.
We went to lunch. It was only a block or ten, and we sat
outside at a small restaurant with no wind, no cooling breeze, and steamed slowly in our own juices along with the other
diners. We had fried fish (whole), with the ubiquitous rice, fried platano, a salad of tomato slices and onion, a nice fruit
drink that tasted of cherry with just a hint of gin, and finally a dessert CocaCola. All for P10,000 each. This was a bit
high, but, oh, yes, I forgot the soup. It was similar to yesterday's, with veggies like potato and carrot, a piece of
some kind of mammal, I think cow, and a very tasty broth. All in all, a nice meal for a reasonable price. The fish looked
like an over-large crappie, was just ever so salty, and quite succulent.
We returned to the DIAN at the appointed
hour. 1400. 1415. 1420. 1425. The helpful young secretary/clerk returned from lunch, along with most of the rest of
the office. She asked if we were waiting for her? No, we were just waiting. Come along, she urged, and took us down the hall
to the office of the Jefe, and retrieved the treasured permits, handed them to us, and we were on our way, with many thanks
to her for her assistance and concern. She, along with everyone else was most kind and courteous. One develops patience.
I know that there some out there who know me very well, and who will, well try to picture me with patience and fail,
but I assure you that I was cool and calm, sucking on a bottle of agua pura, and relaxing in the cool air-conditioning of
the DIAN office. Really.
We made it to the hotel in jig time, getting off track only briefly on two
occasions, and pulled up in front just as Angel and Laura, a couple from our sea trip, were leaving the hotel. We solicited
Angel's assistance in getting the bikes into the lobby. John's KLR was easy, and he practically rode it up over
the curb and the two steps up into the entry. No Sweat!
My behemouth was a different story. I took the cannisters
off the sides, the trunk bag off, all my luggage off, and even the tank bag, and stowed them in the lobby. Then, I mounted
Der Klunkenschiffter, and bravely rode to the doorway, which, by the way, is glass, and would not open quite all the way,
blocked by an interior planter from going clear against the wall. "Ready, One, Two, Three!" And I gave her the gun
and got the front wheel up the two steps. Progress! Now, again, "One, Two, Three!" and here we go, up and into the
lobby without breaking the front glass. Unfortunately, the centerstand, having been lowered when I put on the new shocks
that allow my short little legs to reach the ground comfortably, hung up on the metal striping that covered the tiled
steps, and yes, I managed to rip that loose, breaking a few tiles on the second step riser as I surged up and over and into
the promised land. The desk clerk was concerned. People stopped. A fellow came along and as best as I could understand, said
that he could fix it easily. He said he could buy the tiles and the mortar, and fix it for P15,000. Laura, still there with
Angel, said, she thought that was too much, and that he could do it for ten. He agreed (Laura is Columbiana, as I may
have mentioned, and is from Bogota, where she and Angel will spend Christmas with her family). Ten thousand pesos sounds like
a lot of money. One US dollar equals 2,200 Columbian Pesos, I remind you.
I suggested that they not fix said steps
until after we exit the hotel in two days time, as it would be a pity to fix it and then have me break it again on the
getaway, and that was agreed. I am not entirely sure this will be agreeable with the proprietor or proprietress of the hotel,
but I am hoping that we have reached a solution to this incident that pleases everyone. As they say, "Vamos a ver."
We shall see.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Two If By Sea
Monday, 18 December, 2006 Day 37 CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
2:15 pm mst
We have been at sea for 5 days, having left
Portobelo, Panama on the Wednesday, the 13th. We loaded the bikes on the 41 foot sail boat the night before, then shipped
anchor and sailed (under motor; no wind) at 0700 Wednesday morning. The sail to the San Blas Islands was 12 hours, and we
had some rough water for part of the way, but nothing wild.
We tied to the trawler owned by the captain of our
vessel, the Melody, and spent a charming two days snorkling, lying around, and relaxing. We had great food, including fresh
crab that was every bit as sweet and tasty as any Dungeness I ever ate, a full turkey dinner, with dressing and cranberry
jam. The skipper´s wife, Paola, who is Colombian, and very sweet, cooks very well, and was very charming, in addition
to being a very attractive lady. We had a great time.
Then it was time to set sail (whoops! More motoring, still
no favorable wind), and off we went toward Cartagena, some 180 miles distant. It was quite rough again, and everyone save
yours truly managed to toss some cookies over the aft rail at one time or another. I was lucky, and avoided the queasies.
I have never been sea or air sick, but one never knows, and I am not crowing about it. They say there are two kinds of sailors,
those who have been sick, and liars. My time will come...
The trip was a delight from start to finish, despite
the heaves some suffered. One poor woman lay in her bunk for almost the whole trip except for the time in the San Blas, but
she was a real trooper, and never complained. She just lay there an suffered the mareado.
We arrived last evening,
just at sundown, and moored at La Marina Manzanilla. We could not find a pier where we could moor alongside, so waited until
this morning to unload the bikes, which took all of 5 minutes. Captain Mark knows his stuff, and it was clearly a no-sweat
operation. We had to leave the bikes in the marina for today, as our passports haven´t yet been stamped into the country,
and we need them to register the bikes. Mañana. For now, we are in a hostel in La Media Luna District called La Marlin
Hotel; rooms $P15000 the night for a single. The room has color TV with cable, and is passably clean. It has room for the
bikes in secure parking when we get them out of hock (and if we can find our way from the marina to the hotel, no easy navigational
challenge), and a shower. They say "regadera" in Spanish, which means a sprinkler, which means no hot water. A "ducha"
means a hot shower. Well, we have a regadera, but the water here is not icy cold, and after 5 days on a sailboat and limited
bathing other than a dip in the briny, even a cool shower felt very good indeed, as did a shave and general sprucing up. The
exchange rate here is $P2200 to the dollar. You do the math...
We will be here a few days, and I will try to get
some pictures downloaded, as I took a hundred or so on this last "leg."
This trip is turning out
to be everything I had hoped for, and more. No excitement, just pleasant travel, nice people, nice scenery, and
general charm and pleasantry.
The boat upon which we came was the "Melody" and the captain is Mark Matson,
a gentleman and a good sailor. I highly recommend him, should you ever want to go from Panama to Colombia or vice versa. I
will add his e-mail and telephone as a link sometime soon, as I do not have it with me just now. He makes about one round
trip a month, and sailing is not on a definite schedule, but whenever he gets a load lined up at each end.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Fighting The Elements In "The Third World"
Day 29 December 10, 2006 PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
9:23 am mst
We arrived in Panama City at 1600 yesterday, the
9th. Up early in Paso Canoas, C.R., we got through the Border Wars in only 1:45, with the help of a very efficient and honest
expediter. We paid him $20 for his services, as he saved us at least an hour, and probably two.
The roads in Panama are
considerably better than in C.R., and we made good time. It is about 300 miles from the border to P.C., and we encountered
a couple of rain squalls. John was leading, and in the second shower, it came down very hard with lightning in the mid-distance
and he pulled into a roadside tire shop where there there was a large tin roof we could use for shelter. Good decision,
because the lightning got very close, with some bitching loud claps of thunder. We waited it out for about ten minutes, and
I missed the main turn-off to Panama, and we took a route on a very good divided highway which took
us over a new beautiful suspension bridge over the Panama Canal. Sometimes blundering around has its merit---we saw what we
would otherwise have missed. After asking some directions a few times, we found the Plaza Paitilla Hotel Inn, and called Bonnie
and Mark. They had checked out, and a cab driver out front told me that they had left that morning to fly to Bogota. Later
their e-mail confirmed that, but they gave us the phone and e-mail of Captain Mark, the American with the boat called "Melody,"
the same one recommended by the Intrepid British rider, Jacqui. We called him, and it looks like we will sail on Wednesday.
We will meet with him tomorrow when he comes into Panama to pick up supplies. $275 per person and $250 per bike. John is a
sailor, and he will check out the captain and the boat before we seal this deal, but it looks like we are going to get a boat
ride to Cartagena.
Now, to this backward country. Panama is clearly much more prosperous than Nicaragua or C.
R. Panama City is startlingly modern and quite beautiful. I guess I should say Balboa, because that is where Punta Paitilla
and our hotel are located. High rise apartments, banks, condos, and the like are everywhere along the bay. We walked across
Balboa Avenida last evening and strolled the mall there which rivals anything I have seen. We had dinner in a Lebanese restaurant
called El Amir, and sat outside on the patio. We remarked to each other how dangerous and daring this is, struggling here
in the wilds of Panama. I will try to load some pics to give an idea of just how rough this place is. It is nothing like I
imagined. I liken the ambiance here to what Beirut must have been like before the wars there in the 80s destroyed everything.
We will likely depart here tomorrow for Puerto Bello, from which Captain Mark sails. He said he takes care of
all the paperwork, and about all we have to do is show up with the bikes. We still don´t know what kind of vessel he
sails, and there are a few details to ask about, but we have high hopes of a nice sail to S.A.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
One Very Intrepid Brit!
Day 25 December 7, 2006 SAN JUAN DEL SUR, NICARAGUA TO SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
9:09 pm mst
First things first:
I forgot to mention that my last dinner in S J del S was not wonderful. I ordered calamari, but they were out. The waitress
said they had pulpo, and since I am a world traveler, and know that octopus and squid are very similar, I ordered it "al
ajillo" (cooked in garlic). Ah, yes! I am expecting chopped octopus, sauteed in garlic and butter, and here it comes,
an entire octopus, cooked whole, with the little legs (arms?) artfully tucked under the body. It was served bottom side up,
and was smothered in garlic, just as I had hoped. I sawed off a couple of appendages, cut them into bite-sized pieces, and
scarfed them down. Not wonderful. The creature, about four inches in diameter, was covered with an outer layer of, well, there
is no other way to describe it, slime. Beneath that was the meat of the beast, but it was typically rubbery, and untypically
tasteless, something like the rubber the consistency suggested.
It happened that there was a small short-haired cat wandering
through, looking for a handout. He-she was very Siamese-like, with large ears and an oriental cast to the eyes. She (I have
decided on gender) was quite socialized, and was ready and eager to partake of garlic octopus. I ate four or five nice little
pieces, and the cat had her fill, then wandered away to sleep it off. Nice kitty! Had I room and accomodations, I should have
kidnapped her and brought her along.
Today, we made our getaway at about 0900 hours, and hit the border by 1015.
Not much of a hassle there, we were home free into Costa Rica by noon. The interest of the day was at the CR customs and immigration.
There was a fairly travel-worn Royal Enfield bike, with luggage loaded, and hand-painted signs that told of travels in India,
Pakistan, Thailand, Burma, Australia, and other exotic Eastern places. The rider was---but, let me digress for just a moment.
Many folks have commented and queried me on the adventure of this ride. I have been asked many times, "aren't you
worried about traveling in (take your pick) Mexico, Guatemala, Central America, Nicaragua, Colombia, etc, etc, etc.? Aren't
you worried about; thieves, wild drivers, bandits, communists, murderers, drunks, break-downs, sickness, accident, injury,
Montezuma's Revenge, or the sky falling? You are certainly; brave, daring, adventurous, a risk-taker, reckless, foolish,
insane, and on and on. I had begun to believe some of the complimentary epithetsm and was swelling up like a balloon in the
altitude chamber, puffing ever larger.
Then we met the rider of the Enfield, one Jacqui Furneaux, a British woman
of petite grace. She has been on the road for six years, more or less, riding around Asia on this venerable bike, and she
is traveling alone. She stands about 5 feet tall, and must weigh at least 100 pounds. She is very attractive, and this trip
seems to her to be a jaunt around Hyde Park. She told me she had been traveling with an Australian, but he had decided to
take a hiatus, and she at first was stumped. She said to herself, "I can't do this all by myself." But then,
"Why not? And here she is, motoring through SA and CA without any trouble. She came through Colombia and loved it. She
told us two old farts to be sure and do it. We were both charmed. And, so much for our daring adventure...I will post her
picture at the earliest opportunity.
San Juan del Sur is going to boom. It is a chance to make a bundle, and there
are several legions of Gringos there ready to hit it rich. It is a little bit of heaven.---with some minor aggravations thrown
in just to make life interesting. Now is your chance...
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
What Happened Next? Tell us, for God's Sake!
2:38 pm mst
They were crisply uniformed, with starched blue shirts, navy trousers, belts, and fluorescent green vests that proclaimed
them to be "Turista Policia." The ranking officer asked us what had happened, and we got that across. Our adversary,
still pretty shaky with drink, was by now leering threateningly at us, and we once again all trooped outside. The jefe said
we would have to go back to the scene of the collision. I explained that the local police had insisted that we drive the Jeep
from that site to the station, and that the car was just down the block.
Down we went, three cops, Ralph, and
I, with the DUI guy leaning against the building behind us. They wanted to know what the damage was, and I pointed out the
broken right rear tail light.
"Is that all?" The jefe wanted to know. As far as we know, I told him, but we
are not sure. They all burst out laughing, and for a brief moment, Ralph took umbrage, as he thought they were laughing at
him, as he had interjected a few words of his limited Spanish (if any Spanish is laughable, it is mine). I soon divined that
they were laughing at the situation, although I cannot be certain. I imagine their conversation, little of which I understood
was something along the lines of "We came all the way from Rivas in practically the middle of the night for this? Caramba!
Que locos son estes Gringos." They recovered from their mirth, and asked, "Well, what do you want?" I translated
that to Ralph.
"What do I want?" I want this clown in jail."
"No, they mean how
much do you want."
"Money? How much money? Hell, I don't know."
I said to the trio, "We
don't know how much it will be."
Ralph threw this in, "Fifty bucks."
I told them. They went
over to the DUI, and one of them conferred with him. Ralph was getting antsy, because, as he later told me, his Jeep had not
run for about 8 months, and he had just got it back into service, and he had not renewed the registration yet, nor did he
have the compulsory insurance up to date. Maybe the better part of discretion was to bail.
"Maybe we should
just forget the whole thing," He said.
"Do you want me to tell them that?"
They aren't going to do anything anyway. This is a complete waste of time."
I told the cops. I asked if they
would give him back his DL and Cedula if we just dropped the whole affair and went home.
Bingo! The magic formula. Let's
just forget the whole thing. They agreed, and I affirmed that it was as good as forgotten. They returned the documents,
we climbed into the lemon yellow Jeep, and that was it.
Ralph said later that these police here only make about $200
a month, but that they take their duties seriously. The problem is in the lack of training, lack of funds, and lack of supervision.
You are pretty much on your own in small fender-benders like this, and only when there is a murder, which happened
in this quiet little town in November, do the wheels of law enforcement and justice begin to grind. In that case, a beautiful
young woman was murdered in her shop in broad daylight, at high noon, and no one was a witness. Three local disreputables
were picked up, along with her Gringo former boyfriend. The word on the street here is that despite his alibi that he was
in Managua getting a haircut at the time of the crime, he hired one or more of these guys to do her in. He is still in jail,
along with the three, and it remains to be seen what really happened. It was a real tragedy, and has the town in a bit of
Meanwhile, life goes on.
Oh yeah. They told us the guy's DL would be suspended. Right.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Get That Guy´s License Number
2:43 pm mst
Day 23 (I have lost count again), December 5, 2006 SAN JUAN DEL SUR, NICARAGUA
Still in Nicaragua,
and we will stay another couple of days. We are in this nifty new hotel, owned by a Texan and his wife. They have only been
open for two months, and the place is very, very nice. Ralph is giving us a break on the room, and life here is pleasant,
despite the murder of a local young women here last month, apparently a hired killing financed and planned by her American
We were sitting on the veranda last evening, watching the flickering lights of a cruise ship disappear
down coast, when we heard a loud impact outside on the street. The hotel is built on a very steep hill, on a dead end street,
which ends with a sidewalk and a series of steps leading up the the next street above. "What the hell was that?"
somebody asked. Then, there was another loud thump, followed by a metal-on-metal scraping. We ran to the side porch, looking
down on the stree, and there was a small Suzuki car, backed into the wall on the opposite side of the street. The car lurched
forward, then swung in an arc, moving backward down the hill in the direction of the main sea front street a block and a half
The little car caromed back and forth from one sidewalk curb to the other, as the driver, striving for control
and failing, tried to back away from the scene.
About then, Oscar the hotel night guard began yelling, "Señor
Ralph, Señor Ralph, he hit your Jeep!" Ralph, the owner, has an old ´57 Willys Jeep he has semi-restored,
and he parks it along side the hotel on the opposite side of the street, ready for a coasting start should the starter fail
to engage, as is often the case. Besides, the gaskets between engine and tranny are blown, and parking head downhill minimizes
the oil leakage onto the street.
The Suzy was by this time weaving backwards toward the corner and a getaway. Ralph,
no young man (although somewhat younger than this geezer), took off after him. Now, Ralph has lived here for several years
while building this hotel, but still has almost no grasp of español, so I followed, figuring I might be of some assistance
as a incompetent interpreter. Ralph reached the car just after he had made a U-turn on the beach front street, and had managed
to get the front end of his machine pointed in the direction in which he intended to go. Unfortunately for him, the left front
tire had deflated as a result of a bent rim received in one of the blows to the curb, wall, sidewalk, Jeep, or whatever. Ralph
jerked open the door and dragged out a curly-locked young Nicaraguan who was clearly sloshed to the eyeballs. Ralph grabbed
the keys out of the ignition as I approached, having taken a quick look at the right rear of the venerable Jeep. It had a
broken right rear tail-light, but no other apparent damage.
We got the sloshee to give us his name: Ulises (Ulysses
to you), and then I got him to give me his drivers´ license. The rear of his car was punched in a bit, and he had the
bent rim and flat, but his little vehicle seemed OK. He was very interested in getting the tire changed, but at first he couldn´t
get the trunk open.
Ralph asked me to ask him where he worked, and he told me he worked at The Pelican Eye, which is
a posh resort up on the hill above town. Ralph knows the owner, and called. Never heard of him.
Asked again, he said
he worked a El Palermo, another retiree and condo area. Ralph also knows the manager there. Never heard of him. Ralph asked
several of his telephone contacts what should be done but got no clear answer. We decided to call the police.
and in my best Pidgin Spanish, explained that there had been a minor fender bender down in front of the Coldwell Banker office.
They said they would be right there. In a couple of minutes, a civilian pickup appeared, with two young police officers
riding in the back. Ralph explained that they have no vehicles, and usually one has to go to the police departmen, rather
than them coming to you.
We explained what had happened. We gave them the sloshee´s DL and car keys. They wanted
to see Ralph´s DL, for ID. Ralph balked, and a passerby who spoke English explained, that it was just for identification.
He turned them over. They then asked what damage. We explained, and also emphasized that the Jeep had been, and still was
parked. They said we would all have to come to the station, bringing the Jeep, so that a report could be filed, and damage
The Suzy was immobile, due to the tire. They allowed as to how the driver would have to put on the spare,
and he began, fumbling around drunkenly. He interrupted his work periodically to rant against Ralph and me for having his
keys and license. I repeatedly told him that the cops had them, and he would return to his lug bolts, striving with great
concentration to get the lug wrench over the nuts. Finally, cop B bent down and finished the job. Tire on, car ready! Cop
A held out the keys to Cop B. No, not me! He held them out to me. Nope, and re-nope. I ain´t touching that car. So,
the cop handed the keys to the drunken young driver, and he and Cop B got into the Suzy, while Ralph, Cop A and I climbed
into the Jeep for the six block ride to the local constabulary.
We arrived in short order, and held ourselves a a safe
distance while the Suzy moved back and forth in some abortive attempts to get parked in front of the office. That done, we
all trooped inside. The hold-down.the-fort officer there, clearly senior, told us that we could all have a seat, because the
investigating officers were enroute from Rivas, some 30 or 40 Kilometers up the very bad road toward Managua. Ralph was getting
a bit excited by now, having calmed down from an earlier rant and refusal to drive the jeep. We sat down and waited. They
had his license and cedula (resident card). Rather not lose those. We sat. We sat some more. We exchanged stories, jokes,
and philosphies. Thirty minutes, an hour elapsed. Finally, the calvary arrived, fresh fom Rivas: three uniformed police.
for coffee and goodies. To be continued...
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Ah, The Good Life!
3:41 pm mst
Here I am in an internet/cybercafe, where the manager/owner has been most helpful in getting my laptop configured properly
to get online with wireless connection. Hence, I have been able to access my bank account (I do hope no one else has) and
pay a few bills. Life in my shrunken world is truly good.
John and I are in a "basic" hotel here in Granada.
It costs us $13.78 per night total, and is "adequate." There is no A/C, no TV, and no hot water, but hey, we are
in the tropics, where the daytime temps are in the high 80s or low 90s, and the nights drop precipitously to the high 60s
or low 70s, and the water from the tap and shower head is probably in the 80s. Not exactly frigid, and after the initial chill,
quite comfortable. Of course, there are some people (you know who you are) who would have a teensy problem with this
place, or the "economical" restaurant where we had dinner last night, at $2.55 per plate for chicken and rice, including
a coke and a beer. The lights went out just as we sat down, but the meal felt and tasted pretty good.
Today we took
a stroll along the shores of Lake Nicaragua, a very large lake, and watched curiously as a large group of over 50 people,
adults and some kids, stood up to their waists in the water in a line that stretched out into the waves for a hundred feet
or more. Kids frolicked about in the water, but the adults were clearly waiting their turn for something. Curiosity aroused,
I asked the couple on the next bench what was going on. Ah yes! Evangelicals, conducting a mass baptism, bringing some locals
into the fold. Clearly, this was not unusual, and to you Catholics I say, beware! Your kind is losing ground, and these folks
are moving into the fore. I will never get it, and they will slam the coffin lid shut with me still mystified about all of
this belief business.
By the way, this cybercafe is "Cyber El Caimito", and is about three blocks from
the main plaza. Just go past the Gran Francia Restaurant and Hotel (a very Uptown Place), on the way to the lake, and it is
on the right. The charges for using their computers, which seem to be in good shape (not always the condition hereabouts),
or your own laptop: 14 Cordobas/hour. That is about $0.75/hour. Very nice people, and the mgr, as I said, is very knowledgeable,
speaks good English, and is very helpful.
I got a shave, goatee trim, and a haircut at a local barbershop for C 80 plus
tip, around $4.80, and not a nick, pull, or pinch. The guy wielded a mean straight razor, had no hot water, but it was most
comfortable, and I rather enjoyed it all. I hate to keep bringing up costs and all, as it is somewhat gauche, but
it does give you some idea of the living conditions hereabouts.
Tomorrow we saddle up and ride southwest toward
the Pacific and the town of San Juan Sur, where I am told there are nice beaches. It is only about 100 clicks, and preps us
for an attack on the Costa Rica border on Tuesday, or, maybe, who knows, on Wednesday.
Saturday, December 2, 2006
More Border War, Police brutality, etc..
4:36 pm mst
Day 20, December 2, 2006 CHOTULECA, HONDURAS TO GRANADA, NICARAGUA
The day started out pretty
nice. On the road by 0815, we struck out for the Nicaraguan border at Amatillo, only about 35 clicks away. No problem. We
engaged a couple of expediters, for $5 departing Honduras, and another $5 for help in entering Nicaragua. No problem.Things
went well for the first hour or so, and then GLITCH! It seems that when we left El Salvador, those expediters
secured for us motorcycle permits for transiting Honduras only. We had six hours to cross the country and exit at the border
post at Amatillo. That post closed at 2000 hours, but had we arisen early enough in the AM, and crossed the border into Nicaragua
before 0800 (I think that is the hour stated), we would have been "home free." But, no such luck. We were now on
expired bike permits. The official (we are not sure which country he works for), told us we were facing a fine of: $146 US
apiece! I threw a major tantrum there in the office, and explained that the officials at the last post must have known we
could not make it across to the Nicaraguan border before dark and before closing, and no one explained in the first place
that we were on 6 hour permits. We told the two expediters that we were going to spend the night in Choluteca, and neither
of them made it clear that we had to exit early in the AM.
We hemmed and hawed. Our expediter, Miguel, a man missing
his left hand at the wrist, signalled to me to be calm. He put his finger to his lips. I asked the government man what could
be done. He said wait just a minute. He finished some papers for some other people standing by, and then came out from behind
his glass window and led us outside.
"Unfortunately," he said, "No one explained to you that you only
had 6 hour transit permits. It means a fine," and here is where he told us that it would be $146 each. Miguel, slighly
back from the line of fire, put his finger to his lips again, and signalled "Calma, calma." I was beginning to catch
on. The official went back inside, and Miguel told me to wait. He approached the window, and there was a short and very quiet
conversation between him and the official. He pulled me side, around the corner. He carefully pulled out a small square of
clean white paper. He took out a pen, and wrote: $100.
"One hundred dollars for both of us?" I asked.
"Done." I said. That was one Hell of a lot better than $292. I counted out 20 $10 bills (the ATM in Es Salvador
paid in 10s). He disappeared around the corner, headed for the glass window. John and I waited. A couple of minutes passed,
then 5. We waited. I was not fearful for the $100, but was getting tired of the run around. In about 10 minutes, Miguel appeared
with a fistful (his only fist) of papers. Come with me, he said. He by now had picked up a compatriot to help him help us.
We went with them back to the vehicle window, which was different from the one where we had "paid" the fine. Twenty
or so minutes later, we were headed for the bikes, papers, drivers licensed, passports, and all in hand. We gave our to expediters
$10 apiece and mounted up, now headed for the next hurdle, which was the final check point before freedom in Nicaragua. I
failed to say that during the last round of typing and paperwork, our new expediter mentioned that we were getting a 24 hour
"NO!" I said, in my best Spanish (also NO! but with inverted Exclamation Point, which
I cannot find on this @$%^&*machine). We want registration that will allow us to stay in Nicaragua for two, three days,
or maybe a week." That established, they secured a 30 day permit (we hope, oh, how we hope).
We got to the
next post, and showed our papers. Everything was just fine, except, except, John's MC registration/permit was not stamped.
Back he went toward "GO." I was waved on through. I stopped, and secured all of my papers in my Givi Tail Bag. Done
with all that.
John returned surprisingly fast, and moved on past me. Whoops! Another control point. He showed his
papers, but, of course, I had stowed mine, and had to climb off the scooter, open the back, and show the tubby little official
the papers for a FINAL time. Whew! Our troubles were over...
We headed down what started out to be a very bad road,
toward Chinandega and Leon. It was a nice ride after the first 5 or so miles, and the pavement smoothed out nicely. We passed
into a broad, flat valley, where there were several cattle ranches, cane sugar fields, and very pretty countryside. We hit
Chinandega and some traffic. Two lane road, and lots of cars. Let me interject here, that one learns very quickly in Mexico
and CA to lane split and to pass just about anywhere. It is pretty much accepted, and no one seems to mind motorcyclists squeezing
between two lanes of cars, passing on the right, or passing a half mile string of slow or stopped cars on the left. There
are passing stripes on the roads where appropriate (and where not): a continuous line is no passing. But, who pays attention
to that? Almost no one does. Cars, trucks, busses, and MCs pass with reckless abandon just about anywhere the driver thinks
he can make it before forcing oncoming traffic into the barrow pit, of which there are precious few.
I was leading as
we were getting to the far side of town. John is a pretty good rider, and he swung out around me and passed a string of cars,
trucks, busses, and the like that stretched ahead for several blocks. I followed. He was about a quarter of a mile ahead,
and things were going fine, when I passed a Nicaraguan cop standing beside his bike on the left side of the road, pointed
in the opposite direction. He hollered about the no passing zone, and I squeezed in between a couple of cars, checking my
rear view mirror to see what he was about. A truck blocked the view, and I continued, but, alas, here he came. He pulled abeam
of me and signaled to pull over. The jig was up. John had disappeared ahead, and I crossed my fingers that he would not come
The cop asked me for my drivers' license. Cunning fellow that I am, I had several copies, front and back made
and laminated, in full color, before I left. I had read and been told that these would suffice, and that if a policeman held
one for whatever reason, you could then just ride off into the sunset, you original in hand, and figuratively give him the
I fished out my bogus license. He took it, gave it a glance, and said,
"Give me the original."
So much for trickery and deception. I distinctly recall telling John or someone how bright this little ploy was.
are they going to know it isn't the real deal, unless they scan it," I recall saying. I can only think this copper
had had the trick pulled before, because, except for a slightly larger perimeter of lamination, the thing looks good to me.
But, no cigar, and he handed back the phony and kept the real one. He told me that there is a 300 Cordoba fine for illegal
passing, and pulled out his yellow ticket pad. I pled ignorance, and per usual, it fell on deaf ear-pans. I said that everyone
did it. He allowed as that did not make it legal, and the law is the law. I asked him where I would have to go to pay the
fine. He said he would write the ticket, and then I could go to the bank, pay the 300C, and return to him with the receipt,
and get my license back. Would he still be here waiting, I wondered aloud. He shrugged. What else could I do? My Spanish was
failing badly by now, and he calmly explained that that was the procedure. He said something else, and I asked if he meant
that he could go and pay the fine, and then come back and return my license. He smiled at my inability to get it. Look, he
said, it is quite a difficult thing to go to the bank and all that. There is a simpler way.
Light bulb. "Maybe
it would be much easier if I just pay the fine to you."
"Bueno!" He had showed me, from a thick stack
he had, tickets written in the amount of 300C, and he showed me the licenses he had confiscated, awaiting the perpetrators'
return to show him the receipts.
I fished for my wallet, pulled out some bills, and he said,
flash the money! Keep it out of sight!" I surreptitiously fingered 3 100C notes, folded them in the palm of my hand,
and slipped them to him. He returned my license.
"Where is your friend," he asked. "I saw him passing
"I think he is waiting for me in Leon, or Granada," I said.
"OK, but he
broke the law, and should get a fine."
With that, I was off, and soon John and I joined up and rode through Leon
and into Granada, arriving at about 1515.
Of course, I shall always wonder how much the fine for overstaying a 6 hour
registration really was. I doubt it was $146, but how could we have found out? If we made a fuss about it, demanding to see
proof of the amount, the bribe would be off the table, and who knows how much the final bill may have been? Maybe it really
was $146 each.
The next question to ponder is one of ethics. If one thinks oneself honest, where does that fit if one
willingly pays a bribe to avoid a fine? We would likely agree that the official who takes a bribe is corrupt, but what about
the payee? I think I know the answer...
Friday, December 1, 2006
7:53 pm mst
|Day 20 (I think) December 1, 2006 SONSONATE, EL SALVADOR TO CHOLUTECA,
We got out of Sonsonate at about 1010, and headed down the coast. It´s a very good road,
with some nice curves and only 2 topes the entire way! Arrived Honduras border at about 1215, and there was quite a line,
as it is, after all Saturday.
And now a few words about border crossings in Central America. In 2008, we are told,
there will be open borders from the Mexican border with Guatemala all the way to Costa Rico, but as for now, it is still a
bit of a thrash to get through.
When you approach a busy border crossing, you are beseiged by two types: the money-changers,
who try to sell you local currency at a price that you can´t get at the bank. The bank will give you a better exchange,
but there you are, and you need the local currency. El Salvador uses US Green these days, and that is not a problem, but Honduras
uses Lempira, and the official exchange rate yesterday, looked up by John, was 18.5 to the dollar. We bought some $50 apiece
for 17.50, and then bought the same amount of Nicaraguan Cordobas for 18 per dollar.
The other guys at
these border posts are the "expediters." They will help you with the crossing, and can be a real aid, because these
places are rife with offices that do not look like the place where a government might do business. You have to clear out of
the country, in this case El Salvador, both you and your visa, and your vehicle. The expediter tells you to give him the papers
he needs to get you through, and then disappears into the crowd. He has your passport, and quite possibly your drivers license,
as well as your vehicle registration from the country you are departing. You are nervous, very nervous. But, these things
have to go through the paper mill, acquiring the proper signatures and stamps, and these guys depend on people like us, so
I don´t think the risk of losing these documents is very high, because it would be pretty much a one time rip-off for
Then you are off to the next post, which can be confusing. Are you still exiting, or are you now entering?
There are usually no signs, and often the customs and immigration offices are not in the same building, or even in the same
country. You may have to go down the road toward the new country for a couple of kilometers, and find the next office. The
expediter can push to the head of the line, and truly is helpful most of the time. There is some confusion right now, as this
Central American International agreement apparently does not require that your passport be stamped in and out at each country.
You are given a piece of paper that shows you have left/entered the respective nation, and you are on you way, except for
the vehicle papers, and they took some extra time today, because the post Amatillo does not have computers, and is manned
by a hunt and peck typist on an old manual typewriter. The fee today for the vehicle registration was $15 US. That done, we
were herded to the bank to pay the road tax, which was 418 Lempira (about $22.50 US). That was almost the last place we had
to stop. The final police check point took a copy of the vehicle registration, and then John, who was in the lead, was stopped
by a policeman, who wanted to see his drivers license. I got off my bike and walked over, but he waved me on, and that was
The rest of the story is this: If one uses one of these expediters, it is crucial to establish the price
before the process begins. Today, I asked the fellow who latched on first what it would cost us for his services. He told
me $5 US apiece, but then when we were at the far end, he had modified it to $5 at the El Salvador end and another $5 at the
Honduras end. I must admit that he and his brother spent the entire time with us, and earned their money, but next time I
will get a solid commitment for the entire amount before engaging the fellow for the work. I wound up giving him an extra
$10 for him and his brother, and told them it was only because I am a good guy, and I advised them both to next time tell
the whole truth at the beginning. John told them to pound salt, and rode off, which I suppose, I should have done, but what
the Hell, these guys are just trying to make a living, and after the change in ´08, they are going to have to find another
line of work.
I will have to add that, slow as it was today, we might still be there had we remained on our own,
because as I said, some of the offices are all but impossible to find, even if you know what you are looking for.
We got here to Choluteca about 1710, and the first hotel, the one John had stayed at before, was full, so we came here
to La Casa Real (The Royal House), where they initially said they were also full. Then, they allowed that there was one room
with three beds, and we could have that for the 3 person rate: 1045 Lempira, which is $55 US. Surprisingly, they gave us 19
Lempira to the dollar, as we were running short after the border payments, most of which we made in Honduran paper.
It was a good day, and we are now going to rest up for the assault on the Nicaraguan border tomorrow, as it lies just about
35 K from here. We might make Leon for the night tomorrow, depending on how it looks, or might press on to Granada, on the
edge of Lake Nicaragua, just south of Managua.
Still no adventures, and that is good, very good.
For future use