22 - NICARAGUA
02/03/04 - 04/03/04
Another border. Nicaragua.
We managed to turn up just as the border closed for lunch, very clever. Left Honduras an hour later having done a few bits of paper work for the bike. Went through to Nicaragua and were immediately pounced upon by tramadores wanting to help us. We decided to go with the flow and R was very glad as this was the most complicated border we crossed. The guy ran all over the place for us getting all the papers signed by about six different people. The bike was looked over by about three sets of people too. All was fine though and we were through in a couple of hours.
The road was great and we wanted to make it to Granada so we did a couple of hours a bit faster than we normally would. Just as we were approaching a town where we were going to stop for petrol we got pulled over by the police. We'd had no problems so far so wondered if it was our turn. It seemed it was. We worked out that he was actually saying we had overtaken something where we shouldn't have. Turns out Nicaragua have had new traffic police for about the last six months, so they're all keen and sparkly. He said "multa" a lot (fine). In the end I think we exasperated him by pretending we understood absolutely nothing he said and got away with it. Not that we think we had done anything wrong to be honest.
At the petrol station we were besieged by boys begging. We were quite shocked. This was our first experience of it. Everywhere else the kids had been trying to sell us something, or wanting to shine our shoes. A security guard then turned up to shoo them away. They were very persistent and one of them ended up getting a clout with a big stick! Not a great first experience, but I couldn't believe the pleasure this guy took in his job. He turned round to us looking very pleased with himself, as if he was expecting us to congratulate him or something.
We got to Granada as it was going dark and quickly found a really nice hotel. They had a funny little delivery area/garage where we put the bike. It was really small and on a 45 degree slope but they insisted they'd had eight Harley's in there before.
We ate at a cool little restaurant with wandering minstrels coming in and out. Food was excellent, more things to try out when I get home.
Next day we spent mooching around, looking at the amazingly blue church. It really is very, very blue indeed. We went to a museum in an old convent, which was a really peaceful place. It had an exhibition of statues found on the islands of Lake Nicaragua. They are of people but with their animal alter egos attached. Really bizarre.
Granada was the first colonial town that seemed to be more Central American than old Spanish. Bit more of a shady feel than other places we'd been.
There were some strange looking old American guys lurking round with young Nicaraguan wives. We were just deciding they might be old CIA who can't go home when a guy walked in to the cafe with a file with NSA on the front.
There were lots more people begging in Granada. Kids actually asking for the food off our plates. It was a bizarre feeling. I couldn't help thinking of Owen all safe and happy at home when a five year old boy pleaded with us.
We took a ride along the lake the next morning and then headed for our next border.
Leaving Nicaragua took an age for no reason that we could see. Tramadores insisting we needed their help when there was really nothing to do but queue.
Got through to Costa Rica having had the bike sprayed down at fumigation. The guy was very curious about the number plate. R was taken through again by a very helpful tramadore, lots of running around getting photo copies and finding the right people to sign the right bits of paper. This took about another hour but was all straight forward.
We were beginning to think at this stage that our luck must run out soon and we'd get stuck somewhere, but so far so good. Think it's all down to R's winning smile. He has recently confessed to me though that when thinking about this trip he just thought that I would be doing all this. Didn't cross his mind about the bike being in his name. He would have thought twice about it if he'd actually realized. How nice is that? Well hehehe.
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