So here is my account of what’s happened (not much really just rode my bike) to me since a while back in Mexico to the end of Central America.
Guatemala – Mayan for hills
Finally got outta Mexico (which is huge and after central I especially realise the diversity the country possesses) and decided to kick off Guatamala with what eating a choloate bar is to a Hollywood actress and hitchhike and feel very bad afterwards! But skipped a very big hill.
When we arrived up the giant hill to a place called Xela. The air was crisp, the views were rugged and it wasn’t Mexico! With volcano peaks on the horizon, it was a nice change I must say!
We hung out at our warmshowers host with jumpers and jeans on – Ana and Mark who had an amazing place and got up to a couple of things – natural steam baths, went to a local bare knuckle boxing match and easter was going. After a while there i felt it was time to head south whilst Tom waited for his card to be delivered.
I got up early ready for hills and made my way towards Laguna de Atitlan. Took me a while and that old injury flared up again resulting in basically riding with one leg, dropped a few strong pain killers and biked on. I decided my hitching days were over for the rest of Central America.
The wildest thing about the whole lake was actually the ride down it was so steep, something you would expect i guess in Nepal?! I had to ride pressing my hands as hard as I could the entire time on the breaks, and they were squeaking like little piggies.
I finally reached the little hippy town of San Marco right on the lake. It’s a place with endless yoga, cacao sessions (google it) and swimming in the lake on tap. What was cool was bumping into Adz and Jen people I met in La Bumba, Mexico we made our way across the lake to San Pedro. The volcano itself is a cool place and quite a wonder but with the pollution and development of the towns I felt it detracted from the natural beauty but was most definitely worth a visit. Dane (that cyclist I bump into every second day) was there and we decided to make tracks.
The ride out was great and a huge descent was super fun 80km later we were back in the Central American heat. The tourists where gone and the shotguns came out! Slept in some pretty crazy towns were we both decided probs best to be inside before dark and only take the cash your going to spend out. Was cool to see and the stares were relentless, Dane and I discussed what they must be thinking why we are in these towns no gringo ever treads.
The Pacific strikes back
So basically biked with Dane for about 4 days through the remainder of Guatemala. Actually said goodbye at the El Sal boarder given he rides a bit quicker then me but of course bumped into him again. We ended up splitting up a day later in El Sal as I headed down to get some waves at a break called Mizata. Some much needed ding repair was done and scored some uncrowded waves.
After that had some great roads and views where enjoyed until another surf break called El Tunco. This was super crowded but for good reason as a super fun wave. But alas was a little to much party emphasis for my monk biking lifestyle so just stayed the night.
Then the sights were put on Las Flores another world class point break, few days of cycling and a day out from the destination a bloke pulled over by the name of Tom. He was rocking a sweet headband, in his 60’s and informed straight away he was a Hawaiian tube rider from way back! Offered me a ride to his backpacker/hotel accomadation and a free night stay because I was reducing my carbon footprint. I asked for two cause I had a surfboard and he obliged. I didn’t take him on the ride though.
Reached Las Flores and got some fun waves and stayed a couple of nights. I was informed then of a ferry from La Union El Salvador (70km south of where I was) to Nicaragua, the best bit being dropped off at another sweet surf break. I didn’t really plan it to well and rolled up to La Uinon expecting everything to fall into my lap (as it normally does) it seemed no one knew anything. I eventually found some info and it was $75 and decided why not just ride another country being Honduras for free!
On the way to the Honduras boarder I was told by about 8 locals how dangerous the area I was riding through was, with that reassuring information i decided to try and find a hotel ASAP. As the sun was setting I got a flat! Not the best timing I decided to put some air into it and made it safe and sound to a cheap hotel. I was pretty tired and couldn’t even be bothered fixing the flat until tomorrow. Got up fixed the flat with my eyes on cruisen through Honduras in a day (not far only about 95km) unfortunately by lunch I wasn’t feeling to good so refuge was sought in a hotel. Resting up I hit the road the next day taking it slowly.
Nicaragua and the man with an identity crisis
10km before the Nicaragua boarder, I decided to take a lie down, literally these days I lie down anywhere be it gravel, bitumen, grass you name it I will have a rest on it. This time I was lying under a tree out of eyeshot from the road and I hear the word ‘grrriinngooo’ with me thinking – what’s going on here. I look up and it’s a bloke and his bicycle who decided to go off the road in the exact same place to have a break. So lucky as he really should of simply road on past.
So we decided to ride togeather as our plans were pretty simple – SOUTH. Joan (which i pronounced as you would if you met a female called Joan in Australia) grew up in France until the age of 16 and moved to Switzerland and has been biking for the last 3&1/2 years! He started in Switzerland! Was a lotta fun biking with Joan and ended up splitting due to my desire to get some waves.
Popoyo & Co.
Doing a minor bit of research I set my sights on Gigante Bay with there apparently being some surf around. The ride included 50km down a dirt road where I’m pretty sure these locals had never seen touring cyclist before. I got countless yells and stopped and watched a bit baseball as Nicaraguans love their baseball and turns out their rum as well. With continuous offers for me to have some I eventually caved finished an entire bottle to myself, streaked at the baseball game and eventually passed out in the baseball park. No not really, I was boring and just kept riding and by 4pm after leaving around 7a.m Gigante was still a while off. Out of nowhere I saw a sign for a beach called Popoyo the named ringed a bell so decided to chk it out. BAM! 4k’s later I roll up to a mechanical A-Frame! I was pretty stoked and by 5 I was in the water getting all the dirt off me.
Stayed at Popoyo for 3 days and all I did was surf. Literally this place only had a little bar that sold refreshments etc and I was the only one camping there as most people stay in nearby accom and drive in. One of the coolest things happened to my on the trip here. I was invited to dinner at the nearby town which involved crossing a river, by crossing i mean swimming. By 9 i decided to call it a night as i had to swim across this dam river to get back to Popoyo and wasn’t too stoked on it, but alas no bridges here. Turns out when i started swimming across fluorescent algae was in the river (I’d heard about this stuff in Mexico) and the whole thing lit up as i was swimming across. So the worst river crossing turned out ok.
Next stop for me was at Gigante just down the road.
Around this area there are about 6 really decent waves all different as well. So made my way to Gigante in which stayed with a warmshowers host at his hostel. He offered $5 boat rides to surf breaks and a couple of Irazeli’s had a car so was set to get to basically any wave. All in all I spent around 12 days surfing at least twice a day so by the end I was pretty surfed out. But got some really fun waves and were even some barrels up for grabs.
Unfortunately whilst camping in Gigante someone decided they could make better use of my cycling shoes. These are shoes that only work with cleats and really suck to walk in. So instead of grabbing a laptop, iPhone, iPod or camera they took the shoes! Seems like a more dedicated biker then me I know what I would’ve taken. What it did result in is riding in my sneakers through Costa Rica.
Costa Rica – El Primo
Costa Rica is like someone who has lived in the US from the ages of 7-14 and then moved back to Central America. The roads, infrastructure, shops and people all have a US influence. Eco tourism is huge and so is conservation of land and it was great to finally really feel the tropics and ride through the jungle and not seeing land destroyed for farming. Unfortunately tho Costa Rica didn’t turn it on regarding the waves and actually only surfed a couple of times on some average days. I didn’t get to all the spots and heard a few where working but outta my distance range.
Riding Costa Rica would have to be one of the most beautiful countries so far and whilst there I also got news a friend from Australia was coming to Panama to surf so the final Costa Rican break Povones was ditched and my sights were set on Panama City by the 11th of June.
Panama – the land of stares
Panama was full of unexpected events. Riding the jungle was great, although the roads turned into by far the worst road I have ever ridden! Crossing the canal was extremely busy. The most interesting thing that happened to me is the corrosion of my handle bars through my sweat (refer to pic) around 400km North of Panama City.
Biking Panama was pretty non eventful with myself basically on a deadline. I did notice however Panamericans love to stare and not to do much else (but please don’t get my wrong overall the experience was of course just like everywhere extremely positive). Whilst fixing my handlebars, flats etc in Mexico and most other places in central america people would just come up and try and help offering any tool for assistance including their machetes, not in Panama! They will just stand about 3 feet away and stare!
Run for your life
Also was very cool to meet up with a friend from Perth, Jesse T Parts Taylor. I haven’t seen anyone from Perth for over 6 months so was great to get away from the bike, score some waves and god forbid drive a car!! Had an excellent time having a holiday from my holiday – life’s tough I know!
Whilst on my little holiday one of the most surreal experiences happened so far on the trip. Chilling on the beach with friends having just discoved a wild sloth and eating some coconuts three masked men two wielding machetes and one a gun stormed out of the jungle yelling lyrics to Welcome To The Jungle by GnR’s. We obviously cooperated with the gentlemen handing over what we had – cameras, iPhones, wallets etc. I got lucky and took nothing to the beach and got off scott free. A few people were rattled but all were unharmed. Hopefully this will be the last encounter but it’s something I’ve come to terms with happending and will continue with the same tact if the same happens – give it away!! They may not have actually been yelling the lyrics to Welcome To The Jungle but it’s hard to tell as the whole thing was a blur.
Will be sticking to the same plan as always – head south hopefully on a boat sooner rather then later. No idea whats roads i’m taking but heard theres some big mountains down there! There will be a new look in South America in more ways then one! So stay tuned.