andres' life

Living the Dream

A blast from the past!

So I have not posted recently, and for that I apologize. I know you all really missed me….. (note sarcasm) However, something HUGE has happened recently and while I would love to tell you, I can’t just yet.

Instead, I leave you with my collection of daily blogs from my previous Central American Bike Tour.

What does this have to do with anything you might ask? Well, you will just have to wait and see. For now, see what I was thinking on my first bike tour.

(almost) daily journal entries from Central America Bike Touring Summer 2010

Day 1

Well I’m in LA, flying to Guatemala City in 4 hours. Apparently Spirit Airlines pilots decided to go on strike yesterday, thereby cancelling my flight. So I bought another ticket, extended my LA for one day and stayed with family last night; a great way to start a journey.

LA is great for what it is, but I’m itching (over-caffeination?) to get going now……
Thank you everyone who made this journey possible for me, I can not thank you enough. I only hope that I can one day re-pay you for what you did for me.
Paul and Japhy, you two especially deserve a big thanks! I owe you both big time.
Funny how it is all just now becoming real. Seeing everything I will need for 4 weeks of bike touring fit in 2 boxes is unreal…… and oh so liberating!
Well I’m off like a dress on prom night, next update will come from Central America. cheers!

Day 2

Well I landed safe and sound last night in Guatemala City, grabbed a taxi (and haggled over what converts literally into $.75 just for kicks), and arrived at my hostel (Base Camp hostel Antigua, Guatemala). I hung out for a bit with some other travellers, then crashed hard.
Today was spent buying groceries for the camping portion of my trip, buying fuel for my stove, eating at some random restaurant and now facebooking.

Antigua is a adorable city nestled in a lush valley with a beautiful volcano (called Agua) to the south. The people here are very nice and are so used to gringo travellers that they can easily look past my piss poor grasp of the spanish language. I would love to stay here for a few days but the road calls…

For those of you interested in my whereabouts (mother…. sister….. stalkers…), I will be heading to Lago Attitlan starting tomorrow with a overnight camp somewhere in between. I will then be headed south on the 11 then CA-2 towards the border town of La Hachadura then into El Salvador.

Thus far my diamond and dookie (YI inside joke) are:
Diamond- Guatemala is gorgeous and I can hardly wait to begin exploring this amazing place. This is my first international trip in a long time and I am uber-excited.
Dookie- Flying with an oversized trailer AND a bike costs you the equivelant of a second ticket. I shall be living the poor life for a few months after this trip…. :(

I will most likely log on in between here and El Salvador and post some pics and tell a story or two, but for now I hear a Gallo beer calling my name.

peace, love and poptarts to all……
el andy.

Day 4?

Well I had planned on leaving to Lago Atitlan yesterday, but I kind of got sucked into Antigua life (If you have been there, you know exactly what I am talking about). So I took an extra day in Antigua (way worth it), and officially started the bike tour this morning. Thank you Base Camp Hostel for everything!

I am currently in a small town called Patzun halfway between Antigua and Lago Atitlan. Did about 45 km today, which is not much but considering it is my first day and it was effin hilly, I am happy…. and le tired.

The ride was hard but manageable. I have found my first bike gear issue, but nothing a few minutes of work can not fix. I chose a more direct path to Atitlan, but that also means some tiny roads, crazy hills, bad drivers and a few fearing for my life moments. But alas, all is well now.

I had some time to think today between yelling at chicken buses and gasping for air and I realized how much I love the wanderlust lifestyle. It allows one to see the most beautiful things or meet the most amazing people for a fleeting moment before it all goes away and you have to try and find it again. It sucks leaving a good place not sure of that lies ahead, but I think once you accept that there is good everywhere and in everything, you stop fearing the loss of what you just had.
Regardless, you will be missed…..

mañana, Lago Atitlan. Hopefully I will get to ride a boat across the lake and start biking south from there.

I love you all and keep writing….
I shall now wash my stank ass self and watch a lil Guatemalan TV.

This post has been brought to you by Gallo beer; remember to drink responsibly and never let some drunk guy in a bar pressure you into more beers simply because you will never see him again….

cheers,
el andy.

p.s. I promise I will post some pictures soon.

Day 5- Lago Atitlan

Well after an early wake up and bike out of Patzun I arrived in Panajachel around 11:45 AM after riding 35- ish km and going up and down hills that almost made me cry/cramp/gasp/die. Seriously, when they say “hilly” they realy mean it! I think the vast majority of today was spent riding white-knuckled down 10-12% grades or pushing my bike (I’m on a bike tour, I’m allowed!) up hills. In addition I finally saw the crazy after effects of all the rains here. Today I not only rode the steepest hills of my life, I also did a river crossing with a fully loaded touring bike. Apparently when a bridge goes out here, you simply wade through the water. I then got to do another detour over a second destroyed bridge, yay!

I am now chilling in yet another internet cafe; life here is too easy, seriously! I just got a place for the night and had the most intense seafood soup ever. There was no less than 5 different manner of aquatic lfe floating in my bowl. Yum.

I now face a dillema. Do I stay here another day and meet up with a friend? Or do I toss my bike on a boat, float across the lake, and continue the tour tomorrow? Maybe a Gallo will help me make up my mind.

I don’t see myself spending too much time here, the tour must continue!

Oh ya, I put up some pics. Check out the bike album. More to come, today the lake wasn’t in the mood for pictures.

cheers,
the one. the only…..
el andy.

p.s. Panajachel is a wierds mix of old culture, tourism and burnt out hippies. It’s slightly chaotic.

Day 6- Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa

Damn. This is getting real now.

I left Panachajel this morning around 9 AM on a BOAT with my bike loaded on, sped across Lago Atitlan, and landed at Santiago Atitlan. I then rode across the southern end of the lake to a small town called San Lucas Toliman. From there is was a ¨quick¨ride south on the 11 down to the CA-2. The ride down consisted of 35 km of serious downhill mixed in with periodic washed out bridges and total road contruction. It was truly exciting. After dealing with 1.5 hours of death gripping my brakes I was somewhat relieved to be on the CA-2, of the Pacific Highway. However after 20 minutes of riding, it reminded me that life is never truly just that easy. Although the riding was reasonably mellow, it reminded me of riding in East Texas. Imagine rolling hills, lush scenery, wild ass traffic and damn near 80% humidity. I was relieved to arrive in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, find a somewhat cheap place to stay, and take a nice cold shower.
I hope to arrive at the border of El Salvador in 1.5-2 days, my first border crossing on bike!

In other news, my bike cyclometer (the thing that measures my speed and distance) broke; most likely on the boat ride this morning. That means that from this point on, until I get it fixed (if ever), I will either be guesstimating daily distance travelled or not keeping track altogether.

My guess for distance travelled today is around 65km, it´s getting more respectable now…

I took some more photos but will probably upload then in a few days, I just need to keep you all coming back!

It´s funny travelling on a bike having people give you cheers all day long. It makes me smile to know that in some sort of way, they support me. Guatemalans are some of the nicest people ever. I have stopped and asked for directions many times and they also go out of their way to show me where to go. Sometimes they even practically walk me to where I need to go. Beautiful people in a beautiful place.

As for me, my fears of being on the road alone are abating, slowly but surely. I have realized that in order to feel safe these first few days I have been needing to stay in ¨nicer¨ hotels, which have never costed over $10.25 a night. Anything for piece of mind right now.

Well tomorrow I plan to continue biking on the CA-2, headed towards El Salvador. I plan on staying somewhere between Escuintla and Chiguital, let´s see where I end up.

On a more personal note, I really do appreciate everyone´s endless support. It makes time spent solo much easier. Your words echo im my head all day long as I´m pedaling up and down hills on my journey. Much love to all.

For now, I have a lil´Guatemalan TV to watch and an early bed time tonight.

adios,
andres.

p.s. a lil´ joke for yáll

So there´s these two muffins baking in the oven.
Muffin number one says, ¨Damn, it´s hot in here!¨
Muffin number 2 says, ¨OH MY GOD, IT´S A TALKING MUFFIN!!!!¨

Day 7- Taxisco

I can´t help but log on whenever I see an internet cafe in the town I´m staying in….

Today was…… hard. Real Hard. According to my guesstimations, I rode about 70ish km today. Not all that much, but it wasn´t the riding that killed me. It was the freakin´heat and humidity. I was totally spent after 70 km, and the thought of making it to my intended goal goal for the night, only 15 km more, seemed impossible.

I accidentally missed a turnoff today (in my defense it was POORLY marked) and ended up cycling 8 km south, towards the ocean, before realizing I was headed the wrong way. So I backtracked, lost an hour of riding time and ended up here. Not to shabby though, Taxisco is cute in it´s own sort of way, definetely not a tourist town. Perfect for me. Oh ya, except that the hotel I got for the night, while cheap, has some major problems. One, I have been spoiled by cable TV in all my hotels lately (I know, I´m a silly American). That one is no biggie. The thing that sucked is that the first room I was given lacked a proper lock, instead it had an old style key (you know, those long skinny ones) that didn´t even work! So I moved to a more ¨serure¨ room, one with a luggage padlock as an an outside lock! I can´t leave my room alone for too long.

I will be making it to El Salvador tomorrow around 1 PM, I hope, my first boder crossing. (insert mojado jokes here)

In other news I have some observations to share…

If you have ever travelled here before you have no doubt noticed the abundance of used clothing stores, all clothes from the US. I have had endless amounts of entertainment reading people´s shirts here. Here are some examples..
Man wearing a Hutchkiss Eagles Cheerleader shirt
Boy wearing a Mammoth Mountain, CA shirt (that one really made me smile alot)
Little girl wearing a shirt that said ¨I´m a bitch, but I´m not yours!¨
That got me thinking about two things…
1: There is an absolutely tremendous amount of inequality in the world. Some people take what they can get in order to get by, and this is not just in refference to crappy US clothing. I feel spoiled living the way I do, sleeping in hotels every night, being able to buy three meals a day and being able to go on vacation like I am. It hurts sometimes, not because I want them to be just like me, but because I have so much more than I really need. Unfair yes, but what can I do? I think my next trip down here will be a volunteer trip, I owe it to this country.
2: What does that little girl´s shirt say about US culture? She may never realize what her shirt says, and maybe that´s for the better.

Also, once again, Guatemalan people are so great. I was looking like crap, sweaty, tired and solely focused on making it up one hill at a time when a kid on a bike came up. He saw me riding by and decided to chat with me, and whether he knew it or not, he helped me keep riding. He also gave me distances between towns, told me where some hotels were, and generally just enjoyed riding and chatting with me. Thanks alot Luis, I appreciate it.

Well I´m off to my hotel for the evening. Adios to all.

cheers,
Andres Roberto Esparza

p.s. My interest in the World Cup this year has really payed off! It is so easy st start random conversations when a TV is showing futbol.

Day 9- La Libtertad

Well I did it! I officially made my first border crossing yesterday. I shall seperate this post into two sections as yesterday was an adventure all its own.

Day 8-
I left Taxisco, Guatemala intent on hitting the border before noon. I actually ended up getting there around 11 AM. The ride was fun, flat, and involved a river crossing on boat since the bridge had been wiped out.
I ended up getting a celebratory lunch on the El Salvadorian side of the border and started chatting with a gentleman who used to live in LA and was interested in my journey. He told me about where I needed to go and was downright helpful. Thanks! I then rode down to a small town called Cara Sucia where a pretty young lady GAVE me a flag of El Salvador for my bike. Such nice people. Then I got cocky….
I figured that since it was only 11:45 and I had already ridden 70 km, I was going to go for 100+ km. Seems reasonable, right? Well after about 100 km I ran into another man who was a cyclist (ie. for sport, not just transportation) and we rode together and chatted for a bit. Together we soon realized I had screwed myself by passing the last place to stay back in Cara Sucia.

I was then faced with three options….
1. Ride with him to his town of Sonsanate, 15 kms out of the way, arriving around dark.
2. Bank on the chance that if I just kept riding a couple more hours I would find a place to sleep.
3. Throw my bike and trailer onto a chicken bus (brightly colored retired school buses used for transportation in Central America) and bus it to La Libertad.

Yup, I chose three. And wisely too. I would have been out of luck staying anywhere in between. I felt a little ashamed ¨cheating¨, but quickly realized this is MY trip, and no one else´s. Thus, I get to make the rules. Yay me! Plus, I had ridden a total of 120 km that day anyways!
So evening found me in La Libertad with a safe place to stay and a cheap dinner.

Day 9-
I decided today would be a rest day and since I had nothing else to do I would get some cash, call my dad since I couldn´t yesterday, and live it up on the beach. Well apparently ATM´s that accept my Visa are near impossible to find in El Salvador so I ended up using my rest day to ride a bus up to San Salvador (where I am currently) and get some diñero. Maybe I will make it back to La Libertad in time for some beach time…
La Libertad is apparently a world-famous surf spot, however this is definetely NOT the season. Only a few die-hards are out right now. Regardless, crashing waves are all I need for rest and relazation.

Tomorrow I hope to make it to Zacatecoluca, maybe further!

That´s all for now! I was hoping to upload some more pictures but this internet cafe doesn´t have a USB cable I can use so the uploading shall have to wait.

cheers,
Andy Pants.

p.s. I love hearing from people who have travelled through this area before! If anyone knows of good stuff between here and Granada, Nicaragua let me know. I will mainly be on the CA-1 and CA-2.

Day 10- Zacatecoluca

Today was a great reminder that sometimes I just have to follow my gut. But more on that later…..

Yesterday after I posted I ended up busing back down to La Libertad where I ran into a fellow America, a surfer/teacher/ex-outdoor ed instructor named David. It was nice chatting and sharing stores and we ended up getting dinner and beers. It felt good to have a lil´ American company.

I ended up leaving La Libertad early this morning under a slight drizzle. All was well as I rode till about a 1 hour in when I got to yet another downed bridge (that makes 5 now!). It was easily passed via a mud path across then some stairs up to the non-destroyed section.
About 10 minutes later I got yet another flat. Blah! I thought I had cheacked the tires for burrs or thorns last time but I guessed I missed something. So I checked, found nothing, changed the flat and rode on. Thirty minutes later, yup, another flat! This time I spent a considerable amount of time searching the inside of my tire for the culprit and I found it. A little sliver of metal that had evaded me twice before. I cursed it, threw it aside (much the the amusement of two boys who were watching me and helping out), and changed tubes. Ride on!
I ended up getting to Zactecoluca around 11:15 and after 4 hours of riding, 2 flats, one river crossing and immense heat I debated calling it a day. I has some pupusas and consulted the map. After asking around I realized there weren´t any reliable housing options between here and Usultan, 50-60 km away. So still gun-shy from my last near homelessness experience I decided to call it a day.
Good idea too! After checking into my hotel and taking a quick shower, the rains hit. Had I kept riding I would be soaked, tired and homeless right now.
Instead today I will make up for my lack of mileage by treating my bike to an afternoon at the spa (she´s quite a dirty girl right now) and patching some tubes. Not too bad.

For those interested, here is my proposed itinerary for the rest of the trip. However things can and do change….
Zacatecoluca (today), ES
Usultan, ES
San Miguel, ES
Somewhere (?) near the ES/Honduran border on the CA-1
Bus across Honduras (see below)
Somoto, Nicaragua
Esteli, Nicaragua
Somewhere between Esteli and Granada, Nicaragua
Granda, Nicaragua
Rivas, Nicaragua
La Cruz, CS
Liberia, CS
Somewhere between Liberia and Alajuela, CS
Alajuela, CS
Fly Home!

This allows me an extra day on the tail end in Alajuela to de-compress and prep for my return flight and a few rest/free days.
I have been debating whether or not to bus Honduras and here are my thoughts….
Honduras is beautiful, I´m sure of it. However the section I would be riding is short and not terribly interesting for the purposes of this trip. Also, this allows me time in Granada to rest for a couple days, take a boat out to the islands and hike around.

Anyways, we shall see what the next few days have in store for me.

I put some more pictures up today, check them out.

cheers,
ae.

p.s. I think I might have the ¨squirts¨ from some questionable fish pupusas in La Libertad.

Day 11- San Miguel

Good Day….

I had planned on only riding to Usultan today so I slet in a bit, treated myself to coffee and took off. I guess the combination of overcast skies (cooler temps), coffee in the gut and a slight tailwind got me going. I ended up in Usultan at around 11, had some pupusas, and decided to go for San Miguel. Woot!!!
About 100 km. ridden today. It´s kind of nice how pretty much everyday someone, young or old, ends up riding alongside me for a bit, chatting and being friendly. It makes the miles fly by.

I´m headed for yet another border crossing tomorrow. Honduras, here I come!!!!!

This is all going so much faster than I expected, I now definetely have free days to deal with potential problems, chillax lakeside and not feel rushed.

I really dislike being in a big city, too much going on. It will be nice to get out of here in the morning.

I ended up really getting into the zone today, that point where you are riding and cranking just seems second nature. It is nice to let my mind wander a bit and watch beautiful scenery unfold.

Everyday here is a constant reminder of how extremely well-off I am in the states. I appreciate everything more and more everyday.
This also got me to thinking about how we live in the US compared to others, especially our ¨green¨ living. It´s interesting how what we consider ¨green¨ (ie. recycling, resuing, reducing) is simply the way of life for the vast majority of the world. The thought of just throwing stuff away when it stops working/gets dirty is just plain wasteful, not to mention just plain un-sustainable most other places in the world. I need to remember this when I get home.

Tomorow will be interesting. One, I have turned myself upside down in this metropolis, getting out will be fun. Two, it´s a day of pure uphill to get to the border, yay….

Well that´s all for now folks. Time for some TV, food and coca-cola.

adios,
andy.

Day 12- Nacaome

Yay! Another border crossing today! I’m moving faster than originally planned, that means more chill time in Granada.

Today I left the bustling city of San Miguel and started cranking to the border. The uphill wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought and I easily made it to the border around 10:15. That left 40 more km to the Honduran town of Nacaome.
I ended up getting taken for a sucker at the border and because I didn’t have my conversions straight in my head before I changed money at the border, I lost about $4-5. Oh well. I got it all straight for my next money conversion at the Nicaraguan border tomorrow.
After endless debating in my head I decided it was too easy busing across Honduras and I might regret it down the road. Thus, I will be making tomorrow a marathon day to cross Honduras and sleep in Nicaragua.
I did about 105 km today, not too bad.

As I rode through Honduras I really noticed more poverty than in the previous countries I have been riding through. It’s rather sad. It’s wierd how poverty can really make you feel uncomfortable. I need to work on that.

Also, a funny thing happened upon entering Honduras. The ENTIRE trip I have never been called “gringo” but upon entering Honduras I have been called “gringo” no less than 30 times. What’s up with that? Does Honduran sun make me look especially white?

I also had a few thoughts today worth sharing….

One, my bike has yet to be named. I feel bad riding here without having named her. Ideas?

Two, I feel like I need to combine my selfish bike trip with some sort of humanitarian mission. I know it’s a short trip and biking is the primary goal, but I need to do SOME good while down here. I will have to think about that tomorrow.

For now, it’s off to the mercado in search of a panderia and some local Honduran brew.

cheers,
andy.

Day 13- Somotillo

Another border crossing today! I am now in Nicaragua, hanging out in a border town doing the usual.
I felt cheated by the fact that Honduras doesn´t stamp your passport and Nicaragua only stamps it upon exiting the country. Booo….
Also, no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to buy a Honduran flag. I need one!

On a positive side, I saw my first (and probably only) designated bike lane today! It lasted for about 6 km. in the middle of Honduras in a tiny little town, odd but awesome!

It felt good today crossing yet another country and I only have one more 100+ km day to go before rest and relaxation in Leon. woot!

I am realizing that I am spending alot of time (1 hour each day) writing these blogs and doing internet junk. Part of me wants to stop and enjoy the towns I am visiting. However most of these towns are merely roadside towns of little interest. Also, after a full day of riding in 38 C (100 F) degree weather, these air conditioned/heavily fanned buildings are a god-send. However I look forward to enjoying all Leon and Granada have to offer. I need some reflection time.
It was funny crossing the border today. Apparently Honduras was playing so noone cared about anything else. I don´t think the border guy on the Honduran side even looked at me once, everyone was glued to their TVs!

I´m looking forward to Yosemite in a few weeks. I hope you´re ready Mario!

Im place of some semi-intellectual observation I will instead leave you with my favorite poem. enjoi….

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

-Max Ehrmann

Love to all and thanks for putting up with my daily writings. Ir makes my day to read your responses.

cheers,
andy.

p.s. It seems like everyone here has a machete. Even little kids have them. I might need one, just for kicks….

Day 14- Leon

Well I made it! After 100 km of riding, a little headwind, and a drizzle for the last 20 km, I made it to historic Leon.

I checked into the Bigfoot Hostel, quite the scene, and wandered the streets taking photos of beautiful churches. Tonight is 15 cord (about 0.75) Mojito night at the hostel I´m staying at. I need a drink or two.

Leon is great and I am having a hard time deciding what to do with my rest day tomorrow. I almost signed up for a midnight hike to a volcanoe tonight but I am to tired to do that. Oh well.

I did happen to get a flyer from the tour guide though about an Annual Indigenous Horse Racing and Rooster fighting event going on tomorrow. Hmmmm…… Although I am morally oposed to animal cruelty, it almost seems wrong not to check out a locals event. Cost is $12 for transportation to and from with an open bar. Kinda pricey….
Maybe a non-violent cultural history tour is in order, only time will tell.

I also happened upon some Americans on the road today. It was a couple from Mississipi who now live down here with their three kids doing missionary work building schools. We chatted roadside for a bit and they offered to buy me dinner in Granada if we can meet up. Nice people.

My body is telling me I need rest tomorrow, and I must obey. Maybe some beach time is in order……

For now I shall depart this digital world and shall re-enter the real world of bustling streets, drizzling skies and beautiful buildings around me.

adios,
el andy.

p.s. In other news, I am finally getting my clothes washed! No longer do I have to smell like a dirty pirate hooker…

Day 15- Leon

Operation rest day has been quite a success! And much needed to…….
Apparently happy hour Mojitos and barhopping is a bad idea after a long day of riding.

So today for some R&R Julia and I headed out to the beach. Way awesome, I needed some waves. We then came back, cleaned up, and wandered the streets looking at old buildings and visiting museums. One museum of particular interest was the Revolutionary museum. It was full of old photos and information about Nicaragua´s infamous and bloody revolution. The guide only spoke Spanish but I was able to understand pretty much everything, I´m getting better at this Spanish thing.

Tonight is pizza night at the hostel. Part of me feels like it´s cheating to eat pizza in Nicaragua, but my inner fat kid beat that other kid up.

Apparently I am way ahead of schedule and instead of spending extra days in Costa Rica where everything is way over-priced I am going to take ALOT of time off in Nicaragua. This country is proving to be my favorite thus far.

For now it´s time for a lil´walk and then, pizza day!

….Hooray for Pizza Day
Hooray for Pizza Day
I miss Pizza Day
The best day of the week…. (a lil´Aquabats throwback there)

cheers,
andy.

p.s. I have decided to name my bike ¨Desi¨. I need to find someone down here who can airbrush her name onto the frame.

Day 16- Leon

Well I was supposed to leave today but after watching it rain/drizzle all morning without stop, I decided to hang out here another day. I was angry at first but figured I might as well make the best of it. So I decided to go volcanoe boarding today…
For those of you who are unaware of this new fad-sport, here´s how it works. You pay money (too much, but oh well) and they truck you out to Cerro Negro, the youngest volcanoe in the country. From there you grab your board and bag containing an orange jumpsuit and googles for protection. You then hike for about 45 minutes up to the top of a volcanoe passing smoking craters and sulphur clouds. It was rainy and windy the whole way up so pictures were not that great, but I shall post some soon anyways. Once on top, you sit on your board (a homemade wooden sled with a half metal half linoleum bottom and rope for handle) and slide down. After about 2 minutes of black dust and sand everywhere and butterflies in your stomach you are done. I ended up getting the fastest speed in our group (35 kmh) but still a littlke shy of the 82 kmh record. We then had beers all the way home on the bumpy road followed by included mojitos back at the hostel.

Good stuff. However I REALLY do need to leave tomorrow. These tourist hopspots bring out all my worst habits…

Right now I´m trying to get over a sore throat and headache that have been bothering me for 2 days now.

For now operation rest day shall continue with some reading in a hammock.

cheers,
el andy.

p.s. Maybe I should have gotten all my shots before visiting Central America. Oh well, what´s the worst that can happen; right?

Day 17- Granada

Woot! The rain cleared and I was finally able to leave. It felt good to hit the road after a few days of hedonism…

Nicaragua is quickly becoming my favorite country down here. It’s quite varied and always has something unique to offer.

Leon is best characterized as Nicaragua’s free-spirited, liberal-minded revolutionary and artistic city.It felt wierd leaving that and ending up in Granada, which is best described at the more sophisticated and conservative older brother of the two. I decided to fly past Managua, the ugly, mean, bastard step-child no ones likes, and did about 135 km today to get here. Good times…

I met a few local cyclist today on the road and we had alot of fun racing each other to Granada and hanging out. They even rode me to my hostel and we exchanged info. Good people. I am also now sort of travelling the same path as a couple Holland folks who are great fun to chat with. It’s nice having someone to look forward to seeing city to city.

It felt good to punish by body today a bit after a few days of indulgence. Nicaragua might end up becoming a long distance bike pub crawl puncuated with hiking and surfing breaks. Let’s see…….

Tomorrow’s rest day will hopefully involve a little volcanoe hike and some city history.

The hostel I’s staying at is a kind of a hip youth hostel so I’m off to mingle and find future ex-Mrs. Esparza.

cheers,
andy.

p.s. I got passed by two trucks today that were doing about 80 kmh by no more than 1 foot. It was terrifying……

Oh ya! I forgot to add this yesterday but I met my first other bike tourer at the hostel!!!!!!!!!!! He is a brit and he is doing the tour opposite me (he is doing a South to North). It was awesome chatting up another bike tourer and releiving to know that I wasn´t the only one out there. Maybe I will meet at least one more? I hope so.

Day 19- Granada

Well it´s early morning here in the beautifully sophisticated colonial town of Granada. I´m finishing up my second cup of coffee and trying to get the motivation to start riding in a few minutes. It´s nice stopping in these hotspots and spending quality time with fellow travellers sharing stories. However as much as I would like to sit at the bar with the same people tonight, this is a bike tour, not a re-run of Cheers.
Sooooo…………

I am headed south to Rivas (60 km) then taking a boat to Isla Omotepe on Lago Nicaragua. It wil be nice chilling on an island for a day and biking around finding petroglyphs and biking around volcanoes. As usual, there is a group of us travelling in the same direction so I might or might not end up seeing the same people again, funny how that works.

As far as my rest day yesterday, it was great! I went on a hike up Volcan Mombacho, saw some steam holes, lots of crazy plants, hiked in a cloud forest and finally saw monkeys! Yes, I saw monkeys!!!!!!

Pictures to come soon, I promise. For now, a short ride and boat await.

cheers,
andy.

p.s. I have decided over the course of my life to complete an Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego (Southernmost tip of South America) bike tour. Once I finish this part I wanna do a San Francisco to Guatemala trip, then an Alaska to San Francisco trip and then finally a Costa Rica to Tierra del Fuego trip. Any takers????

Day 21- San Juan del Sur

All play and no work makes Andy happy. Nicaragua has turned into a rest day every other day, I love it!!!!

Well since last post I biked to San Jorge (65km) then rode a ferry to an island in Lago Nicaragua called Isla Omotepe that is formded by two volcanoes. Very pretty. On the ferry I ran into three girls who were also headed out to the island and we started chatting. After a while one of them inviterd me to join them and hang out for my rest day, so like a lost puppy dog, I followed them to a beautiful beachside hotel on the smaller island. Perfect…..

Yesterday was spent paddling to an a smaller island with Dana then an afternoon of pure nothingness. I think I could have spent a week on just that island. But alas, the trip must continue!

Today I awoke early, cycled the 28 km (5 km on dirt roads) to the port town on the island and caught a ferry at 9 AM. I then spent an absurdly long amount of time getting money at the bank then headed south to the beach!

This beach is beautiful and I really look forward to getting my surf day in tomorrow. If I can end up kayaking, hiking and surfing on this bike trip I will be a very happy Andy.

I was also laughing today as I loaded my bike onto the ferry about all the places my bike has been in its very short life. In a matter of 3 weeks my bike has been on 2 planes, 3 boats, a taxi, a mini-van and a chicken bus. I might actually just be carrying my bike around on buses this whole trip and just using it to get girls. I guess you all will never know, buahahahahaha!!!

No really, I swear I am biking. and the photo proof will come soon when I get motivated to upload the pictures.

For now the beach is calling my name. Rum and coke on the beach has never sounded better.

cheers,
andy.

p.s. Today I saw no less than 5 monkeys chained to trees purely for tourist´s enjoyment. That´s just dumb and cruel.

Day 22- San Juan del Sur

Well this morning found me slightly hung over and headed out to try my hand at surfing….

I quickly realized that there are certain things people are good at, and surfing is not one of those things for me. But at least I tried it out. I ended up just hanging out on the beach and chatting. Not bad at all.

I´m bummed that my trip is almost over and refuse to leave Nicaragua any sooner than I have to. Sooooo………
I might stay here another day, why not, and then push hard through Costa Rica. This is a good idea, I´m sure of it.
Also, I met a couple who live in Esparza, a small town close to San Jose, who offered me a place to stay. YES!!!!! I was excited about passing through a town of my last name, and now I get to stay there. Killer.

Well I´m rambling now so I must go.

cheers,
el andy.

Day 25- La Cruz

Today was hard, real hard…..

Laaving San Juan del Sur and Nicaragua in particular was heartbreaking. According to Ayngelina, leaving a great place while travelling is like breaking up with someone you love and I agree. Nicaragua will always hold a special place in my heart.

I have had quite a good time in San Juan del Sur hanging out with amazing people and really just doing nothing at all. I swam a bit, hung out at the beach, tried surfing, ate alot of food and drank beer. That is about it.
Oh ya, I was also liberated of my money one night on the beach…
Everything is ok now but I ended up stuck for another day cancelling my debit card and doing other such business, oh well…

Today I rode about 35 km to the border and spent quite a while crossing into Costa Rica. I then ride 20 km south to La Crux where I am now. I felt like staying here tonight to evenly space out my next few days and to clear my head. 65 km today, about 115 km tomorrow, and 60-80 to Esparza!

Because I ended up using up a day in San Juan del Sure I will go for the ¨poetic ending¨ and end my ride in Esparza, Costa Rica and bussing the last few km to Aljuela. That way I can call this trip the Bike Home…

For now I must wander the streets looking for a Costa Rican flag.

peace,
andy.

Day 26- Canas

Well today finds me another 105 km down the road in Cañas, Costa Rica. It felt nice to pull one final century day however it saddens me that it will be my last for the trip. Tomorrow I head out to Esparza (yay!) which is only about 75 km away, then it´s all over.

It will be hard pedaling the last 75 km knowing that my bike trip is over as soon as I reach Esparza. At this point I feel like I could keep going south if I had no prior commitments back home. I guess that fire to continue riding will keep the touring bug alive in me until next summer/extended break from work.

Costa Rica is a funny place compared to Nicaragua. I find myself seeing more and more symbols of wealth, even in random highway villages. Also, American ex-pats are everywhere, buying up reserves and nature centers. Kind of sad, but I guess that´s Costa Rica for you.

Also today I committed the cardinal sin of dirtbag travelling…..
I. ate. at. a……………. McDonalds………..
I know, I know, it´s totally wrong. But my sick sense of humor got the best of me and I thought it would just be a big joke to eat at a McDonalds while in the most Americanized country in Central America. And what did I eat you might ask. Well I decided I would try the local food of course.
Yup. Gallo Pinto combo meal. It tasted nothing like street-style Gallo Pinto but it came in a nice styrofoam serving tray that will forever live in one of their landfills. I felt bad afterwards….

It also got me to thinking that some of my most memorable food moments of the trip have been the random mid-day lunch stops when it´s 100 degress out and I´m dripping sweat everywhere. In those moments when I have an ice cold glass bottle of coke in one hand and I´m shovelling food down my throat with the other at some random street food shop of questionable hygeine, I have been in heaven.
I´m sure I look like a crazy madman to the poor ladies who must watch me, but it is always worth it.

Also today, while eating at Mcdonalds, I met a father and daughter who were Jehovah Witness´ from Reno, Nevada. It was funny sitting in a Mcdonalds in Costa Rica talking about the need for Jehovah Witness work in english, not spanish, down here. Another reminder that Costa Rica, while absolutely stunning, is geared for us english-speaking people.

Tomorrow is a big day for me. After reaching Esparza I will hop on a bus and bus the final bit to Aljuela where I can spend a day and a half de-compressing from the trip before heading out.

Central America has treated me well and I will miss her dearly. However my wife back home (Yosemite) is starting to get mad at me for spending so much time with my mistress down here.

Well that´s all for now.

cheers,
andy.

p.s. I just paid the most I have ever paid on this trip for a room! $18 for a room that has been costing me $7-9 everywhere else. Booooo……..

Day 28- Alajuela

fin. the end. terminado. the fat lady has sung. elvis has left the building. no mas. …and they all lived happily ever after. that’s all she wrote……

No matter how many ways I say it, it still feels unreal. It’s over. All over. Four weeks went entirely too fast. A huge part of me wants to keep going south, I’m glad I still feel that way.

I got in last night and met up with Ayngelina who is on her way south. We celebrated with a few beers and today was spent packing up my bike for plane travel and eating lots of food.

I have alot to say but not now. Instead I shall now head out to celebrate once more before my 7 AM flight in the AM. The next 12 hours should be interesting…..

Thank you all for your words of encouragement on this trip, it meant alot to me. I shall post something a little more meaningful in a day or two.

peace, love and poptarts,
Andres Roberto Esparza

p.s. Inside I’m buzzing with energy……..

Day 29- Mexico City

Long layovers suck……

So I found a hotel that will let me use their internet and apparently there is some good street food around the corner. I am really going to miss street food when I get back….

It felt wierd flying North and realizing everything that I had just biked the previous 4 weeks passed in a couple hours.

Right now I am in kind of a funk. I realized last night that had I not made work commitments for the rest of the summer I very well could have kept riding South for another 2 months. I guess that means I truly have found something I love and I have many mroe bike adventures to look forward to.

Regardless, I know that the home I am coming back to is just as beauitful, just in a very different way. My summer of fun part 1 is ending, but part 2 will be just as exciting.

For now I find street food and a place to watch the game.

cheers,
andy.

The end.

Well the trip is over and I am back, safe and sound in Yosemite. It feels good to be back somewhere familiar but also wierd knowing I’m still very transient for the next 2 months with no permament home.

It was also hard coming home to the sad news that a freind had died climbing a few days earlier. Chris was an amazing woman who meant alot to many of us, she will bemissed.

However this post is not about the sadness around but instead the overwhelming joy of having completed my first bike tour!

The trip was amazing and I learned alot of things. So here is my list, in no particular order, of lessons learned on this trip.

1. Sometimes to really understand a place, you need to move through it as slowly as possible.
2. The only thing you really have to believe in is yourself. We all have the power to do anything we want if we look within.
3. Never walk on beaches in Central America after midnight.
4. There truly is good in everyone and everything, it is just not always apparent.
5. Bike touring is fun. Way too fun…
6. Sometimes the best times in life are the ones that happened with no planning whatsoever.
7. The less people have the more they are willing to give.
8. Every single one of us reading this is more priveleged than the vast majority of people in the world.
9. I forgot the rest…….

Honestly I am not in the mood to write a meaningful summary, so I shall deliver a few chunks over time. For now, rest…

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One comment on “A blast from the past!

  1. ayngelina
    February 3, 2011

    What! You are such a tease, I want to hear about these big plans!

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2011 by in Biking and tagged , .

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