Nicaragua 03/06 Ė 03/13/2011

How relaxed we felt when we finally reached Nicaraguan ground. Immediately the ďgringoĒ yelling stopped. Hardly anymore did we hear it.
I very much enjoyed cruising Nicaragua. The roads are wide with a good shoulder, smooth and almost flat. The people are surprisingly friendly and a lot of them have to go to work by bike because the average family hasnít got a car.

We experienced two funny situations the first evening: Riding together with a local returning home from work along the smoking volcano San Cristobal there was a large dead snake lying on the road. When I saw it I was excited and pointed at it while the local, an older gentle man, only laughed and rode over it.

Shortly later there was a police control check point where we were stopped. Two police women made severe faces but after a short conversation we found out that they had stopped us only for interest. And it made us laugh when we saw that the four of them, armed with shot guns, had to march out with simple bikes and didnít even have a police car.

In Leon, another colonial town, I took the step to which I had felt driven already for some time: Going on alone:
In the time of planning as well as in the first months of riding especially in Latin America I never wanted to ride this tour alone. It was good to have a companion and I could learn a lot from the others, but since the end of Mexico I observed that my inner growth was stopping. Everything had become just routine and no longer a challenge, so that continuing in the same way without altering something, it was getting a little boring.
Now when I write about this, I can say that it was the right decision to separate totally. Mentally it takes much more of you and the journey becomes more intensive. Emotionally I observed that everything moves you more be it positively or negatively. But thatís what I like and what keeps one not only active but makes a person also more mature learning to deal with that.
This does not exclude that I will meet again in the future with another person and ride again together for a while.

I enjoyed riding alone through Nicaragua a lot and appreciated every little conversation I had, especially when I met Swiss fellow country men, the BPN-people about whom I wrote in the encounters.
Granada is a typical Central American colonial town with charm but you wonít see only the nice face: I havenít yet found another town on this tour where I saw more children selling things or begging for money than here. Of course many times their parents send them to do this, but in Nicaragua I got the general impression that they are so poor that they even have to send their children to earn money for the family to survive.

I had a longer talk about the political system when I was allowed to sleep in the ferry station before shipping to Isla Ometepe: The security guard explained to me his view of how the social governmentís system works: He said the government would buy the staple food from the people who produce it at a very low price as there seems to be no option to sell it and then the government would sell it again to the same people to process it but for the double price.
Another example I had to smile about is this: there is a law that every bicycle requires an annual licence to be ridden.
He told me that the normal Nicaraguan people didnít have the opportunity to earn a fair salary. His salary - he said - was a 150 US dollars a month which seems to make sense as I had heard from a similar worker in Guatemala that he earned about a hundred dollars a month only.
Furthermore, I havenít seen any Mc Donald or Star Bucks all over Nicaragua. Quite the contrary, ferries get here names like Che Guevara.

Isla Ometepe
Originally I planned to spend a day but in the end I had spent almost four days because the island was so beautiful and the silence helped to relax: The island appears to be fifty years back in time. Life is more tranquilo, moves a little more slowly, not even all of the main roads are paved yet and the work beside the small tourism is only agriculture. Also this island is made up by banana plantations, jungle around the two volcanoes, people riding their bikes or horses and a lot of nice simple huts with their families living around their huts.

A rest in Little Morganís lakeside resort right on the lake gave me a needed rest.  Hiking to Volcano Maderas where I enjoyed the silence in the awesome jungle helped to have a distance from all the traffic of a normal day passing on both sides while riding.