Bussin’ It (Day 180) – Somotillo to León, Nicaragua

Everything was sore this morning. We’ve been covering long distances in pretty serious heat for the past few days and are definitely not in the habit of doing either, after so much time off the bikes in Guatemala. Yesterday’s events really took it out of us and when we got up this morning, we knew that there was no way we were going to make the 100km ride to León as planned. We had two options: to stay in Somotillo and take our off day there, or to hop a bus to León and rest up in more cosmopolitan surroundings. I’m not shy to say that I was seriously looking forward to seeing other gringos- just vacationing and having a good time- after all we’ve been through, first in Antigua, then with the attack. We gave into the siren song of easy living and decided to bus it, but we had a few things to take care of first.

We ate a hearty breakfast, provided by the hotel- really, it was one of the best breakfasts we’ve had in days and would have been a perfect start to a long day on the bikes, along with the cooler weather and overcast sky. But we didn’t enjoy any of it less for our own purposes that morning. We had to return to the police station at the border, since they omitted some of the items that were stolen. We took a cab back and then had to walk about one kilometer to the Honduras side of the border, stopping every so often to explain our situation to another guard and hope that they wouldn’t charge us for re-entry. One thing I’ll say for a disorganized system like the one in Honduras is that it can sometimes work to your advantage. All of the officers we talked to were very casual about our moving around the border area and, while I can see how that same attitude could go very wrong in other circumstances, it worked in our favor today. We breezed by all of the security points and walked back to the Honduran police station, where we miraculously found the same pair of officers that we had spoken to the day before. They were both in plain clothes (but still armed) and were on their way out when we caught them. Since the report was handwritten in the first place, all they had to do was add the missing items to the original report and we were on our way. It was a much easier crossing than the day before. We hopped a cab back and realized that we’d make it just in time for the 10:30 direct bus to León.

Except it was a 12:00 bus to León and actually came at about a quarter to 1. Nevermind. We were packed, relaxed, and ready to go. By the time we boarded the bus, we were only thinking about our real day off, tomorrow. Even though we weren’t riding today, we were still amped up from yesterday and from having to deal with leftover paperwork and transport. It took us over 3 hours, when we expected it to only take 1 and a half, but we got in safe and sound with plenty of daylight left.

When we got off the bus in León, I realized that my rear tire was flat. Not wanting to unload the bikes and invite more spectators (they always come, along with know-it-alls, who offer unwanted and often incorrect or useless assistance every time we do anything remotely mechanical with the bikes in public), we walked the fully loaded bikes about 20 blocks to where the most promising looking hostels in the Lonely Planet were listed. We found a fit pretty quickly (at the family-run Hostel Clinica) and were happy to find out that the town seemed alright at first glance. We were expecting another Antigua- totally removed from the reality of the rest of the country- and, while I can truthfully say that even that would have not been entirely unwelcome after our hyper-‘real’ experience in Honduras, it is a place that we are looking forward to exploring more fully tomorrow. Tonight we are relaxing with a bottle of the long-awaited Flor de Caña rum and other goodies that we found at the Western-style Union supermarket. We plan to watch dumb TV shows on our computer until we fall over with exhaustion, an activity that is aimed at both relieving stress and celebrating the fact that even two armed robbers couldn’t wrench away all of our beloved electronics.

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2 Responses to Bussin’ It (Day 180) – Somotillo to León, Nicaragua

  1. Matthew says:

    I just happened to stumble across this blog. – I have a bit of reading to do it looks like. I stayed the night in Somotillo a couple years ago, driving back to Washington state. If you’re still in Nicaragua and have any time to spare, the Monkey Hut at Lago Apoyo is a beautiful place to stay (Managua/Masaya area). I’m inclined to share your sentiments on Honduras, and am glad you came out virtually unscathed. Throughout the remainder of your adventure, fare well and I hope you can make the most out of what is likely an incredible experience.

    • M says:

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks so much for your comment and suggestion. Unfortunately, we are waaaay behind on the blog and have actually moved on to Costa Rica. We had an amazing time in Nicaragua and stopped for lunch at Lago Apoyo on our way to Granada, but we didn’t get to spend the night. Traveling Central America has been a trip- we get a lot of love, but also a lot of criticism undertaking a bike trip when so many of these countries have real political and social problems. In hindsight, we are lucky to have escaped the robbery in Honduras without serious problems and we are going to great lengths to make sure that we don’t find ourselves in such a compromising position again.

      Cheers!

      M

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