Quick Peek: Mountains. Rain. Sun. Puncture. Border crossing. Bomberos!
I was up at 5:30 and realized my host family was up and running already! Dang. I packed up quick and was ready to leave at 6 ish. My host was heading out to work at the construction site and gave me a ride out to the highway. I bid farewell, stopped for a spot of b’fast and hit the road running at 7. The day was going to be hilly and I wasn’t sure how far I could go. May be if I got delayed too much, I might cross the border tomorrow.
The sky was overcast and it was spitting rain often but it would clear up for a bit too. It was a beautiful riding day I should say. As I climbed up the first hill towards the bigger town of Danli, the landscape turned into pine plantations and it was wonderful with fresh smelling pine all the way. The gradient was a bit more palatable than yesterday, most of the climbs I did at 8% and the few bits of rolling hills was taking a toll on the legs. I stopped for a quick drink of coffee up on the summit and headed down to town. It was fast descent and I found a restaurant on the outskirts with internet. I stopped for lunch and caught up on my blog too.
A quick look at the maps showed that I had about 35 km to get to the border and possibly another 20 km or so downhill to get to the town of Ocotal in Nicaragua. It was 1 pm when I started and with a 500m climb ahead, I figured I could get to the frontera by 4 pm. That would be ideal, else I’d have to make a overnight stop at the town of El Paraiso.
I rode hard to the town of El Paraiso and once I passed it, I was committed to crossing the border. I dislike staying at border towns, without exception they are skanky. By this time, the rain clouds dissipated and the sun was burning hot. The climb into Las Manos was what I’d call “hot and heavy”. After a tough ride, I spotted the trucks parked at the border and as I rode past them, I realized my rear tire was flat! Dang, it was brand new Schwalbe tube. I pushed my bike to the last stretch and got to the immigration office.
It was a quick affair at Honduran side, but the procedure was convoluted at Nicaraguan end and I had to visit 3 different offices before I could get my permission to pass thro. There was a 12$ fee for entry and the feller conveniently skipped giving me my change back (1$ down the drain). Ah well. The trouble was that it took almost an hour and it was 5 when I cleared immigration.
Then I had to fix my flat. To be fair, the puncture was on the inner side of he tube, guess some piece of stone got lodged in and poked a hole. The tire’s not to blame. It was 5:20 when I was ready to hit the road, a few Texan guys wanted to chat. I was running out of light, but tried to be polite and entertained them. Turned out they were Christian evangelists and started doing a sermon on accepting Jesus in my heart. I couldn’t stand for that and bid them well and headed on.
The bad news was that I was losing light and it was raining. Good news was that the road was terrific and it was a beautifully graded downhill all the way. The scenery changed form the pine trees to more tropical jungle with coffee plantations closer to the road. It was a good intro to Nicaragua. I tried to stop at random houses and asked for accommodation, but not much luck. Around 6 I spotted a small village with a police station. They gave me a bit of a run around and even a small guest house wouldn’t accommodate me. Strange.
I decided it was no use hanging about and decided to do a late evening ride into Ocotal. It was downhill all the way and luckily no traffic. The good news was that the Busch & Muller lights worked like an absolute charm. I had great visibility and eventually I got into town at 7. First order of business was to look for the Bomberos! They were there at the entry into town and were happy to let me put my hammock up! Awesome. Next up was to look for food. A small Comedor provided me with the standard veggie platter (beans, cheese, eggs, avocado and fried plantains). This was huge compared to Honduran standards, the lady gave me 2 full bananas instead of 5 slices I used to get in Honduras.
It was a long day on the road, but it ended well, border crossing done and I reeled in some distance too!
Pet peeve of the day: Damn it google maps, I relied heavily on GPSVisualizer to look up elevation profiles. Starting today Google maps does not provide data needed for generating profiles. You bastards.
Route: Ojo de Agua (Honduras) to Ocotal (Nicaragua)
Distance: 91 km
Road: Stunning all the way. No shoulder between Danli and El Paraiso. Nicaragua side was absolutely fabulous with a good shoulder too.
Traffic: Light between Ojo de Agua and Danli. A bit rough between Danli and El Paraiso. Quiet to Las Manos. Really quiet to Ocotal.
Services: Regular pulperias and comedor in Honduran side. Lots at the border. All restaurants on Nicaraguan side closed at 6, so sparse services. Ocotal has full services.
Expenses: SG$ 34.80
Comments: I dislike riding after dark. But with good lights and light traffic, I felt safe on the road.