Crossing the Border

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We got breakfast at a fast-food chicken joint — yeah, you can’t escape those anywhere populated. We drank the water.

We spent most of the day on foot, the rides were the scarcest they’d been so far. I felt the road beneath my soles closer. There was nothing. The dripping sunscreen became welcome accompaniment.

We traveled more than a hundred kilometers that day.

A semi-truck stopped for us and took us to the border of Nicaragua. Another semi-truck took us a little further North, but we had to cut West. Our goal was a surfing hostel in Playa Madera that had hammocks to sleep in for cheap, it was supposedly just a bit north of San Juan del Sur. 

By the time we got to the coast, the sun decided the day was over and began it’s descent. We continued on.

The road north wound away from the coast.  The trees covered us, now. People began to slow down just to tell us to turn back. We didn’t. When they saw we weren’t going to, sometimes they’d let us get in the back of their pick-up trucks for a short spurt.

The warnings increased. We walked faster.

From the picture of the map on Mike’s cellphone didn’t show the hostel, just a vague label of where “Playa Madera” should be. We made left hand turns when they arose hoping this road will lead us to the coast, and on the coast, will be the surfing hostel.

Dark fell.

The sketch-factor increased significantly. We walked up and down and started noticing shelters we could, if it came to it, sleep in. At one point, Mike was further ahead than I was and a man walked along the road in our direction. The glow in his eyes I could see as I looked in them and he passed close by.

Then we were winding downhill. It was fully black now. We had headlamps.

We stepped onto sand. We saw the ocean.

All was still dark.

“You guys need a place to stay tonight?” A man appeared to our left. Mike dropped his rock.

Yes. Yes, we do. We followed him under this building just yards away. A light came on, there were picnic tables. There were surfboards. We had found it.

News on the Water

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Beans, rice and plantains accompanied every meal, and every meal was good and cheap. Despite the warnings of the travel doctors, we ate the fruit.

We caught another boat ride at night-fall. It was a long journey headed toward Costa Rica, and there were benches inside with two TVs hanging down.

The news in Spanish told us Osama bin Laden was dead. We rolled on across a lake full of sharks.

Dirt-biking up a Volcano

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After a few minutes of instruction in Spanish for those of us who’d never ridden any two-wheeled motorized vehicle before, we were ready to head up a volcano on rented dirt bikes.

We rode as far up as we could and then hiked up to a waterfall. A family of wild horses blocked our trail back. There was no way around them, so I twirled bamboo and encouraged them down the path.

The ride up was steep and sketch, but not nearly as much as the ride down. We almost ate it at the bottom when we hit a mega-patch of sand, but my ballet days swooped into action and balance saved us.

We stayed at a hostel on the side of a volcano and hiked up and down into the crater of it the next morning.

(There might have been a part in there where the two with Marine Corps training left the group at dinner, took a wrong turn at a chain link fence in the dark, and got lost in the jungle a bit before backtracking and eventually finding the hostel…but the night creatures won’t disclose us.)

Sunrise in Nicaragua

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It was still dark when our flight landed in Managua. Seven of us tetris’d into a cab and ended up on the shore of the expansive Lago de Nicaragua as the black morphed blue above us.

There was a tree of ants and monkeys, and the sun rose across the water.
The beach was a happening place – markets, cars and horses all shared the sand. We caught a ferry to volcano island, squeezing in some shut-eye on the bright white deck.