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Nicaragua, an unexpected surprise by Nick

After a delightful night in che “nothing like it was in the pictures “ Airbnb we decided to find food, money and fuel outside of town.

Bec as usual came up trumps and found all three around a large roundabout.

The ATM was first but Bec had to wait 10 minutes while a guy refilled the machine with cash, closely watched by two of the meanest guards you have ever seen with sworn off shotguns. This was actually better than the last petrol service station we had been in where the guards were armed with machetes!

Maccy Dees came next, needs must old chap, and we were very hungry, but why do we put ourselves through such torture. Guided into to the establishment by another armed guard, and then guided by a cleaning lady who by the way corrected Bec when she asked for the mens toilet in Spanish and then nearly fainted when she thought I was going to use the ladies!!

We generally surprised the security guard who had been watching our bikes as we left when we handed him a Kiwi keyring with a volcano on it, and explained that we had volcanoes in NZ too. His smile was about a mile wide. Wish we had got a photo with him but once again we were living in the moment and not taking photos (this is by no means a bad thing!).

Cattle being tended next to rice fields

Once on our merry way we trundled on a scenic route to the ancient city of Granada which sits on the south western shore of lake Nicaragua.

We passed through large agricultural areas of sugar cane and livestock many of which were been grazed/tethered next to the roadside and tended to by their owners or moved from place to place by guys on horseback.

The contrasts in lifestyles became apparent again as cars, tractors, trucks, mopeds push bikes, oxen drawn carts and horse drawn carriages jostled for position along the road.

We have by now become entuned to to the trip and don’t tend to rush, unless we’re running out of day light, and so we bimbled along at a steady 60 to 70 kmh or just with the flow of traffic, which seemed lighter than the other countries we had been through.

Nicaragua is a beautiful place with volcanoes floating on both sides of the road in the morning haze. It reminded me of a theatre backdrop that fades into the distance using different colours.

The temperature and humidity was already starting to increase as did the smells and dust been kicked off the paddocks where the sugar cane harvest was well underway.

They ebbed and flowed as we entered already busy market towns slowing to a standstill when people and traffic came together as one with occasional toots, but everyone seemed to be patient without hostility, in fact our two bikes drew more attention with onlookers with smiles, nods and gestures.

They seem to like their bbq here and you would often ride through a plume of freshly lit charcoal smoke setting the stomach rumbles off.

The route took us into the jungle laden hills with some great bends and even better potholes that gave for some exciting lines!!

Five hours of riding later we hit Granada which was apparently as beautiful and historic as Antigua which we had left some five days ago in Guatemala.

It didn’t disappoint and we had found (ok Bec had found) a great little hotel within 10 minutes of the centre, that had aircon and a pool which we made immediate use of. The temperatures now were constantly high and more humid so every pore in my body leaked!

The relentless heat gets to everyone!

The place was run by a Swiss chap who confessed to “falling in love with and never leaving the town".

The town dated back to the early 1500s, similar to Antigua but so different in its build with the use of colour, not brick work, to enhance its beauty. A lot of sidewalks were tiled and the paint work faded by the constant sun. It had a real "Cuban" feel to the place.

It was also quite a bit smaller than Antigua and we had pretty well walked it all by the second day, it did though boast two church towers which allowed you to go up and have a birds eye view for only a $1.

The square like many of the Central American towns was well thought out with shade and seating where you could come and people watch during the day and have an ice cream or in the shadows of the many fairy lights in the evening.

Unlike Antigua which boasted throngs of mopeds and people, this place seemed less hectic but with about 15 horse drawn carriages parked around the square during the day for tourists of which (us included) seemed a bit thin on the ground.

We had also been given a map by the hotelier and shown an area down by the shore which was off limits as frequented by “bad people” weilding machetes and demanding money …we’ll go the other way then!!!

On dusk we were treated to the, now normal Central American pastime, release of bangers and rockets throughout town.

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