After our time in Paradise, we were ready to hit the road again, so we picked up the bike in Omega Tours and headed off in the direction of Lago Yojoa. We had to pass the dirt road again to go down, but since we knew that it was in good condition it was a lot easier than going up.
Leaving behind a cloud of dust…
It’s cool to see the cacao process along the way. Here you can see how they dry the cacao beans and at least they put it next to the road and not on the road like some of them do.
On the way from El Progreso to Lago Yojoa we had to pass the town of Santa Rita and we knew that there were some problems with their bridge, but when we saw the crack in the bridge we knew the problems could be a bit worse than we were thinking. They had put up a sign right before the bridge saying ‘bridge in bad condition’…no shit sherlock!
This is not a ‘bad condition’ in my opinion, the bridge is just gone!! Luckily there was a small one-direction bridge a bit further down so we could cross the river and continue towards Lago Yojoa.
The lake itself was really nice to look at, but staying near the lake was just a bit too expensive for us, so we rode on and found a small love hotel nearby where we could stay for next to nothing.
Enjoying the cloudy weather instead of the warm humidity for a change.
We really feel bad for these people. We imagine that they had just build these houses and that the people who bought them put their last money in them and then this happened… They just let the debris lie on the road and you just had to go onto the other lane to get past this.
We feared the border crossing from Honduras to Nicaragua because we had heard that the border ‘helpers’ would annoy you all the time, but actually it was quite all right. There were a few ‘helpers’ who insisted that we hire them to help us with our paperwork, but when Seb told them he didn’t want any help and wasn’t paying anyone anyway, they all went away in search of some other tourists. Exiting Honduras was pretty straightforward and entering Nicaragua didn’t take too long either. We only needed to pay 12 dollars per person to enter the country, the entry of the bikes was free but we had to get a 12 dollar insurance per bike.
After the border we rode straight to Leon where we found another Via Via hotel. This one was a lot bigger than the one in Copan, but it was also nice. The ride into the hotel was a bit tricky because we had to hop over a huge curb and the threshold to the bar, but Seb was so great at putting his own bike inside that Kim decided that he could also put her bike inside…
In the meantime we had decided that we would stay and wait in Leon because Azure and Roel from “My ticket to Ride” were planning on meeting up with us so we could spend a few days together.
The owners of the Via Via hotel, Stijn and Veronique asked us if we wanted to go with them and some friends to a local ranch just outside of town to have a barbecue and go horseback riding, so of course we said yeah! We ended up fitting 8 people into the car and off we went to the local horse ranch.
We had a really great barbecue and we decided that since both of us hadn’t been on a horse before, we would take the small tour just to see if we would manage ok. Kim’s horse was a small and calm one, but Seb’s was a bit bigger and it had some more punch to it. The beginning went ok, until Stijn decided to start to gallop with his horse and Seb’s horse decided to follow. After a few meters Seb could calm down the horse and meanwhile Kim was always saying ‘tranquilo, tranquilo’ to her horse so it would stay put and not run off like the other ones! After about 15 minutes Kim’s butt started hurting like crazy and even Seb had to admit that the saddle was worse than the seat on the bike, go figure! In the end, the guy that was guiding us even made the comment that Seb looked like Zorro on his horse and when Seb was laughing and showing off his Zorro moves, he almost fell to the ground because his horse decided to go left and his body was going right…
Late in the evening after the barbecue, Roel and Azure made it to the Via Via and along the way they had picked up some more bikers and two of them were Carine and Mark from Belgium who we had met on skype but not in person yet, so it was nice to finally meet up. Besides all these guys, they were also joined by David and Wayne.
We ended up exchanging stories, talking all the time and just relaxing together. We had decided to grab a room together with Roel and Azure. The girlfriend of Stijn the owner, Marianella, asked us if she could do an interview with us because she thought that it was cool to see two foreign people wandering around the world and she wanted to know more about this. We couldn’t of course just go with the two of us, so we asked if Roel and Azure wanted to join us in the interview, what we didn’t tell them (well not until the mast second anyway) was that the interview would be in spanish…
The two biker chicks and Marianella standing in the middle.
Since Roel had one day made a movie featuring Azure and a big Spider and a very loud scream of her part when the spider jumped from their top box in her direction, Azure thought it would be time for payback, so when she saw this little fellow lying dead in the middle of the yard, she had the idea to put it on Roels body when he would be sleeping to scare the living daylights out of him.
As you can see in the picture, the spider was on Roels body and he didn’t look too comfortable with it, but since we were all laughing our ass off, I think he knew that the spider was dead so he didn’t really panic in the end anyway, bummer!!
The last day in the Via Via hotel, Seb obviously didn’t want too leave, or at least he wanted to take the hammock with him on the bike…
Exiting the building was a lot easier than getting in, so we all rode out and took off in the direction of Laguna Apoyo.
This is David on his very lightly packed Yamaha with his cool and unique painting on his windshield!
Azure got some impressed looks from the female staff of the hotel.
Roel was the last in line and as you can see on the clock, we left ‘fairly’ early…
On the way to the nicer lagune of Apoyo, we passed this small version just before entering the city of Managua.
When we arrived in Managua, we were thinking about just riding through the city in search of some photo opportunities. At one point, Seb was taking point, Kim was riding second and Roel, Azure and David were following. Seb rode into an intersection just when the light went from green to amber and Kim decided to stop for the amber light thinking that otherwise the whole group would not be able to follow and would be forced to split up. When Kim and the rest were standing at the traffic lights, we saw Seb being pulled over by two police officers. Kim heard Seb ask the police officer why he pulled him over and the young cadette answered him that it was just a routine stop. Kim could hear almost the whole conversation thanks to the Scala Rider intercom system and when the light turned green, she could hear the other cop say: “you ran through the red light so I’m giving you a ticket!” Seb said that he didn’t ran the red light, that it had just turned amber the second he crossed the stop-line but the police officer just said: “I’m the boss here and if I say you ran the red light, you ran the red light!” In the meanwhile we had all stopped right beside Seb at the side of the road and Kim was telling Seb that she also saw him riding through the green/amber light and it was definitely not red at all! This was all Seb needed to know (in these situations you can start to doubt yourself even though you KNOW you didn’t do anything wrong!) so he started yelling to the officer that he was a liar and a corrupt cop and at this point, Roel, Azure and David could also hear the conversation (what a way to make new friend right? But hey, if you are right, this is just injustice and if there is something that Seb and Kim both can’t stand, it is injustice!) In the end both Kim and Seb were shouting at the police officer that he was a corrupt cop and a liar and we both told him that we would take this further. The cop kept writing and he also said that he would fine the guy on the blue bike (David) because he had run a solid white line.
David also had to give his papers and he also got a fine and the officers kept both David’s and Seb’s license. David tried to understand why he got the ticket, but at this stage the cop wasn’t talking to us anymore (could be that we just yelled a bit to hard at him, but he deserved what was coming to him!)
At this point, Seb was trying to take a picture of the badge number of the police officer so he could at least go and put in a complaint against him at the police station but the officer kept yelling that he had to take his camera out of his face and this is the exact point where we snapped this epic picture!
We left the two documents in the ‘capable’ hands of the police officials and took off towards the police station to put down a complaint for corruption and to try and get the documents back.
The first police station was the police headquarters of Managua where we were directed towards internal affairs where they tracked down the only guy that spoke English. He had to work overtime and his wife and son had to wait for him next to us in the waiting area while Seb was explaining what has happen, but at least he was nice enough and willing to write down the complaint for us. He told Seb that he was the first tourist in the last three years that was brave enough to stand up to the police when they were wrongfully accused and to come and put down a complaint. (I guess not a lot of you have a souvenir of Nicaragua in the form of a print out of a declaration in spanish of a corrupt cop!)
After what seemed to be ages, we were ready to go to the local headquarters of the traffic police to try and get back the drivers licenses of Seb and David. When we arrived there after our private escort by a policeman on a very shady bike, we were directed straight to the commissioner of the station to try and explain what happened. He had already been called by the boss of internal affairs about our situation. When we handed him over our traffic violations, he looked at them and frowned. He said to us that we didn’t need to worry and that he would get the ticket annulled the next day and we could come back to get our papers back between 7 and 8 in the morning. In the meantime it was almost getting dark and after a quick talk in a local fast food restaurant (McDonalds of course) Roel and Azure decided to push on to Laguna Apoyo to go and scout out the place and David and us would stay in the city, find a place to sleep in order to go back bright and early the next morning to the police station. The people at the hostel knew spot on that we were fined for a “red light” and a “lane invasion” before we even mentioned it when we told them we were pulled out of traffic. Huh, says enough, no?
The next day we were greeted by the commissioner again and he asked us to wait for a while while they would make up the annulment papers for the fine and sure enough after about half an hour, he came back with the necessary papers for David and Seb to sign and he handed them over their driver’s licenses back.
This was all just to say that ‘yes’ sometimes it happens that you meet the rotten apple of the bunch, but ‘no’ this doesn’t mean that you just have to let yourself get bullied by a guy like this, even if he is wearing a uniform (that is of course if you are 100% certain that you didn’t do anything wrong!) This could have happened to us anywhere in the world, so no this doesn’t mean that the whole police force of Nicaragua is corrupt and you will run into stuff like this all the time. But we take the time and effort to stand our ground if we’re right… matter of principles.
In the end it was nice to get everything sorted out and we still hope the cop gets what was coming to him but we doubt it very hard, but at least we had a laugh afterwards and David can say that when you meet Belgians traveling around the world, you have to steer clear of them and run as fast as you can in the other direction before getting into trouble…. But that fingerpointing picture is just epic!