April 14th: From Guatemala City, we crossed over into El Salvador (longest crossing yet at four hours) and stopped for the night in El Sunzal, at the El Balsamo guesthouse on the beach. We met lots of nice people here so we decided to stay two nights. We enjoyed a bunch of swimming in the ocean, soccer on the beach, running in the mornings, and even a chocolate making session!
April 16th: We drove south to our second and final stop in El Salvador at La Tortuga Verde near Intipuca beach. Met a guy names Jeff from Washington state who apparently has a pet bobcat and travels down to El Salvador regularly. Lots of interesting folks on this trip…
The next day, we hustled through the El Salvador border into Honduras, drove two hours, and back out of Honduras into Nicaragua, stopping in Leon. We heard a lot of rough stories about Honduras so we decided to move in and out in one day. Surprisingly, we had a fairly smooth trip though with lots of checkpoints but very little hassle.
Leon welcomed us with a traffic cop pulling us over for a traffic violation. Thanks. I didn’t think it was possible to break traffic laws that don’t exist, but I stand corrected. We found refuge in Granada, a beautiful town on the edge of lake Nicaragua. We were greeted with full hostels and more celebrations as the Easter vacation week for locals raged on. During the days we explored town, and I met Javier (who has ben biking around the world for 15 years! Check him out at http://www.bicicleting.com/) and visited Apoyo Lagoon, a crater nearby worth swimming in. We met a bunch of nice Europeans at the Bearded Monkey hostel and even went out to a rave on the lake where we were sprayed with colored paints and danced on until the sun came up.
April 20th: Easter Sunday, we stopped though church and took off toward the beach. We found a place at Playa de Popoyo, which to this point has been the most beautiful and relaxing beach we have visited yet. We met a lot of great folks here, surfed, ran on the beach, and relaxed in hammocks under the dappled sunlight. After far too short a time, we took off inland toward the great inner Lake Nicaragua.
Ometepe Island was formed by two volcanoes in the middle of the gigantic Lake Nicaragua. It’s an incredible place dotted with small towns, farms, and jungle. We shipped the Subaru over to the island and I rented a motorbike. We stayed off the beaten path at a little known hostel (Little Morgan) and explored from there. The roads were extremely rough in places and at one point we blew out the side-wall of a tire on the Subaru while Bart was following the me (I was on the motorcycle). Despite the setback, we had a spare and even found a group of early teen boys to give our second indestructible soccer ball to.
The next day, I took off at midnight with a guide to climb Concepcion Volcano (Bart opted to sleep instead), the taller of the two peaks, with hopes to summit at sunrise. It was a dark, windy, and wet hike along what could generously be called animal trails, but we eventually made it to the top an hour before sunrise. Because of the wind (70+ mph gusts) and the wet from literally being inside the clouds, we took off back down before seeing the sun. This was perhaps the second hardest climb I’ve done after Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
The rest of the day was a blur of exhaustion as we ferried back to the mainland, crossed over from Nicaragua into Costa Rica, and eventually found a place to camp near Liberia Canton, Cost Rica.
April 25th: We woke up early and took off after breakfast (plus fresh greapfruit) into a national park where we met Thomas who we spoke to about Subarus and 100k ultra-runs in the area, and referred us to the Subaru dealership in San Jose. In the park, we hiked two hours through beautiful jungle and grasslands into a waterfall, swam, and hiked out before darkness found us on our drive and we camped on the side of the road in the mountains with a thunderstorm blowing and cracking on the horizon.
The next morning we drove into Montverde for a cheese factory tour, and then the rest of the way into San Jose to stay with Bart’s college friend, Alyssa. Alyssa has been a wonderful host and we have managed to both see the city and get a bit of work done. We stopped by the Subaru dealership, where we were greeted very kindly by the manager, Christen, and sales associate Rudolpho. They took a carful look over the car and unfortunately found that the front struts, bushings, and transfer links were shot and need to be replaced. Its going to set us back over a grand and a day or two, but its important to have the Subie working in tip top shape for the roads we will be tackling.
Next we head to Panama where we might have just nailed down our shipping date to Columbia (hopefully!). I’ll try to keep the updates more regular and shorter. Hope you are well back home!
Adam (& Bart)