Saturday, January 15, 2011
The End of the Road
Greetings friends, from San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. A quaint surfing town with a drug problem (welcome travellers)! I'll catch you up on our travels since Katie's post, and then share some stories.
After our initiation into the EXTREME sport of Volcano boarding (read: contrived and seriously dangerous)we went to the Volcanic island of Ometepe (rhymes with coma frappe). We took our bikes on the ferry and spent a few days goofing around and getting rained on. Mind you, this island is not on the ocean-- it's in lake Nicaragua (the biggest lake in Central Am), and in many places you can't see the shore.
From Ometepe (soma schleppe) it's a short ride to San Juan, where there's a few beaches with good waves. Now while I'm sure my bland prose ('we went here, did that...') has got you glued to your chair, I'm going to split from it for a bit. Maybe I'm just in that kind of mood, or maybe it's the rum-- A few short vignettes to illustrate how incapable a blog is to communicate some of our experiences. I've got a trunkful of stories to choose from:
How can I describe riding into Managua (the capital of Nicaragua), being prepared for a huge, confusing metropolis with famously un-marked streets) and finding that the downtown was the most sparse of all-- it was leveled in 1972 by an earthquake and never rebuilt-- the acting President (Samoza) siphoned off the restoration funds to enhance his personal properties. So now-- almost 40 years later, there's ramshackle "housing" and tents amidst the rubble and a clear skyline where a downtown used to be.
How about the time our tour bus (for the Volcano boarding experience) ran over a local family's pig in the road (and I had to dodge it). Photo is a sample pig photo from a different locale:
On our return trip the irate farmer had drug sticks and trash into the road, and came out with a simple sharpened tree branch-- demanding $30 payment for the dead animal? Our driver, put off by the aggressiveness, drove away. We were told later that they'd eventually pay him, but not $30-- that was way too much.
How about last night, when "the Evangelicals" rented the park next to our hostel, and a man, speaking through a scratchy P.A. system, preached, shouted, cried, shouted more, and begged San Juan del Sur (and the 6 people listening to him) until he was hoarse. The wealthy white tourists (from all over the world) were SO annoyed. (No photo of this-- that would have been annoying too).
How about back on Ometepe (homa-pepe) when we got caught out in the rain, looking for petroglyphs.
After the road developed a greasy mud surface and I dumped my bike, Evan's bike had an electrical issue, and asked to borrow tools from an old man and his family (farmers). He brought us a small box of rusty bicycle parts.
Someone's kid was naked, yet completely unashamed as he watched us.
How about when I found a great new tire (Kenda) for the front wheel of my motorcycle-- I carried the old one until I found a motorcycle shop to hand it off. When I told the guy working there that I didn't want to sell him the tire-- just wanted to give it to him, I thought he was going to hug me. A crowd of his buddies gathered, all llooking at my bike and slapping each other's shoulders in congratulations. I love the mechanical guys down here-- wish I had more words to use with them. The "old" tire:
I'm certain the tire is mounted right now and will be run until the cords are showing. Don't accuse Central Americans of not being "green". They don't throw anything away until it's truly used up... as it should be.
So that's all for now, and as we've reached the end of the road for us (San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua), and we'll turn around now, I can't help but wonder: After all our time on the road, what have we accomplished? Has our meager trip budget (that we've spent most of) improved the lives of anyone down here? What has changed in me? I want our travels to add up to more than just really eccentric entertainment... but some days I'm not sure they haven't. I suppose the answer to this question can be answered differently every day, depending on how well I remember. Remember what, you ask? Well that's a good question, and too involved for this post. I'll ponder over the next few hundred miles, and share sometime soon.
I'll leave you with a video of monkeys. Everybody has to love watching a mommy monkey with a little baby monkey on it's back.
Be well friends. We'll be home soon.