Some countries get under your skin for all the right reasons and Nicaragua was creeping up my list of favourites here in the Americas. It’s not always a given that you “connect” with a place but within minutes of crossing into Nicaragua I had that sense of belonging. Maybe it had something to do with leaving a much overpriced Costa Rica with bad roads and a reputation it struggles to live up to, but entering this humble nation, number 10 on the expedition was a breath of fresh air.
Unfortunately the schedule beckons and as much as I’d love to just dig in the heels and take my time in the odd spot along the way, the reality of a required 400 km’s a week is constantly knocking on my door. A finish line with a set date, a constant reminder that this is the furthest thing from a holiday.
The diminutive characteristics of most Central American countries coupled with my demanding schedule means that I have been crossing borders thick and fast. Leaving Nicaragua to enter Honduras, a stretch of tarmac only 145 km’s long that needed to be navigated, I crossed her in a day and a half. Too short a time to gather a great deal of info, but at a very quick glance this rather poor nation in the Americas boasts a big friendly personality.
Before I knew it I was crossing into El Salvador, country number 12 on the agenda and with a required 400 km of tarmac here to traverse giving me a little more time to wrap my head around things. Not able to find a map on the border I was forced to rely on road signs and my vague memory of the layout of the country when plotting the route online. I was funneled into the capital as a result where I finally tracked down a map and was rewarded with the most magical Pacific coastal route I have had to date on the trip.
El Salvador with its rolling hills and volcanoes in the interior, mouthwatering coastal plains in the lowlands had now also just popped into the top ten favourites on the trip thus far. The most densely populated country in Central America, it’s not a cyclist’s paradise but I managed to track down a few decent campsites on the Pacific coast that helped to swing the balance in her favour.
I am now in Guatemala the third last nation on the Americas expedition. There is still a huge amount of mileage that needs to be navigated but border crossings are now starting to slow down a touch which is great news. It can be a bit tricky keeping an eye on all your gear and doing the necessary paperwork with the immigration officials, so tricky that I had some gear stolen on the Honduran- El Salvadorian crossing.
Currently in the town of Escuintla sporting a broken rear derailleur, the gear changing mechanism on the rear of the bike gave way 20 km out of Escuintla which turned out to be a long hot 5 hour walk to push the rig in. At the mercy of some spares being bussed in from Guatemala City and I’m sitting watching the clock tick by as the ever pressing schedule looms.
35 weeks have now gone by since rolling out of Buenos Aires 13 653 km’s and 13 nations ago. Myself and the currently wounded Little Ms. Sunshine have now saved over 2 tons of carbon emissions as a result of pedal power and human steam. The aim to advocate the bicycle as a powerful tool in the battle against climate change and as a phenomenal and practical means of carbon free travel is truly coming to fruition. Now having reached the lofty figures of 2047.95 kg’s and the humble two wheeled bicycle has now certainly earned its right to be counted.