The Nicaraguan Peloton
With the three of us riding together again, we set off from Managua, looking forward to quickly making progress north, cycling through Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In ten days, we would reach the border of Guatemala and Mexico, our last passport stamping before entering the United States after nine months of travel.
The first day was easy-going as we pedaled the flat roads of the Pan American Highway, a road we first traveled months ago in Chile. During the last few hours, we spied a group a Lycra-clad cyclists going twice our leisurely pace. We looked at each other wondering if the group warranted a chase. Why not? It’s good to keep touring interesting with some race pace efforts.
Accelerating, we caught them, and as Cameron started talking to them, they dropped the pace so we could easily hold their wheels. It turned out one the riders was Nicaragua’s Under 23 National Champion. It was great to ride with some local cyclists and get a good workout to finish the day.
The next day, we left with the plan to reach the border town Somotillo and cross into Honduras the following day. As we reached Somotillo and began to explore the small town, we were picked out by a man who was determined to invite us to his hotel. We were instructed to follow him in his minivan. Not knowing what to expect, but being comfortable as we have become accustomed to this type of situation, we followed out of the town until the road turned to dirt. We soon arrived at his driveway. The room had everything we needed; a few beds awkwardly placed, a bathroom with about five bars of opened soap and, most importantly, a working AC unit. After a somewhat disappointing mission to get dinner, we settled with a few beers in a makeshift backyard bar before walking back to our room.
Hospitality in Honduras
We left our room in Somotillo after a few cold Nescafe coffees and some leftover snacks—enough to hold us over until reaching the border. We had been talking about how it would be possible to cross Honduras in one day, as we were riding along the short southwestern coast. But we would have to see how the day played out. Perhaps, we argued, we owed at least one night in the country. After quickly being processed into Honduras and a breakfast of baked yucca and meat we began looking for a quick stop to get some water.
The heat and humidity of Central America often had us drinking six or more liters of water during an entire day, along with sodas and Gatorade. We found a busy little shop and each filled our six-liter MSR Dromedary water bags. When we returned the empty bottles to the shop, we were each gifted a cold carton of orange juice.
Once we started on our way again, leaving the busy border behind; we thought it might be best to spend a night in Honduras as we had such a great experience in a few short kilometers. Once the heat of the day began slowing us, we found some shade beneath a tree beside the road. After a few moments, a man carrying a heavy load of firewood he had gathered for cooking stopped to rest under the same tree. I offered him some water from my steel cup and gave him the remaining chips I had been eating. We watched a few others pedal past, also with wood they had gathered, as the three of us enjoyed a few last minutes of rest from the sun. We said goodbye and set off on our way as the man began his walk home once again.
That night we ended up stopping in Nacaome. We had planned to continue but once the heat of the day hit us we decided not to push for the border before nightfall. The next day we biked 35 kilometers to the border with El Salvador and continued to the city of San Miguel.
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