Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Segment 29: León, Nicaragua to Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua (January 3 - 15, 2011)

We left León in a gang of 6 riders... this is our high number so far on this trip (besides some urban riding in Columbia Falls, MT with some friends we made there).  We headed out of León and immediately found some great dirt roads, taking us in the direction of some gorgeous volcanoes and crater lakes, among other things...

taking over the road!  Volcán Las Pilas in the background

rural Nicaraguan public transport

Mike tops out a decent climb, followed by the others

rural Nicaraguan traffic jam

Sonia enjoys the riding with Volcán Momotombo in the background, Las Pilas in the foreground

Sonia chatting with a local

Laguna Asososca, our destination.  A flat crater lake.

cooling off after the ride

we settled in and had some campfires, played music, and relaxed

scorpion seen near the fire area

egrets are common at Asososca

these guys came down to drink water in mid-morning

From Laguna Asososca, Mike, Craig and Rochelle returned to León, and Jeff, Jason and Sonia continued riding east...

Volcán Momotombo in the midground, Momotombito in the background.  Climbing Momotombo is our next project

to fuel up, we got this fish lunch in the town of Momotombo on the edge of Lake Managua

Momotombo was the original location of the city of León in the 16th century.  This plaque is celebrating Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, who is considered the founder of Nicaragua.  He died and was buried in Old León.

this statue commemorates an Indian uprising against colonial troops

getting closer to Volcán Momotombo

The volcano is accessed from a geothermal plant at the base of the volcano.  Here we had to bribe the guards to let us in, as we didn´t have the permission which we unknowingly were supposed to obtain in Managua.  Then we switched our gear from bikes to backpacks and started up on foot...

up through the lower slopes

sunset over Lake Managua

Jason with Momotombo's summit behind, near where we camped

we began the climb at 3 am; this was sunrise from a shoulder most of the way up

Sonia with the peak ever closer

Jason makes his way up through steep unstable slopes--
-- with these shoes

Jeff and Jason at the summit (1297 m)

the summit is very active, with lots of fumaroles and sulfurous growth everywhere

the Nicaraguan chain of volcanoes stretching off to the west-northwest, looking back towards Las Pilas, El Hoyo, Telica, and San Cristobal

the huge smoking crater of Momotombo.  The last major eruption was in 1905.

to see a video of a walk around the summit of Momotombo, click on the following You Tube link:

lava flows seen from the summit on the lower slopes of Momotombo

descending on a picture-perfect morning

the forests of the lower slopes

this guy was seen on Jason´s chain at the guard station.  Moments earlier, we saw a much bigger lizard - a 4.5 meter crocodile - in the shallow waters on the edge of Lake Managua, where we had been bathing only 15 minutes before!

we returned to Momotombo town after our descent, for another fish lunch, and this was our view as we ate

Great Kiskadee seen while eating on the edge of Lake Managua

Sonia after fighting a local

this road, with hand-placed stones, stretched about 20 km going south from Momotombo

in Nagarote we were pointed to a library for map information, and the super-friendly librarian Jose Palacios sorted us out

bike usage in Nicaragua reminds us at times of Cuba; here in Nagarote bike-taxis are quite common

from Nagarote we found a great dirt road leading us south towards the coast

the dry season is very dusty here

this is one reason we choose dirt roads whenever possible: low traffic and quiet locals

this is another reason: fun riding
we had a lot of fun on this road

a local´s home along the route

this day of great riding ended with this sunset

the next morning we continued towards the coast, still following great roads

at Playa San Diego, Jason manages a shave

local boy watching us strange gringoes

reunited with English Tom (last seen in El Tunco, El Salvador), who has been working at a surf lodge here at Los Cardones.

Tom, besides being an arctic sled dog trainer, a surfer, a hangglider, and a ukelele player, among other things, is also a talented fire dancer

from Los Cardones, we headed for Granada; here asking locals for directions, trying to find the good dirt roads

Sonia stopping to swim in a river crossing

there were some local boys here with us

some Tarzan-style swinging

more incredible riding

back on a paved stretch before Diriamba, huge rainbow arcing across

camped near San Marcos in a coffee plantation

political propaganda for Ortega seen in San Marcos

this banner says: "Welcome, Jesus Christ's girlfriend".  we still haven't figured out what was going on here

getting close to Masaya, we found some descending single track that was a helluva ride

... by now, Sonia has adapted to the dirt nicely...

early morning in Masaya, we found a street food gem: beignets made of yuca, and drizzled with honey

entering Granada now, this is propaganda for Ortega.  The striking part of this billboard is that it celebrates Nicaragua as a Christian Socialist nation of solidarity.

colonial style architecture in Granada

In Granada we stayed at El Chelero hostel, with high ceilings. This is Jeff's gear while doing some bike maintenance in the room

Iglesia de la Merced, Granada

this is how beer is sold in Granada, at the corner liquor store

We walked down to the edge of Lake Nicaragua about 2km from the center of Granada, and talked with a local hotdog vendor for awhile.  The vendor's name was Ana Rosa, and she invited us the following day to a fish lunch at her home...

this is 15 y.o. Laura setting the table...
and here we are eating
...Maria Fernanda, the animated 6 y.o. daughter...

... before leaving Granada, we managed to sneak in a baseball game.  Granada vs. Chinandega.  The lady above is selling fried plantain chips in the bleacher seats

with Tom, and some Canadian and Australian friends

... as in León, Granada has numerous graffiti and images celebrating the leftist organization the Sandinistas.  The above is commemorating some Sandinistas who were killed in Granada in a 1982 uprising

this flyer labels Washington, D.C. as the terrorist center of the world.  Nicaraguans seem duly aware of illegal US operations in their country over the last century, from the CIA to various military operations (including the notorious Contras from the Reagan era).

 Jason, Sonia and Jeff on the way to Ometepe Island, via ferry from San Jorge

approaching Ometepe, Volcán Concepción dominates the scene


Eric G said...

I think I need to stop checking this blog. It makes me regret not building a bike and racing down to meet you guys! Keep on keeping on.


Marilyn said...

Amazing photos!!!!

mike said...

nice blog,never read one before and it has some great info for friend. fun time in nicaragua at playa maderas, camping ,surfing and good talk. enjoy the journey, be safe and oil your chain now and then.......peace

Anonymous said...

im glad you enjoyed my country & had a great journey exploring all the site seeing. have you tried cacao? its the best drink you will ever have :)
- Guillermo