So….. Central America. A lot has happened since I last wrote in Honduras, we have been through Nicaragua where we hired motorcycles to zoom around Ometepe, this was very touristy but going to the far end of the island we found a small hostel among where the locals live where that was reasonable, we went kayak touring one morning and I was pee’d on by a monkey in the trees above I got too close to. Lots of wildlife, spiders, creepy crawlies. We did a few smaller hikes, up to waterfalls. A night visit to an active volcano and plenty of driving miles. We visited an old fort where gorillas were imprissoned (people, not the animals). The Nicaraguan police were corrupt as expected. I can’t blame them, i am told they earn $250dollar per month. On one day we had a policeman step out onto a carrige way to flag me down as he saw the foreign rich car approach, I drove around him and carried on. Later that day another police officer did manage to flag us down to inform us we performed an illegal manouver and would have to pay a fine. Fortunately for us he spoke no English and we played the dumb tourists for 15minutes till he waved us away. I think every overlander going through Nicaragua has had a similar experience.
I’ve heard of some officers that will play a waiting game for hours until their bluff is called asking for a senior officer to come at which point they say its no problem, carry on. I found it novel going to a big market one day where all the produce was ‘locally made by family’ but was identical through out the rest of central america and had an authentic chinese look about it. After Nicaragua came Costa Rica, the price of everything went up driving over the border. National parks charging up to 32dollars to camp the night. Bare in mind the most expensive American National Park I visited, cost about 30dollars for a week, or less if you camp in the back country. I imagine the prices are so high because mainly tourists come for one week holidays and have come too far to say no.
The river picture is a hot spring, or rather there is an expensive touristy hot spring just up from this point for about 40dollars per visit, which heats the river to a nice warm bath right below for free, complimented by the cooling rain from above. A great place to chill for a few hours. To the right is a free camp place by a lake, with me stringing out a tarp to collect rain water. Supermarkets seemed to charge a great deal for bottled clean water. Due to the cost of central, we made the decision to gun it for Colombia. Onto Panama.
We didn’t have too much time in Panama, just over a week before shipping the vehicle by container. We found some free camping and a bolted crag (cliff) local enthusiasts cleaned up. A nice couple of days falling repeatedly on routes. Just outside Panama City was a nice high camp that was cool enough to go running from in the morning.
Now we are in Colombia And the world has opened up again. Instead of paying to climb a volcano, its just a small park entrance fee. Instead of the compulsary guides, they are optional. There is free camping, decent stores, cheap food in restraunts and supermarkets. Im getting psyched. Near by there are big mountains over 5000m , snow, cool temperatures, unlimited climbing and nights of sleep where i don’t have to sweat.
This week I was particularly psyched about a decathlon store for cheap clothing. I think Karli is getting sick of the same pair of shorts I have been wearing since we started the trip. They have gone from black to faded grey.
Next blog – trad climbing- it should be more interesting from here.