Since my last report from Nicaragua, Leana and I had a big climb up to the border of Honduras. These 2 countries are part of a 4-country open border agreement, but it is no surprise that you still have to pay a number of dollars for exit and entry into each of these countries. We descended down from the border to the town of Danli, where we were pleased to discover that costs are not much different to those in our previous country (Nicaragua). Honduras is a mountainous country, so we again climbed and eventually descended into the bowl, the capital, Tegucigalpa (try saying that after a few beers!). In the capital I also cleaned up my image by shaving my face for the first time in 9 months (the landlady of the dump where we were staying didn't recognise me the following morning, and wanted to throw me out!). From there we picked an unusual route through the mountains Northwards towards the Carribean coast. The road took us past some rather interesting places. Firstly we made a deviation to the touristy colonial mountain village of Valle De Angeles. Further on we got to big dusty local towns such as Juticalpa. Later, after the end of the paved road, we went through isolated mountain villages like Santa Maria De Madeira, where the children ran away from us as we approached. The road started out as an asphalt paved road, then it turned into a reasoable gravel road, but unfortunately at times we were climbing and descending treacherous eroded tracks (other vehicles who had to do this gauntlet were no faster than what we were at the rough spots). Eventually, as we got closer to the Carribean coast at Bonito Oriental, the pavement returned. We also had some unfortunate clay to contend with, the worst since Borneo (the clay jams the bike to a halt, so you push and clear the blockage by hand every few metres). We stayed over at Saba town (a place where there is an armed guard at every isle in the supermarket). At the coastal town of La Ceiba be took a break, and then took the ferry (fancy big cat "Galaxy Wave") to the biggest of the Bay Islands, Roatan. This island was a haven for pirates over hundreds of years - for some time there were more than 5000 pirates on this island. Now we are staying in a nice room at West End village. I have enjoyed snorkeling in Half Moon Bay about 200m from the room, as well as in neighbouring West Bay (both fantasic, like a huge aquarium, with coral reefs, crystal clear water, and many colourful fish - and even some quite big fish). From here we will obviously return to the mainland, and then carry on towards the ruins of Copan. Distances cycled since my last report have been:- Danli (Honduras) 57 km; Zamorano 66 km; Tegucigalpa 37 km; Valle De Angeles 31 km; Guaimaca 73 km; Juticalpa 86 km; La Paz De San Francisco 44 km; San Esteban 64 km; Benito Oriental 72 km; Saba 85 km; La Ceiba 83 km; and (Roatan Island) West End 27 km (plus 1 and a half hour ferry). The total distance cycled so far in Honduras is 701 km, and the total distance cycled on this trip is 96 187 km. Thanks again to Leana and my sister Olga for financial support.
Since entering Nicaragua Leana and I have seen some smoke – mostly volcano smoke, as there are many of these cones along the Pacific Rim. We cycled mostly along the Western side of the country, without bothering to go down to any of the Pacific beaches (we’d seen plenty of those in Costa Rica). Initally we took a ferry across Lago Nicaragua to the twin-vulcano island of Ometepi. On the island we stayed in interesting Moyogalpa village (twice), as well as at a wonderful bungalow on the lake beach where we bathed in the luke-warm water. As I’ve mentioned in my previous report, I had some of my equipment stolen in Costa Rica. Well, here’s a twist in the tale!! On the ferry back from the island to the mainland Leana and I were accused of robbery! Apparently there was an eye-witness who saw us stealing somebody’s money and passport, etc. (my guess is that the so-called eye-witness was the guilty party). Anayway, the cops confiscated our passports and held us in the sweltering port for some time before inexplicably letting us go. In Nicaragua we have primarily visited Historical Colonial cities such as Granada and Leon. We also stayed for a few days in the disjointed capital Managua, mainly looking for spares for Leana’s bike. I say that Managua is disjointed due to the devastating earthquake of 1972, which destroyed the city centre (now the place is a city of suburbs, with the eery deserted centre still marked by the cathedral with clock stopped at the time of disaster). We cycled roughly North along the Pacific, but after the city of Leon we moved (or rather climbed) inland via various active and extinct vulcano’s. Notably we stayed in Esteli, where Cuban immigrants have established a smoking cigar trade (I had to participate in this activity – and I have found the produce to be of excellent quality). Right now we are at the hill-town of Ocotal, about 25 km from the Hunduras border. So, tomorrow we head into another of these smallish Central American countries. In Nicaragua we have probably taken more rest days than cycling days. Anyway, distances since my last report on cycling days have been:- Liberia 79 km; La Cruz (Costa Rica) 62 km; San Jorge (Nicaragua) 64 km; Moyogalpa (Ometepe Isl.) 13 km; San Jose DS 16 km; Moyogalpa (X2) 41 km; Granada 78 km; Masaya 21 km; Managua 42 km; Leon 95 km; San Isidro 114 km; Esteli 36 km; Ocotal 81 km. Total in Nicaragua is about 600 km. Total distance since the start of this journey is 95 462 km.
My bike (Old Saartjie) on the first day of this trip, 27 March 2007.
PLEASE HELP TO KEEP OLD SAARTJIE'S WHEELS ROLLING: In order to fund this cycle trip I'd sold everything I had, but that has long gone. Please help if you can! If you want to contribute, then please contact me on my e-mail, and I will give you details. (email@example.com)
My Cycle Route
Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 March 2007 - 141 851 km so far
My name is Ernest Markwood, and I am a South African formerly from Cape Town. I am a Research Psychologist by profession, and operated a Market Research business before embarking on this journey. I sold my posessions and took off by bicycle all the way through Africa from Cape Town. Since then I've proceeded via the Middle-East through Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), China, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Australia, South- and Central America, and the USA, crossing Canada from the West to East and then all the way down the East coast of USA, and Jamaica. Currently my mission is to close gaps in order to form a continuous route around the world. I left Cape Town on 27 March 2007. This was not intended to be a race, but rather an experience (and so it is!).
Me (Ernest), on one of my better days
. . . . on this trip I have looked like this . . . .
- - - also like this . . .
. . . . and I've even looked like this!
I have not been cycling on my own for this entire trip. Leana and I left together on 27 March 2007 from Cape Town, South Africa (our former hometown). Since then we have cycled separately at intervals, although in total we have been together much of the time. We split in 2013. For more about her see leananiemand.org.za