Hasta Luego Nicaragua
La Ruta Maya has now completed its second Central American country, crossing from Nicaragua into Honduras. Our 6 days in the land of the Sandinistas have been more than rewarding, not only from a cycling perspective but also in terms of our exposure to los Nicas history, culture and hospitality. After less than 5 kms on the Pan American highway we turned onto a dirt road, riding past scenes of campesino farms and small haciendas that few gringos get to see. And that is one of the beauties of TDAs tours- cycling off the beaten track. But by that evening we were alongside the Pacific Ocean in San Juan del Sur, home to surfers, retired hippies, delicious ceviche and ice cold Toña cervezas.
Less than 24 hours later we arrived for a rest day in Nicaragua’s historical gem, the small city of Granada which was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, and whose Spanish colonial landmarks have survived repeated invasions. The city’s main plaza, Parque Central, is dominated by the colourful Cathedral of Granada, while the locals and turistas frequenting the many bars and restaurants along cobblestone Calle de Calzaga celebrate long into the night. Many of the participants also journeyed to nearby Volcán Mombacho to gaze down at the boiling red hot lava within its caldera. After spinning alongside Lago Nicaragua, we then stayed in the provincial town of Boaco before climbing up to the nature resort of La Selva Negra, set high among the cloud forest. From there our last days in country took us down a wicked downhill through Jinotega, and onto Estelí, then past many monuments commemorating la Revolución and “Daniel” (El Presidente Daniel Ortega), and finally up a 700 m ascent over 18 km to la frontera con Honduras.
From all appearances the Nicaraguan economy is doing well, with its agricultural bounty, smooth roads, and clean towns and villages. The people are proud of their small nation and it shows. While we were there the tour also continued to be blessed by good weather – we still have yet to encounter significant rain while on our bikes. However, as we departed, southern Nicaragua and much of neighbouring Costa Rica were blasted by Huracán Otto. In fact, Biyagua, one of the towns were we stayed a mere 10 days ago has apparently suffered devastation. Thus as we now prepare for a series of 2000+ m climbing days in Honduras our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tormenta.