Holly and Karl

We are on a cycling adventure from our home in Whitehorse, Canada to Panama - we have called the journey Southward Bound. Holly cycled from Inuvik to Whitehorse in 2011 and later we hope to continue south to Patagonia. Check out our photos & stories!
  • Day263

    Packing Up and Shipping Out

    April 21, 2016 in Nicaragua

    Luckily for us, the often challenging task of finding bike boxes was made much easier in Managua by our host Darling. She had recently hosted a cyclist who had flown his bike to Managua to start his trip and left one bike box with her. She then called around to a few bike shops and found us another box from a shop 5 km away. All that remained was to go pick it up, and we figured we could find a way to carry the box on our bikes after watching another cyclist fashion backpack straps for his bike box back in Mexico. It certainly made for a wide load, and was a little hard to manage in the wind, but ridiculous sights like Karl riding with a 5 foot box on his back are common on the streets of Central America, so drivers just gave us a wide berth and moved on to avoiding the next traffic hazard.

    Packing bikes into boxes is never a fun task, and really marks the end of a trip, so is a bit sad as well. Fortunately, after we finished the job we managed to connect with Joe, who just rolled into Managua from the mountains, for a fun last evening of stories and reflection. We also managed to offload leftover fuel and bits of gear that Joe could use as he continues south towards Ushuaia. Our 8 am flight the next morning meant we said goodbye to Darling before 5 am as our taxi driver lashed his hatchback door over our bike boxes. We were off to the airport and the fast way of travelling back north...
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  • Day263

    Managua for Cyclists

    April 21, 2016 in Nicaragua

    We were welcomed in Managua by Warmshowers host Darling, who is an avid advocate of cycling in Managua and dreaming of an upcoming cycle tour north to Mexico. We enjoyed touring through the lit up 'treed' streets with Darling by bicycle and getting a taste of quesillo and her favourite natural ice cream. We also hit up Fusion, the cyclist friendly bar where Darling and her friends host regular cycling events, for a few celebratory end of tour drinks. Darling helped us immensely in sourcing two bike boxes and tools from local bike shops so we could disassemble and pack up our bikes, and we are so glad that we got to meet her and experience Managua's liberal, pro-cycling subculture. Thanks to Darling for such a nice last couple of days in Nicaragua!Read more

  • Day262

    Our Last Day 'Behind Bars'

    April 20, 2016 in Nicaragua

    Back in Belize Karl was offered a Tombstone Park Ranger job. He's been hoping to work in parks in the Yukon since moving to the territory, but the timing never worked out with all the summer trips he's been on over the last few years. So it seemed like this time it was appropriate to prioritize work (for a change!) and accept the position, even though it required an April 25th start date and would result in us not reaching our intended destination of Panama. Holly hummed and hawed about continuing the trip alone, but finally decided that it wouldn't be as fun to push on without her trusty travel companion, just to make it to an arbitrary destination. So with flights out of Managua to end this trip, and hopes to continue south to Patagonia at some point in the future, we plan to start the next leg of the journey back in Nicaragua when we are finally ready to continue onward south.

    We started our last day of biking with a sunrise ride in good company. However, after 20 km of pedaling with Matt and Michelle, our routes diverged and we wished them well in their final two weeks of biking to San Jose, Costa Rica. We followed the road along Lago Managua with Volcan Momotombo and Volcan Momotombito in view. We spent mid-day at Lago de Xiloa, enjoying the cool water during the heat of the day, before making our final push to Managua.
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  • Day260

    Reunion in Leon

    April 18, 2016 in Nicaragua

    We were up early to hit the road from Jiquilillo before sunrise. Despite a couple flats and some 'traffic' (bike traffic jam!) in Chinandega, we made it to Leon by 11:30 am and checked into a hostel, happy to wash off the sweat from the hot morning ride. As we headed out to pick up some groceries later in the day we noticed a couple of bikes in front of the hostel across the street, and it turned out to be our friends Matt and Michelle who we had met back in Mazunte, in Mexico. For the rest of the afternoon and the following day we excitedly recounted stories from the road over delicious fruit-filled meals as we relaxed at the hostel together. And lucky that we had their help with the fruit, as it included a massive 20-pound papaya!Read more

  • Day259

    Sunset Surf

    April 17, 2016 in Nicaragua

    After lounging away the afternoon, we hit the beach for one last sunset surf, this time on boogie boards. The waves were much 'dirtier' at low tide, which made the bigger ones feel a bit scarier, but we still had fun surfing the wash under the setting sun. Then we treated ourselves to a tasty fried fish dinner to finish off our relaxing beach vacation.

  • Day259

    Kayaking in The Mangroves

    April 17, 2016 in Nicaragua

    Our shoulders were sore from paddling surfboards, but we thought we could manage a kayak tour in the Padre Ramos Nature Reserve the next day. We followed our guide through farm fields, under mango and cashew trees, and out to the calm waters of the estuary, where we boarded a double kayak - a change from our usual 'single occupancy vehicles'. We paddled down a large channel past mangrove trees and various species of birds, then through a series of narrow channels that brought us to a small hill providing a view over the 8,800 hectare protected mangrove forest. We learned about the 3 species of mangrove trees and the few shrimp farms that operate within the protected area, then wiggled our way back out through the mangrove roots to the little rancho where we began. It's always fun to change modes of transport and landscapes so drastically, and we learned a lot too.Read more

  • Day258

    And Then There Were Two

    April 16, 2016 in Nicaragua

    We woke up and waited for the optimal surf tide, then headed to the beach. Antoine provided some tips for us beginners and we managed to ride the wash in a few times. We still have a long way to go before we win any championships, but took a little solace in hearing other surfer types complaining about the waves "closing out" and being hard to read. Antoine chefed up one more lunch for us to share and then packed his bags and set off in the afternoon heat, bound for Leon. It was sad to see him go and be back to just the two of us after all the great adventures we shared. We hope to see Antoine one day soon in Whitehorse. After he left, we continued our relaxing...Read more

  • Day257

    Quiet Coastal Nica

    April 15, 2016 in Nicaragua

    It was time for some relaxing on the beach, so we headed to Jiquilillo, a quiet fishing town with a tiny bit of tourism, and just the ticket for a bit of surfing and lots of lounging. We landed at Rancho Esperanza, and took advantage of the many hammocks for some siestas before hitting the waves to try a bit of boogie boarding to get us started. We headed to a BBQ at sunset, but didn't make it too long before the tired eyes set in given our early start to the day - catching up on sleep was also high on our list of things to do while in Jiquilillo!Read more

  • Day256

    And Then There Were Three

    April 14, 2016 in Nicaragua

    We had debated going to Somoto Canyon, as Karl's cousin had recommended it to us, but with only a week left we couldn't quite muster up the interest to ride back up to 1000 m in the mountains when the beach was calling. Joe decided he was up for the detour and the climbing, however, so we said our goodbye over lukewarm watermelon and cold drinks at the turn off to El Sauce. It seemed so appropriate that the road quickly turned to dirt, as Joe is a seeker of dirt roads, who briefly sojourned along the pavement while riding with us over the last few weeks. We shared some good riding, great food and good laughs with Joe, so it was sad to see him go. We carried on toward the coast with Antoine, and quickly came upon another couple of bike tourers, Luz from Chile and Sylvain from France, who were riding from Patagonia. We chatted under the shade of a tree, and heard of their stressful crossing from Columbia to Panama by boat through Carti. We rode on through the afternoon, but when the wind picked up just as we rolled over 95 km we decided that was enough for one day. We stopped to get drinks at a tiendita, and asked if we could put up our tents. As usual we were welcomed to stay, and spent the evening among the chickens, pigs and cows, getting offered fruit, tortillas and coffee by our generous hosts. We also learned that this is another sugarcane growing area, and got to see multiple semis pulling strings of 5 empty trailers down a haul road parallel to the highway.Read more

  • Day256

    Hola Nicaragua!

    April 14, 2016 in Honduras

    We were surprised to see two bicycle tourers on the road ahead of us as we pulled out from Carmen's at 5:30 am. We caught up, and then spent the 2-hour ride to the border chatting with Genevieve, from Australia, and Michel, from Quebec. They started their trip in Prince George and were heading to Patagonia. We compared notes on the routes we had taken and the highlights of the trip, and before we knew it we were at the border. We still had some lempiras left and hadn't tried the local dish of baleadas, so stopped for a snack, while Genevieve and Michel pedalled on. The Nicaraguan border crossing was the most confusing so far. We waited in line at immigration, only to find out when we got to the front of the line that we needed some kind of health ticket from another office ('Do you have a fever?' they asked, then gave us a stamped piece of paper when we responded negatively), before being taken into a small air conditioned room and required to pay $10 US and $45 Cordova (something like $1.60 US), with no possibility of paying only in one currency. From this office they sent us to customs, who sent us back to immigration, and eventually we were just told we could leave, after a couple of sweaty, confusing hours of waiting in lines. It was after noon when we pedalled away from the border, only to see a truck wreck right at the exit - we learned from the guards that the brakes had failed, and the truck had plowed right into the security booth area, but luckily the driver only sustained minor injuries. Trucks, and the reckless buses barrelling down the road then pulling off suddenly to pick up passengers, are probably the biggest danger we face while riding each day. That said, the boys do get a good kick out of getting truck assistance up hills when conditions allow. Our first impression of Nicaragua was that it is dry dry dry. We passed many dry arroyos in our first few kilometres to Somotillo and many more over the following days. Getting money in Nicaragua proved just as challenging as the border crossing, as there were no working ATMs in Somotillo and businesses that would have let us do cash advances didn't have working phone connections while we were in town. We ended up just changing a bunch of the US dollars we had left and filling up on watermelon and ice cream before pedalling on.Read more

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