August 2015
  • Day255

    Honduras Hospitality

    April 13, 2016 in Honduras ⋅ ⛅ 36 °C

    The crossing into Honduras was fairly straightforward. You provide your fingerprints (?!), pay US $3, get a passport stamp and off you go. We enjoyed a cool evening ride to a small town where we spent the night sweating in our tents as the temperature only dropped below 30 degrees during a 40-minute torrential downpour. The next day we rode through another small rain shower at sunrise, and spent the rest of the morning rolling over small dry hills, drinking hot water from our sun-baked bottles. We found an air conditioned cafe in Choluteca where we could cool down, and bought a huge watermelon to rehydrate before we headed to Warmshowers host Jamie's house. It turns out Jaime is living in another part of Honduras now, but his mom Carmen happily receives cyclists, providing great hospitality. After we washed up and each hand washed a large load of laundry we were treated to lunch and ice cold juice. We spent the afternoon relaxing and chatting with Carmen - who is originally from Spain, but met her husband, a Honduran, while he was studying in Spain, and eventually moved back to Honduras with him and raised their 5 children there. An early dinner, and early to bed, and we were up early ready to brave to the heat again before sunrise the next morning.Read more

  • Day254

    Leaving El Salvador with New Looks

    April 12, 2016 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 36 °C

    Our morning ride got us to La Union where we found a cool Internet cafe and had a hard time leaving. We looked into taking a boat across the gulf straight to Nicaragua, but decided we ought to actually ride through Honduras. There was a beauty salon just across the street from our Internet perch, so the two of us got our hair cut for a total of US $7 before we were ready for an afternoon push into Honduras. We stopped at an air-conditioned gas station near the border and spent our small change pigging out on pop and chips before checking out of El Salvador in good spirits and with new looks (no more beard for Karl, that thing was getting a bit ratty!)Read more

  • Day252

    A French Connection in El Salvador

    April 10, 2016 in El Salvador ⋅ ☀️ 36 °C

    Another early start got us most of the way to a Warmshowers host's place in San Jose Hualoso before the worst of the heat the next morning. Karl's lingering stomach bug flared up so he had a hard time with the only hill of the day, but we still arrived at Jose and Maria's big house by 10 am and were soon relaxing in the shade and being plied with cold drinks and delicious food. Jose's mother had taken him and his 11 siblings to Montreal during the civil war in the early 1980s, so he grew up speaking French, and when he decided to return to his home country he did it by bicycle, so is excited to host passing cycle tourists. We spent hours listening to stories about El Salvador's tumultuous history and broken political system, and sharing cycling and life stories from Canada and Central America. We also got to join Jose for a trip to San Miguel where he buys everything from concrete to toilet paper to maize for the small stores he runs in two adjacent communities. We really enjoyed our time with Jose - he is definitely an example of someone who is working hard to achieve his dreams, including building a beautiful home for his extended family and passing cyclists. A full day off the bikes relaxing in hammocks gave Karl a chance to work through his stomach issue so he was feeling far better before we had to ride in the heat again. We had one more extravagant crepe breakfast (with real maple syrup from Canada!) and we said goodbye at 7 am.Read more

  • Day251

    Mandatory Siesta

    April 9, 2016 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 36 °C

    We reluctantly left Playa San Diego and our sweet beach vacation bubble early the next morning to try to get some miles done before the heat really set in. We made good time to Zacatecoluca, ate pupusas (El Salvador's favourite dish of fried tortillas stuffed with cheese and beans or meat) and ice cream in the park and topped up water before we set off again. Our heat window had passed though and we were now riding into a hot headwind at 40 degrees or more and it was all we could do to make it 11 km to Rio Lempa at noon. With fingers crossed we descended to the river and were overjoyed to find it not only full of water, but populated by locals who were also struggling with the heat. We ditched our bikes and lay in the water for an hour before taking naps in the shade. The temperature had dropped sufficiently by 4 pm so we got back on our bikes and rode into Usulutan where we were welcomed to stay at one of the nicest fire stations we have seen all trip.Read more

  • Day250

    Beach Day!

    April 8, 2016 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 37 °C

    We missed meeting up with Karl's Aunt Jodi, who came down to El Salvador to a friend's beach rental house a month before we got there. Luckily for us she very kindly treated us to a couple nights of accomodation at Rancho Tranquilidad when we finally made it to Playa San Diego. What an amazing treat to relax poolside for a day with a beautiful kitchen and air-conditioned rooms. Antoine cooked up some delicious meals including crepes loaded with fruit from the passing fruit truck, and we did a lot of reading and relaxing (and Karl still managed to find a way to be helpful by cleaning the pool in his snorkel gear!). Thanks Jodi!Read more

  • Day249

    Back to the Coast

    April 7, 2016 in El Salvador ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    After another night of chatting with locals and their kids at a church in the small town of Chilata, we decided to split up to try two different routes to the coast. Antoine and Joe took the adventurous route up onto a high ridge road, while the two of us opted to descend to the coast sooner and ride the winding "Sun and Beach Route" to La Libertad. We got a 6 am start since we knew it was going to be hot on the coast, and quite enjoyed riding up, down and around the numerous coastal headlands, especially since surprise tunnels made the little hills even smaller. We made good time to La Libertad, pushing to stay ahead of the heat, and then luckily managed to bump into Antoine and Joe after a quick tour of the Malecon. It sounded like we may have made the better route choice...Read more

  • Day248

    Lago Coatepeque Crater Ride

    April 6, 2016 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Accessing and navigating the roads through the coffee fields seemed challenging, so we eventually opted to stick to paved roads and do the big loop down through the town of Santa Ana and back up toward the volcano. Karl's bike computer rolled over the 15,000 km mark as we rode out of Santa Ana, so we celebrated with ice cream... how typical! We climbed back up to the crater rim above Lago Coatepeque, which granted us beautiful views in both directions. Once again, we used the clouds as an excuse to skip climbing Volcan Santa Ana and turned our bikes down a wonderful descent on new asphalt back to the highway. We found water, ice cream, and WiFi at a gas station, and eventually decided on one of the many routes we could take to the coast.Read more

  • Day247

    Ruta de Las Flores

    April 5, 2016 in El Salvador ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    As is often the case, our intended route to Santa Ana changed in the colourful town of Ahuachapan where we were convinced that the longer hillier Routa de las Flores was worth the effort. We passed some heavily loaded firewood carts as we climbed the first hill, had a lunch/juggling break in Apaneca's nice central park, and rolled on towards more beautiful volcanos adorned with patchwork forests of coffee and shelter trees. As we started into the last big hill of the day we came to a coffee processing facility where the smell of coffee drew us in for a sample, but the giant map of coffee farms and little roads around the volcanoes really caught our interest as it looked like there was a way to circumnavigate Volcan Santa Ana on dirt roads through coffee plantations. We reluctantly got back on our bikes and started up again, enjoying beautiful views over the valley as we climbed. We camped at a church outside of Los Naranjos and had to stake our tents well for the first windy night in a long while - at least it made for a comfortable sleeping temperature!Read more

  • Day246

    A New Frontera

    April 4, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    After our alpine start and volcano adventuring, and a few more dirt road descents, we were hot and tired by 1 pm, so were excited when the Bomberos of Barberena welcomed us to stay with them for the night. We spent the afternoon eating and relaxing and the evening watching as they responded to numerous emergencies. The next day's ride had some wonderful smooth descents, and some truck assisted ascents... but the heat was getting to us as we neared the El Salvador border so we took an extended lunch break at some pools in the tiny hamlet of Aldea El Coco. Yet another smooth border crossing took us over a river and into El Salvador. The climb back out of the river valley in the hot afternoon got us to Lago Llano El Espino, where some friendly restaurant owners let us camp on the shores of the lake for the night after a delicious first dinner in El Salvador.Read more

  • Day245

    Volcan Pacaya

    April 3, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We decided not to climb 3976 m Acatenango because the weather didn't seem very promising, so we left Antigua with Joe and Antoine and headed for the smaller Volcan Pacaya in the hopes of seeing some volcanic action. The afternoon ride there involved some steep climbs and descents that made for slow progress, but provided a few good opportunities to chat with locals and compare bikes and loads as we pedalled. We arrived at the base of the mountain near dusk and were encouraged to camp at local guide Antonio's place for the night. As we ate dinner Antonio convinced us to use his services as a guide for one more early morning volcano adventure the next day.

    We started up the road at 3 am the next morning, roasted some marshmallows at a vent in the cooling lava at 4 am, and got to a high point on an old lava flow at 5 am. High winds and thick fog made for a quick turn around, but Antonio brought us through a lava tunnel, which was pretty cool, on the way back down. We got a nice view of the big volcanoes around Antigua as the sun came up, and were back down in time for breakfast at a normal hour. Joe even managed a quick ride around the yard on a bony pony before we got back on our bikes and started out on part two of our day.
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