Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Madness in the mountains

The 70km ride across from Esteli to Jinotega was lovely. 
Here we are auditioning for a toothpaste commercial!

It was a beautiful, quiet road (strangely made of interlock paving, never seen that anywhere before), plenty of lovely scenery and a few hills to sweat out. One of them was so steep we had to zig zag up it. 

Notice anything wrong here?

No, I haven't grown a big beard, it's a guy called Elliot riding my bike. He's driving his car down from Canada to Panama and fancied a go so we swapped for a few Km. Corr, aren't cars great?!

This local blokes one wasn't so great so I couldn't resist giving him a hand

Maybe this is a better way to go?

At our lunch stop we met this guy. He travels from village to village on the bus selling kitchen utensils. The slightly iffy translation on his grater was a bit lost on him...

After a rare full day in the saddle, we rolled into Jinotega, finding a guest house just as it started to spit with rain. The region sits at about 1000m high and there are pockets of 'Cloud Forest' where the cloud literally rests in the peaks and valleys, producing thick, green, lush foliage.

After a night in Jinotega we headed on a massive 4km to La Biosphera. 
Well, what a wild n whacky 2 days that was! The lady who owns the hillside retreat was lovely but batty as a fruit cake. I won't attempt to re live the experience on here - it was a real case of 'you had to be there' but it's given us lots of fun memories that'll last for years.

We left the at around 9.30. It's lovely to back in cooler max 25 degree weather. We still sweated it out though on a solid climb for about 5km then had 11km of gorgeous, rolling scenery. The sun was hot, the air was cool and all was good with the world. We topped off the ride with a 12km blast down a twisting, turning, smooth road. We only stopped for a couple of photos, the rest of the descent was at 40-60km/h. 

As we came down the mountain, the countryside dried out and the heat returned. We rolled into the town of Matagalpa at lunchtime and spent the afternoon dozing and chatting to fellow travellers down in the nice hotel reception. Meeting people is definitely one of the best bits about a trip like this. A French bloke who programmes satellites to measure global warming, an eccentric older couple from North Carolina, a young Austrian guy who's doing a masters in renewable energy, a Canadian couple who are gardeners who escape the thick snow of Nova Scotia every winter. All good people with interesting stories and great attitudes.

It's great to have a purpose in life isn't it? Today's purpose was big, deep n meaningful. Find a shop to replace the zip in Kate's trousers! Broken, not due to an overdose in cream cakes but rather a loss of footing whilst taking a No. 1's in a less than desirable convenience. A problem Bear Grylls doesn't have to worry about.
"It's 2 blocks down on the right" nothing. "4 blocks up then turn right" nothing. Here, there, everywhere, at least we got to have a good look around....  Well, in fact that's not quite true. You can't really look around town as you walk about, only if you stop. 

The narrow pavements are often broken, no manhole covers again, bits of metal stick up or out, ready to impale various parts of your body. Cars, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles add to the melee, it's fun but it's certainly not a walk in the park.
We actually attempted a walk in the park. There's a bush reserve south of town with a lookout point. The hill to get up there looked a bit much though so we aborted, choosing instead an aircon cafe serving frothy frappes and delish cakes!

Hmm, what else? I could tell you all about washing a few clothes or the fact that I've finally managed to finish my book? It's exactly 8 weeks ago that we flew out of London and exactly 5 weeks to go until we'll be back there. We've just booked our flight from Costa Rica back to Miami so it doesn't look like we'll get to Panama to see the canal unless we bus it down which right now, doesn't look too appealing. Hmm, might go and have a frothy latte and mull it over...

And on another note, I'm sure there's a joke in this photo but I can't quite think of  it

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