Thursday, February 21, 2013

Travel Challenges

We tried to leave San Juan del Sur early Sunday morning, but things just didn't work out. My slowly developing cold had hit full stride the previous day and I was feeling fatigued and so moving slowly. Then, the first thing I did after leaving the hotel was bend a link in my chain. Then I botched the repair due to simple inattentiveness, and partially broke my chain tool. After finding out that the only bike shop in town was closed, I figured out a way to fix it with the parts I had, but it was 2 links shorter, and used up ally spare chain bits.

It was almost 11am before we left town, taking the road out over the coastal mountain, and it was windy and hot. It was a head/cross wind, and it really threw us around on the way up the mountain. But once we were on the plains beyond it was more tolerable, we just had to hunker down and push through it.

It was only a 20 mile trip so it wasn't long before we were at the lake port town of San Jorge.

We stopped at a restaurant right at the port and the friendly Italian owner explained to us in clear English what was going on with the confusing ferry schedule. We stayed for pasta and Wi-Fi.

After lunch,we headed out to the breakwall itself, and missed the launch we had intended to take because it left early. In a way, this was fortunate because the lake was fierce with wind whipped waves, and from what others told us we certainly would have gotten seasick on the smaller, less stable craft. But it was unfortunate because...

Shortly thereafter Ferry No. 3 came in and the winds pushed the boat and grounded it in the shallows with a full load of passengers and vehicles on board. It looked like one of the engines was out, and so it didn't have enough power to push against the wind and the waves to reach the landing.

After about 30 minutes of the crew swimming through the intense waves and attaching ropes to shore, trying to free the boat that way, our ferry, El Che, got into position to try to pull No. 3 out.

After about 30 minutes of no noticeable improvement, El Che Gave up and came back to the launch, and we were able to board.

But, we got on board and basically just sat there for a while.

A really long while.

Then Ferry No. 1 came into the port, and instead of us, you know, leaving, No. 1 tried to land right next to us.

Our boats traded paint for a while until No.1 reached the landing. Then we had to wait for all their passengers to disembark. Then Ferry No. 1 tried to pull No. 3 out, with the tow ropes blocking our path. After about 45 minutes they finally succeeded, and Le Che was able to get underway. This was over 4 hours after we had arrived at the dock.

The lake was very rough, and the going was slow, what was supposed to be an hour trip took over an hour and a half due to the headwind and waves.

By the time we got to Moyogalpa on Ometepe, it was very dark. We where tired, hungry and dirty, and Valerie was starting to bonk. We went from hotel to hotel for a while looking for a room, my poor Spanish speaking skills made it hard for me to understand what they were saying, but it was clear that the town was still pretty full form the Ultramarathon the previous day. Eventually, we were able to stumble upon a nice hostel where we got a dorm room all to ourselves! Unfortunately I had a complete Spanish FAIL talking to the girl that was running the place. But there was a AmeriCorp-er gal there who came to my rescue and translated for me.

Valerie and I were finally able to get out of the bike shorts we had been sitting around in for the past 8 hours, and the Americorps girls showed us where there was a quick and cheap local restaurant just 2 blocks away. They were out of beans and rice due to a stove malfunction, but fried plantains with a cabbage and carrot salad on top was good enough for me at that point.

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