I knew today would be risky and hard, and it was, in more ways than we could have imagined. I had connected dots on Google Earth to eeck out a route to San Juan Del Sur from Gigante but in my research found nothing about anyone using those roads to link the two surfing towns. The locals I asked hadn’t heard of such a route either. Given our bike woes I was tempted to bail, which would mean missing out on Nicaragua’s liveliest beach town. But this is why I had come, this is why I seek to get lost, for the challenge. When one old villager reluctantly agreed that it was possible my juices were flowing. I knew it would get much worse but the road we started on looked great and any miles on good road means fewer miles on bad. I was focused on making it to a river crossing that could quickly end our chances when a bigger obstacle appeared around the bend. The road was gated and standing there were two men armed with semi-automatics and hand guns. I put on my best smile and greeting as we approached. One man engaged me in conversation and I told him of our plans. He shook his head no. I don’t know why I persisted. Hello! Devin! You moron, look around at the big drug money hacienda on the right! But no, there I am pulling up Google maps on my phone to show him the route we planned on taking. And right then it hit me that it’s not just the challenging terrain that keeps people from traveling this way. The two men spoke for a time. I was now content to abandon our plans when he suprised us by letting us through. With Liam there they must have presumed that we were low risk. So we went on. If we could fjord the river, only smaller streams would remain. Stories of crocodiles in the rivers had Liam nervous but the water was only up to our knees at its deepest so we made quick work of it which emboldened our hopes. After the river we traveled a short distance before I saw a man stopped on a horse up ahead. I used that as a cue to check my Google blue dot and sure enough we had gone just a little off course. Our easy riding was over, now it was more a path than a road and soon it was singletrack, hopping logs and splashing through streams along the way. A few miles in, a man on a motorcycle approached from behind. Thankfully, he was pleasant given the large machete at his side. In hand gesture conversation he told us about a steep mountain ahead. Then he left up ahead of us. Given the debris, I knew this route hadn’t been used in a long time. We were being watched. Which, along with being deep into a remote jungle with howler monkeys yelling from above made for a rather eerie feeling. The man wasn’t lying about the steep rocky climb. We could barely push our bikes while hiking up it. Near the top, the man on the motorcycle returned the other way, perhaps content that if we were willing to climb that hill we were too crazy to turn back. The next few miles were an absolute hoot. With spectacular views we rode for miles down jungle ridgelines on a mix of smooth and rocky singletrack. Our hopes were high. Each mile was a mile closer to waiting villages and perhaps better roads. However, as we dropped lower, the conditions worsened. Quickly the trail became mud, like all mud. There was no escape. Our wheels gummed up so quickly that we were soon dragging our stalled bikes. Liam frequently lost his shoes as we struggled for over a mile in nothing but muck. Exhausted from the effort we finally emerged into a small village of a few homes. We had made it! There an old man kindly allowed us to wash off. It took forever just to get the bikes ridable again but better roads lie ahead. Of course we couldn’t just have a victory cruise down into San Juan Del Sur, so I broke a chain just to keep things on par for bike issues. After a failed repair I just scooted down to town occasionally tethering my bike to Liams on the flats. San Jaun was a welcome end to a hard fought day. Getting the bike fixed introduced us to a expat from New York who helped us find a good hostel to crash. After some rest we walked the town and dined at at a restaurant overlooking this amazing bay. Perched on the hill is a massive Christus, he looked down on me as if to say, “I got you, I’m watching over you, just stop being so dumb!” Later we passed by the town square where a festival was taking place with families, food and music everywhere. I must say, I really love Nicaragua where even the henchmen are quite nice!
I’ll bet even the crocodiles are nice.
Liam surprised that more people don’t take this route.
I hear it does wonders for your skin.
The river crossing to our hostel requires a ferry in high tide but is walkable otherwise. Just move fast.
Locals futbal game
Comfort from above.