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I don’t think I gave Nicaragua a fair shake. Perhaps the shock of being hit in Honduras left me with the desire to cover as much ground as I could to distance myself physically and therefore mentally from the scene. But I can’t say.

I spent a total of four nights in the country. I had my first 100 mile day in a very long time entering the country, and the next two rides which would take me to Costa Rica both covered at least 85 miles. But my experiences with the people there were wholly positive. While leaving Granada I met a boy on a racing bike who complemented me on mine. I met locals riding their bikes to work who would shout encouragement as I trudged up the few hills I encountered, and most of the faces I remember were smiling (without all of their teeth).

So I guess I was unfair not to explore it more. Lago de Nicaragua was beautiful, although the sand flies caused me great consternation. Volcanoes rose in pairs in the distance, or fumed up close.

In Leon, I met my first bicycle tourist in a long while and we swapped stories about the road behind and our ideas about how we might tackle the road ahead. At night I ate behind a gorgeous cathedral with a professional chef, and in the day I sweat all the water out of my body walking around. And in the cool of early morning after only a day, I left for Granada.

And in Granada I found the same thing. I met a motorcyclist intending on riding south. We discussed strategies for crossing the Darien Gap, I harrassed a fat and lazy cat while he restrained me. And when my bank card decided to go on strike, we worked out how I could get more money. Granada’s colonial elegance impressed me greatly, and the breeze off the lake refreshed me in equal measure. But in the cool of early morning after only a day, I left for the border.

I rode to the ferry for Ometepe, considered taking it for a while as sand flies covered my things and attempted to cover me. And I pressed on. The rode was flat and quick, and the constant breeze blowing across me from the lake kept the worst of the heat from me. Before I was mentally prepared for it, I was at the border, then crossing it, and then in Costa Rica.

So I can’t say what Nicaragua was really like. I never had enough time there to get a proper feel for the culture. The talk I heard about the government, I had expected to hear, and for that I didn’t trust it at all. I have only ever been surprised by each country being totally different from my conception, and so I couldn’t believe that Nicaragua should match it.

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