Crossing the Border at Penas Blancas into Costa Rica

Little did I know as I packed up to leave San Juan del Sur that crossing the border at Penas Blancas into Costa Rica was the most frustrating border crossing to date.

Leaving San Juan del Sur

It turned out my studying was of minimal help and even Google Maps was, and is, out of date.

Leaving Nicaragua

I arrived at the Nicaraguan side of the Penas Blancas border crossing and was confused right away. The building I was looking for wasn’t there. Well … it was … but I guess they must have redone it because it looked nothing like the picture I had studied. Now it had all glass walls on the outside. To make matters worse, there were no signs on where to go.

So, of course, I ended up going into immigration to enter Nicaragua! And I had to pay $1 US to do it ha ha. I was soon directed to the back of the building labeled #2 in the picture below. There is a door for immigration and one for customs that are not signed. Of course I did things backwards and went to customs first.

Costa Rica Border

Once at the back, the customs officer wanted a form. What form???!!! I was told to go outside and look for a police officer to get the form. The police officer could be anywhere outside!

Costa Rica border 2

I walked around aimlessly looking for a police officer. Finally I found one at a shack at the far end. It is labelled #1 on my picture below. However, don’t count on a police officer being there again.

He gave me a form to fill out. I was being badgered by fixers outside, and it was hot, so I went back inside the air conditioned customs/immigration building to fill out the form.

Now you would think a completed form was enough. But oh no … I had to go back outside and find the police officer again to have him sign it. Then I also had to find a customs officer outside to sign it as well. Once again, they could be anywhere outside.

I headed back to where I saw the police officer last. He wasn’t there. I walked around the parking lot and across the street looking for a police officer.

Following me was a fixer who wasn’t saying much. No badgering like most of them. He told me to follow him and he located a police officer in the parking lot.

This police officer was not the friendliest and didn’t speak English. He asked me a couple things in Spanish which I didn’t understand. The fixer translated for me and the officer signed my form. I now had to find an immigration officer. At this point I was hot and frustrated and agreed to hire the quiet fixer.

The fixer, with me in tow, looked around for a customs officer. We finally saw one getting off of a bus parked in the lot. He walked with us to my bike where he looked at my VIN and looked in one of my paniers before signing the form. Back to Customs I went.

Finally, after providing them with copies of my documents, Customs approved the form and stamped my motorcycle permit to exit Nicaragua.

Since I ended up doing things backwards, I now needed to go through immigration in the same building at the back.

I handed the immigration officer all my documents and she wanted $2 US and didn’t have change! Back out I went again looking for a money changer. They are everywhere so that wasn’t difficult.

The fixer wanted $10 US for his trouble. Pretty pricey, but at this point I didn’t care. I just wanted out of there. Off I went to tackle the Costa Rica side of the border.

mexico-border (15)

Entering Costa Rica

As I approached the Costa Rican side of the border I was sure hoping things would go smoother.

The first thing I needed to do was go through fumigation at the fork in the road labelled #3 in the picture below. However, when I turned down the road I was told by the “fumigator” to turn around and go down the other road. When I did that, an immigration officer said to go back to fumigation! Here we go again. With hand expressions I told the immigration officer that fumigation had sent me this way. Finally he smiled and waved me through. Phew. Onto the next hurdle.

The immigration building was as I had studied. Finally!


I waited in line inside the building labeled #4 in the picture below, only to be told when I reached the immigration officer that I needed to fill out a form. At least she gave me the form and didn’t send me outside searching for a police officer.

With the form filled out, immigration stamped my passport and it was on to the first customs.

Yes I said the “first” customs. It was right across the street.

Costa Rica border 3

I have labelled it #5 in the picture below.

Here I handed in copies of all my documents along with the originals. THe customs officer gave me 2 forms to fill out and said I also needed a copy of the passport page where immigration stamped it. Next door a woman said she would copy it for me.

After filling out the forms the customs officer gave me a document and I was onto the second customs building labelled #6 below.

Once again my studying DID NOT pay off. I went to the building where others before me had went but it was now vacant! I had no idea where to go. I did see a new building down a path towards the main road and walked down there. At the first entrance I was told to go to the next entrance.

Costa Rica Border 5

I knew motorcycle insurance was required in Costa Rica and the booth for that was on the right as I entered the building. $30 US later I had insurance. The main booth in the building was the second customs office. I have no idea why there are two customs. Perhaps I could have done everything at this office. I don’t know. Anyways, I handed the customs officer my passport, insurance, registration, the first customs document and everything else I could think of. After a lot of data entry onto his computer he handed me a temporary import permit for my motorcycle. I was finally done and riding to the beach at Tamarindo!!!!

costa rica penas

My Route for August 8, 2017


San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

From Granada I made my way to the beach and surf town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The last beach and surf town I was at was El Tunco in El Salvador. It was OK but not my favorite place as it was grubby. I love beaches but it wasn’t my kind of place. So it was with some trepidation that I rode to San Juan del Sur.

HC Liri

Most of the hotels in San Juan del Sur were over my budget. I guess because it is a tourist area. The HC Liri hotel was still over my budget but within reason. It appeared that the main reason it was cheaper than other hotels in the town was that to get to the town you have to walk through a river!

Depending on the tide, the river depth would either be below my knees or to my crotch.

Juan del Sur phone

It really wasn’t a big deal though. The other option was to walk a long way around it to a bridge.

The hotel itself was nice and served a huge breakfast.

At the entrance of the hotel was a fridge with beer and other drinks. You just grab one and let the receptionist know. When you check out you pay for what you took.

The Beach

Of course the main attraction of San Juan del Sur is the beach.

Juan del Sur phone 2

Juan del Sur 10

Juan del Sur 5

Juan del Sur 2

Juan del Sur phone 9

Of course there was the Nicaraguan flare to the beach.

Juan del Sur 12

When I was there, no one was surfing. The waves were kind of small. Just past the waves were lots of boats moored.

Juan del Sur 7

The Town of San Juan del Sur

The town of San Juan del Sur itself was nothing special … at least to me. It mostly consisted of restaurants and hostels.

One of the best restaurants in town is Dan Pues.

Juan del Sur phone 4

The meals are relatively inexpensive and very good. It is small but a good place to meet people. A woman next to me asked if I was going on the bar crawl. What? She explained to me that everyone wearing wrist bands were walking from bar to bar that evening. Later that evening I saw throngs of young people walking from bar to bar. Not my scene.

One older guy came up to me on the street and said, “only young people and fat naked chicks here.” huuummm well … he wasn’t too far wrong. Only I would be a little more polite and say that the town was full of young people having fun. That’s ok. But I’m no longer young 🙁

I looked around town for the main plaza and church. These are usually the center of activity in Central American towns. Not here. I guess the beach supersedes it. Nothing to see here. Just a cute little church.

Juan del Sur 9


Besides the beach, the other main attraction is the sunset. I found a nice patio to sit out on with a drink and watch the show with everyone else.

Juan del Sur phone 10

Wasn’t the greatest sunset, but still relaxing and beautiful.

Juan del Sur phone 11

Juan del Sur phone 13

San Juan del Sur is a beautiful beach town, but after 2 nights I was ready to move on and tackle the border into Costa Rica.

My Route to San Juan del Sur on August 6, 2017


My Location on August 7, 2017


Overnight to Ometepe Island Nicaragua

To break up my time in Granada, I rode to Ometepe Island.

Wikipedia Ometepe

This is what Wikipedia says about Ometepe:

Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning “two mountains”. It is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua. The two volcanoes (known as Volcán Concepción and Volcán Maderas) are joined by a low isthmus to form one island in the shape of an hourglass, dumbbell or peanut. . . . The island first became inhabited during the Dinarte phase (c. 2000 BC – 500 BC), although evidence is questionable. The first known inhabitants were speakers of Macro-Chibchan languages. Traces of this past can still be found in petroglyphs and stone idols on the northern slopes of the Maderas volcano. The oldest date from 300 BC. Several centuries later, Chorotega natives created statues on Ometepe carved from basalt rock. After the Spaniards conquered the Central American region in the 16th century, pirates began prowling Lake Nicaragua. They came in from the Caribbean Sea via the San Juan River. The inhabitants of Ometepe were hard hit. The pirates kidnapped women, stole the inhabitants’ animals, possessions, and harvest, and erected settlements on the shore, making it their refuge. This made the local population move to higher grounds on the volcanoes in search of shelter. The island was finally settled by the Spanish conquistadors at the end of the 16th century.

Pretty Cool.

The Ride to Ometepe

It isn’t a long ride to Ometepe. However, there is a ferry, and the afternoon rains to consider.

I got to the ferry terminal and went to the ticket booth. They said I needed to go to another booth. What?! I went there and paid 25 Cordobas. Nothing. Then it was just waiting.

Ometepe Ferry

Ometepe Ferry 3

One ferry was loading but not taking vehicles.

Ometepe Ferry 2

Unlike the ferries I’m use to where you ride on and ride off the opposite end, this one you had to back on.

Ometepe Ferry 6

This made the loading take a long time.

Ometepe Ferry 8

Ometepe Ferry 7

Finally on our way.

Ometepe Ferry 9

On the way a person came around to collect our tickets. I gave him mine and he said that that was just the tax for my motorcycle. Tax?! So I had to pay another 150 Cordobas. I thought it was pretty cheap.

It is a hour and a half ferry ride. I passed the time talking to a nice lady from the Netherlands who was exploring Nicaragua on her own. She wished she had a motorcycle as she found it quite the pain to figure out buses to take. She was planning on spending 3 nights on Ometepe and doing a hike. After a year of riding and having a hernia operation I am in much too poor of shape to do a big hike 🙁 I did a short hour long one at Lanquin and I was hurting afterwards.

As we arrived it started to drizzle.

Ometepe Ferry 12

Ometepe Hotel

I stayed at the Hotel Villa Paraiso in Santo Domingo. I got a pretty cool little cabin.

Ometepe Hotel

It is right on the beach so I went exploring.

Ometepe Beach 3

Ometepe Beach 6

Weird looking bird … but beautiful.

Ometepe Beach 10

Ometepe Beach 12

Ometepe Beach

Heading Back to Granada

Yes, it was a short trip to Ometepe. Before heading back to the ferry I explored a bit of the small island.

Ometepe island

If it had been a nice day I may have stayed longer. But it wasn’t.

Getting back to the terminal was a bit confusing for some reason. There are 2 entrances into it. Of course I took the one just for passengers. There I saw another couple that I met in Leon.

Eventually, after opposite instructions from people around me, I made it to the vehicle entrance. The ferry was just about to leave but they waited for me and rushed me through the ticketing process.

Back on the ferry to head to Granada.

Ometepe Ferring coming 2

Omeptepe Ferry coming 8

Ometepe Ferry coming 7

Ometepe Ferry Coming 9

Ometepe Ferry coming 10

My Route for July 31 and August 1, 2017


Granada Nicaragua

From Leon I rode to Granada, Nicaragua. The two cities are historic rivals. Leon has been leftist and prides itself as the home of the revolution. Granda is conservative and sees itself as the more beautiful city. I was really interested to compare the two for myself.

Masaya Volcano

On my ride to Granada I stopped at the Masaya Volcano. It is one of the few active volcanos that you can ride to the top of and look down the mouth of the beast :-).

Volcano Me

Volcano 12 Good

Wikipedia says:

Although the recent activity of Masaya has largely been dominated by continuous degassing from an occasionally lava-filled pit crater, a number of discrete explosive events have occurred in the last 50 years. One such event occurred on November 22, 1999, which was recognised from satellite data. A hot spot appeared on satellite imagery, and there was a possible explosion. On April 23, 2001 the crater exploded and formed a new vent in the bottom of the crater. The explosion sent rocks with diameters up to 60 cm which travelled up to 500 m from the crater. Vehicles in the visitors area were damaged and one person was injured. On October 4, 2003 an eruption cloud was reported at Masaya. The plume rose to a height of ~4.6 km. In 2008, the mountain erupted spewing ash and steam.

Nothing happened while I was there 🙁

Granada Stay #1

I actually stayed in Granada twice. In between I went overnight to Ometepe. I’ll blog about that in a separate post.

On my first stay I stayed at Charly’s Guesthouse. It was a ways out of town but still walkable. I didn’t feel comfortable walking it at night though. So my exploring was limited to daytime walking around.

Granada 1

Granada 2

Granada 5

Granada 4

Granada 7

Granada 15

Granada 19

The art on the ceiling of this church was spectacular.

Granada 22

Granada 24

Granada 26

Granada 29

Granada 30

My go to cafe in Granada. Really good salads!

Granada 17

I also went to the Garden Cafe a couple of times.

Garden Cafe

And the Cafe de Arte.

cafe de arte

But I liked the Pan de Vida best. The owners were from Austin, Texas and really friendly. And the prices were cheaper.

Of course every town has a main plaza.

Granada 33

Granada 35

Granada 37

I watched them paint the curbs. Obviously they don’t suffer from perfectionism here!

Granada 40

As I walked around I just felt like something was missing from the city. It was beautiful, but sooooo quiet and subdued, especially in the tourist areas. There was more action in the markets outside of the main streets.

Granada Stay #2

On my second stay in Granada I picked a place downtown, Hospedaje Valeria. An interesting place to stay ha ha. The staff were very friendly and great promoters of the services offered by the hotel. I didn’t eat there though because I would have been the only one. As a single I need a place where I can people watch. Although they did offer to get me some company ha ha ha.

The good thing about staying downtown was that I could explore at night.

Granada night 2

Granada night 3

Definitely more action at night than during the day.

Leon versus Granada

Granada for sure is more beautiful than Leon. But there is just more action and personality in Leon. A Lonely Planet post says it best.

[Leon is] intensely political, buzzing with energy and, at times, drop-dead gorgeous (in a crumbling, colonial kind of way), León is what Managua should be – a city of awe-inspiring churches, fabulous art collections, stunning streetscapes, cosmopolitan eateries, fiery intellectualism, and all-week, walk-everywhere, happening nightlife. Many people fall in love with Granada, but most of them leave their heart in León”

My Route on July 26, 2017

Leon Granada

My Location from July 27 to 30, and August 2 to 5, 2017


Vibrant Leon Nicaragua

After a short stay in Managua I rode to Leon, Nicaragua.

City of Leon

Leon has a unique historical place within Nicaragua. Wikipedia says this about the city:

León has long been the political and intellectual center of the nation and its National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) was founded in 1813, making it the second oldest university in Central America. . . . León had been the capital of Nicaragua since colonial times, so naturally when Nicaragua withdrew from the United Provinces of Central America in 1839, León became the capital of the new nation. For some years the capital shifted back and forth between León and Granada, Nicaragua, with Liberal regimes preferring León and Conservative ones Granada, until as a compromise Managua was agreed upon to be the permanent capital in 1858.

Leon sees itself as the first capital of the revolution, which is proudly displayed on the city hall.

city hall

Revolution Museum and Graffiti

Reminders of the revolution can been seen throughout the town.


graffiti university

graffiti university 3

There is even a museum of the revolution in a building that hasn’t been restored since then.

revolution building

revolution building 2

When I was there they were still celebrating the revolution with flowers laid at memorials, speeches and re-enactments.

revolution memorial

revolutin memorial 2


people speech

revolution play


Like pretty much every latin american town, the churches are the one of the highlights. Leon is no different. The largest church is Our Lady of Grace Cathedral, León. According to wikipedia:

The Cathedral was awarded World Heritage Site status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). . . . The Cathedral’s construction lasted between 1747 and 1814 and was consecrated by Pope Pius IX in 1860. Cathedral has maintained the status of being the largest cathedral in Central America and one of the best known in the Americas due to its distinct architecture and special cultural importance. . . . Seven tunnels start under the church and lead to the other churches in the city.

[1] The church has seven cellars; they provide stability in the event of earthquakes. One of these cellars leads to the tunnels that make their way to the other churches in the city. Above ground, the church has 34 domes which help provide both ventilation and light; “the building is one of the best naturally illuminated cathedrals in America”. People were offered the possibility to be buried below the cathedral, helping to fund the construction and maintenance of the building.

church from seste

church night

church top

inside church 3

I also visited the La Recolección Church.

another church

another church inside

The one church that the art outside was magnificent was Iglesia El Calvario.

painting church

painting church 2

I would have loved to take pictures inside as well. But it was closed all but one time when a service was taking place. I didn’t want to be disrespectful.

Leon Routine

I didn’t stay in Leon that long, but I got into a bit of a routine.

I stayed at Hotel Austria a block away from the main plaza. Yes, it was a bit strange staying at a place called Austria. However, it was clean, the staff friendly, relatively inexpensive (still over my budget) close to the center and they had secure parking for my motorcycle.

hotel austria 4

In the morning I walked to Pan Y Paz, a nice coffee shop a few blocks away.

pan y paz 3

It was a awesome place to work on blogs and answer email. And there were always lots of people coming and going. The food was great too.

By the afternoon it would get really hot and humid. Like many of the locals I retreated to where it was cool. That meant going back to my air conditioned room.

Hotel Austria

In the late afternoon/evening I re-emerged along with everyone else 🙂

I would go for a walk and explore the city.


market church

plaza night 2

Some were still sleeping 🙂


As it got to dusk I settled in at my favorite and only restaurant at the main plaza.


Of course I had my newly discovered favorite beer in Nicaragua, Victoria Frost.

victoria frost

And would spend the next couple of hours just watching people on the plaza.


One evening I was treated to a wedding for entertainment 🙂


wedding inside church 3

plaza night 4

plaza night 2

My Impressions of Leon

At first I thought it wasn’t going to be that nice here. There isn’t the big pedestrian mall and lots of restaurants with patios that you find in other places like Antigua, Guatemala, or San Cristobal, Mexico. But eventually Leon grew on me. Perhaps because of the university, it is a vibrant town with lots going on. The streets are full of people selling things and they are busy. There is just a vibrancy about it. So I was sad when it was time to leave.

My Route to Leon on July 21, 2017

managua leon

My Location from July 22 to 25, 2017


Revolution Day in Managua, Nicaragua

After crossing the border into Nicaragua I headed to Managua where I discovered it was going to be Revolution Day the next day.

Why Managua First

I chose to go to Managua fist thing because it is the capital of Nicaragua and I really didn’t know that much about the rest of Nicaragua. Although I did have a number of places circled that I wanted to go to. But my time in Managua was to plan out my travels in Nicaragua. And I figured being the capital, Managua, must be a good place to visit.

As I walked around Managua I discovered it just doesn’t have the charm of many other latin american cities. It is more about big streets and lots of traffic. Luckily, I was staying in the embassy district at La Posada del Arcangel so things were more quiet there.

Fortunately for me, it was Revolution Day in Nicaragua on the 19th. That meant the big streets of Managua were filled with displays, music and booths. More on that later.

My Memories about Nicaragua

Most of my knowledge of Nicaragua comes from my memories of the Iran Contra affair with Lt. Col. Oliver North under President Ronald Reagan in the mid 1980s. In the Affair, government official hatched a plan to sell arms to Iran and use the money to finance and train Contra militants based in Honduras who were waging a guerrilla war to topple the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) revolutionary government of Nicaragua. This was in violation of the Boland Amendment. Of course it was a lot more involved than that and the Tower Commission was formed to get to the bottom of it. The result was that a number of government officials were indicted and convicted.

I vividly remember watching the hearing and the testimony of Lt. Col. Oliver North. I even bought his book after.

So before entering Nicaragua I was aware of the Sandinistas.

History of Revolution Day or Liberation Day in Nicaragua

What I was not aware of is the celebration of Revolution Day on July 19. The following is a history I copied from

In 1927 the Nicaraguan guerrilla leader General Cesar Augusto Sandino replied to a letter from a US marine captain who threatened to hunt him down if he refused to lay down his arms. “I will not surrender,” said Sandino, “and I await you here. I desire a free homeland or death.” US-Nicaraguan tension was by then historically established: the United States had invaded Nicaragua several times, first in 1854-6, and Britain had also tried to take control of its Atlantic coast. The US and UK saw Nicaragua as key to their plans to build a canal between the Caribbean and the Pacific, realized in Panama in 1914.

The US Secretary of State Philander C Knox sent troops into Nicaragua in September 1909, under the pretext of easing political and military tension between liberals and conservatives. They stayed until 1925. In 1926 more than 5,000 US Marines landed, and did not leave until 1933: they were supposed to be guarding against “agents of Bolshevik Mexico” who wanted to take over the nation.

Sandino (1895-1934) was one of those “agents”. Although he considered himself a liberal, he began to fight in 1927 against the occupying US Marines and against Nicaragua’s liberal-conservative elite, which he saw as oppressive, exploitative, racist and prepared to sell national independence. “Sandino adopted the ideas, and the black and red flag, of the Mexican anarcho-syndicalist movement, and the class analysis of the Salvadorian Farabundo Martì”, explains the sociologist Orlando Nuñez. “He wrote about the need for Latin-American integration, which was the dream of Simon Bolivar, and also the need for indigenous people to be integrated into the political struggle, and for alliances to be forged with nationalist businesses, to confront US imperialism.”

Harassed by Sandino’s small band of guerrillas, the US forces withdrew in 1933. They were considered too expensive during the Great Depression. They left behind a National Guard under the leadership of a soldier trained in the US : Anastasio Somoza. Sandino agreed to negotiate with the national government but on 21 February 1934 he was assassinated as he left a meeting with President Juan Batista. A few years later, Somoza stated that the order to kill had come from the US ambassador, Arthur Bliss Lane.

The dynasty of Somoza dictators settled in for four decades, under Washington’s supervision: Anastasio (1936-56), Luis (1956-63), Anastasio Jr (1967-79). Yet the struggles of the past had not been in vain. In 1960, inspired by the Cuban revolution and guided by the ideas of Sandino, Carlos Fonseca Amador, Tomas Borge and other intellectuals formed the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) guerrilla movement.

For many years its success was limited by its lack of connection with the rural population. But the political landscape was changing: the concentration of power in the hands of the Somoza family, which remained totally subordinate to US interests, and the abuses of the regime, began to stir discontent among even the middle class. They saw that an alliance with the FSLN would allow them to get rid of Somoza and reclaim the power he had denied them. The FSLN believed such a partnership would help it achieve its objectives. The FSLN’s spectacular military victories in 1978, against a background of worsening repression by the Somozas, won it sympathy around the world. Even the administration of US president Jimmy Carter (1977-81) could no longer support Somoza. The revolution triumphed on 19 July 1979.

On that day, the Sandinista troops led by the nine commanders of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) entered the capital city of Managua where they were greeted by hundreds of thousands of jubilant Nicaraguans. The triumphant guerrillas found a country in ruins. The previous ruler of the country, dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, had bombed the cities during the final offensive. When he fled the country two days earlier, he took not only the caskets containing his parents’ remains, but all the money in the national treasury as well. The Sandinistas were left with no money and a $1.9 billion international debt.

Despite these handicaps, the Sandinistas set up a nine member National Directorate and five member Junta de Reconstrucciónas, the executive branch, and a Council of State which included political parties and popular organizations as the legislature. They launched an ambitious and revolutionary political program. Their Literacy Crusade reduced literacy by 37 percent and was given an award by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its triumphant success. The Sandinistas also provided citizens with free health care. The successful “Revolution of Poets,” many of the country’s poets were revolutionaries and politicians, made Nicaraguans proud and the social advances made them hopeful for the future.

As Carlos Fonseca junior, the son of the FSLN’s founder, remembers: “The revolution was so exciting and inspiring that it marked the lives of all the Nicaraguans who were just entering adolescence. We could be optimistic and dream.”

Liberation Day in Nicaragua is taken very seriously and is celebrated enthusiastically by the citizens, most of whom had witnessed the rise to power of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The day is celebrated like Independence Day in any other country- with parades, speeches, singing of the national anthem, hoisting of the national flag and even fireworks.

Revolution Day

Sooooooo … as I walked around the city I saw everyone celebrating. Loud music was everywhere. And most every store and restaurant was closed. Here are pictures of what I saw.

booth 4

booth 5

booth 6

booth 7

booth 8

I thought it was strange to see the huge picture of Hugo Chavez. He has this roundabout named after him.

chavez 4

Managua booth 2

Managua booth


Augusto César Sandino

A silhouetted figure you see everywhere is this man wearing a big hat.


This is Augusto César Sandino.

According to Wikipedia, he was a Nicaraguan revolutionary and leader of a rebellion between 1927 and 1933 against the U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua. He was referred to as a “bandit” by the United States government; his exploits made him a hero throughout much of Latin America, where he became a symbol of resistance to United States’ domination. He drew units of the United States Marine Corps into an undeclared guerrilla war. The United States troops withdrew from the country in 1933 after overseeing the election and inauguration of President Juan Bautista Sacasa, who had returned from exile. The re-call of the Marines was largely due to the Great Depression.

Sandino was assassinated in 1934 by National Guard forces of Gen. Anastasio Somoza García, who went on to seize power in a coup d’état two years later. After being elected by an overwhelming vote as president in 1936, Somoza García resumed control of the National Guard and established a dictatorship and family dynasty that would rule Nicaragua for more than 40 years. Sandino’s political legacy was claimed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which finally overthrew the Somoza government in 1979.

Sandino is revered in Nicaragua, and in 2010 was unanimously named a “national hero” by the nation’s congress. Sandino’s political descendants, along with the icons of his wide-brimmed hat and boots, and influence of his writings from the years of warfare against the U.S. Marines, continue to help shape the national identity of Nicaragua.


I didn’t stay in Managua long so my impressions could be wrong. But I didn’t find it to a great place to visit. Like I said before it lacked charm to me. It was just a big city. But it even lacked the amenities of of big city. Good thing for Revolution Day to make it a worthwhile trip though. I would have liked to walk the malecon, but it was closed due to Revolution Day. So I was glad to be moving on to Leon.

My Location for July 19 and 20, 2017


Crossing the Border from Honduras to Nicaragua at El Guasaule

After spending the night at Choluteca, Honduras, I tackled the border from Honduras to Nicaragua at El Guasaule.


Having crossed the border into Honduras, I rode to Choletuca. There was A LOT of construction on the road. I could see why when I road the parts where there was no construction. The road in these spots was littered with crater like potholes that could do serious damage if you hit one. So my eyes were peeled on the road.

I reached the hotel I booked and was pleasantly surprised. It looked new and was very clean. As I checked in the clerk, who was about mid 20s, she spoke perfect English! I asked her where she learned and she said she was educated in a bilingual school and then her mother sent her to Naples Florida for more school.

Anyways, I enjoyed the hotel and a beer on the patio.


It was then time to study for the El Guasaule border. I heard from many that this was the worst border they had encountered on there ride to Argentina. I got mentally prepared for it.

Honduras Border at El Guasaule

Ok …. here is a map of the entire border. My first step was #1 at the Honduran border.

honduras nicaragua border

As I rode close to the border people started yelling at me and waving their arms. At one point I encountered a gang of them. One even tried jumping in front of my motorcycle. I didn’t slow and rode straight through them as they jumped back. As I rode past I noticed out of the side of my eye the customs building I had been looking for. I was almost past it.

Honduras customs

I quickly made a left turn turning into the exit. The fixers must have been gathering at the entrance driveway to the building. It turned out to be a good plan to enter through the exit ha ha. As I turned I almost ran over a fixer who had been chasing me on his bicycle.

When I parked the bicycle fixer approached me along with a couple others. They said the usual that this was the hardest border to cross and I couldn’t do it on my own. I politely said I didn’t need their help. I didn’t want to be too rude for fear that they may do something to my bike while I was inside.

First, I went to immigration on the far side counter to have them stamp my passport out of Honduras. Easy. While I was there one of the fixers who was following me asked if I had been to Central America before. I lied and said yes. He immediately disappeared.

Next was Customs. Here I presented my passport, drivers license, motorcycle registration and entry form into Honduras. One thing that is strange is that here, like at a lot of the borders, they asked me if the one page motorcycle registration form was all I had. I guess there is a lot more paper to register a motorcycle in theses countries. It wasn’t long and the import permit for my motorcycle was cancelled.

Onto the Nicaragua border.

Nicaragua Border

This is where things took a turn from what I studied the night before.

Step #3 was fumigation. I pulled up and spoke to an immigration official who wanted to see my papers. He then handed me a medical form to fill out. It was then I was approached by another immigration officer who spoke English. I was now singled out for “special” treatment. He took my passport and told me to meet him at Immigration across the round about. I hated seeing him disappear with my passport but I didn’t have much choice.

After he left I paid $3 US, pulled ahead and had my motorcycle fumigated at point #4. I have no idea what was in the liquid but it made me cough.

I then rounded the roundabout and pulled into the Customs building at #5. The English speaking Immigration Officer wasn’t there. Turned out he was waiting for me across the street and came over to talk to me. He escorted me to the Immigration building across the street and interviewed me.

Some of the interview questions were: where was I going? where did I come from? where did I live? how much money did I have on me? how much money did I have in the bank? and what did I do for a living? The money questions concerned me. But nothing came from them.

After the interview he escorted me into the building across the street where I parked my motorcycle. He told me to sit down while he talked to another Immigration officer wearing a white shirt. I gathered that this was his boss. After the short conversation I was then escorted to an immigration booth where I signed a few forms, had my passport stamped and paid $12 US.

As would be normal, I figured my next step was Customs to get a permit for my motorcycle. So I went to the Customs booth. This is where the confusion started. I handed the usual to the Customs officer and as he went through the paper he got this confused look on his face. He spoke to me in Spanish but I didn’t understand what he was saying. The English speaking Immigration officer came over and said no …. everything had been taken care of at immigration. What?! He directed me outside the building where I needed to have some clerk sign the back of the medical form I also needed to fill out.

I quickly filled out the medical form and had one of the people wearing baby blue shirts sign the back of it.

The English speaking officer then directed me to the very back of the building at #6 where there was an xray machine and a tourist booth. There I handed the clerk all my paperwork and the medical form. Eventually, she handed me a completed form and requested $12 US. OK. With that it was on to the the last step, mandatory insurance for my motorcycle.

I exited the building looking for an insurance agent who was suppose to be outside somewhere. Finally, a woman selling drinks came to me and said I’ll show you. She walked me across the street to a courtyard behind the building.

At this point I was somewhat confused. This building, where I was interviewed too, appeared also to be a Customs and Immigration building. There were two?! And it was this building that I had studied about.

Anyways, in the courtyard were some women behind tables. I purchased insurance for …. you guessed it …$12 US.

I followed the woman back to her drinks and bought one and left a tip for her help. I was finally done!

The whole process was somewhat confusing due to my “special” treatment. I have no idea why there were two custom buildings. In some ways having the English speaking Immigration officer escorting me made things a lot easier. In other ways it made it more confusing. But in the end, as usual, it all worked out fine.


The first thing I noticed about Nicaragua were the roads. They were unreal good. The best roads I’ve seen since the US. No potholes and so smooth. Some sections were even done in cement.

Besides the roads the landscape was beautiful.

volcano 3

motorcycle volcano 2

What a great ride to Managua where I would be staying for a couple of days.

My Route for July 18, 2017

choluteca managua

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