The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
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I write, self publish and sell
books about touring
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Nov 2004 to Sept 2006
June 2003 to June 2004
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March 2002 to April 2003
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How Much to Bring and Weight
Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames
Steel Repair Myth.
and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
Bicycle Touring Wheels
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs
Panniers / Bike Bags
Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets
How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps
Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground
Pots and Pans
Solar Power for Camp
Bike Touring Shorts
Bicycle touring lights
Pictures of Equipment Failures
all 3 book)
Travel Journal for Nicaragua
(Feb. 1 - 20, 2003)
||El Paraiso, Honduras - Ocotal, Nicaragua. It cost us an extra
US$5.00 each to get out of Honduras
with our bicycles. US $4.00 for tourist card, US$3.00 entrance fee, paperwork for
the bicycles to get into Nicaragua.
Ran into Matt and Sharon an English couple we met in Omoa. The exchange rate in
Nicaragua is 14.58 cordobas per dollar.
The road on the Nicaragua side has just recently
been paved. So the down hill ride to Ocotal was fun and fast. In Ocotal, we
stayed in Hotelita San Marcus for C100 ($6.80). Private bath, cold water, cable
TV. We had to haggle with the owner and even decided to leave because the price was
too high, she then decided that she would give us the original price she quoted us.
We spent the rest of the day watching the boob tube.
strolled down to the central park. On the way to the park we met Alahondro.
Alahondro is a college student from Leon. Alahondro is also a Sandinista, and
proud of it. We told a little white lie and said we were from Canada.
Something that I do not always like to do but in this case it fit well. We
practiced our Spanish, he practiced his English and we went to lunch. He explained
to us about the revolution and how capitalism is a bad thing. We tried to explain to
him that capitalism in the United States is different then capitalism in Nicaragua.
I really do not think he believed us. He said he wanted to travel to the United
States but he thought that he would be discriminated against and attacked violently.
It is amazing to me the misconceptions we all have about each other.
When we went to
lunch we explained that we did not have much money because we just arrived in the country
and being that it was Sunday, the banks were not open. Somehow we ended up paying
for his lunch. Hmm. Then he invited us out for beers later. We later
decided that we were to tired to go out and we did not want to pick up the tab either.
||Ocotal - Esteli. Since we were low on cash I had to go to the bank
before we set out for Esteli. We climbed out of the valley that Ocotal is in.
We moved along at a good pace with the help of a tailwind and a brand new road
surface. This is the best road we have ridden on since we left the United States.
We stopped for lunch at a major intersection.
In the short amount of time we
stopped for lunch the wind direction completely shifted 180 degrees. So now we had a
strong head wind, it was getting hot and we terrain was hilly.
We passed farms that looked like collective farms. Basically a group of houses
clustered around a working area. The tobacco fields were green and smelled
sweet. Coffee was being harvested and everyone looked busy. About 25 km from
Esteli, about the time I was ready to stop we hit the a hill with 400 meters of relief,
and straight into the sun. Ouch! We arrived in Esteli about 4:00 PM and
stopped at the Texaco and used the ATM. It worked. I think it will be easier
to get money here then in Honduras.
We stayed at Hotel Nicara. I would not recommend it for a couple of reasons, 1
the price is too high, 2 we ate breakfast there and were quoted one price before breakfast
and another after breakfast. We noticed that other travelers were having the same
problem too. The internet cafe sign is deceiving, it says 20C per hour when in
reality it is 39C per hour all day and 20C from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
||Esteli. We rested most of the day. We checked email and Tim
worked on his letter about Honduras most of the day. I tried to buy bananas from a
local vender and he wanted to charge me 3C for 1 banana. I laughed at him and said
no thanks. Later down the block I paid 1C for 2 bananas.
We met Erin and Chris
from New York, they are near the end of a 4 year trip around the world on BMW motorcycles.
Their web page is www.ultimatejourney.com
I have only looked at the site briefly but it is full of photos and lots of
||Esteli. Tim finished up his letter today. We went to the
Sandinista museum and view photographs of people who were killed during revolutions, at
least three different revolutions. It was obvious that some people were soldiers,
some were commanders, and some were innocent by-standers.
We also checked out a local
cigar factory. They were rolling
the biggest cigars I have ever seen. We also met a group of peace Corp
volunteers. Four all together, Jason, Adrian, Jim and Andrea. They had just
started at their site about 2 months ago. They came from different backgrounds and
were working in either agriculture or environmental education. Jim and Andrea had
the cutest boxer puppy with them.
Tim went to the local store and bought 2 bottles of beer. Usually when you buy a
beer you pay a deposit on the bottles until you bring the bottle back. When we were
finished drinking the beer, Tim returned the bottles for his deposit. The person at
the store gave him back 6 cordobas when he should of given him 16 cordobas. Again,
the gringo paid more. We are constantly nickel and dimmed to death. Of course,
to a Nicaraguan it looks like a gringo can pay extra because they have lots of money.
To us it gets tiring to constantly bargain for a fair price in addition to the
daily onslaught of beggars and drunks asking for money.
Before I forget, Happy Birthday to my brother Ed and my good friend Patty and my niece
||Esteli - Sabeco.
We got a bit of a late start today. We climbed out of the valley that Esteli is in
and dropped into the next valley. The temperature has started to increase as we drop
down from the mountains. The temperature in Esteli has been around 75 degrees.
We crossed another valley and descended down into another lower valley. The wind was
picking up and our pace was starting to slow down. Traffic was relatively
light. Then we heard a slow vehicle approaching, we turned and looked and it was a
tractor. As the tractor passed we jumped into it's draft. At first I was
fighting to stay in Tim's draft because I was still fighting a pretty good head
wind. Then Tim moved to the left and I moved up next to him. Ahhh! A
very nice draft. We traveled along for 10 km behind this tractor at about 25
kph. We would pass men riding home from the fields and they would work hard to try
and catch up but they would eventually get tired and drop off. They could never get
in the draft but at the same time their machismo would not let them get passed by a
gringo, never mind a women. It most have been a strange site for the locals to see
two gringos on loaded touring bikes ride behind a tractor. We reluctantly dropped
off the back of the tractor to stop at the first hotel we found.
When we rode up to the
office there was a touring bike parked there. Minutes later we met Peter from
Holland. Peter is an experienced cycle tourist and has traveled all over the
world. He was arriving from Granada a full 130 km away. (It would take us two
days to ride to Granada). He always got an early start, the sun rises at about 6:00
am. Peter was heading north and we were heading south. We compared maps and
discussed road conditions and terrain. He was heading for the cool mountains and we
were heading for the hot lowlands. Peter had his gear down to the essentials
only. He had the smallest short wave radio. He like our filter.
||Sabeco- Tipitapa. Started at 6:45 this morning. Mostly gentle
downhill. By 11:00 it was 90 degrees. Hotter then we were use to.
Stopped at Hospedaje Loas. Met the family from San Jose.
||Tipitapa - Granada. Tried to start early, Tim had a flat
again. Started at 6:45 am. Saw two groups of recreational cyclists out on the
road. The terrain was slightly rolling we a slight breeze in the morning. The
road from Masaya to Granada was in terrible shape. We sat in the plaza and met a couple of
Canadians Eddie, Vince and an American, Joe. While we were sitting there the
children of the area were constantly asking for money. While I was talking to one of
the Canadians, I smelled what I thought was glue. I looked around and right behind
me was a young kid about 9 years old sniffing a jar of glue from under his shirt. I
have heard of this problem but this is the first time I was confronted with it
directly. At closer inspection of the park, I noticed about 10 children walking
around and obviously on some kind of drug. Sad. The Canadians told me that
there is a type of orphanage in town that is trying to get kids off of the glue.
Caroline and Andy at the youth hostel Hospedaje Central. Discussed world politics.
Our room cost 140C ($10.00) night with a shared bath. We also had use of a pleasant
patio shaded by a roof. The walls of the Hospedaje are covered with art painted by
||Sunday in Granada. On our way to the internet cafe we ran into Joe.
He treated us to a couple of beers and lunch. He was on his way to a horse
festival about 10 km from Granada so we joined him and a local, Manual. The horse
festival was incredible. I have not seen so many Arabian horses in one spot.
The locals decorate their horses with lots of leather strings. We also
listened to a couple of different marimba bands. We ended up walking half the day.
So much for a day off. We were tired when we returned and retired early.
||Granada. Up with the sun this morning we took a stroll down to the pier
where the boat for Isla Ometepe will be leaving. I thought I would check out a local
dentist in town to see if I could get my teeth cleaned. It was a modern office so I
asked for a cleaning. In the process he found a couple of cavities. Yikes, I just
wanted to get my teeth cleaned. I have not gotten a cavity in years, then again, I
did not drink soda at all at home and down here I can drink up to 2 or 3 a day when we are
riding. I reluctantly asked him how much it cost. He said he would charge 330
cordobas for each cavity and 200 cordobas for the cleaning. So I said go ahead and
do all the work. Tim was surprised I let the dentist fill my cavities, my philosophy
is, the less time spent in the dentist chair the better. Everything came out well
and we set up an appointment for Tim to get his teeth cleaned.
Went to the internet and
made a couple calls using Dailpad. The connection was just barely adequate.
We got up early to catch a minibus to Volcano Masaya. The ride took about 20 minutes
and cost 10 cordobas. While waiting at the gate for the park to open a SUV pulled
up. They asked us if we wanted a ride up to the top of the volcano. We gladly
except, we did not want to walk the 6.5 kilometers up, since we planned to walk back.
people who picked us up were Iranian Americans with family in Managua, Nicaragua. We
then hiked near the large crater and partially around the San Francis Crater. The
volcano is actually 4 craters in one with one crater currently active.
Then we started our hike back to the entrance. We walked through lava fields,
these lava flows were not barren like in Arizona, here it is a dry tropical forest. Along the
way we saw a lizard who danced
across the hot pavement. Crazy Lizard #1 Mpeg Video
||Granada. Worked on the web site for a few hours today. Went
to a pizza place in town Tele Pizza, it was the best garlic and tomato pizza I have had in
a very long time. We drank a Cuba Libra with Ana and elka.
||Granada. Our plan today are to take the boat from Granada to
AltaVista via the boat. The boat ride is 4 to 5 hours long. The weather was
not very good for traveling on the sea, it was very windy and the white caps of the waves
were being whipped up. I went down to the boat dock to see when the boat was
leaving, we were getting conflicting times, of 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM. Tim went to the
internet cafe to post the web page. I went down to the dock at 1:15 PM and the boat
was loading. I took one look at the lake and decided that it was too rough to go.
Tim would have been miserable and I probably would have too. The owner of
Hospedaje Central also told me that everyone gets sick on that boat so that was all I had
to hear. We decided to stay one more night and ride to Rivas and then San Jorge the
We check back into our old room and went out for Pizza at Tele pizza. It
is the best pizza I have had in a long time and a large is only C80.
||Granada- San Jorge, then on to Ometepe via the ferry. Since we
thought we were just rolling our bikes onto a boat we bought two weeks worth of food for
camping. So both our bikes were loaded down more than usual. After wandering
around town for 15 minutes we found the road out of town. It was the same road that
we went to the horse festival on. It is funny but I did not notice how much we
climbed up. We climbed 300 meters to the pass. Once on top we had a decent
tail wind and we covered the kilometers quickly. Then we turned onto the
Pan-American highway and our tailwind was now a cross wind. Lucky for us it was
also cloudy. Unlucky for us, Tim got another flat. I am now considering
getting a new tire. He must have a piece of glass or thorn still in his back
tire. We pumped it up and got another 15 kilometers down the road before we had to
pump again. When we rolled into San Jorge we were both pretty hungry, the only
restaurant we could find was an expensive one. We had lunch for C180, Tim said it
was my Valentines Day present. I could not argue.
We then went to the dock at San
Jorge. We were not sure when the boat was coming in, we do know that we just missed
the last one. I could see it on it's way to Ometepe and it was in rough seas.
Tim was not looking forward to this. The next ferry arrived and we rolled our bikes on a plank to the
upper deck. We sat up top to watch the bikes and get fresh air. The first 15
minutes were rough but after that it calmed down We paid C15 each for us and C5each
for our bikes to get for San Jorge to Moyogalpa.
We were extremely tired and sun burnt when we got into Moyogalpa. We stayed at the
Pension Chela, a family run place for C50 per night. Tim went to sleep at 6:00 PM
and I went to sleep at 7:30 PM.
||Moyogalpa. Today was a rest day, I had sun burnt legs and I did not
want to get out into the sun. While eating lunch at the restaurant next door to our
pension, we met Tanya from Germany and Phil from Canada. We made plans to go hike
Volcano Madera in the morning..
||Volcán Maderas. We met at Hospedaje Central at 6:30 am. There
were six of us. Bart from
Holland, Brad from Australia, Tanya from Germany and Phil from Canada. The taxi to
Volcán Maderas from Moyogalpa was C250 or C42 per person. It took an hour to get
there via dirt roads. We arrived at Finca Magdalene and had breakfast before we set out on
the hike. We hired a guide for Volcano Maderas for C58 per person. A total of
C348 ($24). It turns out that we really did not need a guide. A rope had been
placed in the area where we needed it. If you decide to go up on your own just make
sure you are not the first group so someone else can bring the rope, then a guide would
not be necessary.
The first two kilometers were dry, the remaining three kilometers were
wet and muddy and got worse
as we got close to the top. It took us 4.5 hours to ascend the volcano including the
trip down to the lake and 3.5 hours to return. I enjoyed the scenery on the way up. We spent about
an hour at the lake, we were in luck it had cleared up and we could see the entire inner
cone of the volcano. Our trip down the volcano was muddy beyond belief. The
trail had been tramped so bad that it was like a skating rink. In areas I was afraid
that I would leave my shoe behind in the mud. We finally got down and sat and had a
beer at Finca Magdalena. When Bart tried to arrange for a taxi through the staff at
the finca, his response was, it will cost US $40 and you would be better off to spend the
night. None of us wanted to spend the night so we started walking down the road in
search of a car, taxi, truck, anything. Bart spoke with a cyclist along the road and
he said he would try and find us a taxi nearby, if he could not find one then he would
ride to Santa Domingo to see if there was one there. On the way down the road we met
the Mayor of Santa Domingo and he was kind enough to give us a ride to Santa Domingo.
While in Santa Domingo we met up with the biker we talked to and he had arranged a
ride for us back to Moyogalpa. We all piled into the back of the pickup truck for the ride back.
As we started up this long hill the truck sputtered and came to a stop. We all had
to get out of the truck, we were to heavy to get up the hill. The truck eventually
started and waited for us at the top of the hill. We all ran to get back into the
truck, oh my aching legs.
We finally arrived in Moyogalpa at around 8:PM, the ride cost us a total of C200.
We went out to eat and went to bed as quickly as we could. We made
plans with Phil and Tanya to go to Chaco Verde the next day. Bart and Brad were
leaving the island the next day.
|10 km (hike)
We met Phil and Tanya at around 11:00, ate lunch and caught the bus out to Chaco Verde.
Chaco Verde is a nice beach with a few Hospedaje (guest house) and lots of rest
and relaxation. While we were there a local came down to the lake to collect fresh
water. While we were there we met Jennifer from Colorado and she caught a ride with
us back to Moyogalpa. Everyone was sore from the hike yesterday.
||Moyogalpa. We worked on the web page this morning. I washed
cloths by hand, a cool activity in a hot place. I also started reading a new book,
Carlos Castaneda, The teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui way of knowledge. Tim fixed his
flat tire for the 5th or 6th time. I think our tires are getting worn.
planning to leave tomorrow morning early. We were trying to post the web page and
the electricity went out in the town. I guess we will have to try somewhere else.
We went out to dinner and met Ernie and Jane. They are from Jamaica.
They are visiting their son Adrian who is in the Peace Corp. Ernie is a musician, a
fine good musician. We met Oscar, his family, Brenda and her family. Ernie
and Oscar played guitar together for evening. Ernie planned on doing a concert for
the locals tomorrow night. We could not resist, we decided that we would stay one
||Moyogalpa. We went for a short bike ride today from Moyogalpa to
Chaco Verde. The road was dirt with sandy sections. I am glad that we decided
to stay in Moyogalpa, it would have been difficult riding a loaded bike on these roads.
The traffic was low but the road had deep sand in some areas. It was pretty
hot today so we took it easy most of the day. Tim tried to post his web page again
and again the electricity went out. We packed our bikes so we could get on the early
ferry in the morning. Tim has decided not to take Dramamine, it makes him sleepy.
We plan to ride 70 kilometers tomorrow and cross the border into Costa Rica.
We heard that this crossing could take up to 4 hours because of paperwork and inspections.
concert was delayed because the electricity went out. He did play for an hour.
He had a Sony x box that played back up while he sang.
||Moyogalpa, Nicaragua - La Cruz, Costa Rica. We loaded our bikes
onto the 6:30 am ferry to San Jorge. Tim was taking the trip without Dramamine.
The first 45 minutes of the ride was relatively smooth. Fifteen minutes from
the dock the sea began to get very rough. I had gone to the back of the boat to get
our money. It cost C15 per person and C5 per bike for a one hour ferry ride.
The sea was so rough I could not get back to the front of the boat. It did not help
that the boat deck was metal, there were no railings, and I had my bike shoes on with
cleats. As I sat in the back I watched the boat pitch left and right and then up and
down. A little girl sitting behind Tim was getting sick, they tried to hang her over
the edge of the boat, this just made it worse for her. I began to get worried about
Tim. I knew his stomach must be turning. I could see from where I sat that he
was turning a bit white. We made it into dock and Tim jumped off the boat as soon as
he could. He looked a little weathered but he did not get sick.
Soon we were off
to the border of Costa Rica. We rode along Lake Nicaragua for 35 kilometers, the
wind was pretty strong off the water, the road was relatively flat but the head wind
slowed us down. We got to the border at around 11:00 am. I got our entrance
stamp quickly, there was no one else in the room, changed money, and got waved through
customs all in a matter of 15 minutes. I was wondering if I missed something.
We sat down and ate a large lunch and waited until 1:00 PM to ride. It was
definitely hot but we had some cloud cover and shade that helped reduce the heat.
The exchange rate I got at the bank was 384 colons for $1.
Got a room in La Cruz, near the bus station. This hotel did not have a sign, we
were directed there by some locals. We had a room with a private bath and TV for
Tim entering Nicaragua.
Herding cattle in Condega, Nicaragua.
Political Graffiti promoting the Sandinista movement.
Cindie looking at the pictures of the Sandinista fighters who died in the decades of
Cindie drafting (hiding from the wind) behind a farm tractor in the windy flatlands of
Sunrise over a Nicaraguan Rice Patty
Ferris wheel with the church behind it.
On the edge of the crater.
North and Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03
(July 18 - Aug 22, 2002)
The State of
Guanajuato to Toluca, Mexico
Other essays by Tim
Into the Mist State
of Michoacan, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Michoacan,
Full size Picture
- Guanajuato to
Penjamillo to Patzcuaro, Mexico
Patzcuaro to Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan,
Into the Mist Mexican highway 15
Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan, to Toluca, Mexico
The Velodrome in Toluca, Mexico
(Oct. 12 - Nov. 8, 2002)
The States of Tabasco and Chiapas,
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Tabasco and
Chiapas, Mexico Pictures
Full size Picture
- Museum La Venta and the
Olmec Heads Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Ocosingo,
Palenque #1 Photo Picture Page
Palenque #2 Photo Picture Page
Misol-Ha Waterfall Chiapas, Mexico
Agua Azul Chiapas, Mexico
Tonina Mayan Ruins Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico
Mexico's Day of the Dead Ocosingo, Chiapas,
Ocosingo to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
(March 15 - April 10, 2003)
Costa Rica #2
Manual Antonio to Monteverde
Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Tim's Emailed Newsletters
Costa Rica #2 (incomplete)
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Costa Rica #2 Pictures
Full size Picture
Parque National Manuel Antonio, #2
City of Santa Elena
Santa Elena, Monteverde
Frog Pond (Ranario), Santa
Santa Elena, Cloud
Forest, National Park
Sky Walk, Suspension
Bridge, Canopy Tour
Sky Trek Zip Line,
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground