Nicaragua – Km 130,415

We entered through the Guasaule – Somotillo border of Nicaragua and then the landscape changed. The route is almost perfect, new asphalt and good shoulder. The country does not seem as poor as its neighbor Honduras. There are crops, cattle, more business, better housing, more people that come near and smile.

On our second night, looking for a place to camp we arrived at Edmundo´s property, a former Sandinista guerrilla army, who gave part of his life, to the dream of seeing his nation freed of the long dictatorship of the Somoza family. That night Edmundo enabled us an old shed for shelter and then joined us for dinner. “I rode a lot in life and spent a good tough, squalid conditions. I have lived in the mountains, endured hunger and cold, I have suffered. Guerrilla were hard for me because I have not a nation, a country, did not have a house, and had to go to fight in the hope of being someone tomorrow. Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have similar stories and processes. They all had a long dictatorships like dynasties period. All were military who ruled his country as if was a family property. Their ideological positions were being anticommunist, supported by the United States government who identified himself as the defender of the rich oppressors against the poor”.

“Until the overthrow of Somoza, Nicaragua enjoyed a small upper class, generally whites, possessing most of the land and property of the country. The civil war in the 70s claimed more than 50,000 lives and destroyed the country’s economy. With the Frente Sandinista de la Liberación Nacional in power, it took place a land reform, which consisted on the distribution of land, coming from the nationalized properties to the Somoza family and his supporters. Also Credits were granted; tools and inputs to small farmers were also provided. Many hospitals get into operation and there was a sharp rise in levels of child schooling and literacy. That is the duty of all governments. Capitalist, communist or however the devil wants to call it. In my time it was very difficult to go to school. I do not agree that only those who self called blue blood or highborn have the right to study, but all. Because there are many things depend, and respect for a nation”.

02conedmundo

Edmundo was a man clinging to his convictions, he spoke with passion. The guy had trained in Cuba and probably became one of those people who spread courage to those around him. Juan, Fran and I looked so complicit. No doubt we were facing a leader, but also we were in front of a character. Edmundo was up all night with his semiautomatic gun in his waistband, claiming that because we were his guests he would protect us. And he added, The same luck that you run with, I run with; It is that simple, here no one can leave alive, either we all leave walking, or we all die.

Our next stop was Granada, a major tourist destination in Nicaragua. Founded in the early sixteenth century was one of the first European cities in mainland Americas. It is also the town where Carlos Martinez Rivas a renowned Nicaraguan poet grew up and was educated.

01granada

After a few days, Fran went to meet his girlfriend who flew from Argentina to visit him for 5 months. The Rasta, whom I admire for travel so free and light, has been trapped by the pleasures of love. Although this time she did not brought her bike, she travels by bus and wait for him in touristic places where both stop for several weeks. Love stories use to be the best part of the journey, although it ends successfully or not.

Taking advance of Easter season Juan and I processed a license to work on the public road. The city of Granada is not a Cultural Heritage of Mankind, but historical and cultural heritage of Nicaragua, so unlike Antigua Guatemala, and with the approval of the local craftsmen, we got a permit for travelers and could exhibit and sell our work on the main street of town for a couple of weeks.

But we didn´t sell as we expected, because in those days there were several earthquakes around the capital and even close to Granada with a magnitude of up to 6.6 MW, according to the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies, over three weeks were recorded more than 600 aftershocks, so red alert was declared first for several municipalities and later to the entire national territory. Preventively, the whole country went out of electricity supply, classes in colleges and universities were suspended and work activities in buildings built prior to 1972 earthquake.

According to Jerry, a local artisan who received us in his small hostel, the earthquake in 2014 had the same magnitude as the devastating December 1972 earthquake that destroyed Managua, leaving more than 10,000 dead, 20,000 injured and 250,000 homeless. Fortunately this one only caused material damage.

During the last days in the country, I began to feel sick stomach. Yes, again, and countless are the times that has happened to me. At least two or three times a year, probably twice in Africa, Middle East and some Asian countries like India and Pakistan. As a result I usually loose some weight, I feel weak, I get abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Sometimes it takes me weeks to realize that I’m really bad, because diarrhea can be manifested by one or two days. Then go back in a week, and it repeats over and over again in the next one. In a month I am aware that I am not well, is when I start to feel that I have a bunch of parasites that rage in my stomach all the time. But it is not the same as having worms, parasitic protozoa, or carrying Helicobacter pylori, because each requires different treatment. With considerable experience in the topic I chose to go to a lab where I did some analysis. After a few days I knew that I carry two types of protozoan parasites, Blastocystis hominis and Endolimax nana, but fortunately did not have the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which I had repeatedly and requiring triple therapy treatment leaving me in bed . With the results in hand I turned to the recipes that I carry with me of the Muñiz Hospital, who specializes in infectious diseases in Buenos Aires, the hospital that I visited before starting my journey. Ant diarrheal and rehydration salts for simple diarrhea, Ciprofloxacin for acute diarrhea, less than 72 hours and metronidazole or albendazole, depending on the type of parasite, to chronic diarrhea, more than 2 or 3 weeks. In this case I had to Metronidazole 500 mg for 10 days.

San Juan del Sur was the place where I took a break. I was not feeling well, but as each of the many times I had intestinal infection throughout the trip: too thin and weak.

If you wish to know more about my trip, get the documentary: The World by Bike