After a rough night last night, we slept for about 10 hours. I woke up feeling a lot better, Ryan had not. I had spent the night sleeping with a cold damp towel on my sunburns (yes Dad, you can take credit for “put a cold cloth on it”). The redness and pain had gone down substantially which was good as we were going to head out into the sun again today. By the time we meandered down for breakfast it was fairly picked over, but we ate what we could and went back to the room to chill for a while.
Later in the morning we finally decided to get moving so we got a bit of information from the very helpful hotel staff (a bunch of kids in their late teens, they were fabulous) and headed out. We walked just a little ways from the hotel to a nearby shop to rent a pair of bikes. That was interesting. Most of the bikes have only one working brake (if that), most have seats in a fixed position (rusted into place) and they all had gears that seemed to work only when they wanted to. Have I mentioned that the roads around here are mostly rocks and boulders???
We set off up the road on our bikes. Mine had no cushion on the seat at all, literally the hard moulded plastic hitting my bum the whole bumpy way. Also, my one working brake really didn´t work that well, and my one working gear would only change to an easier gear if I held it there, otherwise it would slip back into a hard gear…super fun when most of the trip was up hill. Ryan´s bike wasn´t much better.
We bumped our way along the road, going through many “mud” puddles (I´m pretty sure they are like 90% poop, but I was trying not to think about that) and having to dismount to overcome a few obstacles (boulders!). It was fun to pass by the locals, who are extraordinarily nice here, and say hi. For sure the people here are nicer than anywhere we´ve been so far. They all smile and say “hola”, and not just in the “let´s appease the gringo´s” kind of way.
The bike ride lasted about an hour. We stopped at a store called Peru for a cold drink, and then soon after made it to our destination. We had biked all this way to see petroglyphs. The petroglyphs are located up a hill just off the main road, so we biked up most of that. The bigger rocks are located along this hill (we missed the best one and luckily Ryan saw it on our way back down), and there are several smaller ones located on the grounds of the hotel that operates at the top of the hill. The hotel charges you to wander the grounds and see the rocks…not sure it was worth it as there was no map telling you where to look and no signs or anything to tell you what you were looking at. Many of them look like rocks with loop-de-loops carved into them.
It was nice to wander the garden of El Porvenir (the hotel), and we bought some snacks from their shop and had a drink while in their rocking chairs. After a while of resting and having toured the grounds, we made our way back down. On the way we caught the biggest and best pretoglyph…it looked like a lion (not sure why they would have a picture of a lion, pretty sure they don´t have those here). We also saw howler monkeys. There was a family of them, with a mama carrying a baby on her back.
Ryan says I have to end this for now as we are out of time in the internet cafe. I will finish this soon!!
Ok, I´m back. Now we are writing from an internet cafe in Masaya on our last evening in the beautiful country of Nicaragua. So, when I left off there were monkeys.
After watching the monkeys for a while, and Ryan tried to get some decent photos of them, we continued our bike ride back down the hill. We came out at the bottom where it intersects with the very bumpy main road, and at this corner is a small house that had two little girls playing out front. I happened to grab some of the toys we brought with us before we left that morning, so I offered each of them a ponytail holder with an animal on it. They liked them.
Then we turned down the road to head home. We were about 100 feet from where we had turned on to the road when Ryan suddenly calls out to stop. His chain broke. That´s a problem. We stood there for a minute, Ryan trying to sort out how to fix the chain, and then we decide to move into the shade. The nearest bit of shade was also the entrance to a home. We plunked ourselves down and started working through how to fix the bike.
As we sat staring at the bike, two young boys came over. The older one was probably about 7 and the other was around 5. They came over playing with a small airplane toy, smiling and laughing while we worked on the bike. Ryan figured out what needed to happen to fix the chain, but without all the peices and no tools, it was a daunting task. During this time, another person came from the house, he looked to be grandpa to the boys. Then another man came out, dad we assume. And finally mom joined us. The manly men huddled around the bike and began working on it. I played. I pulled out two of the parachute men I had in my pocket and showed them to the boys who instantly fell in love with them and started throwing them all over. One got caught in a tree, then we learned how to throw it in open areas. They seemed at first to not understand folding the parachute would make the man go higher, rather they would just toss it up, let it fall and toss it again. Later I realized they totally understood, but they decided it took too long to fold and was more fun to do less high but lots of times. They mentioned to me at one point that they also have a sister who was at school, so I let them choose a pair of barrets to give to her, they chose the purple ones.
While I was having fun taking pictures and video of the little boys giggling and throwing their new toys, the men started banging away with a hammer and nail, going through the slow work of fixing the chain. Good thing we decided to stop there, they were so helpful! The boys disappeared for a moment and then ran up to me asking me to follow them back toward the house. They kept saying a word I totally didn´t understand, so I finally decided I would risk it and hope that word didn´t mean “we would like to cook you for dinner” or something. Turns out it meant piglets. I came around the side of their small home to see mom throwing feed out to the many animals including several chickens, a couple dogs, and many small pigs. They were pretty cute. I took a couple pictures, and the boys became enthrawled with my camera and the display, so I let each of them try to take a photo. It didn´t work so well by photography standards, but I think their attempts will be in my scrapbook as one of the most memorable moments on this trip.
After we had our fun with the pigs and the camera, we went back to discover the boys were done fixing the bike, and it worked!! Nicaraguan ingenuity is amazing. We thanked the family very much for their help, and we were back on our extremely hot way. It was so warm! And so bumpy. My bum hurt a LOT. Ryan´s seat kept falling backwards to the point that it would point straight up and down. Not the greatest bikes in the world. Meanwhile, the bike back did seem to go a heck of a lot faster than the bike ride there had gone. We stopped in Merida and picked up some water, took our bikes back to the rental shop, and then walked back to our hotel for a good long and cool shower.
After cleaning up, we lounged in the hammocks for a bit and then made our way back down to the dock for sunset. We went to dinner, this time enjoying the company of a couple from England and a guy from Australia. We chatted for a couple of hours, and then decided it was time for bed as tomorrow would be another early morning to get breakfast before leaving for San Juan Del Sur.