long drive home

Madera and Majagual
Two days in Purgatory

And so, I was running out of time.  As much as I hated to leave my holiday in Central America, I had to get back to work.  I made my farewells to Jeff and as he headed south towards Costa Rica and I began the long drive north.  Some time later he sent a photo of himself crossing into Panama or Costa Rica and I saw that Donja had joined up with him again.  My drive would not be as fun because first, I had to go back to work, and second, I had to make the drive alone.

I drove up the west coast of Nicaragua through some semi-jungle landscape (above) before I made my way to Leon – my guidebook says that it is the oldest western city in  the western hemisphere.  I took a little time to sightsee and went to the cathedral (the Church of Recollection built in 1786).  It is a beautiful church and the inside is thick with dark wood pews and fixtures.  It is said that Leon has more churches and cathedrals per square mile than any city in Nicaragua.

It was sad to leave lovely Leon but I did have a schedule to keep.  I had stayed on as long as I could and I was due back to work in just a few days.  The drive from Nicaragua all the way back to Texas would take at least a few days depending on how many hours I drove each day and as much as I wanted to linger in Leon I just had to go.

As I drove out of Leon I was pulled over by a Nicaraguan Highway Patrol officer who was riding a motorcycle.  He told me that I was speeding (I wasn’t) and told me I had to a pay a fine.

Me:  How much?

Officer: How much have you got?

I had about $5.  He took it and then sped away.

About 10 miles up the road I was stopped again and this time the last of my Nicaraguan money was taken.

At my third pullover west of the capital I had no cash left and told the officer that I was tired of paying bribes, that I had no money left.  He told me to give me my watch.  I refused and he said that I would sit until I could pay the fine.  I told him – in my broken Spanish – that I didn’t have to be home for two weeks (a lie) and that I was happy to sit here all day – “I have nothing better to do.”  He grew impatient and then drove away.

Between San Juan del Sur and the Honduran border I was pulled over 5 times and each time I was asked for a bribe!

In the north west of Nicaragua I saw extensive flood damage from Hurricane Michelle that had passed through in November 2001.  Michelle was the second hurricane to hit Nicaragua that year and while it caused more wind damage in Cuba, it hovered over Nicaragua for 36 hours dumping huge amounts of rain causing massive flood damage.  Bridges and farm land were flattened and more than 100 villages were cut off from the rest of the country.  It seemed that bridge after bridge that I came to was washed out and I had to follow along a side road that led through the river bed; I was glad that I had a 4×4 truck with big tires.

Thankfully, there were a lot of reconstruction projects underway.  I saw many work crews and construction equipment that were repairing the washed out roads and destroyed bridges.  Each project had a sign and I saw that these reconstruction jobs were paid for by grants from Japan, Taiwan, S. Korea, Norway and many other countries.  I didn’t see a single sign proclaiming that America money had paid for a ny of the bridges being  repaired.  I wondered if the checkered past between America and Nicaragua was the cause of it?

I passed a few more smoking volcanos.  It was no wonder that there are earthquakes here.  I suppose that I would be afraid to live close to a volcano for fear that it would blow up one day.  It is quite ominous to see steam and smoke pouring out of a mountain top – but it was still quite beautiful at the same time.  As I drove further and further along I saw such beautiful farmland, mountains, trees and jungle.  In the photo below is some farmer’s horse grazing in a green field while steam bellows out of a volcano in the background.

When I finally passed the border to head into Nicaragua it must have been an easy crossing as I have no photos of the frontier nor any memory of it.


Seperator


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Madera and Majagual
Two days in Purgatory

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