Thursday, 28 November 2013

258 Leon, Nicaragua

Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th November 2013
Miles Today 0 Miles Total 27,540

For obvious reasons we have been just taking it easy aver these few days. The insurance company have been in contact and asked us to get a medical review for Monday. We decided to move to Leon city as the hospital was nearer (walkable) and the room we were currently staying in was far too hot, especially during the day and we could just not escape the heat. It was very uncomfortable for Karen and we were no getting too much sleep. 

A brief respite from the heat. A short squall come over the hotel but sadly no rain came with it.

This beauty flew throught the hotel. It was about 3" long as you look at it.

Our hotel and bar from the estuary, the bright red roof bit.

On the Sunday it was hot. Local families went for a swim in the estuary.

The beach about 100m from the hotel.

We went to a bar for some food. Ordered chicken wings. These monsters turned up. Everything bar the feathers.

From the bar we watched the sun go down. Our last view of the sea for a while.

Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th November 2013
Miles Today 14 Miles Total 27,554
Today we packed up and along with Paul and April, got in a cab and set off for the city of Leon. It was sad to leave the old hotel behind but we needed respite from the heat and some air conditioning. Our previous hosts, Ryan and Valerie had been good to us and we have had a pleasant but hot stay in their place.

En route to Leon I followed the cab on Wallace. Once in town and at our new hotel, Paul had arranged for me to put Wallace in the foyer. Not an uncommon thing in these parts of the world.

Wallace safely booked into our hotel.

Once settled in we wandered over to the hospital to try and get a check up for Karen. We walked into the hospital, was immediately recognised by the lady at reception and told to go straight in to the orthopedic section. There a doctor immediately wrote a slip out and we went straight up to X-Ray. Within minutes it was done and we were back down stairs and waited to see the orthopedic doctor again. He was a bit confused as we did not have any paperwork or an appointment. In the end he just shrugged his shoulders and on looking at the X-Ray was happy with the result and we were on our way. I'd like to see our NHS compete with that.

The broken bit is settling back into place now. Yipee...
We spent the next 2 days slowly exploring the city. It was a place of many contrasts. Christmas was in full swing and the city was very vibrant and extremely LOUD. 

My God these people can make some noise. They are, however extremely friendly so there is a balance to be had.

There were Christmas nativity displays all over the place. We could see 4 from where this photo was taken.

The boss having a beer in an elevated bar. We were overlooking a band p;laying that later turned into a political rally of some sort.

The band or more correctly the speaker (read shouter) was so loud we had to go elsewhere to stop my ears bleeding. Even the bar staff appologised.

Wednesday 27th November 2013
Miles Today 0 Total miles 27,554

The cathedral inside
...  and outside.

Check out this guys shoes. If you are poor, you take what you can get.
That evening we wet to the cinema with Paul and April. We saw 'Captain Phillips'. It was subtitled in Spanish so the only bit that was hard was when the Somali's were speaking Swahili. Having said that it was a very, very moving film and we all had tears in our eyes at the end. It is by far the best film we have seen in a long time.

Friday, 22 November 2013

257 On to Nicaragua and big problems.

Tuesday 19th November 2013
Miles Today 216 Miles Total 27,540

A long day today. We had 2 borders to cross and  around 200 miles to cover. With the impending and unpredictable borders, we were up at 6 and wheels rolling before 7. A record for us !

A grey vulture. Without these guys, disease would be rife. They do a good job.
The 7:30 am traffic jam. El Salvador style.

We got to the first border of El Salvador and Honduras at around 9am. It took 2 hours to get through and we were mobbed by 'helpers'. I knew this would be a difficult crossing and decided to use one of them. I asked how much they wanted, "How much do you think it is worth", they replied. Me: "I asked first. OK $20. I'll give you $10, no more. OK $10 it is then.
It turned out to be a good decision as the crossing was about as confusing as it could be. Back and forth for photocopies before and after stamping by one official so the next would accept it.
More officials than you can wave a stick at. The Honduras entry point.

We had a problem at Honduran customs as their printer was broken and that held us up for about 1/2 an hour. In the end we were free of the officials and it was time to pay the helper. He and his mate then concocted a story about then needing to get the bike fumigated, checked for fumigation and then checked by the police at the border post exit. A situation that would take about 2 hours and cost $15 at each point (total $45).
However, if I gave then a full $60, they would bribe all three and we could go straight through. We were knackered and hot so it seemed like a good idea. Sadly for them I did not come in on a banana boat, gave them their original fee and drove straight to the Police post, having not seen a fumigation point (as in other borders) and when stopped by the police we were asked if we had any drugs. Out came the trump card. No way Jose, we are cops, look at our photos. That did the trick (again) and we were on our way with smiles and handshakes.

A statue commemorating dead firefighters at the town of Choluteca.

We had the equivalent of about £3 in Honduran currency and did not particularly want to stop in this possibly dangerous country, so did not even bother stopping at all till we had covered the 80 miles to the border of Nicaragua. 

The Nicaraguan border looked a lot less messy so I chose the option of going it alone. Good choice. It was a piece of cake and we were through both sides in 1 hour. 

It was now 2pm and we had 3 1/2 hours of daylight left for an 83 mile dash. No problem, and we were there by 4:30 and straight into the bar for a refreshing beer. We were extremely hot and bothered. It was 34C and we were wearing jackets made by a snowmobile clothing company.
Life is a lot simpler here.
San Critobel volcano near Leon.

Anyway, the hotel, run by a couple of Canadians, Valerie and Ryan, again hotel being a loose term in this part of the world was very quaint, more than adequate and we loved it. After a beer we moved our stuff in and it quickly became dark. 

We had dinner in the bar and at about 9pm, the bar/restaurant closed and we, along with a couple from England/Canada, April and Paul, and the bar owner Ryan, we went for a walk to the beach. The moon was full and it was extremely relaxing. After an hour we went back to the closed bar and sat chatting for an hour. Around 11pm we decided to go to bed and as Karen stepped off her 3 foot high bar stool she slipped, fell forward onto her head and was knocked out cold. 

I went to pick her up and saw that there was blood all over the floor. She had hit her head on the corner of a small amplifier and the blood was pouring from a 1" long gash in her temple. She came around and as I turned her over she complained about her shoulder hurting. I had a quick look at it and formed the opinion that it was dislocated. I asked the bar owner to call an ambulance and a Red Cross one turned up. Now, not to be rude, but this is a third world country and an ambulance here is really only a van with a trolley in the back. But, the guys in it, bought the trolley in, put Karen on it and we were soon at the hospital which was a 20 minute drive. Thanks Guys.

In the hospital, again, which is in a third world country and does not have the same standards as one in the UK or USA, Karen was treated very well. One doctor sewed her head up and that she went for an x-ray and it was confirmed that her shoulder was dislocated and a small part of the top of her upper arm (humerus) had broken off.

So, the first thing to do was to put the arm back in it's socket. An orthopedic doctor then arrived and a drip was placed in Karen's arm by a nurse. The doctor tried and tried (with me pulling and pushing too) to get the arm back in its place to no avail . It would not go back into place.

The doctor decided to get drastic so Karen was given some heavy duty drugs and instantly fell asleep. We laid her on her front and tied 6 litres of water to her dangling arm to stretch the tendons. After 15 minutes of this, the Doctor pulled Karen's upper arm outwards whilst I pulled her lower arm down with all my weight. Then 'Click'. A very satisfying sound. It was back in place.

Another x-ray confirmed the arm was back in place, but the bit that had broken off was going to take a long time to heal. 6 weeks minimum and only to exercise it after 3 weeks. Karen who was now awake was adamant she was getting back on the bike and it would not stop our trip. I was more cautious. I contacted our insurance company to warn them that we may need repatriation and I took some photos of the x-rays etc to send to them. They were extremely helpful but thus far they have not had to put their hands in their pockets (am I being cynical here ?).
To the credit of the hospital. Despite the obvious restrictions. We were treated very well, with dignity and first class medical care. Thanks to you guys too.

Karen's dislocated shoulder.

Karen's arm back in the socket but the broken bit on the outside is clearly visible.

Karen was discharged and we walked outside to hail a cab. It was now 5:30 in the morning. To our surprise, the whole episode had cost us a £10 cab fare. Not at all what I was expecting. We got into bed as the sun was shining through the window. A very long and sad 24 hours.

Wednesday 20th November 2013
Miles Today 0 Miles Total 27,540

The cold light of day started at 10am for us. Karen was in sorry state. She was in a lot of pain and her hair was still covered in blood. Before doing anything we both needed a shower and Karen needed the blood washing from her hair. After the shower and some pain killers Karen was much better however the sling she was wearing was making her overheat so after a brief social spell she went back to bed under a fan and spent the rest of the day there.

Thursday 21st November 2013
Miles Today 0 Miles Total 27,540

We were now in a dilemma. Karen was adamant that we should carry on with the trip and I was adamant that we were going nowhere until I was satisfied she was capable or else it was a plane back home. Sadly this is not a simple task as we still have the bike to deal with. We managed to secure our hotel room for a week and we will see how Karen is then. We have contacted the insurance company and they are happy with our outline plan.

We had booked a slow cruise up the mangrove swamp for yesterday but the hotel manager postponed it on our behalf till today and Karen was desperate to get out and get some air so at 2 pm we got the boat from the estuary beside the hotel and took a slow ride into the mangrove swamp.  We sailed through the swamp at about 2 mph and the wildlife was fantastic. It was good for Karen to take her mind off her arm for a while. 

This is where Pelicans should be....

A grey Heron

A Banana Spider. Its web is unbelievably strong. It is about 3" across.

A Purple Heron

A green iguana.

A green heron.

A troop of monkeys, 'Hamanus Idiotus'

Actually, Paul, me, The boat owners son ans the owner. All climbing around in the mangrove trees.

A mangrove tree clearly showing upper lower and even a termite mound.

Another green Iguana in classic, 'Do you want to bonk me, I have by orange suit on today' mode.

April about to release her first ever baby turtle. I think she is a bit overwhelmed !

Thursday, 21 November 2013

256 The last of La Tortuga Verde.

Friday 15th to Monday 18th November 2013
Miles Today 0 Miles Total 27,324

We spent these few day having what can only be described as a holiday for us. The place was so  chilled out and serene we just did not want to leave. We had come for a 2 day stay and lasted 11.

One day we walked along the beach to another  'Comedor', a restaurant in the loosest Westerner sense of the word. The local fishermen were in there having lunch.

Fishing boats parked up for lunch.

The cook/waitress came up to us  and said in a sweet voice, in Spanish, "Fish, meat, shrimps or chicken".  We like the basics and chose meat. A fantastic slab of meat turned up with salad and rice. It was nice to get down with the locals and eat simply. 2 simple but tasty meals and 4 beers, $13.

The restaurant on the beach.

A guy who was almost a permanent resident of La Tortuga Verde, Jeff Hansen, had a KTM 950. A very good off road bike with him We decided it woulf be a good idea to do some drag racing on the beach as sunset. I got my butt kicked big time but it was fun.

Drag racing in this sunset. Sadly it was too dark to get good photos of the bikes.
 Later that night when we had been asleep for a couple of hours we were woken by the guard to see another turtle laying its eggs. This time we got some better but still not good photos. It was so dark that the camera struggled to focus.

Karen walking the turtle back to the sea.

An idiot walking the turtle back to the sea.

These are turtle tears. They are secreted by the turtle to keep their eyes clear whist they are digging in the sand.

And now the beauty was free again.
The Pelican was making good progress. Sadly another that was bought in under similar circumstances died a day later.

Tom, the owner and I feeding fish into the reluctant pelican. He came in flat out and is now up, flapping and snapping just like he should do. He should be ready to fly off in a couple of days, sadly we will not be there to see it.

This is Bonnie as Karen named her, a female puppy that sort of adopted us. She was cutie and we hope that the staff at La Tortuga Verde will keep looking after her. Karen was a bit miffed when I said there was no room for her on the bike.
 Big day tomorrow. Two borders and a long drive to Nicaragua.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

255 Even more Tortuga Verde

Tuesday 12th November 2013
Miles Today 0 Miles Total 27,304

Up at 6am for my last session of Yoga. The class were flying back to New York today so the session started at 6:30. It was a lot less painful that usual and I hope Jason, the Yogi does not read this but it was not as intense as the previous sessions (only joking).

I managed to sneak in a photo when they were not looking.

The torture chamber. Not really, it was hard work but I felt good after it.
The Yoga class. All very nice people and seriously fit too. Jason the Yogi, is on the left.

Wednesday 13th November 2013
Miles Today 20 Miles Total 27,324

This morning I needed to go to the bank. Karen had received a missed call overnight from NatWest fraud services. I went to the bank with both our cards and Karen contacted the bank to see what  the problem was. Apparently her card had been cloned and several unsuccessful  attempts had been made to draw cash out in Ecuador.  I meantime went to the bank, got stopped by the police on the way and asked to produce my documents - no problem there.
At the ATM, my card worked OK but Karen's was eaten by the machine. This is a serious problem.

When I got back to Tortuga Verde, Karen told me what had happened and also that they would not send a new card out except to the registered address. They were quite simply obstructively useless (I'm being polite here). Their only suggestion was to complain in writing to the bank. Oh yes, very helpful that is going to be. Karen has been with this bank since she joined the police and is gutted at their uncaring and dogmatic attitude. Their best shot was for her to transfer all her funds to me and use my card. Grrrrrrr

Later we met up with a lovely couple that we had befriended. Lloyd and Lucy. Lloyd is from Watford, about 10 miles from where we live and Lucy is from the old East German side of Berlin. She speaks almost perfect English and can even keep up with the rapid, dribbling ramblings that issue forth from me.
They met in Venezuela a year ago whilst traveling, hooked up and have been together since.
They are a delightful couple and we are privileged to have met them. We sank many beers late into the night together. Unfortunately for us they are off to Nicaragua the next day. Oddly enough, when we told them we were retired police officers, Lloyd said his sister Cleo and and her husband Lee Frankin are in the Police. Oh really, whereabouts we asked. Wood Green was the reply. They have both been there for about 10 years. What a small world. We retired from that very station 3 years ago.

Lloyd and Lucy. Smiling as usual.

Thursday 14th November 2013
Miles Today 0 Miles Total 27,324

Overnight about 25 baby turtles were found scrabbling around the beach. The security guard collected them and placed them in the nursing tank.
When we got up also beside the tank was a huge pelican that had in some way injured itself and was being looked after by Tom, the site owner. When it came in it had clearly not eaten for days and was in a sorry state. After 'force' feeding with liquidised fish and water the bird is showing serious sign of improvement.

An improving, but still not well, pelican.

Then came the time to release the turtles. Most people on the site were able to put one turtle each into the waves. It was a lovely experience that as I have said before, you cannot plan or pay for.

If you watch closely you will see the turtles get exited as they approach the water.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

254 More La Tortuga Verde

10th Continued.........

Well what a finish to the day. I went to my voluntary torture class and as the sun was about to set our class went out onto the beach to watch the sun set. It's a spiritual Yoga thing. Anyway, Tom was setting the baby turtles free so we all joined in. It was a moving experience setting these cute little creatures free to roam the high seas. Sadly only a very few make it to adulthood.

Looking West the sky was a beautiful sunset...

But looking East, there's a storm brewing.

Lusa, one of the yoga class's 2 year old girls releasing a 12  hour old turtle.

The rest were placed in the sea.

All gone now, a time for serene reflection.

It was then time for dinner and after ordering, the storm hit us and it was a biggie. All the shelters covering the dinner tables and chairs had to be abandoned and we retired to our room and awaited dinner.
Dinner came and went and whilst we were sitting on our porch reading, there was a call, "Hola". A guy had come around, as is his brief, to call out all resort members who had a red light on inside their porch. The red light signifying, "wake me or call me if a turtle is seen laying eggs". The guy took us along the beach about 200m and there she was, a huge 30" long Green Turtle, covering up her just laid eggs.

It's a bad photo but I was told off as the flash destroys their night vision.
 It was then off to bed for a contented nights sleep.

Monday 11th November 2013
Miles today 0 Miles Total 27,304

Today is Armistice day in the Commonwealth and Veterans Day in the USA. At 11am we remember all our departed ancestral guardians for keeping us free. Ladies and Gentlemen, we salute you.

I pulled a sickie on the Yoga today. Having had little sleep due to aching limbs and tendons I decided to have a day off and we just chilled out by the beach.

Whilst supping a beer we saw this several times. The pelicans flying in formation using the waves for lift. As the waves move toward the beach the air above them lifts up and the pelicans use this to soar on. As the wave breaks and the air becomes turbulent they just flip over to the next smooth wave. It is amazing to watch.

Then the fishing boats came back in so we joined in the fun of dragging them up the beach !!

There must be an easier way than this...

After sundown we ate dinner whilst watching Venus in the constellation of Sagittarius and all the time being surrounded by fireflies. It was magic.

At around 8pm the clouds cleared away from the moon so we went for a walk along the beach. About 300m up from Tortuga Verde, Karen spotted a turtle crawling up the beach being followed by a young local man.We knew what he was going to do so after the turtle had started to dig her hole, we quickly ran back to our room to get some cash and a bucket for the eggs.
We got back to the turtle and she was still digging. I agreed with the local man to buy the eggs for $2 per dozen.
We waited around an hour for her to lay her eggs and then watched as she buried them. She would place a layer of sand over them, then beat it to compact it with her hind flippers, then another layer etc. When they were completely buried, she just turned around and headed for the sea.

This poor girl has had a hard night.

By this time the turtle stalker had been joined by his mates and now the turtle had gone they dug up the eggs.
Our stalker digging up the eggs.

 There were 68 eggs in all and I paid the man $12 for them. For us it was only about £7 but the intrinsic value was immense.

68 in total. They are like soft ping pong balls.

We then took the eggs back to La Tortuga Verde, gave then to the guard, who stored them for reburial in the morning.

The whole thing was a very surreal and moving experience for us. We could not have paid someone to give us this treat. It gave us a good feeling that the eggs were going to hatch as they should do and not end up in an omelet at a local cafe.