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 !


  1. OMG mum I hope your OK? Give me a call when you can. I worried x x

  2. Oh Karen! If you need an extra hand to fan you I'll pop right over. Wish we could be there to help out, but you couldn't be in better hands than Rays. Lots of love from us both. Charles and

  3. Ahhh. Poor Karen. Hope she is on the mend. Be careful cos the arm could pop out again which you definitely don't want to happen. Get well soon hun so you can continue your amazing journey. Loads of hugs for you both. Xxx. Marietta