After some time away from cycling, we’ve come to the conclusion that after 6 months on the road and a lifetime of adventure behind us its time to call it a day. This has been a difficult decision to make, its been a truly life changing experience and one that we would love to continue but due to dwindling funds, time away from loved ones and general exhaustion it will have to end sooner than planned. Martin flies home with our bicycles from Managua airport on the 24th October, and I’ve decided to carry on for the next four months on foot, traveling down to South America with Jess. So this is our last three weeks cycling together.
After four weeks away from cycling we headed to Chetumal, a town in Mexico that borders Belize. We had left our bicycles there in Chetumal with the most gracious and hospitable host Paco, who (and friends) had kindly looked after our bikes while we were away on holiday.
After a day or two getting everything ready, we went for a night ride with Paco along the seafront and tried some fantastic crepes from his own beautiful aluminium street food van (Yaya- highly recommended). The next day we set off in the direction of the Belize border. After a good 45 miles, we decided Orange Walk was a good stop given it was Jess’s first day and we were early to bed after pizza and ice cream. The next day was across more luscious, but relatively flat and uneventful landscape. We stopped for a long time to hide from a rain storm and found some large coconuts which we proceeded to break into!
We stumbled across Slim’s Bar and Grill for lunch and had some great coconut rice and cake, plus a look at photos of other cyclists who had passed through! As we were leaving Jess had a puncture, so by the time we hit the road after all our breaks the sun was starting to set (about 5.30 in central America) and so once another rain storm hit we headed for Ladyville rather than make it 24 miles to Belize City.
We actually found Belize City to be very friendly despite online advice and previous brief visits - lots of locals helped us to get a bus south to Punta Gorda to make up some miles. We had several rounds international rummy before they would let us (and all our stuff) onto a chicken bus. Our aim was to get the boat to Puerto Barrios in Guatemala and cycle to El Salvador from there. We had a day to kill before the boat and so swam in the bath warm sea, toured a small cooperative chocolate factory and had some great homemade tofu at Gomier’s restaurant. Luckily we got all our stuff onto the boat and then caught a bus to Chiqumula, Guatemala.
Chiqumula had a great market where we stocked up and fruit and the hotel had a pool. There was little hard shoulder on the roads and large trucks and minibuses spouting black smoke, plus 30 plus degree heat. We passed a kilometer long queue of lorries and crossed the border in El Salvador. After the border we started again, uphill, until the downhill started and continued for a full 8 miles on perfectly smooth roads all the way to Metapan with sunsets and mountains to view.
The next day we passed more beautiful landscape into Santa Ana. Leaving Santa Ana we were escorted by a pick-up out of town, as our GPS wasn’t working for central america and we struggled to remember our way out of town to head towards the capital, San Salvador in time to reach the beach for Martin’s birthday. The roads were busy and when we were 10 miles from our destination by early afternoon, we spotted a water park which in the blistering heat was worth a go. It was a beautiful natural limestone pool with little fish set into the cliff and had some local significance that our Spanish didn’t quite help translate... After an afternoon in the pool we realised we rode into San Salvador after some steep climbs. By nightfall we had found ourselves a seedy pay-by-the-hour type hotel and somewhere reasonable for a beer ready for Martins birthday.
So we could have a couple of days off and Martin could celebrate somewhere more salubrius, we got a bus to the beach at La Libertad with our bikes and had a swim or rather be pounded by the gigantic waves and current. We had a great fish dinner, got Martin an elephant pinata and then headed to El Tunco a nearby surf town for some cocktails and a night swim.
To practice surfing and have a couple of days off for Jess’s birthday too, we stayed further down the coast in El Cuco, in a great little place on the beach, which helps support the local turtle population by buying the eggs from locals who poach them to eat or sell to the market. We were lucky enough to even see a large female on the beach one night laying her eggs. Both me and Martin taught themselves to surf and made Jess a toucan birthday cake!
We finally tore ourselves away from the beach by cycling along the shore towards San Miguel. The start was uphill, but a coconut juice and pedaling past a volcanos made it a great last days cycling, by the afternoon we had finally reached San Miguel, El Savlador’s second biggest city.
We really hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures, we have had the most incredible experience and one that we will never forget. Plans are made to be broken and it feels like the right time to end.
23rd October, 2013Tweet