Category Archives: Nicaragua

Mayan Dreams in the Banana Republics – Muy Norteamericano

Hey Richie, you got change for a Quetzal?

El Gringissimo

…if this leg goes I’m going to miss it. Man, we’ve had some good times together. I think what I’ll remember most is playing soccer with it.

Shit, this looks and feels awful, a puss-filled skin volcano that’s ready to erupt all over my right leg. My favorite leg. It’s cute almost, with conical shape, and reminds me of all the volcanoes I’ve seen thus far on my travels. Another trip to the doctor yields another round of antibiotics. Dont touch it! But, I can’t help it! Stop poking at it! Nein! Well, we’re in the third world and it’s all part of the game now. I guess.

Why don’t the guidebooks ever give you real information? You know, the important stuff. Tell us all about the thousand yard stares, the mangy dying dogs in the street, the souless ninos begging for quetzales, the glue-sniffers. Tell us about the leishmaniasis baby. Inquiring minds want to know.

Leon, Nicaragua

Travel Tip: Don’t drink the water in the 3rd world and don’t eat the food, ever. It’s crawling with worms and parasites. It is rumored to be that I ate once in Guatemala and was violently ill for days. Fortrue, it had been a really long time since I had ever been that ill, halucinating and shivering in bed with a dangerously high fever. I was really sick, man! I had to poop in a cup and have it tested for cholera and typhoid, diseases fazed out in the states a hundred years ago. I remember my characters getting these while playing Oregon Trail on an Apple Macintosh, lo so many moons ago; and they always died. Terrible deaths that lasted for many screens. The lab tested for parasites too and when the results came back negative for everything I was elated and raised a weakened fist in triumph. I’m still here; a small victory in a battle barely fought. But it’s just another thing to add to the list, another notch in the Mexican leather belt. The truth is that it is incredibly easy to get sick down here and when you do get sick or have an infection it’s hard to get well again. The climate, I guess, has a lot to with it. The heat, the dampness, and the alternating heat and cold cycles of the highlands weaken the immune system I imagine. No one washes their hands. I’ve had several fevers, a bunch of weird infections with bubbly puss that wouldn’t go away, and pink eye. And there is always the leishmaniasis.

Max Headworm (Johnny Gusanic): My spanish teacher told me a story about her friend who was walking down the street one day when she suddenly went blind. It was only for a few minutes, but then she started having other symptoms, like problems with her balance. Apparently the amigette had eaten some undercooked pork which contained a parasite which then burrowed into her brain. The little gusano will be with her always, because you can’t kill it. She has to take medication which puts the worm to sleep instead of killing it, but also makes her tired all the time. Believe it or not, but be warned. I wonder what that worm be dreaming of yo. Brains probly. Un paraiso de sesos.

Travel Tips: Look it’s all fun and games but If you have to eat something in Central America just be smart about it. Eat at a place where other people are eating already. The ciudadanos of the 3rd world don’t drink their own tap water and they don’t really possess any special abilities to ward off germs or parasites so they’re not going to eat at a place that constantly makes them sick. This is common sense advice, but it’s important because sometimes people don’t always use common sense. I meet a lot of palefaces who think that by drinking just a little bit of tap water each day and then increasing that amount the next, say a spoonful and then a cupful, that they will gradually adjust their bodies to it. Un poco retrasado, no? Right? I dunno, maybe that works, but I doubt it. I didn’t follow my own advice and thought I’d be safe by just ordering up a slice of pizza somewhere. Pizza is safe right? I was hungry. An empty restaurant and soulless, million mile stares from behind the counter should have tipped me off.

Leon Cathedral

Boxed-text Travel tippet – Caca en una bolsa: It’s all the rage in the 3rd world. Another story. Kids who can’t afford glue to sniff will shit in a bag and leave it in the sun for a few hours and then huff the contents. The rotting sewage produces methane, which evidently gets you high. Is it worth it? No se. These are lives snuffed out before they even began. Welcome to the Promised Land dog. I’ve never seen this before and never ever want to, although we’ve run across some glue sniffers, who are not as ubiquitous as you might imagine.

All this nonsense makes me pine for the states at times. One more thing, for those who haven’t been down south, know that you can’t put used toilet paper in the toilets in Mexico and beyond and instead have to put it in a garbage pail. This means that there’s a big stinking pail of used toilet paper in every bathroom, even in the choosiest of places. It’s gross man and you face this stark reality every time you go to the bathroom. It’s always there, sometimes out of sight, but siempre within arms reach and you can’t help but think about it. The heart reels for the high school nerd, face down in that mess and forced to inhale, requisite Mexican bully gripping the neck hard.

Alegria, El Salvadorable

Subcommandante Dickie, you been doin’ all this dope bloggin’ you aint had a chance to show ’em what time it is.

It’s Eastern Standard Time pibe, same as old New York and we’re doin’ it live.

I’m in Panama now, looking for a way out of Central America. I wan’t out. I’ve had enough.

…which is not to say that the badlands south of the border and stretching all the way to the jungle are all that bad. They’re different indeed and, at times, exceedingly beautiful. But I’ll never be able to reconcile the crushing poverty and class dichotomy with all the rest; the smiling caras blancas and the dead inside ninos and street dogs. Some can. But to turn a blind eye to all of that wouldn’t be…honest.

OK, 1…2…3 everybody jump at the same time and throw your hands in the air  with big smiles *click*



I dunno che, I’m just calling it like I see it.

We’re just looking for the Promised Land right?


Crossing the border into Panama from Costa Rica

Mexico: It was a weird weird world then, full of cacti, when the CB nosed towards old Mexico and indeed, it’s a weird world now. The hysteria surrounding travelling through Mexico is un poco surreal, mythic even, inspiring real fear in even the most intrepid, and tepid, of souls and souless wanderers. The reality is that the situation is entirely worse in every nation south of Mexico and one stands a far better chance of experiencing something truly awful in, say, Honduras, than New Spain. The media has been hitting old Mexico hard as of late. The drug mafia. The swine flue. You’re gonna die, dog. All that stuff has put a huge dent in the number of estranjeros pouring into old Mexico. Believe what you will, but remember that it’s always best to stick to reliable sources of info, like this blog, and then make up your own mind. I won’t lead you astray, I promise. No mames, Guey. Anyway, Mexico is great and will always hold a top-secret special place in mi corazon. Goat heads, tacos, culos, pyramids, cacti…old Mexico has it all. Personalidad, guey! Le extrano, mucho.

Pyramid of the Sun: Awe-inspiring if only for its size and astronomical precision, which I wasn’t able to verify, having left my collapsible travel-astrolabe at home, next to my bulky life jacket and pantalones that convert into pantalonetas. A strange place to say the least with a decidedly negative vibration. Bad things went down here; you can feel it. But don’t tell that to the large group of new age palefaces humming and chanting and being urged on by their spiritual guide to feel the engergy! They won’t listen to you anyway and I bet they all went home with terrible sunburns. The urge to roll heads down this thing was strong. Powerful strong.

The CA-4: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua comprise the CA-4, a loose conglomerate of nations in Central America that are supposed to share some sort of trade agreement or something. When you enter Guatemala, you get a stamp in your passport that is supposed to be valid for 90 days in all four nations but this is never the case and the only country that seems to be somewhat aware of this is El Salvador. I spent 2 months in the highlands of western Guatemala more or less trying to learn Spanish, which proved harder than I thought. It’s my own fault mostly. I spent a lot of time badgering my teachers into teaching me slang and bad words. I’m bad with languages on the whole I think, even English, and it all just reminded me of chemistry class. Lots of memorization. I have no patience for it all. Mamame la, puta! Guatemala was an introduction to the third world. Scenes of striking natural beauty punctuated by garbage everywhere. Mayans on every street corner in colorful dress. Volcanoes blowing their tops. Everyone is really short. A weird scene. El Salvador was surprisingly orderly and clean for the most part, at least coming from Guatemala. Everyone, it seemed, spoke English, having worked in the states for many years. It’s a small place and you can ride it in a day and get to know everyone there if you really hustle. I saw a dead guy in the road. A motorcycle accident no less. I spent an extra day there checking out Laguna Alegre, a sulfurous lake set in the ancient cone of a dormant volcano. Within the cone is also a soccer field, a true field of dreams. Encuentrame there, para un partido…porfis? Honduras is a forgotten place and dangerous, at least up through Tegus and on through to Nicaragua way. It’s everything you’ve ever been told Central America is. Nicaragua was surprisingly clean and safe, with great roads and the best food since Mexico. Behind the ancient church in Leon, a couple of ladies man fritangas and sling all sorts of delectable barbecued meats and other fried edibles of which I could not identify. Muy saludable. Nicaragua was a total surprise and it was even full of nerdy backpackers. I predict it will become the new Costa Rica. I’ll remember Granada for the seedy market behind the main square. There’s a carniceria (butcher shop) there, the worst I’ve ever seen. We’re used to buying meat that gets sliced off hunks on hooks that are hanging out in the open air by now, unrefrigerated; this is the norm from Mexico on south, but this was different, with great stinking stalls of gray meat idly hanging in the stagnant tropical superheated air beneath a tin roof, flies buzzing everywhere and foul smelling street dogs lining the floor, children racing about up and down screaming, the thousand yard stares of the women tending the stalls, and the sun streaking in casting weird light and giving it all a sickly pallor.

Crater Lake – Alegria, El Salvadorable

Old Xelatown. Te extrano.

Tajamulco – Central America’s highest point down old Guaemala way, guey.

Changing tire in Leon, Nicaragua – 6th tire of the trip

Isla de Ometepe looms large out in the middle of Lago de Nicaragua and sports two volcanoes

One of the rickety boats that ply the lake. I didn’t want to put my motorcycle on it.

Isla de Ometepe tambien

The gente in Central America unaminously hate Mexicans and Costa Ricans. Too arrogant they say, but it’s just an obviously veiled form of jealousy. And America too, is universally hated, although everyone wants to go there to work and make money because there’s none to be had here. All of these nations are desperately poor. There is no money here. The halloween head I have strapped as a masthead to the CB has been doing a great job for diplomacy though, and is universally loved everywhere. People love to touch it, especially Hondurans.

Costa Rica: Sort of second world now. I’d been here before with lil’ Marlo some time ago and wasn’t really looking forward to it. A shock-intro to Central America maybe it was, but I was put off by it. A second chance was given and the most was made of it, although I was in and out in a few days and I’m used to all the dead-doll eye stares by now. I hit up some old haunts down in the Carribean and was pleased. Completely idyllic tropical beaches studded with palms and empty and alone, stretching as far as the eye can see and then evaporating into jungle. Pura Vida ineed son. Food and gas and beers are expensive here, the stapes of life with New York prices. It was here that I would become Coconut Hunter M.D., scaling tall trees and trepanning even the most resilient coconut husks with my small, yet practical knife. I forgot how hard coconuts are. Once you get one out of the shell a couple of really hard smacks against a tree trunk or rock will crack them open but man, I couldn’t imagaine having to crack one of them open against someone’s skull like Rowdy Rodrigo Piper did to Jimmy Snooka so many moons ago. It would kill a man. That had to be a trick coconut. Was there milk inside? Rewind the tape. Piper is still trying to sell it after all these years. Muy profesional!

The rains come in Costa Rica

 Washed out bridge on the way to the Carribean – Costa Rica

Idyllic tropical paradise at the end of the road in Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Jungle meets the beach – Manzanillo


…getting lost in the banana fields

In my arsenal now is a recipe for turtle.

I got it when I was camping behind the bombero station in Almirante, waiting for the ferry to Bocas Del Toro. A lot of the coastal blacks in Central America speak English, descendants of slaves they are, and I was able to gleam this gem from Burton, one of the bomberos. Look, I could have hashed it out in espanol but it was a treat to speak English again to someone other than a tourist.

What the hell is that?

It’s turtle mon.

Dame la receta.


Receta para tortuga:


Costilla Criolla (packet of spice)

Caldo de Pollo (chicken broth)

Camaron(shrimp) seasoning

Gallinita con sabor y calor (another packet of spice)

Vinegre (vinegar)

Salsa de China (soy sauce)

BBQ sauce (if you so desire)

Adobo seasoning

Hot pepper




Fresh thyme

Sweet peppers


First wash the turtle meat with some lime seasoning and a little water. Then dip the turtle meat in boiling water for 15-20 seconds and remove. This will clean the meat and help even out the flavor. In a large bowl, mix the meat with the aforementioned spices to create a marinade. After marinading, brown the turtle meat in a pan, next adding your vegetables, thyme, and garlic. Best served with coconut rice and pigtail. Boil up some coconut milk, then add rice and simmer with a piggilytail. Easy. And if you want to be a real hero, fry up some Besks, little delicious hotcakes. Make them with flour, a little baking powder, salt, sugar, water, and a couple of eggs. Delicious. Receta by Burton.

Camping out in garbage-strewn godforsaken Almirante, getting the turtle recipe from Burton, and watching Chiquita banana trucks rumble by in the dying sun while drinking beers in my tent and getting leishmaniasis from a mosquito was my favorite part of Panama and what I’ll remember most about it. All this happened my first day there, more or less, and was punctilliated by getting lost in the banana plantations that morning (there aren’t any signs in Panama either). Banana trees stretch for what seem like a million miles, tended to by the modern day slaves of the banana barons who sit behind desks supping besks in distant lands. Bocas Del Toro, the supposed turistic mecca and paradise, was overhyped and full of garbage too, partying tourists and opportunistic locals alike.

Banana truck to banana boat bringing bananas to hungry Americans

Outside of Panama City, the rest of Panama is desperately poor; lots of people living without dignity; rude and angry. Something I did not really expect. I didn’t like it and it was a weird way to put a cap on Central America. But so be it, the time had passed for me to move on and I began counting the days…

On the road in old Panama

Helmet cam

Suicide Showers: For those not in the know, hot water heaters rarely exist south of the border. What you have instead for taking hot showers are electric shower heads. Almost all of them are sloppily wired and spliced to an existing wire and appear deadly to anyone from the first world. They’re safe I guess, but only some of them make the water truly warm. I bought one the last time I was in Costa Rica. The novelty hasn’t worn off yet and I love them very much.

So there we are, goodbye North America.

We’ve come a long ways yo. We remember the rains of Alaska, the stink of the Salton, the food and the drink of ol’ Mexico, and the dead souls of Central America, although we must keep moving and push on. Adios North America. I’ll see you in my dreams if you’re lucky.

But don’t be sad because the time has come now for Incan dreams, with colorful frocks and bowler hats.

I’m going to the Sun, putas.

Photo montage of ol’ Mexico:

Chapulines -Fried Grasshoppers down old Oaxaca Way. Not bad, really. I was figuring them to have a peanuty taste, but they just taste like whatever they’re cooked in: garlic, limes and chile, and other assorted flavors.

Mexico City’s ancient cathedral

Zocalo dreamin’

Enter the Zocalo

The frenetic beehive of humans that is Mexico City

Top of the Pyramid of the Sun – awe inspiring and massive

Pyramid of the Sun

Facing the Pyramid of the Moon

Top o’ the ol’ pyramid o’ da mooooon

Top o’ the ol’ Torre Latino, once the tallest building in Central America – spying Mexico City

Pyramid of da Sun, son

ol’ Cathedral

National Teater in Guadalajara

Baroque church in downtown Guadalajara

Oh shit, the fuzz

Party Down -Oaxaca

Party Up -Oaxaca

Eh…eh…yo tengo miedo! Yo tengo miedo!

Riding the Oaxacan death roads 2-up


¡Dame un Quetzal, puta!

…fuck this shit. Fuck Lonely Planet and their stupid green Central America guidebook with the shitty innacurate maps, the one that every single backpacker nerd seems to have. Seriously, everyone has one. It’s easy to spot because you have to carry it in your hands as it’s too big to stuff into a pocket. Maybe they’re designed that way, to be seen. The local gente must look at all the palefaces toting their green books every which way and wonder, what is IN those books? Money? Sacred and Forbidden Knowledge? These stupid books can literally make or break a business with swift and total ease. Regardless, I’ve been driving around Managua for an hour and a half, asking directions and trying to figure out whats wrong with this map. There are no signs here. The streets have no names. There are few landmarks. Lots of traffic circles befuddle, anger, and confuse the aging motocyclisto. I’ve circumnavigated the city. There is nothing to see here man, but at least we can check it off the list. And to think, I was even a little melancholy this very morn when I decided to blast off and strike for parts south, without having made a real go of checking out the ins and outs of this great Nicaraguan metropolis, the pulsating heart of a nation. I tried to visit the ancient cathedral ayer but it was off limits, the whole block shut down and inaccessible to adenturismos even, with some sort of “evento” taking place. Tal ves in my honor? I’ll never know. I speak little Spanish. Whatever, I’ve seen the cathedral twice now, once stopping right in front to let the CB cool down after fighting through the morning traffic and curs. I dont really feel so bad now, because I’ve seen Managua and gotten lost in its streets, stuck in its traffic, just like a real deal Nicaraguense. I’ve tasted this place and gotten sand stuck in my teeth. Managua is boring really, and safe. It’s not Tegucigalpa, the Central American capital of danger and violence and sex. Indeed, for the most part, Nicaragua has been a safe and clean place, and kind to me man, with impeccable roads free from carnage. But remember, we’re in the West now and everyone knows that the West is the Best. And things might change once we strike for the land of the rising Sun…

So where did you get your Lonely Planet guide book? There’s one for every lugar, player. Allentown, PA? Si. Athens, GA? Yes. Best place to grab a beer and get stabbed in the neck with a Drano filled hypodermic needle cerca de Levittville, NY on a shoestring budget? C’mon, baby. Facil! All this and more can be easily had in the Lonely Planet series of guide books. But don’t get caught holding one of those MooN guidebooks. Complete rubbish man. Abi’s MooN guide book for Oaxaca contained a boxed-text warning about the culture of machismo, so prevalent in old Mexico, urging single females to forsake their culottes for pleated long-pants and, in the event of unforseen machismo, to seek shelter within the confines of any large, passing Mexican family for safety, protection, and maybe even a chance invite to one of those famous Mexican picnics. Best to leave your alternative guide books at home under the blankets, lest the LP thugs spot you with one and secret you away to one of the myriad blind alleys down here and break all your fingers and toes with a ballpeen hammer. They’ll do it man. I’ve seen it. I got mine from some Austrian, or Australian, chic in Oaxaca. Thanks lady, I owe you one. Stupid maps. Me pregunta whether the 2013 end of days edition will contain a boxed-text excerpt about your favorite adventurer…

Fact or Fiction:

Legend has it that a ghostly lonesome motorcyclist roams the roads of the Ca-4, and will do so until the end of time, a perfect combination of man and machine. He speaks little Spanish but is rumored to approach palefaces demanding only a single Quetzal, handsome as all get out and rebelling against whatever you got.  ¡Dame un Quetzal, puta! If he offers you a ride, remember that it’s your choice and that there are no guarantees: You could have the time of your life…or you might just wind up getting thrown from the freedom train.


Latin American Press Gazette (and a little bit of old adventures in New Spain)

Ah, where to begin!?

Old Mexico man, tienes mi corazon! Te extrano. It’s been some time, indeed several moons, since we left the bosom of Antonio’s casa in old Guadalajaratown. Oh, the places we’ve been dog. It’s 2012 now and the world is crumbling all around us and yet…we venture on.

We have to.

…keep moving



El Salvador.


They’re all old school now and old hat, left in my wake, like an American shark, gotta keep moving lest we die, and then to gobble things up before the end of days. I’m in old Nicaraguaville at the moment, coming to you live and laying low, riding out my visa for the CA-4, that blockbuster stronghold of nations instilling fear into the economic superpowers of Europe and Asia.

Antigua: Guatemala’s touristic gem, is alright I guess. I liked it because you can camp for free behind the police station and I still have my tent. I hated it because I couldn’t find a cheap bar. I liked it because there are ancient relics, churches mostly, crumbling and half destroyed from the great earthquake 300 years ago. Whatever, take it or leave it.

El Salvador: Crossing the border again from Guatemala into El Salvador by old Antigua way was pretty painless I guess. I like El Salvador because they don’t charge you anything to enter their country. It’s free. In Mexico I had to put down a $200 deposit on my 1975 motorcycle as a guarantee that I wouldn’t sell it. I got it back eventually after checking out of Mexico, but c’mon, how sketchy is that? El Salvador is a small country and I would cross it in a couple of days. Oh, yea they also use good ol’ greenbacks here. Not Quetzales or Lempiras or Cordobas or Balboas. They like the Sacajawea dollar coins too. No one uses them there so they send them here, said the man at the border.

Honduras: One night in Tegucigalpa makes a hard man humble. The border crossing on the Panamerican Highway exiting El Salvadorable and entering Honduro is exactly what one dreams of when they dream midnight dreams of Central American border crossings, a perfect throbbing Jungian nightmare. Hordes of tramitadores rush a man at once as he pulls up on his steed at the end of a country. They paw and yell, all in a mad desperate rush to “help” you across the border and get their grubby lil’ mits on your hard earned Lempiras. They chase you in tuk-tuks and on foot from one nation to the next, and through the no man’s land between. The aduana, or customs building where you check out/in your bike, is a plywood shack in El Salvador and in Honduras it’s a bombed out open air concrete hulk of a building. You get your passport stamped in some no name concrete shed with a broken door. Or it could be the other way around. No mind, I let the tramitadores handle everything…for a few kopeks of course. Tegucigalpa is the capital of this strange and forgotten land. A real gem. Everything shuts down at 8pm and gorgeous hookers, packs of stray wild dogs, and gangs of chicos in colorful soccer jerseys roam the streets like it’s the Warriors or RoboCop 3. This is a legitamately dangerous place and you don’t belong here. Or do you? Manchild, come out and playyyyy.

Nicaragua: Steeled for the worst, I crossed into Nicaragua this very morn. Out of Honduras and into Nicaragua in 20 minutes with a smile and no need for tramitadores. I even had my own seguro at my side, shooing away any potential trouble. Perfecto. The air was cool and the roads curvy and smooth, the CB purring beneath like a monarch groomed sex kitten. I’m drinking a Toña now behind locked doors, safe. Nicaraguan beers taste like any other beer south of the border, like a Bud or Miller Lite. On first glance and first vibration I’m liking old Nicaragua, but maybe we’ll do some more investigations mañana…

…excerpt culled from the Latin American Press Gazette written some time ago in the recent past. Latino drifter waxes on the merits of Mexican brews whilst sipping, and also supping on chicharones:

Bohemia Obscura: I’m always wary of dark beers that come from warm climates, and with good reason too. It makes no sense to me really, who wants to drink some sort of heavy porter on a burning hot tropical beach? Some sort of psychopath I imagine. It’s cold in old New York now and back there it is Guiness time, but this is pilsner country. It’s nightime in old Mexico and I’m swinging in a hammock beneath a palm tree doing the impossible and suckling, estoy mamando, on a Bohemia Obscura, a rare dark beer in this land of tropics and desert. I chose it after some sort of weird experience steaming it up in an ancient temascal. It’s good, really it is, and I can get behind it. Look, it’s no Magic Hat but I’ll take what I can get all the way down here. Dark and sweet, but not syrupy. As pilsnery as a dark cerveza can get, which is not bad at all. I’ll take it.

Bohemia: Maybe it was the temascal and maybe there is still some magic in the world left, but I’m digging old Bohemia. It’s delicious and hits the spot at this very moment in time, listening to the surf kiss the sand down old Mexico way. These are never ever good back in the states, but in old Mazunte town Bohemia rules the roost and has become the beer of choice for the hooligan adventurismo. A delightful brew. I’m detecting some hints of fruit in this thing, apricotish maybe? Tangerinio? A meady, hearty taste in a light brew. Goes well with a deep tan. Cheers.

 Old Mexico man, I have deep feelings for you. They’re almost as strong as the ones I have for the American West, my first love. But look, don’t get excited because the West is the Best. Don’t you forget.

Excerpt from the writings of Miguel Noche, piloto de la moto fantastica, machista, and forastero. Musings on old Mexico…

Morelia: On first impression, this is a decadently beautiful city. The architecture is totally colonial and a stark departure from the concrete jungle that has thus far been the rest of new Spain. However, in walking the streets one is struck by the mediocrity of it’s women, a stark departure from the rest of new Spain this far, and an observation that is cemented and exemplified by Morelia’s most prized statue: 3 haggard looking Indian babes, with skirts but topless, holding aloft in their raised arms a giant tray of fruits and edibles; as if to say, we’re not much to look at, but hey, check out at all this food we have. What would you rather do?

Contrast this to the statues in Mazatlan, where you can’t walk more than 5 minutes w/o seeing a statue of a naked woman with a perfect body, like the best bodies I have ever seen on a statue. Even the mermaid, with large perfectly formed breasts and a perfect fat ass you can see through her scales. What do you do with a mermaid anyway?

cheers America
stay tuned…