Tuesday 2 October 2007

Moving Blog

Right !! Decided would be easier to control content and design on my own site, so I have moved the blog to http://www.kevfoley.com you will have to barewith me for a few days while i learn it and get the new format setup!


Nicaragua - Managua

I write this on my last night in Managua from the house of Salvador. I have spent the last few days since leaving Leon here with another of the HMD’s, which really was a fun experience. Nicaragua is really cheap compared to some of the other countries around here. Dinner can be had for as little as 2 euro a head. We ate at Sals grandmother for lunch most days and really got a flavour for some of the local food. There was a different fresh juice drink for each day, each of them I had never heard of before.
Payed a visit to the highest point in the area where you have a panoramic view of all Managua stretching out to the lake. There is a Cut out statue of Sandino here and the remains of tank that was gifted to the dictator Somoza Gacia by Musolini of Italy.
On Saturday we drove across to Matagalpa for the biggest party in the area, where we met up with some friends and danced the night away. Brought the camera out and you can see some of the pictures over on the right. The videos you will never see! I actually met another red head at the party. She was Nica but her Grandmother had come from Ireland and hence the hair!
We left here on the Sunday morning and drove up around the Selva Negra and did some of the dirt roads before heading back to Managua. Now I have to pack up the bike again and get ready to head to Costa Rica, but first an overnight stop at the beach in San Juan del Sur, for an early border crossing and avoiding the long queues of tour busses!

Monday 1 October 2007


The BMW has now crossed over 12,500 miles and is going great. This trip from Ireland to Argentina has almost reached the end of Central America, and shortly the R1200GS will be in for its next service in Panama.
After spending the last four months sitting on it everyday it is starting to feel like an extended part of me. I think in am in love! The bike is probably a little heavy but it handles great, and I think i have started to master fast curves.
Driving over here has really forced me to alter my driving style. You really must be much more defensive, and not put yourself in a position where you are vulnerable. The next corner could bring two busses coming towards you, or just a seriously huge hole in the road waiting to swallow you up!
Message is stay awake!!!

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Crossing Borders in Central America

Central America contains alot of borders each with their own problems! But by far the worst must be Honduras. Today I set out at 6 am from La Libertad El Salvador and got to the border at around 9am. I had stopped in San Miguel on the way to get some cash, but the ATM wasn't working. This was the start of the problems. The exit was easy, but then came the border, literly hours of bloody paperwork. Easily it was the worst border crossing I have ever done. The system is totally inefficient and scattered, no one is responsible for the whole process, and there is the constant pest of the people offering to help (for a propina!!) No nesicito ayuda!! Estoy bien gracias! but after 4 hours of waiting to get three stamps I was ready to have a fit. Anger management is a task I have to learn. But after hours in the hot sun I was finally ready to get moving through Honduras. by this time I had only 3 US dollars left in my wallet and was starving.
Making my way to Choluteca I was in desperate need of a bank. To my horror 99% of the banks here dont take Mastercard.. only Visa. I was starting to get desperate, I needed fuel and food,.. and all on 3 USD. After a few calls to AIB in Dublin and Mastercard, I resorted to asking at Western Union and all the other financial places in town. After 2 more hours I found the only ATM in the town that took Mastercard! I held my fingers and jumped for joy when it gave me the cash!
Deciding I didn't want to stay another minute in Honduras I skipped on food and bolted straight for Nicaragua. Crossing the border at Guasaule. Compared to earlier this was breeze taking only 20 minutes. Also had the pleasure of the weirdest conversation with these truckers, trying to find out how much swear words in know in Spanish, and naturally they were inquisitive about the trip. I thought I would make Leon before dark, but the minute i crossed the border it became apparent this wasn't going to happen. The roads ceased to be roads, and the pot holes were huge. I bottomed out on the bash plate countless times, even shaking the right mirror loose. This is 3rd world road! It improved nearer Chinandega, until the road was relatively normal black top. I arrived in Leon after dark, and went straight to the Rough Guide. I picked the best place they had recommended, it its really good.
Hotel Los Balcones is an immaculately restored colonial building with original wooden floors, shutters, and loads of character. Right now I think this is what I imagined Panama to be like. Its like a seen from the Taylor of Panama. Going to check out the area tomorrow and then head to Managua.

El Salvador

I spent a lot of time trying to decide which route to take into El Salvador. At first I considered hitting Tikal and coming in through Copan to Honduras and then El Salvador, but to be honest I was in no mood to go looking at more pyramids in the Jungle. So instead while having a nice breakfast of huevos y frijoles I opted for the coastal route.
It really is amazing with some stunning views of the Pacific crashing wildly onto jagged rocks. Actually it reminded me of a tropical Killiney on a grand scale with no houses (if such a thing exists). After exploring the coast and consulting the Rough Guide to Central America (thanks Brennan) I opted to spend the night in La Libertad. After a brief chat with the lovely girl in the tourist office I found some cheap lodgings for 12USD for the night, and immediately made my way to the restaurant. Food was good, and with the most expensive item on the menu being 4.25 I was in heaven. Even had desperados with Antonio Banderas on TV (in Spanish of course).
I planned on taking some surf lessons here, but the waves were huge and there was nobody in the water. After speaking with some surfers it was decided that the current and waves were in for the week, so no lessons, pity. I will certainly have to come back here, maybe to Flores over near the eastern side.
By chance I ran into Niall from Portmarnock in Dublin. He was back packing around and of course when two Irish guys get together you must have a drink. ! But after a nice evening it was time to hit the road to Nicaragua.

Antigua – Guatemala

Located between the volcanoes of Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego Antigua was the central city for Spanish Central America. After an earthquake in 1773 the capital was destroyed, and the administrative centre was moved. However a lot of the old colonial buildings remain here. I arrived amidst a cloud of fog which obscured the vistas but did give the city an eerie feeling.
Given it was Saturday accommodation was difficult to find. After a long search of some pretty drab places I finally found a hotel called Los Amigos, it is on 7a. Whatever you do, don’t stay here ever. I was given a private room, where I thought my stuff was safe. After I came back from dinner someone had gone through my stuff and my mobile phone was missing. There were only two keys and I had one. So the only possible thief was the owners. I questioned them but they denied it. The excuse offered was they had plenty of phones, where she promptly produced two phones and her kids all had nice phones also.. Couldn’t help thinking how many other guests they had robbed. I called the police but they were useless. Just as well the phone was the only thing of value in the room. So to the owners of Los Amigos .. in my best Mexican “Chinga tu madre”!!!
But apart from this sour note the rest of Antigua seems quiet nice, there is a good market where I picked up a Barcelona replica shirt for the equivalent of 6 euro. There are some good bars also; the best I found yesterday was Mono Loco, a lively sports bar.
Sunday I took a tour to see Pacaya Volcano which was amazing. The minibus wound it way up these really atrocious roads, seemingly impossible until we reached the village of San Francisco. It’s a far cry from California and really a very poor purely indigenous hamlet. From here we met the guide and set off up the hill. It is a 3 km walk through the jungle until you emerge on a ridge for a perfect view of the lava field. We proceeded down to the lava, so close we actually cooked a head of corn in the lava and got within feet of a flowing river of lava. No were in Europe could you do this! The insurance guys would have a fit. I met some nice people, including two people from Lanzarotte in the Canary Islands. It was really satisfying to be able to continue a conversation for a few hours in Spanish.
The journey back was weird. The darkness came down really fast, and we found ourselves stumbling down the side of a mountain through a jungle, with only a walking stick for feeling our way. Torches don’t exist in Guatemala I think. But it was an experience. We got some really cheap beers back in San Francisco while waiting for the bus. Also was great to see how the kids reacted when we gave them some bread.. the oldest took charge and shared it out equally so they all got some! I think in Ireland one would have run off with it. But I was sad to see that they were barely surviving and a small piece of bread was like gold dust.

Saturday 22 September 2007


Finally i decided to leave Mexico. Boy it was a hard decision. Originally planned to stay here only a few weeks, but ended up more than a month and a half. San Cristobal, my final stop in Mexico was awesome. Stayed at La Grigua guesthouse with my lovely Italian hosts. By pure chance one of my friends from Vallarta had an interview for her Masters in the University at the same time. So I met up with Carolina and spent some time checking out this great little town.
Today i left at 6.30 am to get to the border early when they were opening. Crossing was no problem, simple affair, handed in my Mexican permit, and drove across no mans land to Guatemala and got the new one. The only incident was when I went to put the bike side stand down in some gravel, and it disappeared, and of course there would have to be loads of people watching when the bike fell over.
The Pan American to Antigua is mad, there were a lot of landslides from the recent hurricanes which were still being cleaned up, along with road works. All the cars get stopped, but in true Guatemala style a bike gets waved on.. so here i was dodging huge earth movers and trucks weaving through the work in progress.! it was fun. No to check out the city and get some food.