Nicaragua part two

The dusty dirt road wound through the dry coastal countryside. I’ve never really been worried on any road, in my low clearance minivan, with bald tires, but as I spun out climbing the hill to Playa Maderas, that all changed. Cutting hard left and right across the road I scraped for any traction I could find. As I chugged up the hill, passing a bunch of sweaty backpackers on foot, my pride pushed me the rest of the way to the top. But it wasn’t over. The beach isn’t at the top of a mountain. I crested the other side and looked down in terror at a hill twice as long with foot-deep trenches and pot holes eroded out of the silty slope. I love going downhill, usually I’m flying no-brakes on the inside lane of any elevation change. but that’s not what I was worried about no; I was worried about the return trip out of Playa Maderas.IMG_1793

I said “fuck it” and figured I would fuss about that idea in a few days. Whether it was the heat of the driving stress, I don’t know, but I was feeling even worse than before now, with a heavy head ache across my whole skull. On top of that, one nostril was totally blocked and it felt like there was a balloon being blown up inside my brain. I parked the whip and collapsed in the back of my van. Not too much more would happen for the next few days. At some point I realized it was not strep throat though.

I proceeded with some pretty primitive treatment techniques. I tried steaming out my sinuses while hovered over a boiling pot of water with a towel over my head. Then I added salt to that water and poured it into my nose via a ziplock bag. The water loosened up the mucus in my cavities and I had to be careful to not blow too hard and force everything into my ears. I wasn’t careful. Pretty soon I was going deaf in one ear in addition to everything else. After some time, I dragged my sick ass out of the van and down to the beach, an 80 ft walk that took all of 8 minutes. I got into the water but it was freezing cold and I couldn’t tell if my body was just being a weak bitch or if some weird weather was working. Apparently a cold system was being blown up from the South, or so I was told.GOPR7657A couple days later, I convinced myself I had to surf here before I was allowed to leave. I put on a heavyweight, long sleeved biking jersey and hopped in. It was still just as cold. I think I lasted all of 20 mins before recoiling to the beach. When it came time to leave, I dilly-dallied getting the van all in order for the rough ascent up and out of there. I approached the hill slowly, letting a couple other vehicles pass me. Then I got out and scouted a line on foot. There was a pretty clear path where you had to straddle a couple foot-deep ruts with the wheels diagonally to the left and then cut hard right before hitting the bank. It was now or never.


I drove to the bottom of the hill and told a local that I was not confident I could make it, and asked for help if I got stuck. He told me it was simple: just go backwards. I thought I had misheard him for a second, so he repeated himself. It made sense though. I have a front wheel drive van with a lot of weight in the back; if the driving wheels were downhill, all of the weight would be above them and would provide maximum traction to the tires. So I tried it. I flipped the van around and popped it in reverse. The homie stood below me watching as I climbed up the hill backwards, navigating almost blindly. I cut to the lefts where I thought I remembered the ruts were, and then cut back right. With a few bumps and scrapes, I made it to the top and sighed in relief. I pushed on to San Juan del Sur and then down to the Costa Rican border. I had been in touch with my cousin Michael who was working in Playa del Cocos, so I aimed for that as my destination of the day.IMG_1772


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