The Nicaraguan border crossing was somewhat peaceful, but the rain almost closed down the border. The black skies and wind were telling us that something was coming, but what came unleashed was in a league of its own. In less than five minutes, the ground turned into a lake, and 50 gallon garbage cans got filled to the rim with rain water. Everyone at the border huddled under a canopy which was about to collapse. Even the dogs joined us to get out of the rain. After all the rain, we proceeded to the next station to get the bike fumigated. They sprayed the tires and chassis with some sort of chemical which stinks to high heaven and when it hits the hot engine, it makes some nasty fumes and leaves a stain forever. Somehow they believe that the chemicals kill the bugs and keep the noxious weeds from spreading over the border. Maybe they’re not aware that most bugs can also fly or walk right over the border. Well, it’s their way of keeping themselves busy I guess.
It wasn’t really a drive to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, as we almost sailed into the city with the bike tires deep in water. Despite my high-tech rain gear, I was soaked again. When I took off my boots, there was water standing in the bottom, and my pants pocket where filled like fish bowls. Cynthia was dry and happy in the van, but when she opened the van door, her clothes bag fell in the water, and all her stuff got soaked as well.
At the Seminole Hotel in Managua, the night staff adamantly told us that there is no washer/dryer at the hotel. However in the morning, we tried talking to the manager to plead our wet clothes plight. They sent someone to get our wet clothes which we told them we needed by 10 a.m. After breakfast, we asked for the clothes to be brought back as it had been over an hour and we needed to pack. We were told that they dried them, but they were still a little “damp. The clothes weren’t “damp!” They were in the exact same condition we sent them down. No amount of yelling in English at the manager got me anywhere, so with no other choice, we packed up our wet clothes and started out to the border of Costa Rica with the all too familiar police escort again.
The vision I had of Central America quickly turned into the wettest dream of my life. Not only did we not see a thing in Nicaragua, I don’t even remember the currency. Very few bikers ride to Central America during the rainy season, and out of those few, I guarantee you that none will ever travel at night. From the US border to the Panama Canal, I rode pretty much every night, in one of the wettest years in Central America. Many people died in the floods and mudslides, many houses got destroyed as the rivers overflowed into villages, but we kept on pushing on.
Light bulb after light bulb went out on the bike as the water kept finding new ways to get inside the lenses. One headlight relay fried when swimming in the water, and finally I bought a tube of silicone and sealed everything. The seat cover ripped after 29 years of faithful service, and the water kept the foam wet, day and night. Every time I sat on the saddle, there was always a squish. My clothes were wet for at least two weeks and finding a dryer became my number one mission in every town we stopped. At every hotel, we asked for an extra hair dryer, and Cynthia set to work drying our drenched cloths with hair dryers and irons. But it was hot. The temperatures stayed in the high 90’s whether it rained or not. I kept humming the Beatle’s song, “Here comes the sun,” but the sun was nowhere to be found.