RobT: Part of the morning was spent doing a blog update by RobC and I was trying to fix my pannier so I can fuel my bike. Ended up bending the mount with a hammer after I took it all apart. The fuel cap still binds on the pannier but I can make it work. Our goal for the day was to cross the border into Nicaragua.
The twisty mountain roads (between 1000 and 1500 m) continued to be very enjoyable. Nice curvy roads and as we got closer to the capital city of Tegucigalpa the potholes disappeared and directional signs started appearing. We were told about a ring road around Tegucigalpa, which we found easily, although it started as an obscure, dirt road. For once the directions we were given were impeccable. We stopped at the top of a hill at the start of the ring road just to take some photos. A guy appeared on a dirt bike, RobC spoke with him a bit, turned to me and said we need to get out of here. Apparently, the hills are rife with bandits and it was not safe. Didn't see any signs of this, but we took off nevertheless. We circumvented the city easliy.
Back out to the mountains we headed. It was looking good for a border crossing, until, I grab for the front brake as I was approaching a corner a little to fast. I pulled the lever right back to the handle bars. Spongy front brakes! I pumped the lever and the my brakes returned. Odd. I had this serviced before I left. 10 minutes later, same thing. Ok. Now I'm concerned. I told RobC over the headset what was going on. We stopped checked out the bike and tried to deduce what could be wrong. Only explanation was air in the line or the fluid was too hot. I hadn't been hard on my brakes, so I didn't think it was that. The next town was 40 km away and we decided to go for it. I told RobC I was going to take it easy and primarily use engine braking. That worked, but I noticed my brakes were getting worse. We got into San Lorenzo and started looking for a bike shop. We found one shortly after getting into town. RobC explained my predicament. The mechanic pulled the brake handle a few times and deduced I did in fact have air in the line. He explained that air could have been introduced into the system through an o-ring between the brake piston and cylinder. He bled the lines and the brake handle was firm again. I gave the guy 50 Lempiras, even though he didn't want to take any money.
That fixed, we were on our way again. We got to the Honduras/Nicaragua border expecting the worst, but were pleasantly surprised. It took about 10 minutes to get checked out of Honduras, another 10 minutes to exchange some leftover Honduran Lemperai and some extra US cash to Nicaraguan Cordobas and we were off to the Nicaraguan side with a young fixer in tow, who said it was up to us what we would give him for his services. There were several people handling our border crossing procedure. Handed one guy my passport and he took off, another guy my license and bike registration and he took off, the whole time trying to keep an eye on the bike. I thought, wow, I just gave all my documents to people and I don't even know if they are officials. Turns out they were and they were very helpful, funny and courteous. No bribes were expected or asked. All the paperwork was complete, documents returned, fees paid, 12 USD for obligatory liability insurance and 15 USD for customs. We gave each guy 100 Lempiras tip (5USD) for their hard work. We got to the final gate where they asked for the passport and insurance paper one final time. They guy notices my plate doesn't match what's on the document the fixer put together. The gate official was kind enough to hike back to the office, fix the discrepancy and bring it back to me. I reward him by dropping my bike right there at the gate as I tried to re-adjust how I was sitting on the seat with the kick stand down. Don't ask. RobC 3 - RobT 4.
We get to Somoto, Nicaragua by dark (5:30 p.m.), kind of reminded us of the frontier town the day before, but surprisingly we find a good reasonable hotel (25USD), secure parking, hot water, Internet and breakfast.- our five requirements.
OK. This video should have been posted during the Guatemala posts but had trouble uploading to YouTube so I'm posting it now for your viewing pleasure. City driving. :)
Another city driving video.