Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 280 Tossing Money to the Wind

Strange place, Nicaragua.  Hot, for sure and the rainy season's been delayed, so it's much hotter than the usual oppressive levels.  I've just got a minute before a dinner of beans and rice in a humble little house of four generations... the secretary of the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe wouldn't hear of my sleeping on a bench in the very dirty parish hall (thank God!) and invited me to her home which she shares with her hoot of an octagenarian mother, her own kids and three of her grandchildren.  The delightful geriatric, wearing the local costume for women with an ornate lacy apron, told me that she was sure she had 20 or so grand children and 15 or maybe 20 great-grandchildren, who can keep track.  But she's proud of all of them, she announced.

I noticed right from the entrance to Nicaragua that there was an unprecedented amount of change on the roadsides, even along the dirt roads in this land of lakes and volcanos (two erupting gently nearby as I write this).  I pick it up, of course, to buy some bread that I prefer over the ubiquitous corn tortillas.  Only the large grocery stores will take the small change, the little shops give me the bread for free rather than take the aluminum coins.  Why is this? I've asked a lot of people.  We don't value the coins, preferring paper money. Nonetheless, the coins have value, I insisted to one vendor of bread along a village main street. Please take the money for the dinner roll I wanted.  He took the coins and literally threw them onto the street in front of a mototaxi.  Odd behavior.

Gotta run, but the border with Honduras in another day...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 267: Moving Ever Northward

The difficulties of Panama are far behind me now, more than 500 kilometers.  I've finally gotten all of the tale told and tallied, accessible either from the blog post or the list of pages to the right.  Forgive the typos and misspellings and roughness; conditions are never ideal for word processing during a pilgrimage.  I'll polish it after I get to Mexico.  I'm behind on updating the Route Day-by-Day on the right, but I'll get to it soon.  My little notebook took a beating through the jungle and though the pages haven't dried yet, the ink smeared quite a bit.

Funny thing as I traveled through the west of Panama during my stipulated 10 days to exit the country - at every one of the routine military checkpoints and again at the border crossing, every time they asked to see my passport and I explained my unorthodox entry through the Darien, it was always met with cheers and signs of pride and respect.  I was a bit nervous at the final encounter with the immigration authorities at the border as they demanded I enter the office rather than speak through the window like everyone else.  Uh oh, more trouble... no, an offer of cookies and coffee, sit, relax, pilgrim.  I got an exit stamp from Panama in my passport, absent its entry stamp which nicely balances the entry stamp from Colombia, absent its exit mate.  Ah well.

Costa Rica lives up to its name.  The lifestyle and culture reflect its relative wealth.  Still finding no other long-distance pilgrims, there is an annual pilgrimage to a shrine of Los Angeles near the capital of San Jose.  Every year, thousands trod along highways in early August to reach the beautiful old enormous church made of wood, though here, instead of being called peregrinos, they're oddly called 'romeros', and many establishments have signs out front offering free coffee to romeros on foot.  That's me =)

The heat of the morning is washed away with the violent storms of the rainy season afternoons.  I don't mind.  Costa Rica will be behind me in another week, then a quick succession of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador before hitting Guatamala and finally Mexico.  Revised estimated arrival is August 7th, San Cayetano's day.

I had a small celebration this week as a downpour hit suddenly along a lovely mountain road through a national protected area.  A short distance from a town, a fellow pulled up in a jeep next to me as I was frantically pulling my raincover over my pack.  Jump in, there's a café a few kilometers ahead.  Get out of the rain.  You bet.  Over coffee and a giant pancake served cold and eaten with fingers, we celebrated my passing the 10,000-kilometer mark.  That's a big number.  Whoo-eee.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Hi Ann,

I met you on the road just after you left Tolé, I was on my bicycle.

I wish you a beautiful trip further on and I really think you are doing an amazing trip, which I have told the whole world I have met about :) 

Keep strong out there and enjoy every footstep, soon you will be in Mexico City... 

I have attached the photos I took. 

Best regards,
David Larsen