Places I have been
India and Neighbors
/ Canada / USA
SE Asia / China
How I started
Equipment Pages Index
I have not been able to publish to the website for several weeks now. I am having technical difficulties. I am trying to fix it but I think that it is going to be several more weeks. I will send out a short email when I have fixed the problem and updated the site. The last time I posted was in Granada, Nicaragua. There are no more pictures that accompany this newsletter after that.
Thanks for all of you who wrote wondering if we disappeared somewhere in Nicaragua. We are still out there (in more ways than one) and doing well.
March 30 is a very special day for us. It is our one year anniversary of being detached from the earth and living on the road. It is hard for me to believe that we have been gone so long. Because our travel plans are for at least seven years (six more) we really have just begun. There is so much more ground to cover. We have seen and experienced so much in the last year it is unbelievable. We have loved almost every minute of it. There have been some hard times but we have always managed to work together and pull through. The good times are at times magic. I have seen things that I can not begin to describe in words. I can not imagine what wonders South America will bring.
The year has gone better than expected. We spent quite a bit less than we initially thought that we would. This is a good thing because we left with less money then we planned because of unexpected house expenses and the tax man with his hand out. We plan to update our finance page at the end of the year with more details on our budget.
The income from the web site was a unexpected surprise as well. The online store sales have recently picked up. My guess is that people are getting ready for summer. Many particularly like the special sale items at Sierra Trading Post.
They really do have some good deals. We watch that ads ourselves. I am always looking for more stores to add that people request because they are regular shoppers.
Amazon.com sales are brisk with many books and other items being sold directly from our website. A lot people write me email who are confused about how Amazon.com works on our site. I will try to explain it here. If a book is bought by clicking straight from our site we receive 15% of the sale. If you click through from one of the books (or general links) but decide to buy something else from Amazon we still receive 5% from the sale. In other words you are not limited to just the books pictured on our site.
There is also income from people who just wanted to send us cash donations. The first few times someone emailed me concerning donating I thought it was a lucky fluke. As the site's traffic increased this kind of email became more common. Neither of us can really believe it even now. I started getting so much email on how and where to send donations I had to add a special section of the web site with all the different options and directions of use. This extra income we have used for visiting additional places that we originally thought that we could not afford. This is what the people who donate to us usually ask that we do with the extra money. Many send us specific request like a National Park or museum. Others just tell us that we must spend the money on something exciting or educational and not something boring like laundry or inner tubes. I usually email people back with pictures of the particular activity that they helped fund. This way they know we did what they asked or at least did something extra special. Thanks again to all of those people who have taken this kind of interest in our travels and adding content for the web site. You have made our travels very enriching.
For more information on Amazon.com, donations, or a list of our online stores please see: http://www.downtheroad.org/Donations.htm
We are in Costa Rica now. What a difference from the last three countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. We noticed big differences as soon as we crossed the border. The endless kilometers of trash on the side of the road disappeared. There was actually a garbage truck picking up curb side trash in front of the houses. We could not believe that the trash was actually in real trash bags as the men threw it into the truck. Rural houses usually have a septic tank and the most creeks are clear and does not smell like sewage. All of this comes at a price. It is at least twice as expensive here in Costa Rica also.
Well, enough about Costa Rica. This letter is about Nicaragua. What an exotic place. Riding through Nicaragua was much different than we expected. I guess I could say that about every country that we have visited so far but we really expected Nicaragua to be rough. It certainly has a bad reputation. For example, in the north is the Sandinista region. The Sandinista fought the Contras during Nicaragua's long civil war. The United States secretly funded the Contras who beat the Sandinista so it is logical that the Sandinista are generally not happy to meet Americans. It was an interesting and exciting ride through this area but I will get to that story in detail below.
Nicaragua also had many more surprises including what I think is the most beautiful colonial city in Central America and the amazing Isla Ometepe in the giant fresh water Lake Nicaragua. Isla Ometepe is a very funky place, laid back beyond belief, and a cyclists dream come true.
If there is a moral to this story it could be "Do not judge a country by someone's horror stories who has never been there". The world is far to interesting of a place to let these kinds of people scare you away from the more exotic corners of the earth.
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I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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