Eyes Wide Open Adventure Travel

In one week we will have been traveling for 11 months.  Today was one of the best & worst days.  Let me explain.  It is not that today was so much different than other days, except that I didn’t have any particular place to go. I rode by myself, as Gaila and the OverlandingTheWorld.com crew (Jeff & Monica) lounged by the pool recouping from their reggae party extravaganza.  I was really tired from being in the sun much of the day and was quite enjoying my book so I stayed home for the deep dive and missed the drink fest.


Jeff & Monica's rig too.


Maybe it was completing this particular book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man or maybe it was the culmination of months south of the border so things could finally set in my brain or perhaps just maybe, things were just this bad.  I suspect it was all of the above.


My latest read.

I set out with a simple plan to explore and adventure ride away from our one week base camp at Playa Gigante.   Ultimately I needed to end up in Rivas were I would hopefully find some proper motorcycle oil to give the girls a little love.  (Lucille my F800GS & Sassy Pants Tona, Gaila’s F650GS)  Sadly, I did not score the oil I was seeking but I did secure an awesome ride and a good soul searching.  First the ride – lots and lots of loose dirt, gravel, rocks, dry river crossings and one small wet one.  It is super hot and dry here right now as we are in the “windy” season.  And it is!!
A couple of times my front wheel lifted or washed a bit with heavy gusts.  Couldn’t decide if bike was better or worse without the side bags.  Some steep hills, blind corners with trucks and normal mammal dodging.
You know, the usual: dogs, horses, donkeys, pigs and chickens.  Only this time add some very large Ox carts too.  They are everywhere off the beaten path in Nicaragua.
So yes, the riding was fun and my new Full Bore Adventure rear tire is working well on this surface. It did in the mud we rode last Saturday up and down from Rio Celeste / Tenorio Volcano.


Gigante backroads

piginroad (1024x765)


Cows (1024x768)


What really made the biggest impression today was the poverty.  As before, we have seen it in many places but today it sank in and hit home.  Perhaps it was shock of coming back from Costa Rica and Panama.  Yes to some degree that is it, but they have poverty there too.  It just seems so much less.  Well, not the slums of Panama City.  Frankly, that is a story in it’s own right as PC has one of the most impressive skylines I have ever seen and yet the tragedy and presence of their slums can not be ignored.


The book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man talks about Panama quite a bit.  Very timely.
But back to today.  Seeing sheds for homes, not even having a real roof and sometimes random boards, tarp or sticks for walls just drives a point home.  Naked kids and whole families piled into one hammock was a visual I can’t get out of my head.  Starving animals and constant strays are a never ending stream of eaters trying to find any good piece of vegetation or scrap food to consume.  Often from the roadside trash left or burning in so many places.
And yet, so many smiling faces.  Especially if I offer a wave, a smile or a honk of hello – a common means of communication south of the border.  (Honks are seldom in anger, rather meant as a “Hi hello, or go ahead or sometimes coming through if needed, but not as a way of showing frustration etc.)
Seeing the well dressed children in nice white shirts and pants walking to or from school made me smile every time.  I think it is the hope and continued need for improving educational systems that offer the greatest promise.  Sadly, while volunteering in Mexico, we learned that not every kid goes every day and the actual schools themselves are lacking in so much.
Today I am actually feeling guilty.  Guilty about not being able to speak Spanish and even more guilty for the few things I have with me.  I know that even my little tent and bike life is nicer than so many homes.  In my brain I am trying to come to terms with how I could even help.  What should I do?  More importantly, what would they want me to do???
It seems that handing my way of life over would by myopic, but surely there is something like more education, better paying jobs and real waste disposal or clean water that might make a difference   I don’t want my life for them – or anyone else for that matter – but I do want children and families to have a chance, to have the fundamentals that give them choice to build the life they want and the happiness deserved.  Such an important topic that deserves so much time and consideration.
At this moment I am resolved to continue a program of Do Good As You Go, supporting programs like Riders For Health and just doing my best to be a kind and positive ambassador.
Sunset wonderful
After a good sleep I woke with the same conflicted feelings this morning.  Yes, it is another beautiful morning (albeit windy) here in wonderful Nicaragua.  I wonder what the world will show me today?  On the simple side it will be time maintaining the bikes, posting this blog and checking emails.  A walk to town and the beach will give me new sights and sounds for the day.  I hope we can meet some more real locals and learn about how they feel when gringos invade…

Frustration defined

Lucille beach

Baseball is the national sport of Nicaragua!



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  1. Karen

    You cannot fight their battles for them – they must do that themselves.. Buddhism teaches that the muddy pond is where the Lotus flower (aka Enlightenment) blooms. Finding ways to help is the tricky part. The best way to contribute to ‘World Peace’ is to be happy and joyous – you already have the solution.

    • Tad

      Thank you for those well timed and well placed words. Yes, I suspect that being happy and sharing that happiness everwhere at any chance is a good start indeed. So many places here remind me of what I envision the Old Wild West was like. Let’s hope that time and effort will allow Latin American’s to find and bring out the best of those days and ensuing change. And I hope they can find ways to avoid the mass commercialization and consumption models that are causing other problems for us all today. Enlightened advancement.

  2. Richard

    I hope that i am able to get to have coffee or a beer with you when you get back to Seattle. I have enjoyed your stores so much and wish that i was able to write like the two of you. Thanks so much for giving US the in side of your trip

    • Tad

      Richard, you are too kind. Thank you. Yes, I can’t wait for that cup of coffee etc too. It is funny, because I feel very inadequate for not doing more updates, but the reality is that we are busy LIVING the trip and have to do that more than write or be online. Like most things, I suspect it is the balance that provides the ultimate satisfaction. Time will tell. Be well!

  3. Roxie

    Tad…my dear son…you are gaining such reflective wisdom along your journey. I see such deep sensitivity and compassion in your writings. I am so very proud. Still haven’t found blog about Ellie’s visit but will keep looking. The pics of the aqua/teal waters were beautiful. I shutter when I read the road conditions you travel but just lift up a prayer for your safety, take a deep breath and read on because I want to hear what you have to share of your adventures. Always sent in love, with hugs…. Mom

    • Tad

      Hi Mom! Thank you for the kind words. You make me speechless – almost. We are still safe and doing well, even with the exciting roads. Elliot is working on his guest blog post so I wanted him to tell the story of his week with us. I am waiting too :-) Soon I hope. Love you much and just left you a Skype message. T.

  4. Randy Henry

    Your feelings are shared by many of us who have traveled and seen the day to day challenges that real people in many parts of the world face daily for sure Tad.
    Cindy & I have seen the same thing (unbelievable poverty) and shared similar frustrations of “not much we are able to do”…but we have found as you have that just showing a real interest in the people we’ve met …and wahatever small kindness we could was always accepted and (seemingly) appreciated by those who are much, much less fortunate that we’ve met along the way.
    My guess is that at the very very least you and Gaila have provided many moments of happiness and inpired many smiles as you travelled your path….
    ……in itself, a very large contribution
    Travel safely

    • Thank you Randy for sharing your support and your thoughts. I appreciate the shared perspective. Give Cindy a big hug and hope to see you both again soon some day. Cheers from Honduras. El Salvador tomorrow.

  5. Paul McBride

    Tad – read “Peace in Every Step”, Thich Hahn. Talks you can deal with poverty, starvation consciously. Every day 30,000 children die of hunger. It is incomprehensible the suffering and you are driving by it daily. He talks about how just being mindful, in prayer and thought can make a difference. Worth reading. It seemed to help me.

  6. Tad

    Thank you Paul. Just looked for the book and looks good. Sadly not in Kindle format so will have to wait until the end of the trip perhaps. Hope you are well. Thanks for reading. :-)

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