So where does the name "Latitude Fifty Four" come from?
The final destination for this motorcycle adventure was the city of Ushuaia located in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
The latitude of this city is 54° 47' South.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Day 49 to Day 51

November 25th, 2005: Granada, Nicaragua
November 26th, 2005: Granada, Nicaragua
November 27th, 2005: Granada, Nicaragua

On the 25th we were going to take a boat tour around the islands in Lake Nicaragua, but unfortunately we were so busy that we ran right out of time! After eating breakfast, swimming in the pool, lounging around the pool, eating lunch, and then contemplating what we might do for dinner we just couldn´t fit it into our schedule. (Looks like we´ve official made our transfer to CAST - Central American Standard Time)!!! On the 26th we headed down to the waterfront to finally take that boat tour we had been planning. Unfortunately there was something that was bugging us..... literally. We were surrounded by bugs. Not just a few, or even a swarm...there was just a solid thicket of bugs. They were in our hair, all over our skin, going up our nose and getting sucked into our lungs with every breath. It was absolutely horrible, so we had no choice but to head back. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can hopefully see them. The "grainy" look to the picture, or the appearance of a blizzard is actually the swarms of bugs! It was like nothing I´ve ever seen before! Needless to say, the rest of the afternoon was spent by the poolside where we were safe from the pests. On Sunday morning there was a small group of musicians that came by our hotel with a statue of Maria. They play a song for you, and you donate some money, or even flowers to decorate the shrine. we went to Masaya to once again see the mythology and folklore festival. As I mentioned in a previous posting, people dress in very ornate costumes and tour the city with their marimba bands. We found out today that the houses they visit are by volunteer basis, and after the dancers complete their show, the hosts at the houses provide food and drinks for the dancers as well as anyone else that has come along to watch the show. We were stopped by the owner of one of the homes and offered a wonderful rice dish, a bun and a glass of rum & Coke. We didn´t want to oblige, so we declined their offer, but the owner would not take no for an answer, and even offered us more food and drinks when we had finished our meal! They were extremely friendly and generous people, and we talked with them for some time about the festival and about life in Canada. It was so nice of them to welcome us into their home and treat us so kindly. They even waved us goodbye as we left to tour the rest of the city. After leaving there, we went towards the old market and came across another troop of dancers, this time in devilish costumes. We toured the city with them for a little bit of time, before heading back to the market to watch the traditional Nicaraguan dancers. The costumes of the dancers are very ornate, and I only wish that I could do the music justice in print. The random picture of Barney beating to a pulp was from a children´s birthday party taking place in the market. We thought it was too great and just had to add the picture.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Day 48

November 24th, 2005: Granada, Nicaragua

Today I got to play Tarzan on a canopy tour. We took our bikes halfway up the volcano Mombochu to the national park entrance, and from there we took a rickety truck further up the mountain to the canopy tour base station. After you pay your fee they get you all geared up in the harness, which turned out to be quite the invasive procedure. Two of the guides work on you, doing up buckles and snaps all over the place!! Then they give you your "brakes" which are actually a pair of work gloves with a big pad of leather crazy-glued over the gripping area, and a dorky helmet which wouldn´t protect you from a stale marshmallow flying at your head let alone a crash into the middle of a rainforest. Then the fun begins. You start off climbing up to an extremely rickety platform that they build around the top of a tree. From there, they give you a 5 second Spanish...of how to do the jump. They buckle you up to the cable wait until you muster up enough courage to take your feet off the ground, and then "wooooooooosh!!!!!" you zip along a cable until the next platform. I was a little light on the "brakes" so I built up quite a bit of momentum before the tour guide had to catch me at the end. Then the real fun begins! They do the "Superman" twist on the regular jump. You´re strapped on the cable by your back, face down, with the tour guide behind you wheelbarrow race style. It is great because you get to see more of the forest, but it is also very scary since you aren´t able to hold on to anything, and your guide is fully in charge of your braking. You better hope your guide isn´t hungover the day it´s your turn to plummet headfirst into a tree! After that it was the upside-down jump. This was probably the most "interesting" of the jumps solely for the reason that in the picture it ended up looking more like a lesson in Kama Sutra than an innocent rainforest tour. Overall we were taken on 17 different jumps through the forest. It was an exhilirating experience and I´d definitely suggest it to anyone that is up for a little adventure. After the tour was over we stopped at the mariposa (butterfly) emporium. It was very small, but the butterflies were just beautiful and I couldn´t resist taking a few pictures. I have decided that I must visit the butterfly conservatory in Niagara Falls when I return....who´s in? The rest of the pictures from today´s posting are of the "old hospital" in Granada. It is a truly remarkable building which has such great potential (minus the trees growing out the side of it, of course). Apparently there are plans to restore it and make it into a hotel underway, so it would be interesting to see, down the road, if that takes shape.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Day 46 to Day 47

November 22, 2005: Granada, Nicaragua
November 23, 2005: Granada, Nicaragua

Yesterday was a very uneventful (ie wonderful) day of lounging by the pool and suntanning, so I´m sad to admit that I have no pictures to post, or no exciting stories for the day, aside perhaps, from me getting bit by a fire ant in what will remain an undiclosed area which was a lot more painful than you´d expect! Today we hit up the local wafflehouse in the morning for some killer strawberry pancakes, wandered around town taking pictures, and then spent the afternoon heading to Lagoona Apoyo once again. Over breakfast some very helpful ladies informed us that there was in fact a real road to the Lagoona! The road made today´s journey much smoother than our previous one and we had a few drinks under a straw hut right on the lagoon´s edge which was very relaxing. The water was incredibly warm in the lagoon. In the tourist guide it states the temperature is usually 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the lagoon. As tempting as a dip was, we didn´t want to ride the bikes back soaking wet so we decided not to take a swim.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Day 44 to Day 45

Day 44 - November 20th: Leon, Nicaragua to Masaya, Nicaragua
Day 45 - November 21st: Masaya, Nicaragua to Granada, Nicaragua

ooo Hope you enjoy this posting, and in addition, I´ve added the promised pictures to the last posting as well, so I hope you scroll down to enjoy the updates (if you can handle them!) ooo

We left Leon on November 20th and began our trip towards Granada. Although it wasn´t our planned destination, we stayed in a town called Masaya for the evening. We arrived in Masaya sometime in the afternoon after taking an "accidental detour" and were suddenly surrounded by a parade of people singing and dancing in fancy costumes. Apparently every Sunday for a few months people dress up in traditional mythological clothing and complete with their own Marimba band, they will march through the town from house to house doing dances. Everyone gets really into the dances and cheers the performers on. It´s really an incredible site. It also turned out to be good luck that we ended up staying in Masaya because shortly after we booked into a hotel there was a torrential downpour. A tropical rainstorm at it´s finest! Our hotel was right at the entrance of the Masaya National Park, so the following morning we decided to take a trip into the park to see the volcano. The volcano is an active one, and the last erruption was in 2000. Unfortunately, due to landslides you can´t get to the side of the volcano where you can see the lava bubbling, but you still can go right up to the top of the crater where you can view the gases spewing out the top. It is an amazing view to see, but after a short time the gases start to irritate your throat, and the smell of the sulphur is very strong. They suggest in the tourist card that you don´t stay up there longer than 20 minutes. After the first crater, we also climbed a little higher to another crater which was now inactive, and had filled up with trees and greenery. Our drive today took us towards Granada. We first stopped to find a little volcanic lagoon called "Lagoona Apoya". It was quite the drive down a really out of the way road, but it was a real motocross adventure! The view of the lagoon made the driving worth it all!