On to the island Ometepe in Nicaragua! Ometepe is basically made up of 2 volcanoes that rise out of the gigantic Lake Nicaragua. Kevin had done the research and really wanted to go here. There is a road (granted not a good one we hear in some areas) that follows the perimeter of both volcanoes.
But first we need to get there by ferry.
The Che Guevara boat! Which was parked next to our ferry. We took the lesser known Motorcycle Diaries guy boat instead. Go the underdogs! 😉
Not sure why they chose Kevin’s bike to secure all the little bikes!
Once we arrived Ometepe, I’m trying my best to get off the ferry before the new passengers get on. I’m also not sure why they just can’t let us all off before the new ones get on. Kevin is laughing of coarse and taking photos of me trying not to run over anybody.
We don’t have any need to rent a motorcycle, but we quite like the detailed map.
We didn’t get too far down the road on the first volcano when my motorcycle completely died. This just doesn’t happen to Sherri Jo! Seriously, I have been so lucky the entire world over without mechanical problems. So I am totally at a loss what is making the bike die. If I let it rest about 15 minutes it would start again, I would go down the road about 100 meters and it would die. Really weird symptoms. Kevin has far more mechanical skills than I do (well, everybody does really 😉 And we both agree that is sounds and feels like it is a fuel problem. And we are guessing that I probably picked up bad fuel at my last stop. We are thinking that the fuel filter might be clogged. And while the bike was resting, it would allow the tiniest amount of fuel through, which is why it would start after 15 minutes. Then that fuel ran out so fast within a hundred meters and it was clogged again.
The problem is that we are on the road, and there no houses around. We are both keen enough to jump the fence and pop up the tent. But Kevin asked me to wait here and he’d see if he can find a place to stay for the night. He left me alone in the dark!! 😉 But he came back quite proud of what he found. His thinking was that the problem seems serious enough that we would want some place under cover to put the bike and be able to work on it. It’s a humid climate and rains on and off quite frequently.
We got to our little cabin on the beach. It costs a bit more than we’d usually pay, but beggars can’t be choosers when the bike breaks down. We dropped the gear inside, went straight for dinner and beer on the beach. (Luckily the little resort place we stayed had a restaurant!)
The next morning a reminder as soon as I open the front door.. Gotta get to work on figuring out the problem.
The guy at breakfast says he knows of a mechanic at the village where we got off the ferry. He is not a motorcycle mechanic, but we are pretty convinced it’s a fuel problem and if so, I might need a mechanic to help me figure out if it’s the fuel pump or fuel filter. We could also tell by the looks of the barely populated island that finding any mechanic with any background might be a challenge.
Kevin was awesome and tried to work on my bike. I was busy on the internet consulting with every person I ever met who rides a KTM to see what they think. I was talking with Lukas Matzinger in Austria who Walter put me on to, John from RallyRaid International in England and Craig Johnson from CJ Designs in the United States all on this early morning of Christmas Eve! In the meantime, I had the hotel guy send the non-motorcycle mechanics over so I have all my bases covered.
I loved that they showed up about 2 hours late (again beggars can’t be choosers) with their little cardboard box with some tools. Luckily Kevin has some better tools than I do and I have my little set of KTM essential tools. We made it work… as we do. 😉
We started off draining my very full Safari Fuel tank into a clear plastic bottle to see if we can find any hints that it might have water or dirt inside. We didn’t find any evidence.
I’m feeling horribly guilty that my break down is ruining the day that Kevin had planned. On top of that it is Christmas Eve. Along with the mechanics, I have my wonderful helpers around the world talking with me on skype or email. As well as the KTM mechanics manuel they sent over with diagrams. I think we have the resources needed to figure this out.
In order to reduce my feelings of guilt, I talked Kevin into going with a guy from the hotel for some zip-lining.
He was gone about 2 hours and returned with a huge smile on his face. I feel better now.. 😉
However we (the mechanics.. and me!… ha!) are still on a mission. They are trying to dig out the fuel pump and filter. I am telling them in my Spanish that one suggestion is that it might be the spark plug. Can we do that first as it would be the easier solution. I showed them the diagram of the spark plug, where it’s located, how you take it out, etc. They said yes (Si) and then kept carrying on with digging out the fuel pump. I’m wondering what they didn’t understand about that. I know my Spanish can be bad, but I showed them dag gone diagrams! By then, Kevin came back and I went to them with my “big man” back up and repeated it. These guys were nice, there was nothing wrong, I just needed to figure out how to be clear about “Stop with the fuel pump, lets go to the spark plug and it if doesn’t work go back to the fuel pump”. They understood clearly this time.. not sure what the difference was other than Kevin was standing behind me. 😉 (It could have been the classic idea that the lady motorcycle rider is a ding dong and doesn’t know what she’s talking about, so let’s just say “si” and get back to what we know.” They would be right of course, but I didn’t want them to know that. Plus I had confidence in what my helpers were telling me and just passing it on. urgh! ;-))
I had a brand new spare spark plug with me in my spare parts bag. We checked the old one for white or black debris, it seems fine. We checked the distance for spark with Kevin’s tool, it seemed fine too. So it mustn’t be the problem. But I had them put the new one in anyway. Might as well while we’re here.
And guess what. The bike started!!!!! Hallelujah!!!! (It wasn’t as simple as that.. In order to see if the spark plug works, you need to put everything back together, re-attach the Safari tank, add the fuel back in, etc.. but I am sooooo happy!)
Since 90% of the people here are Catholic, I was feeling guilty about these guys being away from their family to fix my bike. So I bought all of them, Kevin too, a nice big lunch. Beers for the mechanics, none for Kevin and I as we are happy that we can pack the bikes and get on the road, even at this late afternoon hour.
I left that decision to Kevin. I am happy to continue around the island as we started. It was his original plan. But he’s decided to let it go and get off the island so we can get to San Juan del Sur Nicaragua for sunset. It didn’t matter to me one way or the other if I see sunset over a lake or the ocean. But to him there was no question we needed to get to the ocean for Christmas Eve sunset. He’s the boss! So we packed and left.
Lucky us, it started to rain just as we were boarding the ferry.
This young guy who works on the ferry is hiding out from the rain (and probably his boss!)
Adios Ometepe… thanks for the memories!! And big special thanks to Lukas, Craig and John who I mentioned above for all their help. I think it’s so cool that I live in the world that I can talk to 3 other countries simultaneously from Nicaragua and get the answers I would have never figured out on my own.
From the ferry port to San Juan del Sur was only 35 kilometers (21 miles).
We literally got to the beach just in time!!!!! Since I ruined the day, as long as Kevin is happy, I am happy! And he is! (Whew….. ! 😉
I love my life! 😉