A tale of two tents

Confession time. After countless nights, and thousands of miles on the road Ned and I recently lost our tent. Despite our love-hate relationship (its tiny dimensions and tendency to leak through the floor in damp conditions gave plenty of ammunition for complaining) it was a sad day when we realised our blue North Face Tadpole was gone forever.

We had taken a bus up to the Miraflor Reserve having heard that the road was tough – dirt all the way and very, very steep – allowing our long-suffering bikes to be plonked on the roof rack. Amid the hustle and bustle of Esteli bus station, while trying to wedge ourselves onto the overcrowded vehicle, we surrendered our gear to the attendants who put everything, including the tent, up on top rather than inside. Big mistake. But how were we to know that the three hour ride would be the public transport equivalent of a bucking bronco?

Although we will never know exactly what happened to our tent, we surmise that it bounced off during a particularly bumpy/steep part. All we know for sure is that it wasn’t with the rest of our stuff when we arrived at our destination.

A week or so later we were in Managua to renew our tourist VISAs, our bicycles safely stowed back in Miraflor. This provided the perfect opportunity to find another tent – or so we thought. VISAs secured we whizzed around the capital in taxis on a wild goosechase from shopping mall to mall. This was an experience in itself  – cab drivers would buzz around us like bees to the honey pot as soon as we stepped into the brutal sunlight, quoting ridiculous fares on the offchance that we were stupid enough to agree. Three malls down and having found nothing resembling a half-decent tent (unless you include a wendy house, and an ornamental garden gazebo) we gave up and went for a beer back at the hostel.

There the kind owner took pity on our plight and offered to take us shopping the next morning. As good as his word, off we went in his 4×4 the following day – a much better option than a rickety, smelly taxi.

At the Nicaraguan equivalent of B&Q we found what we were looking for – kind of. A three person dome tent by that most reputable of brands: Wenzel. At least twice as wide and twice as tall as our Tadpole what it has in size it lacks in quality. It looks as though it wouldn’t withstand a light shower let alone a tropical rainstorm  – which are oh so frequent these days. Although we are suspending our judgement of course until we put it to the test. On the up side, it’s pretty light and although definitely overpriced was not such a bad deal.

Thus far we have spent one night in our new tent, and so far so good – its cavernous proportions gave us more air circulation in the tropical heat, and meant that going for a midnight pee didn’t have to involve clambering over each other’s heads. All in all very luxurious. We’re looking forward to many more nights to come.

The morning after our first night in the new tent - next to a comedor on the road to Granada, Nicaragua

Tempting though it is to post up a full photo montage in memory of our tent, I have restricted myself to a few favourite shots:

Our first night camping on the American continent - Glen Valley Farm, British Columbia, Canada

Experimenting with a revolutionary new method for drying the tent after a soggy night in the woods of Washington state

Camping in the desert - Baja California, Mexico

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