T – I have to be honest here. I was quietly crapping myself about todays border crossing. The infamous El Salvador – Honduras crossing. I have read so many horror stories about it where people have been bribed by corrupt officials, bribed by corrupt cops, ripped off by border helpers, and the list goes on. So I built this thing up in my mind. But when we got there I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Firstly the El Salvador officials made sure we knew where to go, what copies of what documents we needed and then chatted to us about our bikes and our trip. Ok well that was really pleasant and easy! We were only approached by one man asking if we wanted him to help us, and after we said no thank you he pointed us in the right direction and wandered off. Exit El Salvador – check.
C – I don’t really worry about border crossings and I was feeling perfectly ok about it until we road up to the El Salvador exit and had to ride past one kilometre of parked trucks. This was when I thought ‘there are going to be people everywhere here’.. But, by the time we pulled up outside Aduana, there was hardly anyone around. I immediately relaxed and before we knew it, the bikes and us were checked out.
T – We rode over the bridge where another El Salvador official checked all of our documents to make sure we had everything we needed and then that was it. Next step was parking in front of the Honduras aduana building that housed customs and immigration. We weren’t bothered once by helpers and soon we were holding onto freshly stamped passports and going through the process of getting a temporary import permit for our bikes. Basically a kind lady did it all for us, she filled out the forms and then told us to go and get 3 copies of this document, 2 of that one, 2 of this one, 2 of something else, and another two of the passports. Lots and lots of copies were made in the next 5 minutes! But again we were soon free to go. We were in Honduras!
C – I couldn’t quite believe how easy it all was, even with our limited spanish. The staff at both sides were very helpful and friendly.
T – Another official checked our papers as we left the border control area and that was it. Again everyone was super friendly and just wanted to know about us and the bikes.
We cruised along in Honduras for a while. It was hot and dry and we were loving it! We were riding in frigging Honduras! Brilliant!
We spied a little roadside eatery and soon the owner was talking to us excitedly in English about life in Honduras. He had lived in Houston in the States for quite some time, where he worked as a cook. He told us he wanted more for his country of Honduras, especially for the kids. He told us that they should be going to school and not having to work to help pay to put dinner on the table for their families. He seemed well liked and had a constant passage of people dropping in to say hello. If you’re passing by and you see this little stand, stop in and try his incredible food. You won’t be disappointed at all.
Then it was time to head for the Honduras – Nicaragua border so we could head to Leon where this package from RST was headed. At which point the road turned to a war zone. Massive craters were everywhere and we spent some 50 kms dodging them, trying very hard to not fall into one and do damage to our bikes. They were all rim busters for sure with sharp edges and deep depths.
Then I hit one. At full pelt. Mabel slammed into one and crashed into the nasty 6 inch sharp edge as she screamed out the other side. I heard the edge of the crater impact on both rims and knew I would have possibly damaged something. But we didn’t stop, just kept on trucking on. Mabel didn’t feel any different, and she didn’t get a flat!
Again an easy border crossing. It was simple. The only hiccup we had was that one of the customs officers wasn’t 100% convinced that Chantelles registration for Rosie was an original and not a copy. So that took a moment to overcome and then we were free to go again. One more check as we headed out of the border area and that was it.
Each crossing took about 2 hours and the ride across Honduras probably took us 3 hours. Easy! No need for helpers, know the current exchange rates for each country, in fact we got better than the actual exchange rate in Nicaragua, and you’re good to go.
As we rode into Nicaragua Chantelle noticed Mabels rear wheel had a big wobble. Yep, I had dented it pretty damn badly, I also had managed to make sure the front rim had a matching dent. So its off to a tyre mechanic tomorrow to get them straightened out.
The scenery in Nicaragua was stunning! Volcanos sat smoking away in the distance and the air was cooling off. But the best bit, the road. It was smooth like silk. Oh it was such a perfect ribbon of bitumen after some of the horrible roads we have had since the States.
C – Honduras was dry, hot and dusty and definitely had the feel of a poorer nation. However the people were super friendly, welcoming and treated us well during our short visit. Nicaragua was a complete change though – like re-entering the western world. The roads improved, the driving improved, people obeyed traffic signs. The scenery also became green and lent a chill to the air. We decided to head for Leon, but stop as soon as we saw a decent looking hotel. Turns out, our GPS routed us to Leon on a route where we did not pass through one sizable town!
T – We cruised along and soon we were in the city of Leon where we found a hostel for the night and then wandered the streets in search of food. My entire dinner came to a grand total of $1. Cheap huh?
Hopefully our package will be here tomorrow or the day after at which point we shall start the route south to Panama City.