Today we were facing another day of a nightmare: Our plan was to cross two borders in one day in order to avoid spending a night in Honduras. Honduras seems to be one of the most dangerous countries in central america. Therefore we did not want to test our luck and just drive through that country as fast as possible. So we got up very early at 5am and left for Honduras after a very good breakfast at Comfort Inn, in order to arrive at around 8am at the border.
So far we imported our bikes one after the other, which needed quite a lot of time. This time we tried to learn out of our mistakes and decided to import both bikes together. Besides we decided to split the tasks among ourselves, so that both of us can really “enjoy” the process of border crossing: Michael should do the crossing from Guatemala to Honduras, while Carmen was responsible for the crossing from Honduras to Nicaragua.
The complexity of crossing those two borders is unbelievable. However we did not want to hire any helpers either, because according to reports of other travelers, those helpers most of the time just rip off tourists. Fortunately we found a very detailed description of the border crossing process at the following – very helpful – web page: Honduras in one day.
Michael’s biggest concern with respect to crossing the El Salvador – Honduras border were the pushy helpers again. Fortunately this concern was not justified. Some helpers tried to offer us their service, but we were able to get rid of them very quickly. The first border crossing took about 2.5 to 3 hours, out of which we were spending most of the time with copying documents and waiting for the officials, who were processing those documents. Interestingly the whole process seems to be strictly for the birds, because all those nicely filled and stamped documents were just put on a huge pile of paper.
After we had our import papers and immigration stamps, we drove about 130km through Honduras. The country is well known due to it’s corrupt police, but we did not meet any of them and arrived at the border to Nicaragua without any issues.
The officials at the border to Nicaragua were just doing their ‘Siesta’ when we arrived. Beside that we did not have any problems here either, with one exception: According to our step by step description we should do three copies of the import papers after we had finished the import process. But both a customs and another border official told us that we would need only two copies. So we just trusted them and did only two copies. This was a mistake: The two copies were taken direct at the border and right behind the border two other officials asked for a third copy. So we needed to go back to get a third copy, which was not a big issue, but we were really surprised, because it seems that no one of the officials understands the complete process.
After this exhausting day we spent the night in Esteli in the north of Nicaragua.
|Posted by:||michasifi and carmen.on.the.road|
This day of a nightmare began quite promising: El Fuego gave us a small eruption to say good bye. On our way to the border to El Salvador we saw big smoke coming out of El Fuego. After a quick stop to take some pictures we continued our ride to the border.
Finding the border was easy: Already miles before arriving at the border we saw a huge line of trucks waiting to cross the border. However we had no scruple to just pass them on the left lane. 😉 In addition to that numerous ‘helpers’ were approaching us when we approached the line of trucks. We read a lot of those helpers in several blogs. First we just tried to ignore them and tried our luck without them. Exiting Guatemala was quite easy but exporting our bikes was more difficult than we had thought. We already got a stamp on our permits and thought that the procedure was already completed. The helpers however told us that some things still needed to be done. Of course they still tried to offer us their help for a little fee, but we still declined the offer and tried to find the customs building on our own. Unfortunately we failed. Finally one of the helpers said: ‘I help you for free’ and with his help we could complete the process for Carmen’s bike without any issues. Exporting Michael’s bike was a little bit more difficult, though. The number of his license plate was not correct on his permit ( an error of one of the guys when we entered Guatemala ). First they told us, that Michael would need to go back to the border between Mexico and Guatemala to correct the papers, but for this ‘solution’ Michael would have to drive back alone, because Carmen’s bike was already exported and she would not have been able to go back with her bike for 30 days. Then Michael tried another officer and she completed the process without any problems.
The next step was to import the motorcycles to El Salvador. Both, the personal immigration as well as importing the bikes to El Salvador was easy. However since we imported the bikes one after another, we lost quite some time at the border.
It was already late afternoon when we were able to continue to Playa El Zonte. We were heading to a nice hostel located right at the sea which was recommended by Lonely Planet. The ride to the hostel was quite long, though and so it was just minutes before sunset when we arrived. It was already dark when we moved all our stuff into the room. The hostel was a nice surf resort in which we could have spent more time, but since we want to cross the border to Honduras on Sunday ( because of the easier procedure on the weekend ), we had to continue on the next morning. That’s quite a pity, because El Salvador is really beautiful and so far we can not confirm the safety issues we had heard about earlier.
Today we spend the night in San Miguel at the Comfort Inn, which was recommended by the motorbike traveller Guillaume.
|Posted by:||michasifi and carmen.on.the.road|