Lots of photos now added!
Joe's wife's mango...you'll have to go to the end of the post to find out more!
It’s been a tough few days in the “office”
Luckily I had my hair cut in Granada because if I hadn’t, I would have pulled it all out at the unbelievably awful border crossings…… Story to come…..I’ve put all this border crossing stuff in blue in case you want to skip it as it’s quite long!.
First though, I spent a lovely evening at the home of the mother (Hania), aunt(Roxanna) and Grandmother (Isabelle) of my Swiss biker friend who I met in Las Lagas and again on the boat from Cartagena.
Dani Carina and Hania
She (Carina) is travelling with her boyfriend, Dani. Carina is half Costa Rican. Her mother now lives in Bacares, North Costa Rica.
It was so nice being in a home and having some very nice local food. They were very sweet to me and the neighbour brought over a bed for me!
I had some time to kill before meeting Carina’s mum so I visited a thermal mud pool and had a nice swim. Do you like the shower?
How's about this for a shower?
Costa Ricaan countryside
Beautifully painted fence posts!
The next day I crossed into Nicaragua without too much difficulty (just the normal two hours!!!!)
I spent a nice evening at Granada which is a lovely old town….still in need of a bit of renovation but nice anyway. Lots of Colonial buildings as well as the usual chaos and local markets. i had a good Hostel.
Market in Granada
The next day my “border crossing nightmare began”!!!!!
My experience(s) at the Honduras and El Salvador border crossings simply defies belief….I take back all my criticisms of Argentina and Chile….they were a walk in the park!
Guatemala however is a breath of fresh air with relatively efficient service and very pleasant Customs lady.
The Customs staff at the Honduras crossings from Nicaragua and into El Salvador are incompetent inconsiderate, bloody minded and in some cases …corrupt…..
I’ll try and keep it brief but it’s worth reading as you won’t believe me!
I arrived at 12.30 at the Honduras entry crossing from Nicaragua…..
At these Central American crossings it is not obvious where to go or what to do. There are never any signs…… Instead there are “helpers’….who attach themselves to you…frankly you need them!
My helpers took took me in tow….first to the “FUMIGATION” centre where for a fee of $11 they spayed the bike (for all of 5 seconds)….. then to another window where I had to pay more to get the passport stamped….. then to the photo copy centre where I had to get copies of everything, (for a small fee of course) ……and finally to the place where I had to get my bike papers.
My Honduran "Helpers"
A young and quite pretty girl took my passport and all was looking good.
She put them on the table and promptly vanished…..OF COURSE…LUNCH TIME!
45 minutes later she reappeared, dithered around and eventually started doing my papers……… Then, to my amazement, two guys arrived and sat down at her desk. They all shook hands and started chatting
This was too much for me!….. I was FUMING!….. Now you must NEVER GET ANGRY in South America. (Mind you, It’s EXTREMELY HARD NOT TO GET ANGRY!) …..
I held my cool but entered the “RESTRICTED AREA” and nicely but very firmly asked her if she could kindly finish my papers and speak to these Gentlemen later!….. It didn’t work but at least I had made my point…politely!
Doing my papers...AT LAST!
Eventually, I was asked to pay a tax of $30.00 and then another $3.00 to get something else …then of course i had to pay the “helpers”….I gave them $5.00!
Just for the record….THERE WAS NO QUEUE HERE AND I WAS THE ONLY TOURIST….It still took 3.00 hours and cost me around $60.00.
Honduras is the only country that has charged me for anything and in any case, my aim was to spend only a few hours in Honduras and cross into El Salvador, $140 kms away,. Very expensive for 140 kms!
It was too late now to reach El Salvador so the next day I was at the EXIT for Honduras at 9.00.
The whole farce started again.
First my new “helper” informed me the power was out so to get my passport stamped it was going to cost an EXTRA $40.00!….. REALLY!
Honduras Passport Control
Then there was the Passport stamping fee…then this fee …then that fee! Get the picture!
Eventually I got out of Honduras and said “good riddance” …..
Next… El Salvador. There were no problems (or charge) to get my passport stamped. Next I needed my bike entry papers.
Things were looking good…it was about 10.15 am!……….SILLY FOOL! …
I was then told the computers were down and I would have to wait.
I waited and waited….5 HOURS I waited!
The computers were still down.
I tactfully “suggested’ that maybe i could PAY for a manual paper…That apparently wasn’t possible.
Yes, believe it or not they told me there was NO WAY I COULD ENTER EL SALVADOR until the computers came back on line! ….THEY TOLD ME THAT NO TOURISTS CAN ENTER WITH A CAR OR BIKE IF THE COMPUTERS ARE DOWN!…… Can you believe that?
I asked how long that might be and they said it may be an hour, A DAY OR LONGER!
Just to give you an idea how awful these people are….I was hot and all this was in a big hot tin shed…There was no water or anything.
I asked if I could have a cup of water. I could see water containers in the office…they said they didn’t have any cups! How’s that for “customer service?”
So…What was I to do. I had waited five hours and it was getting into the afternoon….. I could be stuck for an hour or days!
My other option was to RETURN TO HONDURAS! (UGH!!!!)…By returning to Honduras I could dodge El Salvador and go through Honduras to Guatamala.
I couldn’t stand it any longer so I decided to return to the dreaded Honduras Crossing!
Sorry folks….the story hasn’t ended yet!
i exited El Salvador (IE I had my passport stamped again)
My new helper promised me an easy passage this time as he “knew everybody!”
Needless to say he was totally incorrect!
I was informed that I COULDN’T RE-ENTER HONDURAS WITHIN 72 HOURS!….However, there was a way….and it would cost me $50.00. This time I couldn’t hide my irritation and kicked the wall hurting my foot!
I thought of going back to El Salvador but eventually I paid the $50.00
This was not the end either. Then there was the passport stamping fee….. the fumigation fee (this time they didn’t actually even spray the bike)….the photocopy fees…..the bike paper fee ($30.00) plus I think there were another couple of charges and of course the “helpers” tip!…It was a feeding frenzy!
Talk about “COME IN SPINNER”….Yet what was I to do ?
That really IS the end of this story…
The only good thing to say about the Honduras crossings is that the crossing from Honduras to Guatamala at Copan Ruinas is totally different and efficient.
There are no “helpers” needed and you are NOT charged to have your passport stamped!…..so why is it different there?….
With my second and very expensive papers I have travelled through Honduras. My target is “RUINAS COPAN” which are very large Mayan ruins.
My ride through the country was through pleasant mainly mountainous countryside. The roads are at times severly potholed and it becomes an art form to dodge them. Sometimes a car will also try and dodge them by going onto the wrong side of the road on a blind corner…this happened twice and gave me quite a shock but no real problems
Glad I missed this "pothole"!
My big frustration though was that I took a road that looked OK on the map but turned into a mountain track that was virtually impassible.
I tried to ride it out but it was very isolated and the road was very bad “ripio” . I very nearly came off.
I decided that “discretion was the better part of valour” and turned back. That detour was 150 kms!
I stayed at a really nice Hotel in San Pedro de Sula. i am still amazed about ssecurity in these countries. this hotel was in a really nice street in a good suburb. i came across it by chance..
There was a guard with an M 16 or similar guarding the place.
imagine this in South Yarra!
Merry sent me an email after I left there telling me that San Pedro de Sula is the most dangerous town in the WORLD with the highest murder rate per 100,000 citizens! …..Glad i didn’t know that when i was there though!.
I eventually made it to Ruinas Copan and visited the Mayan Ruins which are very interesting. The Mayans lived here for 400 years between 400 and 800 AD and abandoned the city because of yellow fever. It’s hard to imagine abandoning a city of 30,000 people and moving to a place 500 kms away! If that happened it would have been an amazing story….
Mayan ruins at Copan
They did human sacrifices…..the guide said that they had these football matches (Mayan football) …. the best player was sacrificed!
The best football player got sacrificed here...face up to the gods!
Perhaps some of the overpaid soccer players should take note how lucky they are!
Tunnels..They built new Temples on top of older ones...several layers...Only discovered in 1989
There are also the most gorgeous Parrots (forgotten the correct name) They are HUGE and live to 80 years
The town of Ruinas Copan is quite nice but there are all these guys walking around with machetes!!!!!
How about the machete (probably a work tool) but intimidating,none the less!
The 'boys" on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Copan Ruinas
I think I might stay in the Hostel for dinner tonight!
One last and positive thing happened today…nothing big but the sort of thing that makes travel wonderful and in particular the people you meet…
I stopped at a service station and this guy on a big KTM bike stopped to say hi. He is a local…named Joe. We chatted for awhile and he then produced a mango and gave it to me…He then said it was his wife’s birthday and he had just bought the mango for her! I tried to give it back but he insisted that I keep it and assured me he would buy another for his wife!
Joe, at San Pedro de Sula...Really nice guy...He gave me a mango that he had just bought for his wife's birthday!