Quick post because I’m exhausted!
We started at 7am, got caught in traffic, took 3 hours to cross the
border into Honduras while being harassed by the locals, crossed
Honduras and got to Nicaragua at night.
Then it all got good in Granada. Met another 10 adventure riders!!
Tomorrow will give more details and some crazy videos of Honduras
So here’s the run down from yesterday:
Marc’s bike wouldn’t start in the morning – a problem he’s had before with the starter – nothing serious – it has to be lubricated a little bit – and once the engine is hot the bike starts normally. We had to ask for jumper cables to start it up though.
Once we got on the road it took us a long time to get out of San Miguel. The traffic was crazy because there was a full procession going on – by Yamaha!! It was an advertising thing they were doing – some girls on the back of pickup trucks and Yamaha motorcycles following them. We got stuck behind this procession and then when we tried to go through the side roads we got stuck in town… We kept heading towards the highway but there were no straight way to go and people seemed incapable of giving proper directions.
For the first time on the trip I was TRULY annoyed.
Some classical music on my iPod came on and calmed me down.
The border soon came up.
About a mile before the border we noticed this white car pulling out of a gas station and following us. They were signaling and I just assumed they were excited about the bikes.
As soon as we pulled over to the first checkpoint they approached us showing their plastic cards around their necks saying that they would help us go through the border. Their claim was that it would take us 4 hours to go through without their help.
We immediately recognized them – several riders have posted pictures of them on forums warning about their scam – they overcharge the gringos.
At the next stop we became honey to the bees – we were surrounded by “helpers” offering their services to help us out. I was already pissed off from the entire morning and at one point I raised my voice and told them that I spoke Spanish, that I knew what I was doing and to back off! Marc approached me and said that we might not want to piss them off… hehehe…
Inside the immigration office it was “officially” stated that they would actually speed the process up.
Further along we get to the main border – a total chaos – a mini market – and another swarm of helpers and beggars surrounding our bikes.
Marc started the process but soon came back because he wasn’t sure if he was not understanding the official correctly or if he just wanted money.
I went in followed by the helpers telling me what to do. It was hot and humid and I was controlling myself not to tell them to leave me the F*** alone.
Inside the officer told me to fill out the information about the motorcycles. I could see the helpers clinging on to the windows looking inside and continuing to offer their services.
The officer warned me that they charge a penalty for incorrectly filled forms. I filled out the information for my motorcycle then filled out Marc’s information.
The officer’s strategy worked – I made a mistake – I wrote that Marc’s bike was a GS1200 instead of a GD1150 – but quickly wrote over and it looked ok.
When the officer inspected the form he noticed that but could not say much because it was clear that it said 1150.
But then he found an outrageous mistake and angrily said “Why did you put Americano!!!?”
I pointed to Marc’s passport…
“America is from Canada to Chile!! I told you that if you made a mistake you would have to pay a penalty. This is going to cost you US$170!!”
Breathing deeply I politely asked what is the correct nationality for Americano?
“Estadosunidense… US$170… I told you, no mistakes!” he replied.
I started laughing and told him that I could fill out another form with the proper information.
He was caught off-guard with such a “smart” solution and after thinking for a minute he said he would do me a favor this time and give me another form – but it would cost me US$7. I quickly agreed.
When he went to get another form I think he realized that he would have more trouble canceling the form I had filled out “incorrectly” than just correcting it… so that’s what he did… he wrote in Estadounidense next to Americano and I went on to the next procedure – the information I filled out by hand had to be inputed into “the system” by some other guy and it would cost me $11 each form.
The guy inside was reading a paper and told me that it was his lunch break – to come back in an hour. One of the more polite “helpers” who had been following me told me that for $3 the guy could be taken off his lunch break and do the work for me immediately.
At this point I gave in and saw that they were all in it and that it really would be faster if the guy helped me out.
After 50 copies – from 5 different shops – bribes here and there – 2 inspections of the bikes – more bribes because the bank was closed or because the officials up ahead were going to stop us again if we didn’t pay here – we got through.
We drove through to the other border with Nicaragua expecting the worst.
To our surprise it was heaven – no one there – nice buildings and nice people. We were out of there in half hour.
Got to Granada, Nicaragua after a couple of hours driving at night. Great little town – colonial…
We parked in front of a hotel and suddenly we were surrounded by people again! But this time they were all motorcyclists… 4 Canadians on KLRs, a Dutch guy on a GS 1150, an Argentinian couple on a GS 1200, and a Colombian guy on a Honda Varadero 1000!
Great ending for the day.