Chinandega is about 70kms from Guasaule border crossing to Honduras and the border opens at 6am. So in order to get there as early as possible I got up at 5 am uugghhh way too early for me. However riding out of town at 6am and seeing the sunrise was actually very nice. It is a lovely time of day the early morning, something I don’t get to see very often.
Beautiful sunrise, just perfect for a border crossing
Exiting Nicaragua and entering Honduras took me exactly 1hr 5min to the time I first parked my bike to the time I got on and left in Honduras. It was in fact my best border experience so far. Before I did this crossing I had really got myself in a tizzy as I had read far too many negative things about it and am not a huge fan of border crossing anyway. This was yet one more reminder NOT to read / or to just ignore negative stuff on the internet. I had literally read about a couple being chased by a car load of fixers. To people being scammed and having to ”fire” their fixer etc
Since I knew Honduras was less than savoury I also opted to cross to El Salvador in one day which meant two notoriously bad border crossing. Well I was sure surprised as they were great. No fixers bothered me. One came up to me and very politely asked if I speak Spanish and if not did I want help with the border process. I just said no and that was it. He did offer to watch my bike and since he was such a nice and polite young guy I said sure. When I came out he walked towards me eating and said ‘’ah miss Lorena I watched your bike ’’I laughed and said ‘’you can’t be watching my bike you are eating’’ (of course I was joking) we had a bit of a giggle as he assured me he could multitask and I gave him usd2.
The people at all the borders were fantastic so friendly and helpful, no need for a fixer and no need for any photocopies they just did them all in the office. The ride through Honduras was great (my GPS isn’t working so I am using a map and stop a lot to ask if I am on the right road) everyone I asked for directions was just so lovely, a couple of people even patted me on the back and wished me ‘’ viaje bueno’’ (good journey). I stopped for a coke in a small suburb of someplace, can’t remember where now but it was nice and I felt good. I am now a bit sad that I rushed through Honduras so quickly and didn’t spend more time there as, like all Central American countries, it seems to be nice with lovely people. If I was Latin American I’d be so proud because they really are the most genuinely nice people in the world. I have never once got the feeling that people are nice because they want something or see me as a walking wallet or because it is their job. The friendly warm smiles and greetings are genuine.
I think I made a mistake rushing through this country so fast I think there is a lot to see here, it certainly looks beautiful.
Exiting Honduras was as simple as anything and the minute the customs lady saw my passports she told me that Lorraine is Lorena in Spanish and her name was Lorena and she was pleased to meet me … COOOOOOOOOOOL. Doing the immigration at the border of El Salvador also took only 15 minutes. So all together it was 35 minutes and I was on the road to the El Salvador customs office which is about 5kms past the border. This is where things got SLOW, thank goodness there were a few friendly and funny truckers there to keep me company as the whole process took 2 hours.
Plus I got to watch a police sniffer dog search luggage and trucks for drugs, it was interesting. The one policeman also waved and greeted me like a long lost friend and wished me ’ viaje bueno’’. Sometimes at customs offices they have a huge pile of documents to process for the truckers and so when a tourist arrives they just put you on top of the pile. This sounds unfair but the truckers are paid to wait at borders and are often there for days while their good gets processed so it makes sense. Some borders have a separate customs for the actual import of goods as opposed to the temporary import of transit vehicles. Well not this customs office. I was sent to the full on trucker importing goods customs office (the only one at the El Salvador border) and it was full of trucks, literally rows and rows of them. I fortunately could jump the truck queue and went to the front but there was no jumping the paperwork. Well maybe they jumped me a little, I’m not sure.
They were super nice and friendly and helpful. I had to fill out a lot of paperwork, which the security guard helped me with as it was all in Spanish. I did not understand a lot of it as it had to do with good importing. He could not speak English but with my limited Spanish, hand signals and a few drawings we go the paperwork done, but had a few giggles in the process over my charades. Then I just had to sit … and sit … and sit, 1.5 hours later they called me and went through the actual customs process. They were pretty thorough with all the numbers etc but I was glad when it was over.
From the border it was a simple 50 or so kms to San Miguel, which is a busy ugly city but I was so tired I just headed straight to the hotel for a nice shower and a good meal.
All in all a very good day, tiring but good 🙂