10th September 2015
10 – 14 September: El Salvador – Honduras – Nicaragua
On Thursday we traveled on in time since you never really can know how much time you have to expect for the border crossings. Although "only" 260 km to our destination El Tunco in El Salvador - what means with an average of 50kmh and approximately 2-3 hours for the border crossing at least 7-8 hours 'driving' time. And I still have to get used to it that the sun, the closer we get to the equator. Means at the moment about 6pm already!
We have been prepared quite good and knew somewhat what to expect at the borders, so we were not surprised when a "border crossing helper" caught us right where the 5km long truck queue started. We had agreed in advance that it is worth up to a certain amount to work with a “border crossing helper”. And he did really a good job, within 2.5hours we were through without having to wait insanely long and the process was what we had known from others. Of course you can do everything on your own and save the money; but it would certainly have taken longer and it was not always clear which building to go, where to pay what, where to go for copies, etc. We have gone the easy way and were able to view the remaining kilometres in El Salvador in time to get to El Tunco. The quality of the roads especially at the beginning very poor but actually about what we had expected. Just in time before the daily downpour we arrived in El Tunco. A seemingly well-known surfing spot and accordingly we both belonging to the seniors. I did really not want to imagine how that “village” was while high-season. Only as much as explanation: at the reception you could buy two things: alcohol (rum, tequila) and condoms .... any questions? But quite tired after that long day and still not really used to the high humidity and heat just had a light dinner and after that enjoyed a nice and air-conditioned room - I have to confess that meanwhile even I am a great fan of AC.
Since El Tunco really was not our favourite place to stay we drove on the next day to another famous beach spot - this time with a detour via the capital San Salvador as Pat needed spare parts from a Yamaha dealer. Quite a funny trip which ended in a sweaty street search. At first I was quite skeptical driving into that “dangerous” city (according to EDA, etc.) but finally again just friendly people who us either helped in finding the Yamaha dealer or two police officers who questioned me admiringly on my motorcycle. A 400cc motorcycle is in these countries an absolute dream machine and I have accordingly always fans around me - to clarify: the really admire my motorcycle and not me.
After El Salvador so south again, a curvy, pretty good road to El Cuco and thence to 5km gravel road to "La Tortuga Verde". This was a real treasure: virtually no other guests, a dream beach, everything under palm trees, authentic huts as accommodation and friendly local staff. So we decided to stay 2 days there, just relaxing and to use the time to plan our way through Nicaragua in somewhat more details.
On Sunday again on the road in time as we planned now to cross to Honduras as to Nicaragua as well. "Our" border crossing helper at the Guatemala-EL Salvador border had recommended us a friend and that one actually waited on us! All the other border helpers who therefor stayed “empty-handed” waved us through with partly quite unfriendly gestures. Well, it did not bother me but in the end it fit to the rest of the day. Now what happened was really a terrible experience; since it was known that the costs can change constantly, we did not know fur sure what was correct and what not. So in the end we did not only have to wait four hours - with the excuse of due Sunday lunchtime, etc. - but had sort of ripped off. However, I must say it again, under no circumstances had I wanted to do that all on my own. We were even glad that the helpers had come always in pairs so there was always one waiting with us and with the motorcycles. Around us: totally rundown intoxicated men and women begging for money, cigarettes, alcohol. And when in the end the discussion about the costs started – which had been for sure far too high - there were all of a sudden a mean looking guy standing really near behind me. We did not want to take any risk and payed what they wanted. We just wanted to get away from this border area. The drive through Honduras then short and painless but “thanks” to the long waiting we arrived only by 4pm at the border Honduras-Nicaragua. We had actually decided not to take a border helper anymore, but in fact the border guards has virtually almost passed on it. Since I had read from another biker about exactly just that, we agreed and hoped that it would work out better this time. Except for a fee, of which we had not heard before, he had us quickly out of Honduras. A colleague then "adopted" us for Nicaragua and only from then on for every fee you paid you also received a proper receipt. But that seemed somehow too easy and hey, yes, luckily as we had been just when we entered the office at the customs of Nicaragua the power switched off. No electricity anymore and therefor no documents!! After another 1.5hours of waiting they had the glorious idea to send a guy to the next gas station and buy a gallon of diesel for the generator. Now it went quick and we finally had all the documents to enter Nicaragua. Everything had been done according to regulations, except that we were “allowed” to pay them the gallon of diesel and a small "tip" because the border officials had indeed worked for us longer and that on a Sunday! No problem, we were happy to pay that and drive the remaining 20km to Somoto. Very slow now because it was meanwhile dark, still lightly raining what means almost blind driving. People on bicycles, walking along the roadside, cows, dogs, horses and donkeys .... all the way, of course, all without illumination, in some cases even the oncoming car's. Phew... we were infinitely glad to arrive in Somoto without any accidents. So all in all a day to forget, quasi according to the principle: it could not have been worse..