Bad Border Crossing into Honduras

February 18, Granada, Nicaragua.

            Yesterday I was in three different countries.  I started in San Miguel, El Salvador, crossed into Honduras and rode 2 1/2 hours to the border of Nicaragua.  Chinandega, Nicaragua, was about 90 minutes later and I got there well after dark, which was a bit scary.  I had planned for more than enough time to make it to Leon or Managua but that was before spending over 2 1/2 hours at the border crossing between El Salvador and Honduras. 

            It's a long, boring, annoying story and I suffered through it with a couple other gringo's from Huntington Beach who are driving their Volkswagen Vanogen to Panama.  Basically it was tons of photocopying, being lead around by people who said they knew what they were doing [but didn't] and waiting for people with the right signature to return from lunch (which was about 2 hours of the process).  There were no lines, only us three gringo's and a family from Mexico trying to get our vehicles into Honduras.  PLUS it cost us about $60.00 US and we were all sure that it was a rip-off but we needed to get going, and besides what can you really do??  Write about it in your web page?!?!?! Yeah, that's about it.  It's just another of the thousands of examples of gringo's being ripped off in Central America, or most other developing nations in the world.

            The borders for Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have all had hordes of "helpers" that come running 10-20 at a time and surround you, all yelling how much you need their help with the border details and why they're so much better than the others.  The only time I've used one of these "helpers" was when he came from the official office, on the 2 1/2 hour border crossing mentioned above.  It didn't help.  On all the other borders I've simply yelled at them, loudly, and then I usually look over at the cops or official border guards and kind of nod, letting them know I'm not some freak but I'm just yelling at these guys - the border guards and cops always seem to understand exactly what's going on.  Sometimes these wannabe "helpers" stand immediately in front of me but I just continue straight forward (maybe once I might have kind of sped up a little to watch them dive out of the way) (okay not maybe, I really did it and this particularly rude fat one had to jump out of the way and he fell - I'm not a sadistic person but that particular incident was pretty funny; the "helpers" are all very annoying).

            So by the time I crossed into Nicaragua it was near dark but I wasn't that worried because everyone had said it would take 40 minutes to the first town with hotels, Chinandega.  Here again asking for times, distances or any type of directions in Central America has rarely provided any actual clarity.  Asking someone to randomly pick a number between 1 and, whatever, would be more accurate.  90 minutes after the border I was just getting close to Chinandega and had gone very fast to make it in that amount of time.  The highway through Honduras wasn't bad but the highways in Nicaragua really stink (not anywhere near as treacherous as the first 15 miles after entering Guatemala 2 weeks ago, from Belize).

            So today I rode from Chinandega to Granada, Nicaragua, a beautiful town that is to Nicaragua as Antigua is to Guatemala.  I'll probably stay here tomorrow night as well.  It rained like crazy all day during my trip so I didn't get any pictures of the amazing volcanic mountain range on the way.  Hopefully I'll see some tomorrow...