Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lightcycle, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/115.html

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    We're on the move again. Today we are going to ride through the Honduras, tackling both borders in a single day. We've absolutely enjoyed riding around Central America - the people, culture and geography here are wonderful. The only exception - that Twilight Zone between countries, where a deluge of helpers, documents and stamps, money changers, photocopies and queues threaten to spoil all the good impressions we've had so far.

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    Neda is not one to be Bullied around on the road!

    This is our second time through, having done this same crossing at the same place just 7 months ago. That time was under great duress - we were in a rush to meet the Stahlratte in Panama, I had a full-blown flu and was running a high fever while on the bike, and we were bickering and arguing at each border crossing. This time around, we're going to use all our lessons learned from the first time and try to make this crossing more enjoyable.

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    "I am not a crook!"

    Most important lesson: Be prepared. Give yourself lots of time. Get to the border early. Have all your photocopies ready. Avoid Hanger (Hunger+Anger) Management Issues: arrive on a full stomach, bring lots of water and snacks.

    We approach the west border separating El Salvador and Honduras around 9:30AM. It's already hot and we're thankful that we've brought a lot of water. About a km away before the actual border lies the El Salvador Aduana booth, where we have to cancel our vehicle permit. Dozens of people come running towards our bikes, looking like some angry mob. But they're not angry. They want to help us cross the border. For money, of course...

    We know the drill by now, the helpers urge us to pull over, motioning to the side of the road. We make a game out of it, swerving around them like pylons. Some of them start to chase our bikes, like paparazzi stalking Justin Bieber. When we pull in front of the Aduana booth, they launch into their spiel: "This is the hardest border crossing in the world!", "Is impossible! Cannot cross without my help", "One does not simply ride into Honduras"...

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    First stop: Get El Salvador vehicle permit canceled

    Neda strides purposefully to the Aduana booth, using her superhuman Spanish skills to stymie the helpers swarming around her. Concerning all matters regarding the Espanol, I am the sidekick: the Robin to her Batman, the Watson to her Sherlock Holmes, the Wilson to her Castaway... Neda has given me the UberImportant task of keeping guard over the bikes while she attends to business. This is the action-movie equivalent of being told to stay in the van during the exciting fight scenes.

    So I devise a way to amuse myself while she does Superhero stuff. I am going to document step-by-step how to cross one of the most frustrating borders in Central America, if not the world. And I'm going to take lots of pictures. Because I do that anyway...

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    Aduana completed, we head to the Immigration to get our passports stamped out

    The "helper" industry is big business. Although you wouldn't know it from the prices they charge. Some offer their border crossing services for $5. Ignore them long enough and they lower the price to $1. Before you go thinking that's a great deal, the reality is that the helper will broker all transactions between you and the officials, so if a fee actually costs $3 USD, they will tell you it will cost $15 and pocket the extra $12. And there are many transactions to complete at the border (some are even no-cost, but your helper won't tell you that). Officially, it should only cost $38 USD to cross the border with yourself and a motorcycle. However, I've heard horror stories of travelers paying $150-$200 *MORE* than they should have at this border crossing! Big business.

    They mainly target non-Spanish-speakers. Often they'll point to fancy (and some not so fancy) laminated badges that they wear around their necks implying that they are officials of some sort. If you look closely at some of the badges, you will see that the pictures printed on them might not even match the face of the badge-wearer! LOL!

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    After getting stamped out of El Salvador, we've got to get stamped into Honduras

    Another species of border dwellers are money changers - CambioGuys - who roam around with big wads of bills in their hands. They provide a foreign currency exchange service and their exchange rate is very good. Very good for them. Not for you. They are all in collusion with each other not to compete for rates, so don't bother shopping around.

    I heard a great tip: If you haven't planned wisely and still have a lot of the local currency when you hit the border, don't use a CambioGuy. Instead, try to find another traveler coming from the other direction and exchange money with them, since you'll both need the currency from where you both came from and you can use the official exchange rate to both your benefits.

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    Assortment of helpers and CambioGuys stare helplessly as Neda completes Aduana (customs) by herself

    Between pestering Neda for information on what she has just done at every stage so I can complete my How-To document, I am given a new task: Waterboy. I really have to pick up this Espanol-language thing if I'm ever going to make it out of the van...

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    Finally, after two hours, the Holy Grail of overland travelers: Temporary Vehicle Permit for Honduras

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    Familiar sight at border crossings: food stalls and photocopy places

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    Finally we cross the border, and we run into the Iguana Motorcycle Club from Honduras!

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    Riding the Pan American highway through Honduras

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    200 kms later, we reach the eastern border of Honduras

    There are not a lot of helpers at the Honduras/Nicaragua border. You can always tell how difficult and complicated the border crossing will be by how many helpers swarm you.

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    I like how all the border crossing buildings are colour-co-ordinated!

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    Every picture of Neda I have today is of her lined up at some booth!

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    How nice of the fumigation guy to Armor-All our tires... :(

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    Yay! We're in Nicaragua!

    If you are a planning to travel through Honduras with a vehicle, you can view the step-by-step write-up on how to bypass the helpers and do-it-yourself (even with little or no Spanish) in our Questions section here:

    http://www.RideDOT.com/faq/honduras.html
  2. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

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    Gene,
    Gracias a la inteligencia ├║til. :D


    Neda,

    How was he as the Waterboy?
  3. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Good Deal
  4. Deah

    Deah WonderingButNotLost

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    Awesome pics!
    :lurk
  5. Balanda

    Balanda on any sunday

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    It sounds like you and Neda are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to CA officialdom. I'd opt for your role in the operation though Gene. While I'm really enjoying your adventures through the reports, every time I think about riding through Central and South America myself, I have to go lay down and take a rest.
  6. Wilkrider

    Wilkrider Pain Doc

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    Thank you for such clear photos. Lush and wonderful country side. You've made the past two weeks of catchup a pleasure. :bow
  7. Scootard

    Scootard Scraggle McSquarely

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    Still Trippin'


    Since you have done such an excellent job of reportage regarding the border crossing, I think it's safe to say you have moved from Sancho Panza to Neda's Don Quixote, from Pancho to her Cisco Kid and from Bullwinkle to her Rocky all the way up to Col James Rhodes (Rhodie) to Tony Stark. Neda of course had to be Iron Man, for her consumate skills en Espanol.

    As for your skills en Espanol, the more you use them the faster they improve. Already you are far ahead off most Canucks in your comprehension and verbal skills, and I have every confidence you will soon be yammering away like a native sooner rather than later. :ricky :thumb
  8. Chiriqui Charlie

    Chiriqui Charlie Been here awhile

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    A question: You guys always seem to find interesting things to see and do where ever you happen to be, so why the rush to get through Honduras? Is there nothing worth seeing in the entire country??

    And since you have already done the dreary Paso Canoas crossing into Panama, why not use Rio Sereno this time, and take a day in the Highlands. I'd be glad to show you around.-
  9. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Neda's just happy I didn't tackle any customs officials!

    There's tons to see in Honduras, but we had a few unexpected appointments come up in the last couple of weeks, some good, some not, so we're on a bit of a schedule. More info in the next few blog posts.
  10. Wilkrider

    Wilkrider Pain Doc

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    Thank goodness, its like I'm coming home to an empty house when there's no new posts to read. :ear
  11. patrkbukly

    patrkbukly 52 Weeks of warm

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    whats wrong with this couple?

    Whats with all the smiles?

    Something wrong for sure.
  12. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/116.html

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    Granada, Nicaragua is one of those pretty colonial towns in Latin America that tons of tourists flock to see. Along with Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Caye Caulker, etc. it's considered part of the "Gringo Trail" - towns and sites that have been transformed into supercentres for foreigners hoping to get a taste of Central and South America outside of the beach resorts. Unfortunately, the very act of being a tourist draw changes the local flavour, offering westernized food in the restaurants for foreign palates, increased security and infrastructure, more English being spoken on the street, and disappointingly for us, increased prices for accommodations and food across the board. :(

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    Made the mistake of riding through the market - heavy traffic!

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    Central park in Granada

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    We pretty much had the whole city to ourselves!

    Granada is deserted during the weekdays on the off-season. The heavy rains in the afternoon deter many tourists from visiting Central America, but if you time your excursions right (meaning you are an early riser), you can get a lot of sightseeing and traveling done and not get too wet.

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    The main cathedral in Granada

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    Umbrellas serve dual-purpose, also keeping the mid-day heat at bay

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    Granada is tiny, everything is within walking distance

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    Discovered a great Moroccan restaurant where we had fried avocados. Delicious!

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    Even the streets are deserted! Tumbleweeds chased after this moto.

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    Colonial architecture painted in vivid colours

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    Chilling out in Parque Centrale

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    Hat fitting? :)

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    Mombacho volcano is always looming above Granada's low skyline

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    Granada motorcycle meet

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    Getting cloudy - time to head back to the hotel!

    We are getting a bit travel weary again, after almost 6 weeks back wandering around Central America. We're both feeling like we need more than just a couple of days downtime. However, we've got a few appointments to keep so we're going to push on just a little bit longer.


    Riding around Granada
  13. SgtDuster

    SgtDuster Long timer

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    :ear
  14. twisted-hog

    twisted-hog Been here awhile

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    Was that a horse :eek1 at 1:05 in the video clip grazing in town on the median?

    Love the sound clip you picked to go with it.
  15. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Yup, I'm a girl.

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    :lol3 :lol3 :lol3 :lol3 :lol3 :thumb
  16. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    Are you guys crossing over this season? We have loved the last month in Colombia. We are currently "stuck" in Cali as the protestors have blocked the road to the west in several spots. We hear there might be 1 lane open tomorrow! We finally met the Kiwi's in Bogota after more than a year, so we should eventually meet you guys this year or next?

    Cheers

    Sara & Daniel
  17. OtterChaos

    OtterChaos Guzzi Guzzi Guzzi

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    I'm guessing there may be a boat waiting down in Panama!
  18. b4thenite

    b4thenite Been here awhile

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    Nice to see you guys on the road again.
  19. lytle1gw

    lytle1gw oldguy

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    Have a great time reading your adventures, thank you both.
  20. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Haha, after a while, you don't even notice things like that. Horses, bulls, sheep, roosters, etc. Just the other day, we saw some roadkill in the middle of the road. It was a small monkey... :cry

    Definitely, yes! Let's try to meet us somewhere.

    Andi and Ellen are great! Well, Ellen is, at least. Can't understand a word that Australian guy is saying... :wink: