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Discussion in 'Latin America' started by Charles Seguin, Oct 31, 2008.
35 bucks aduana fee entering Honduras at the El Amatillo border.
i could lend you mine
can I pay with visa in Honduras and Nicaragua?
I went through in February and picked Jose up on the El Sal side at a fork in the road. I immediately recognized him from Advrider, so was on my guard. I worked out the fee up front ($5 each side, additional $5 if he could get me through in an hour or less), and followed him through each step with my documents. I also told him that he was famous and that there were numerous images of him on the internet as being a criminal and he seemed dumbfounded. I think I paid a total of about $40 in fees and paid Jose $15 even though it took about one hour, 15 minutes. Not too bad considering the horror stories I'd read online about folks spending 6-8 hours after absolutely refusing the help of "expediters."
I actually had a good time talking with Jose and a buddy of his while waiting in the lines.
I used expediters for all but one border crossing (Honduras/Nicaragua) and had very good luck. I guess it all comes down to what your time is worth to you. For me, $10-$15 is well worth it. The longest I had to wait at a border (both sides) was about 2.5 hours (Nicaragua/Costa Rica) at Penas Blancas.
I certainly wouldn't use Visa at any of the border crossings. Skimmers are a huge thing here in CA and it's nothing for someone to say that they need to swipe your card in the "back office" only to skim it or make a photo copy of it. Sure, you can always dispute the charges later, but you'll need to cancel the card and go through the hassle of getting a new one. Pony up and trade a minimal amount of greenbacks until you can get to an ATM.
I copied and pasted this from my ride report, you can find it at the bottom of this post.
For the future riders who will be going through this boarder crossing, let it be known that the new crossing should be open by January 2011. It's about 1/4 mile before you get to this crossing. So if you want to say that you had the privelage of crossing here you'd better get going. Now the report.
Next Morning, Day #15
I leave early for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">Honduras</st1lace></st1:country-region>, it’s only a fifteen minute ride and I want to fuel up before crossing. I exit <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">El Salvador</st1lace></st1:country-region> in about 10 minutes and nobody check the bike. Fine by me.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o></o>
Now the fun begins as for entering <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">Honduras</st1lace></st1:country-region> at the famous El Amatillo crossing.<o></o>
The first person I encounter is this guy. Seems nice enough and speaks pretty good English.<o></o>
And NO it’s not the infamous Jose Garcia. It’s he’s big brother, Ronnie Garcia.You have been told to remember the face of Jose, now boys and girls learn to remember Ronnie Garcia’s face also.
Lest you forget Jose face, here it is again.<o></o>
Now let’s compare, go back and forth looking at the faces, do not forget them if you ever plan on crossing THEIR BOARDER. <o></o>
Here is my story and I’m sticking to it.<o></o>
I arrive 1 hour too early at the boarder. It’s open but not the bank where I need to pay my fees.<o></o>
Ronnie Garcia works for this company.<o></o>
It’s just before the Aduana building on the right side.<o></o>
Ronnie saw me and come over and asked to assist me. When I asked him how much the answer he gave me was the first indication someone was about to get screwed. “What every you feel my time is worth” OK. More time more money, I know how this works. I tell him no thanks I know how the game works and that this crossing is famous in the biker world. He asks what I mean and I tell him about Adventure Riders and this guy Jose picture all over the net. He says that he has internet in his office and would love to see the forum and the picture. Heck what have I got to lose, I’m already one hour to early. Off to his office we go and I bring up Jose. Ronnie and the two secretaries’ along with two buddies of his all have a great laugh at Jose picture on he net. Then one of the guys in the office lets it slip that Ronnie’s brother is a joke and is going to lose business. At this point Ronnie fesses up that Jose is his brother and that they had heard about the web site but have never seen it before. They are now enlightened. Cell phone come out of everybody’s pocket and the next thing I know there’s a line out the office and across the street to the Aduana House with people wanting to see the site and Jose picture.<o></o>
About 15 minutes later Jose coming running in and can’t believe what he sees. He got two different people who read English to look at the site and translate it to him. The very minute he puts one hand over his family jewels; I knew he got the message.<o></o>
Unfortunately for me, I still had 30 minutes before the bank opened and Jose was insistent in telling me how innocent he is and the other riders has paper work problems and needed to pay the Aduana men extra to cover the problem.<o></o>
Long story short, the guy is fully aware that his photo is on the web; so does every other member of his fine profession at this boarder crossing. Enough people take pictures and post them; the faster this crap will stop.<o></o>
It’s easy to do yourself, It always Immigration first and then Aduana. If at any point in time it is different the man or women at the window where you are standing will tell you otherwise and were to go. Hopefully their will not be a 100 trucks ahead of you.<o></o>
So, now I’m in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Honduras</st1:country-region> headed to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">Nicaragua</st1lace></st1:country-region>. A two hour trip takes 3.5 hours. The roads are crap. I have never seen so many pot holes in my life and they are deep. Serious bike problems if you hit one of these very fast. No photos, it took both hands for this little ride across <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">Honduras</st1lace></st1:country-region>. Thank goodness I’m done with that part.<o></o>
Exiting <st1:country-region w:st="on">Honduras</st1:country-region> was simple and entering <st1:country-region w:st="on">Nicaragua</st1:country-region> took less than an hour, $12.00 for the bike insurance and Immigration wanted $12.00 even though all of <st1lace w:st="on">Central America</st1lace> is paid once. Out of the boarder and on my way to <st1lace w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Chichigalpa</st1:City>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Nicaragua</st1:country-region></st1lace>.<o></o>
Yes I know your asking where is <st1lace w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Chichigalpa</st1:City>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Nicaragua</st1:country-region></st1lace>. To answer you it’s between Chinandega and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">Leon</st1lace></st1:country-region>. Chichigalpa is the town you have to drive through to get to Ingenio San Antonio the community that makes the world best Rum. Flor de Cana.<o></o>
Once again it’s my ride report and if you disagree with me about Flor de Cana write your own report.<o></o>
And I thought the El Pariso border was bad. Honduras exit sucked more than anything so far in my trip. The boat to La Union to Potosi looking better all the time
Cheers to that! This border was by far the worst I crossed on my whole trip. WE arrived in full daylight and crossed well into the dark. Good thing one of the riders spoke Spanish, I would have surely lost all my dinero!
Flor de Cana is the BEST Rum, and thank you for the RR - no disagreement here!
Is there a distillery tour? Detail on Ingenio San Antonio / Chichigalpa most appreciated...
OK, so I know it's an adventure and all, but after reading this whole thread now, with all the con artist (both private and government) trying to steal your money, could someone please tell me why anyone would want to go into this fucked up shithole?
its all about adventure bro and its really not that bad
Are you talking about Tuscon where your government takes your money legally?
Kamuk, Not sure if there is a public tour of the distillery; however my wife has several very good connections with the people who could make it happen for you.
If your traveling to Ingenio San Antonio area and know when (date) your going to be there let me know. My wife and I are presently back in Orange Beach, AL for Christmas with our daughters, so if its going to be soon give us about 1 week to make arrangements for you.
Thank you for the offer! Won't be before final week of Jan at earliest... won't know till after New Year - depends on employer.
Enjoy the holidays in Orange Beach, I've some friends there too. If you have a chance between family time, say hello to the Flora-Bamma for me.
By chance I am off to lunch with the Captian of "Rum Bum", Sr. Pellas' sport fish - may have a FdC contact to share with you as well! Drop a line when next in CR, PM anytime.
Please excuse this semi-hijack,
Has this turned into a rum thread?
Zacapa Centenerio 23 year old from Guatemala try it you will not be disappointed!!!
If the "fucked up shithole" you are referring to is Honduras, it's because you have no choice if you're headed South. The country seems ok but the borders are brutal. You can avoid El Salvador if you like (had no issues getting in, out or anywhere in the country actually) but Honduras is a required ride! *edited for clarity*
Here's a copy paste from my RR from the El Amatillo crossing.
Where to start…
Leaving the last border we didn't pay the fixer as he was of no use. We never told him we wanted his help and in fact told him to go away several times. When we finally pulled away he said he was calling ahead to the El Savador/Honduras border. We laughed.
At 3:30pm we made our turn off the highway to the border. A group of 5 guys were sitting on the meridian and yelled as we drove past. We ignored them. They jumped in a truck and screamed past us while waving papers out the window. When we finally stopped at the first check point and a dude jumped out of the truck and ran up to me. The way he ran up made me think I was going to have to knock him on this ass. Other "Fixers" appeared from everywhere. Why any official border crossing allows these morons to operate in their zone is beyond me.
The guy from the truck kept asking for Timothy even though he hadn't seen any paperwork with names on it. It appeared that our buddy from the Guatemalan/El Salvador border had in fact called ahead.
We cleared El Salvador with no issues. It was less than 30min. People talk a lot of trash about El Salvador but we had zero issues and we were treated well by everyone.
Once we crossed the bridge to Honduras things got unpleasant. This fixer named Calvin kept saying he had great english and he'd help us. We could give him whatever we wanted after the fact. Despite telling him to beat it several times he persisted. We ignored him. He spoke to the border guard in spanish and the guard approached me to say that we needed someone to do our paperwork and that person was Calvin. I ignored him. Then another "official" appeared to tell me Calvin was the guy we needed. I smiled and nodded.
We rode toward the main border building and again were passed by the black truck with Calvin inside. We stopped at the building, left Troy and Darren with the bikes and Tim and I went inside to get our passports stamped and figure out the process. Calvin followed. After stamping the passport (required a $3 fee, receipt provided) we asked where the customs office was to import our bikes and were directed to the window directly across the way (open centre drive through building). When we walked over to it, everyone in line said we needed get papers from the customs office on the other side of the parking lot first. I asked the guy in the office if this was correct and he said it was. Calvin said I told you so.
We walked over to the yellow office and as we walked in we noticed there were pens, marker and highlighters for sale. We were directed to the back office where there was a desk, computer and filing cabinets. The guy in the office asked for our paperwork and asked what route were taking through Honduras. He said there was a $45 fee for the bikes. I knew this was BS and immediately knew something was up. I told Tim to wait a second and I'd be back. I walked back to the main border building ( with Calvin right behind me) to ask how much the fee for importing bikes was. Calvin said something to buddy in spanish. The official all the sudden forgot all the english he knew and was now playing dumb. I walked back to the customs desk original customs desk and asked again where I needed to be to import a motorcycle. The guy point to the opposite side of the street. I clarified that it was not the building we had been sent to with the pens and pencils for sale. The guy let out a big sigh and made a "Not this again" expression before getting out from behind his desk and literally walking right to the door of the office we needed.
By this time Tim had already told the clowns in the first office to F$%k off and was now outside with me in front of the proper building. When Calvin saw we had figured out the game he hopped back in the truck and took off, giving me the finger as they drove away. Yeah you lose.
Thinking we had the system beat, we strolled into building and presented our documents to the fat slob with offensive odour behind the desk. He seemly polite and sincere. After stapling and stamping a dozen things, he said he needed copies of this and that so we spent 30mins running here and there doing as he asked. Once Tim and I were sorted, Stinky submitted our stack of paper to the next office. Tim and I went outside to watch the bikes while Troy and Darren did the same song and dance.
Once all four of us were complete we were told the office was closing and that we could either pay a "surcharge" of $72 each to be processed tonight or wait till morning in the border zone, out of El Salvador but not in Honduras yet. Based on the look of the scummy people hanging around, that option didn't really seem too appealing.
We knew they were again trying to screw us. They being everyone. Everyone was in on the scam. It is brutal. We decided to see if the helmet camera trick we used on the security guards in Playa Del Carmen would work here too. Tim walked in with the camera and asked the official to repeat what was said perviously so we could play it back with the spanish/english dictionary in hand so we could figure out exactly what the fees were for. Instantly the mood changed. There were smiles and somehow more than enough time to get us processed tonight. The surcharges went away and we were left with the $35 road tax that is totally legit. They even offered us mints. Papers were being stamped, things being stapled, more copying, even some flirting from the ugly ducking customs woman.
2hrs later and 16 copies each later we were done and free to go.
It was now 7pm. 7pm here is pitch black. Scumbags everywhere. We couldn't wait to get out of Dodge. We hopped on the bikes rode 100yrds only to be pulled over into a customs check point. All of our papers were checked and rechecked. After 10mins we where free to go. We rode 200yds only to be pulled into a police check point and have everything rechecked including verifying the VINs in the bikes.
We blasted through the darkness with HIDs blinding everyone coming the other way. I couldn't have cared less how annoying it was. We were hitting the first hotel we saw and getting off the road ASAP. After 32km we rolled into Nacome and a nice looking hotel. $58US a night, no internet, no hot water but safe and sound off the road.
It's pretty screwed up when your in a country that makes you say to yourself, "Man, I really wish I was somewhere safe and honest like Russia or Mexico". I can not wait to get out of Honduras.
This is Calvin. He is friends with Ronnie and Jose and just as slimy.
Given the comparison between the amount of trouble you had, Oso Blanco, (lots) and the amount I had (little to none), I'd have to wonder whether your attitude had something to do with it.
I crossed into and out of Honduras three times at three different crossings and never had any particular problems. Never spent more than maybe two hours max--and the longest I waited was during lunch hour, when everyone else, local or not, was waiting along with me. No bribes. No one gave me the finger. I didn't call anyone "scumbag," even quietly to myself. No one even sent me to the wrong office, or misrepresented the process in any way. People did try to con me a bit here and there, but I just kept grinning and telling them no.
I met some good people in Honduras, saw some interesting stuff, learned a few things, did some pleasant riding through nice terrain.
So what was the problem again?
There's 4 pages about this particular crossing in this thread prior to my post for a reason. Drama at this border seems to the rule rather than the exception.
We've done 25 countries on bikes and hadn't had any major issues until this crossing. It is what it is.
I'm glad you've been able to make it through relatively unscathed.
The camera trick worked for Lucio, too. I'm glad it worked for you. Very innovative idea.
A while ago Nata Harli started a thread on "Fake IDs." rather than fake, I had some business cards professionally printed, with "Press/Prensa" at the top. Combined with a camera, they're awesome.