Friday, May 8, 2015

Crossing two very tough and corrupt borders.

This is Mike...
Yesterday we crossed the El Salvador to Honduras border and then the Honduras to Nicaragua border and it took about 5 hours for the border paperwork and waiting in lines, not including the 6 hours of driving. Yesterday was a long tough day. We knew it was going to be but still was exhausting. We have several blog followers contemplating doing the same journey, so below is a detailed description of what it is like if they choose to cross here as well:

We pulled up to the typical mile long line of semis parked on the highway and as we slowed down at least 20 men, from all over the place, ran up to our truck. I obviously did not want to let any of them near us so I drove off road, around the semis and then, as usual at the borders, drove in the opposing lane of traffic for about a mile to the control point. We arrived to an obscure collection of completely neglected buildings and none of them marked as to what they were. An El Salvadoran official came up to our SUV and asked for the following items; original title, driver's license, registration, passport and copies of the same items minus the registration. The guard told us to wait at the car so we did. The guard went to the grey customs building without windows in the middle of the parking lot. After about 40 minutes the officer came out and handed all of my important documents to an El Salvadoran man. That man, had my ability to leave El Salvador in his hands. I asked him for the items and he said it's no problem and said he was a facilitator. He wanted the girls passports as well to get everything stamped and approved. I gave him the passports but had Elise trail him to immigration. That took another 20 minutes. None of the buildings are marked but the immigration office is a shack on the right side of CA1. After that we proceeded about 2 kilometers down the road to the Honduran check-in. Just before crossing the bridge an El Salvadoran soldier stopped us to ask why the facilitator was there. What could we say? The truth that an El Salvadoran official gave him all of our stuff? He would not buy that. We were just jumping through the hoops until he let us go. The Honduran side was tedious because of the customs documents for the vehicle and the mind-numbing lines. Both controls took just shy of 3 hours. Costs for leaving El Salvador $40 for vehicle permit cancellation and $3 a person exit fee. Costs for entering Honduras were $10 vehicle entry fee and a $5 vehicle fumigation fee. Cost for the facilitator was $65 and I felt ripped off since all of my important documents were handed to him without my permission. If you plan on leaving El Salvador for Nicaragua leave no later than 7am and plan on bringing at least $200 to be on the safe side. There is no need to exchange money here as dollars are freely taken. And finally, the worst potholes to date have been on CA1 in Honduras to Nicaragua. Plan on driving around 30 to 40 kph for an hour. Some of the deeper potholes were 2+ feet, enough to break an axle. Entering Nicaragua was a typical C.A. border crossing and the best part is they scan all the docs. The lines were long but everyone was very friendly. For those of you wishing to drive from Guatemala straight through to Nicaragua in one day it won't happen, so plan on staying somewhere along the way for a night. For more specific info feel free to email me. I hope that helps get you further south or north whichever it may be.  See you on the road.

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