Recently in El Salvador Category

The hotel we ended staying at in Antigua – the “El Carmen” – turned out to be on one of the noisiest streets possible. And of course since we got there a bit late, we got the room that shared a wall with the street. The street was paved with very rough square/irregular cobblestones and when the cars drove by it sounded like a freight train rumbling by just on the otherside of the wall. We both slept with earplugs and it was still very easily heard.

After a decent breakfast we loaded up and pushed out of Antigua. We found our way out super quick having rode damn near every street yesterday. The roads heading down to the border crossing with El Salvador were generally decent – some great scenery as we decended from the highlands down to the coastal flats. We hit some pretty rough spots here and there.

We managed to get lost in a strange town – Escuintla I think it was – we came in on Hwy 14 and it roared into  a medium sized town and we were looking to connect with Hwy CA2 which would run us to the border with El Salvador. Unfortunately there were virtually zero signs anywhere and as with most towns in Central America – the main road sort of dumps you into the town and then you have to hunt and peck your way till you find the road leaving town. We rode in circles and squares up and down dirt alley’s and cobblestone streets till we decided to backtrack to the main road and then just take another unmarked main road. We probably wasted at least 1/2 hour screwing around and then went about 5 miles out of the way – and of course on our way past town on this “new main” road – we see the road exiting the town but we had no idea how or where it came out of the town. Strange stuff really.

P1000576We were getting close to the border when John abruptly says over the intercom in an urgent fashion “I’ve got a problem here” – after a few seconds he tells me that his shift lever has broken and his bike is stuck in 5th gear. We limp along for a 1/2 mile or so till I found a place to pull over in the shade and off the road. Right next to some cops who intially though what are these guys doing empting somme of thier luggage a mile from the border?? they then were delighted to watch us work on the bike, I’m sure it gave them something to talk about in a otherwise very boring day. This shift lever was a folding lever that we put on the bike specifically in case of tipping the bike over or debris hitting the lever – but it has a weak spot in it and we were concerned about it before leaving – thats exactly where it broke. We dug out the tools and the spare shift lever and were back on the road in about 20 minutes. This picture isn’t the best but the thing the hand is pointing at should be connected to that black lever hanging down below the footpeg.

 

We crossed the border at La Hachadura in El Salvador. As soon as we hit the Guatemalen side we were swarmed by “fixers” or “urchins” or whatever you want to call them. These are the guys who “help” you cross the borders. All borders in 3rd world countries are intentionally designed to confuse everyone who comes in contact with them. It seems that it is literally a game that you need to play with the people where you don’t really know the rules or how much it will cost you. You just have to go to unmarked windows, thru mysterious doors, talk to officials not very interested in you, collect the right stamps, get 47 copies of everything you have with you, get the right paperwork and try like hell to avoid shelling out too much money. So, these fixer guys end up at the borders waiting for people to come through that don’t know the ropes. And of course, some of them are not the most ethical people out there – and when you connect them with some of the “not so ethical” border officals – you have a recipe for getting properly fleeced and made to wait for hours, days, weeks – whatever.

P1000578At this border – while the herd of fixers were yelling at John and then attacking me – I singled out a guy that I talked to a little bit – Raul. He ended up helping us mostly just with instructions on which unmarked windows/doors to go thru – find a copier, etc. Exiting Guatemala was fairly quick and cheap – I think it cost us about $3 US each to leave. Entering El Salvador was also pretty cheap – something like $12 total for each person/bike. Raul did a great job for us and we ended up giving him $20– which is a ton of money down here but he saved us a lot of time and I am confident we didn’t get fleeced. Here is a shot of Raul. we also had him sign the bikes and he seemed pretty exited.

 

 

IMG_0554We took off into El Salvador and rode along the coastline. The road was spectacular and twisted back and forth, up and down, and had excellent views of sandy beaches, palm trees, rocky outcroppings and everything you’d expect along a nice stretch of ocean. We ended up in La Libertad for the night – and after riding into and out of town several times, scoping out  several hotels which all seemed overpriced at $50 a night we settled on one pretty close to downtown. We got to chat it up with Albert – a guy who was studying english in college and wanted to practice on us – he loved the bikes and was really happy to see some gringos in his country.

Not a drop of rain today – so the streak is alive!
Cheers!

 

Up early – and on the bikes by 7 – meat on the seat as Huli says…

Rode arond a couple small towns looking for a cash machine. Finally found one and got some US cash – El Salvador uses the US Dollar as its currency which is handy.

IMG_0572As we were riding up to to the border at about 50mph these dudes come running into the street. I’m telling you they ran right in front of us and we had to slow and move left to avoid taking one out. They are waving and screaming. After we pass they jump into they’re tuck and give chase. About a half mile later we stop at the border area and the fixers were on us like a pack of jackals on a wounded wildebeast – we tried to avoid them and ignore them but they kept working us hard. one of them knew our names – Raul from the last border had called them - etc.. eventually i gave into this guy and he started working us hard.

exiting el salvador was easy – a little bit of review of the bike documents and a few bucks – poof, we were gone.

P1000594honduras was a whole different story – unfortunately we arrived at the honduran border at about lunch time – and of course everything stops. so we waited and waited and waited….

then we needed about 8,000 copies of the titles, the drivers license, the passport, the exit permit from guatemala, John’s last blood test results, etc.

then the fleecing began – all nicely documented of course – 135 lempira ($7) for this, 135 for that, 257 (about $14) for something else, then 432 ($23) for another permit – and so it goes. 

P1000592So we waited… hours we waited in the hot sun while the 17 different departments had to process whatever they needed to process….The only entertainment was this little kid running around. He was eating some chicken and when he got to the bone he would throw the bone down to the many little scrawny dogs begging. Well he finished one piece and comes walking over to John and flings the bone right on my lap…. Then gives me the strange look, like aren’t you gonna eat it???

by the time we were finished it had taking a little over 3 hours – which is not too bad we find out – and maybe about $100 per person/bike. This is way too much – and Dan was pretty peeved about being fleeced – he later figured out how they had done it and what to avoid next time. The fixers work hand in hand with the officials – and if you let them – they will hide certain things from you – while the delays are taking place certain officials are pushing the paperwork thru various people to make sure they get to the right officials who are on the take – then the reciepts are produced and demands made. If you’re not  savvy about the true costs you can’t really argue with them.

We tore across Hon-dur-ass like a plate of bad huevos rancheros thru a gringo, Not much was said on the intercom and we decided they were not going to get another cent from us – no gas purchased, no water, not one thing. A shame really – i’ve been to the place a dozen times or more and have usually enjoyed the people and the sights.

We got to the border of Honduras and Nicaragua about 4:30pm – a little late but we were pushing it to get out of Hondurasssss.

Just before the border – we were stopped by some Honduran cops. I thought “Oh, great, they didn’t get a big enough piece of my ass” – and the fixers decended upon us at the cop stop…. “documento’s!”  – off the bike, dig out the paperwork – all the while the fixers are yelling at us – the cop asks me to open a side bag – and starts poking thru it – then he chases all the fixers away – just waves his arms and chases them off – then he gets real close to me and starts explaining in very slow spanish – “you will only pay $3 to exit honduras and then $7 each person and $12 each moto to enter nicaragua” – and he made me repeat it back to him – “don’t pay any more” – he was a very nice guy and we had the info we needed to avoid being hosed by another fixer. We shook his hand and in one instant most of the bad feelings about Hunduras were erased.

We motored up to the border – only about 1/4 mile from the cops – I ignored the fixers completely telling them “No” – about 700 times – one of them stuck with me and wanted to translate etc… I ignored him for the most part – and walked my papers here and there – get copies etc.. it was fairly quick except for the line to get the moto permits…. and we entered Nicaragua for a total of $19 each person/bike.

It was dark by the time we were done at the border but we only had 11 KM’s to get to Somotillo so we thought no worries we’ll bust out 6 miles and Cervezas all round– Then we find out the road was CRAP!! — torn to pieces and under construction (probably for the last 20 years) – huge potholes, rocks, sections of pavement, then dirt, then gravel – just crap. To top it off – there were tons of unlighted vehicles on the road – and big trucks bolting towards the border with huge plumes of dust hanging in the air behind them. It took us about 30 to 45 minutes to go the 6 miles.

P1000596We ended up at the only hotel in town – $20 – and it looked ok and $20 seemed reasonable. They let us pull the bikes inside behind the locked gate. The room was a surprise – two single beds – one blocking the sink and the toilet/shower were behind a little curtain. The room was small – and to top it all off, there was NO water in the entire hotel. No shower, no wash up, no water for the toilet. If you used the toilet they had a big garbage can of water that you scooped some up and into the toilet bowl to make it flush. Excellent – after a long day of sweating to the oldies in riding gear/boots at two borders and riding thru mountains of dust we both had a nice little caked dried brown gravy look and feel. This picture is of the shower from above … lovely.

We walked across the street for dinner of chicken and veg and it was pretty good– and while waiting for it to cook some guy comes in with his rooster. He ties it to the leg of his chair and starts drinking with his buddies. We of course are looking at it and cracking jokes about his c*ck being tied to the chair.  laughing and carrying on. He then yells at us in spanish. We’re thinking uh oh.. The gal behind the bar spoke broken english and say’s “he want’s to sell you his Gallo.” We decided we did not have the room in the saddle bags and said no thanks. He was persistent and the price went from 50 cordobas ($2.5 US) down to 30 pretty quickly… Dan asked the gal behind the bar if that chicken was the one we would be eating for dinner?? We managed to avoid buying it even though it was a good deal.

How many times have you been in a bar and some dude wants to sell you a rooster??? (“c*ck”)

We both awoke many times that night by a rooster crowing very loudly at 3am… and he was persistent up till 5 am. We joked that the dude tied the damn thing up next to our room becuase we didn’t buy it.  Then the incredibly loud bus horns started blasting and competing for riders at 5am so we dicided we might as well get up, not take a shower, not use the toilet and not use the sink. It was time for the Motobrothers to ride – meat on the seat. 

And in the rain department… not even a hint of rain – nearly a month of riding almost every day without putting on the rain gear…. amazing!