Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Playa El Cuco to Tegucigalpa (Honduras)

Sun 2nd & Mon 3rd September

We were the only non El Salvadorians at our beach retreat. In fact we haven't seen any other foreigners in El Salvador.

The few other guests were all from San Salvador (the Capital) having a weekend break on the coast. Everyone was friendly and it was tempting to stay another day by the sea (probably wish we had).

We decided, however, to head for the border with Honduras via San Andres and Highway One.

Shortly before reaching the border we were waved down by a guy who spoke perfect English and offered to assist with the border crossing. After the positive experience of using a fixer the other day, we rather naively agreed after he said he‘d get us through in an hour.

At the El Salvador side (fixer in shorts & a money changer)

So the nightmare began and I’m still not sure who was blackmailing us, whether it was the fixer, Honduras officials, or most likely both. We got through the El Salvador side of the border without too much difficulty or expense (just a few dollars).

When we started the process on the Honduras side it was a different matter. First of all we were told that the banks were shut (It’s a Sunday) and we would have to wait until Monday unless we paid a bribe (20 dollars) After that we were told the official who had to stamp our vehicle permits was at lunch and we would have to wait.

Getting hot and pi##ed off.

After that we were told that they wanted to fumigate the bikes and check all the contents which would take two and a half hours unless we paid another 20 dollars and this was on top of the official fees which were probably also inflated. We lost track of our documents as they were passed from Immigration to Customs and back again to get all the necessary stamps and permits. Four hours later and somewhat lighter in the wallet we were eventually given the green light to go.

We were now going to struggle to get to our destination of Tegucigalpa, before dark. Adding insult to injury we were stopped at police check points three times in the space of ten miles. Each time we had to produce our documents, fortunately everything appeared to be in order. To be fair, the police were all polite, friendly and helpful.

As suspected dusk turned to darkness before we reached Tegucigalpa (it's never a good idea to ride in the dark as roads can just disappear or have huge potholes or missing drain covers that are difficult to spot). To make matters worse, with still seventeen miles to go, the heavens opened and monsoon like rains soaked us in just a few moments. So heavy was the rain that when we managed to get to the front of a three mile traffic jam, we were faced with a road where the water had washed it away and locals were throwing rocks in the gaping gap so vehicles could (just) get across. Unfortunately we don’t have any photos of that challenging experience. The final straw was the hotel we were aiming for on the Sat Nav wasn’t there. With the rain still falling like stair rods we came across a complex of corporate hotels. A deal was quickly agreed and we left a trail of water all the way to the fifth floor. A few beers later and the experience changed to one of a bit of an adventure.

Taking the bike for a short test ride.

Monday was a day of recuperation, drying out and fixing the bikes (mine's running like a dog and Bob's broken one of his exhaust clamps causing it to blow).

No comments:

Post a Comment