Wednesday 26 September 2007

Crossing Borders in Central America

Central America contains alot of borders each with their own problems! But by far the worst must be Honduras. Today I set out at 6 am from La Libertad El Salvador and got to the border at around 9am. I had stopped in San Miguel on the way to get some cash, but the ATM wasn't working. This was the start of the problems. The exit was easy, but then came the border, literly hours of bloody paperwork. Easily it was the worst border crossing I have ever done. The system is totally inefficient and scattered, no one is responsible for the whole process, and there is the constant pest of the people offering to help (for a propina!!) No nesicito ayuda!! Estoy bien gracias! but after 4 hours of waiting to get three stamps I was ready to have a fit. Anger management is a task I have to learn. But after hours in the hot sun I was finally ready to get moving through Honduras. by this time I had only 3 US dollars left in my wallet and was starving.
Making my way to Choluteca I was in desperate need of a bank. To my horror 99% of the banks here dont take Mastercard.. only Visa. I was starting to get desperate, I needed fuel and food,.. and all on 3 USD. After a few calls to AIB in Dublin and Mastercard, I resorted to asking at Western Union and all the other financial places in town. After 2 more hours I found the only ATM in the town that took Mastercard! I held my fingers and jumped for joy when it gave me the cash!
Deciding I didn't want to stay another minute in Honduras I skipped on food and bolted straight for Nicaragua. Crossing the border at Guasaule. Compared to earlier this was breeze taking only 20 minutes. Also had the pleasure of the weirdest conversation with these truckers, trying to find out how much swear words in know in Spanish, and naturally they were inquisitive about the trip. I thought I would make Leon before dark, but the minute i crossed the border it became apparent this wasn't going to happen. The roads ceased to be roads, and the pot holes were huge. I bottomed out on the bash plate countless times, even shaking the right mirror loose. This is 3rd world road! It improved nearer Chinandega, until the road was relatively normal black top. I arrived in Leon after dark, and went straight to the Rough Guide. I picked the best place they had recommended, it its really good.
Hotel Los Balcones is an immaculately restored colonial building with original wooden floors, shutters, and loads of character. Right now I think this is what I imagined Panama to be like. Its like a seen from the Taylor of Panama. Going to check out the area tomorrow and then head to Managua.

1 comment:

salcar said...

glad you made it to nicaragua safe. i can't agree more with you that the border El Salvador to Honduras is the worst.. i also did la libertad to leon in one day and arrived at night... reading your blog brought horrorific memories..hahaha.... look forward to meeting you tomorrow.. from here on south it just keeps getting better!