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Old 10-07-2013, 08:32 PM   #1381
eshankel
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Great Stuff,

thx for sharing!
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:18 PM   #1382
corney
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Gene and Neda thanks for sharing! Great photos, narration, humour and journey! Took me about a week to read 1380+ posts. Think my eyes are bleeding!

Can't wait to read more.

Please be safe and take care of each other!
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:12 AM   #1383
lightcycle OP
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/115.html



We're on the move again. Today we are going to ride through the Honduras, tackling both borders in a single day. We've absolutely enjoyed riding around Central America - the people, culture and geography here are wonderful. The only exception - that Twilight Zone between countries, where a deluge of helpers, documents and stamps, money changers, photocopies and queues threaten to spoil all the good impressions we've had so far.


Neda is not one to be Bullied around on the road!

This is our second time through, having done this same crossing at the same place just 7 months ago. That time was under great duress - we were in a rush to meet the Stahlratte in Panama, I had a full-blown flu and was running a high fever while on the bike, and we were bickering and arguing at each border crossing. This time around, we're going to use all our lessons learned from the first time and try to make this crossing more enjoyable.


"I am not a crook!"

Most important lesson: Be prepared. Give yourself lots of time. Get to the border early. Have all your photocopies ready. Avoid Hanger (Hunger+Anger) Management Issues: arrive on a full stomach, bring lots of water and snacks.

We approach the west border separating El Salvador and Honduras around 9:30AM. It's already hot and we're thankful that we've brought a lot of water. About a km away before the actual border lies the El Salvador Aduana booth, where we have to cancel our vehicle permit. Dozens of people come running towards our bikes, looking like some angry mob. But they're not angry. They want to help us cross the border. For money, of course...

We know the drill by now, the helpers urge us to pull over, motioning to the side of the road. We make a game out of it, swerving around them like pylons. Some of them start to chase our bikes, like paparazzi stalking Justin Bieber. When we pull in front of the Aduana booth, they launch into their spiel: "This is the hardest border crossing in the world!", "Is impossible! Cannot cross without my help", "One does not simply ride into Honduras"...


First stop: Get El Salvador vehicle permit canceled

Neda strides purposefully to the Aduana booth, using her superhuman Spanish skills to stymie the helpers swarming around her. Concerning all matters regarding the Espanol, I am the sidekick: the Robin to her Batman, the Watson to her Sherlock Holmes, the Wilson to her Castaway... Neda has given me the UberImportant task of keeping guard over the bikes while she attends to business. This is the action-movie equivalent of being told to stay in the van during the exciting fight scenes.

So I devise a way to amuse myself while she does Superhero stuff. I am going to document step-by-step how to cross one of the most frustrating borders in Central America, if not the world. And I'm going to take lots of pictures. Because I do that anyway...


Aduana completed, we head to the Immigration to get our passports stamped out

The "helper" industry is big business. Although you wouldn't know it from the prices they charge. Some offer their border crossing services for $5. Ignore them long enough and they lower the price to $1. Before you go thinking that's a great deal, the reality is that the helper will broker all transactions between you and the officials, so if a fee actually costs $3 USD, they will tell you it will cost $15 and pocket the extra $12. And there are many transactions to complete at the border (some are even no-cost, but your helper won't tell you that). Officially, it should only cost $38 USD to cross the border with yourself and a motorcycle. However, I've heard horror stories of travelers paying $150-$200 *MORE* than they should have at this border crossing! Big business.

They mainly target non-Spanish-speakers. Often they'll point to fancy (and some not so fancy) laminated badges that they wear around their necks implying that they are officials of some sort. If you look closely at some of the badges, you will see that the pictures printed on them might not even match the face of the badge-wearer! LOL!


After getting stamped out of El Salvador, we've got to get stamped into Honduras

Another species of border dwellers are money changers - CambioGuys - who roam around with big wads of bills in their hands. They provide a foreign currency exchange service and their exchange rate is very good. Very good for them. Not for you. They are all in collusion with each other not to compete for rates, so don't bother shopping around.

I heard a great tip: If you haven't planned wisely and still have a lot of the local currency when you hit the border, don't use a CambioGuy. Instead, try to find another traveler coming from the other direction and exchange money with them, since you'll both need the currency from where you both came from and you can use the official exchange rate to both your benefits.


Assortment of helpers and CambioGuys stare helplessly as Neda completes Aduana (customs) by herself

Between pestering Neda for information on what she has just done at every stage so I can complete my How-To document, I am given a new task: Waterboy. I really have to pick up this Espanol-language thing if I'm ever going to make it out of the van...


Finally, after two hours, the Holy Grail of overland travelers: Temporary Vehicle Permit for Honduras


Familiar sight at border crossings: food stalls and photocopy places


Finally we cross the border, and we run into the Iguana Motorcycle Club from Honduras!


Riding the Pan American highway through Honduras


200 kms later, we reach the eastern border of Honduras

There are not a lot of helpers at the Honduras/Nicaragua border. You can always tell how difficult and complicated the border crossing will be by how many helpers swarm you.


I like how all the border crossing buildings are colour-co-ordinated!


Every picture of Neda I have today is of her lined up at some booth!


How nice of the fumigation guy to Armor-All our tires... :(


Yay! We're in Nicaragua!

If you are a planning to travel through Honduras with a vehicle, you can view the step-by-step write-up on how to bypass the helpers and do-it-yourself (even with little or no Spanish) in our Questions section here:

http://www.RideDOT.com/faq/honduras.html
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Old 10-09-2013, 10:46 AM   #1384
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Gene,
Gracias a la inteligencia útil.


Neda,

How was he as the Waterboy?
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Old 10-09-2013, 12:20 PM   #1385
Turkeycreek
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Old 10-09-2013, 12:27 PM   #1386
Deah
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Awesome pics!
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Old 10-10-2013, 12:17 AM   #1387
Balanda
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the team

It sounds like you and Neda are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to CA officialdom. I'd opt for your role in the operation though Gene. While I'm really enjoying your adventures through the reports, every time I think about riding through Central and South America myself, I have to go lay down and take a rest.
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Old 10-10-2013, 12:44 AM   #1388
Wilkrider
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Ama a tu informe de viaje, todo bien, y esas fotos nítidas

Thank you for such clear photos. Lush and wonderful country side. You've made the past two weeks of catchup a pleasure.
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Old 10-10-2013, 12:05 PM   #1389
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Thumb Border Follies

Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
[color=DarkOrange]
Neda strides purposefully to the Aduana booth, using her superhuman Spanish skills to stymie the helpers swarming around her. Concerning all matters regarding the Espanol, I am the sidekick: the Robin to her Batman, the Watson to her Sherlock Holmes, the Wilson to her Castaway... Neda has given me the UberImportant task of keeping guard over the bikes while she attends to business. This is the action-movie equivalent of being told to stay in the van during the exciting fight scenes.

Between pestering Neda for information on what she has just done at every stage so I can complete my How-To document, I am given a new task: Waterboy. I really have to pick up this Espanol-language thing if I'm ever going to make it out of the van...
Since you have done such an excellent job of reportage regarding the border crossing, I think it's safe to say you have moved from Sancho Panza to Neda's Don Quixote, from Pancho to her Cisco Kid and from Bullwinkle to her Rocky all the way up to Col James Rhodes (Rhodie) to Tony Stark. Neda of course had to be Iron Man, for her consumate skills en Espanol.

As for your skills en Espanol, the more you use them the faster they improve. Already you are far ahead off most Canucks in your comprehension and verbal skills, and I have every confidence you will soon be yammering away like a native sooner rather than later.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:12 PM   #1390
Chiriqui Charlie
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A question: You guys always seem to find interesting things to see and do where ever you happen to be, so why the rush to get through Honduras? Is there nothing worth seeing in the entire country??

And since you have already done the dreary Paso Canoas crossing into Panama, why not use Rio Sereno this time, and take a day in the Highlands. I'd be glad to show you around.-
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:05 AM   #1391
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoged View Post
How was he as the Waterboy?
Neda's just happy I didn't tackle any customs officials!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriqui Charlie View Post
why the rush to get through Honduras? Is there nothing worth seeing in the entire country??
There's tons to see in Honduras, but we had a few unexpected appointments come up in the last couple of weeks, some good, some not, so we're on a bit of a schedule. More info in the next few blog posts.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:48 AM   #1392
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Thank goodness, its like I'm coming home to an empty house when there's no new posts to read.

Wilkrider screwed with this post 10-13-2013 at 09:53 PM
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Old 10-13-2013, 05:26 PM   #1393
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Whats with all the smiles on these two???

whats wrong with this couple?

Whats with all the smiles?

Something wrong for sure.
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Old 10-17-2013, 04:27 PM   #1394
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/116.html



Granada, Nicaragua is one of those pretty colonial towns in Latin America that tons of tourists flock to see. Along with Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Caye Caulker, etc. it's considered part of the "Gringo Trail" - towns and sites that have been transformed into supercentres for foreigners hoping to get a taste of Central and South America outside of the beach resorts. Unfortunately, the very act of being a tourist draw changes the local flavour, offering westernized food in the restaurants for foreign palates, increased security and infrastructure, more English being spoken on the street, and disappointingly for us, increased prices for accommodations and food across the board. :(


Made the mistake of riding through the market - heavy traffic!


Central park in Granada


We pretty much had the whole city to ourselves!

Granada is deserted during the weekdays on the off-season. The heavy rains in the afternoon deter many tourists from visiting Central America, but if you time your excursions right (meaning you are an early riser), you can get a lot of sightseeing and traveling done and not get too wet.


The main cathedral in Granada


Umbrellas serve dual-purpose, also keeping the mid-day heat at bay


Granada is tiny, everything is within walking distance


Discovered a great Moroccan restaurant where we had fried avocados. Delicious!


Even the streets are deserted! Tumbleweeds chased after this moto.


Colonial architecture painted in vivid colours


Chilling out in Parque Centrale


Hat fitting? :)


Mombacho volcano is always looming above Granada's low skyline


Granada motorcycle meet


Getting cloudy - time to head back to the hotel!

We are getting a bit travel weary again, after almost 6 weeks back wandering around Central America. We're both feeling like we need more than just a couple of days downtime. However, we've got a few appointments to keep so we're going to push on just a little bit longer.


Riding around Granada
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:06 AM   #1395
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However, we've got a few appointments to keep so we're going to push on just a little bit longer.
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