Wednesday, August 4, 2010
August 4th, 2010. El Salvador to Honduras, Choluteca, 81 miles.
We were up and making good use of the internet at the Comfort Inn, ordering items that we need, that Danny and Nicole can bring with them when they visit. Naturally more stuff for the RV and a few items for Winston. His retractable leash is wearing out, his water bottle got dropped and broke and he needs new LED lights for his collar so we can see him in the dark. We will add to that list in the next few weeks. It is only 26 mile to the border and we get there just before noon. We breeze through the exit from El Salvador. The routine is pretty much the same. Immigration, Cuarancena (for Winston) and turning in the vehicle permit. We then drive a short distance and do the same at the new country to enter. The vehicle permit at Customs is always the most involved and Honduran cuarancena wanted to inspect Winston. They checked his coat and ears and pronounced him okay to enter. This is while the most mangiest of dogs prowl around the outside of the buildings. Anyone who has been to Mexico will know what I mean. But, we just smile and with handshakes and thank-you's we say nothing. It is bureaucracy and there is nothing to be done. I actually try to treat it as part of the fun of travelling and gaining knowledge. With every border we cross, we are becoming more confident at getting through the system. The biggest problem for me are the "tramitordores" at every border. These are groups of enthusiastic men who jump on the sides of the vehicle, bang on the windows and attempt to get us to hire them to deal with the officials and paperwork. I find them rude, aggressive, obnoxious and they really grate on my nerves. Tom insists I go through a metamorphic change when they appear. I think it's shrew-like, but I don't care. I just wish I could twitch my nose and turn them all into cat litter. We finally finish with Aduana. The total time spent was about 2 hours, but seems much longer and we get on the road. Well Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas - make that El Salvador - anymore. The road, which is the main CA1 (the Pan Americana) is riddled with potholes which Tom tries to avoid, turning the drive into something resembling a slalom course. Also, in the 55 miles from the border to Choluteca we are stopped 4 times by the police. They are always polite and ask for a variety of paperwork, passports, vehicle permit and registration, Tom's license (he gives his color copied, laminated fake), Winston's papers etc. One looked inside the RV from the driver's side door but I think that is more curiousity than anything else. All paperwork was eventually returned to us and we went on our way. More importantly, unlike everything we had heard, not one of the officers even intimated that a bribe was expected. We can't help but reflect that in the 3000 or so miles we drove in Mexico we were only stopped 5 times. We arrive at the toan of Choluteca and find the Hacienda Gualiqueme Hotel with no problem. We pull up to the gate and the omnipresent armed guard assured us that we could park for the night with no problem. As a side note, armed guards are everywhere. Gas stations, parking lots, banks, stores, even delivery trucks. Unlike Mexico, where security carry semi automatic weapons, all of these guards have sawed off shotguns which only serves to make them appear more lawless! But we are safe and with the added bonuses of a swimming pool, a decent restaurant and WiFi. Counting our blessings, we have an early dinner, Skype with Mom & Jeanne until a storm passed overhead and called it a night. Tomorrow, Thursday we will cross the border into Nicaragua.