We left Antigua on 2nd January early . It was a pretty quick and uneventful journey to the El Salvador border, passing under the El Fuego volcano on the way (this was to erupt, spewing lava 7km into the air later that night). You could see a bit of smoke coming out but nothing else.
The border was much easier than we anticipated. We chose a tramitador (helper with the border formalities) on the basis of his good looks alone. I am sure we were not the first.
He spoke no English but despite that we was helpful in navigating both sides of the border. We were through into El Salvador in about an hour and at our hotel by 1pm. This part of El Salvador is really hot and tropical, full of coconut palms and bananas.
The hotel was right on the beach. The beach was pretty dirty and the pool was full of loud, local families enjoying the last day of the holiday.
We ate in the restaurant and did not venture out. Better safe than sorry. The sunset was beautiful though.
The next day we woke to the sound of the ocean crashing outside the room. We lay in bed for few hours enjoying it.
It was an easy 3 hour ride to La Union near the Honduras border. They have built a deepwater port here for cruise ships and then no-one wanted to visit because there is nothing here.
The closest decent hotel was a Comfort Inn. We enjoyed the air conditioning and Wifi again ate in the restaurant. Uneventful, easy and safe. We prepared ourselves physically (organising paperwork) and mentally for the big journey across Honduras and into Nicaragua the next day. We managed to get up on time and left at 6.30am after a quick local breakfast of beans and fried plantain-yummy.
There was nothing on the road except cows and a few carts pulled by donkeys, oxen and goats (yes a cart pulled by goats).
We arrived at the Honduras border at 7.30. We expected queues of lorries and craziness but in fact we did not even realise we had reached the border as it was so quiet.
It was quite beautiful compared to what we experienced later in Honduras.
We were pounced upon by a bunch of guys wanting to “help” us and wanting to change money. We chose one who actually spoke English. He was either on meth or drank too much coffee. He turned out to be very helpful despite trying to scam us a couple of times, unsuccessfully.
Dave and the helper at immigration
He earned his money running in front of the bike to each section of the border. It was like having your own security detail.
Fortunately, we have detailed instructions written down on what to do at each border and how much each stage costs-thanks to previous overlanders sharing their experiences on the internet.
We were through both sides within an hour and a half and into Honduras. $40 dollars poorer for a temporary vehicle permit which we only needed for the two hour crossing.We have to pay the same on the way back.
The road to the border with Nicaragua is 80 miles and takes two hours to ride. We were told to expect 14 police checks. We only saw three. This part of Honduras is a wasteland. No agriculture, nothing happening. It reminded me of Malawi where there is abject poverty and people sit around all day doing nothing. Near the end of the road we came to a 10 mile stretch of very bad potholes. Dave was doing a great job negotiating them and just as they seemed to be over we encountered two spanning the whole width of our carriageway. We could not move over as a bus was coming so we had no choice but to go into them. It felt bad but we stayed on and the bike seemed unscathed, although we were a bit shaken.
At the Nicaragua border we employed two helpers. One on each side. Getting out of Honduras took only 20 minutes and the guy did not do much for his tip. On the Nicaragua side though it was much more involved with more queuing and the lovely, young guy who helped us did a great job.
We were into Nicaragua by Midday and very relieved to be there. It was instantly greener and we saw more volcanoes.
We rode to Leon and arrived just after 1pm. We were very hot, tired and dehydrated.
We actually managed to find a hostel that cooked Sri Lankan curries and tucked into a dahl and veg curry with chapatis and rice and cold beers. Now we can relax and enjoy the relative safety of Nicaragua.
- Joke shamelessly lifted from Performance Bikes c1990