Sunday, 7 October 2012

Day 90: La Libertad, El Salvador to Nancome, Honduras.

Hello again. Are you keeping up? :-) Yesterday was a huge day and one that we plan not to repeat.

We were up early again today. Up at 5am and on the road at 6am. It was a lovely morning this morning despite a bit of low sun. We got our first fuel up in El Salvador as the pumps opened and we were off.

Our hotel was actually quite close to the ocean.

The road was quite busy as we headed east with lots of kids going to school and buses belching huge clouds of stinking diesel fumes. The low sun also did nothing to slow the traffic or to make the overtaking any less reckless. It was a narrow windy road and when people needed to stop they, well, kind of stopped. And you went either over the top of them, or around. We only had one tricky moment when I was overtaking and suddenly realised that all the vehicles I was overtaking were pulling out into the lane I was in as they tried to get around a parked truck. The R1200GS has very good ABS brakes but Shirley still slides forward. Fortunately there was room and I slid up the side of D&D and no further dramas were involved.

We needed breakfast and when D&D saw a hamburger joint they pulled up sharply and turned right. Unfortunately too sharp to the right and over they went. Crash! Shirley did a very ballet-like leap from Ebony and we went to help. Interesting though. There were lots of people there, watching but not a single person came to help. When I had a tipover at Smashed Head in Buffalo Jump, people came from everywhere to help get the bike back up on its wheels. Interesting. So no harm done - just that Shirley was in charge of the camera and guess what? Yes! Bother.

Anyway we went in and Shirley started photographing food. In a hamburger joint. Right. A jam turnover she would have photographed. A bmw turnover? Huh!

We rolled over a huge river

And then past Aunt Jenny's pharmacy.

The trees had been carefully sculpted across the road.

And then we came on a school out for their cross country run, complete with armed police escort on motorbikes.

Then it was on to the border with Honduras. As we came around a corner we were confronted with young men calling "Ronnie, Ronnie" and pointing to the side of the road. Now Ronnie is the brother/uncle/cousin of either Tony or Antonio who were our touts, sorry consultants, from the Guatemala border. So we stopped. Sigh.

They seemed pretty professional but .... We didn't discuss enough at the beginning what the costs were likely to be. Anyway, we followed them through the processes. It was pretty quick on the El Salvador side but again we hit lunch on the Honduras side so had to wait. Here we are waiting.

And waiting.

Even Ebony was waiting.

So what were the issues. First, we understood that the customs officials would come and search our luggage. Then we had to have the bikes and ourselves fumigated. Then we had to wait our turn for the temporary vehicle importation permits. All of these could be waived of course with the right money in the right places at the right times.

Finally all was done and off we all went into Honduras. That's when it turned unpleasant really. These guys had done done a great job but .... luggage search? Fumigation? Crap. They got greedy now and the atmosphere suddenly changed. Our man Ronnie disappeared and the two lightweights started to get heavy.

We paid them everything that we could see documentation for. Road tax, importation fee, tourist permit. That came to $USD165 per bike!!! Yes, I said per bike. Then of course there was their fee on top. So we came to a standoff really. We could have jumped on the bikes and gone but who knows what might then have been waiting for us around the corner. So we bluffed. We were both pretty much skint and couldn't have given them much more anyway. They suggested going back to San Rosa to an ATM machine. We suggested they give us their addresses and we would post it to them.

Then suddenly Ronnie reappeared. Yes it was ok. Handshakes and last minute advice shared and we were off. The time by now was about 1.30 but we were really whacked. About 30kms up the road we saw a nice hotel and turned in. It had the requirements: safe parking, swimming pool, wifi. Check check check. We were in.

So now we are fed, beered and ready for bed. An early start again in the morrow and into Nicaragua. All of this haste to meet the Steel Rat:

And that's it.

Today's run: 267kms
Cumulative: 24,487kms
Tipovers: 4

Location:Nancome, Honduras

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