Page 21: - No Return Ticket - Just a Ride Report /w Pics - From the beginning
Its out of Chiquimula by 7:00 AM and on to Honduras. There is gas in the last town before the border, Esquipulas. I ask the attendant in my best Spanish "Do you know where the customs office is?" The first thing he says is that it is 200 and some kilometers the other way. Talking with a gas attendants gives us the feeling that everything is OK, here we go….
The first building we come to at the border is the Guatemalan aduana. Two Gualtimeco's come out to un-declare our motorcycle from Guatemala - 1,2,3. They raise the gate and we proceed 100 feet to the next building where I get my passport stamped to exit Guatemala.
I tell Heidi where to go to have her passport stamped while a guy with the broom is singing to her. Everyone is smiling, joking and having a good time. Heidi goes in, gets her stamp and we are on our way. Two guys tell us we have one kilometer to go to the Honduras aduana.
The entire way to the Honduras border there are trucks parked along side the road. With a half kilometer to go there are trucks parked on both sides of the road. We are thinking ‘what the heck is up with this?’ but just continue on. We get to a speed bump a hundred yards before the border and three guys jump up and try to get us to stop. No problem, I just slowly blow past them and park the bike right next to the border buildings. I go to walk over to get my passport stamped and walk into the wrong building. A helper comes and gets me and shows me to the immigration window. $3.00, I get my passport stamped. I return to the bike and tell Heidi where to go. She comes back a while later and said she went to the wrong place and a guy was trying to tell her that she needs to pay more money. I tell her to just wait by the bike until I get the bike declared. My helper, his friends call him Spider Man, tells me I have to have 2 copies of my title, passport and license. I only have one copy so we go over and get more copies. Next he guides me to the customs office. There, a clean cut guy in a polo shirt guides me into an office room with a couch and shuts the door behind him. He motions for me to sit on the couch. I thought this was suspicious but I just play along carrying a big smile. The guy asks to see my passport then my title then my registration. I say I don’t need my registration because my license plate is my registration. I’m looking him square in the eyes. He comes back again, he needs my registration. I tell him that my title and license plate is all I need (I’m doing this all in Spanish) We go back and forth a couple more times and he finally tells me I need something that has my license plate number. I point to the spot on my title where the license plate number is and tell him “Aqui, es el licencia numero, aqui es el numero de moto” (here is the license number, here is the number of the motorcycle!) He pauses, looks me in the eyes and says “?Donde viene?” (Where did you come from?) I say “Los Estados Unidos, el estado de Wisconsin” (The United States, the state of Wisconsin) At that point he was done, he knew he wasn’t going to extract any money from me and sends me out to the next guy who starts filling out the forms to clear our bike into Honduras.
OK, I’m not making any of this up. I get one form and pay a few bucks with a receipt, next I have to get 2 copies of that. I get the next form filled out. I have to go get 2 copies of that. The copy place is about a block away. I get the next form filled out. I need 2 copies of that. Every step here takes about 20 minutes. Now I should be done, I just need to take this last form to the bank next door, wait in line and pay the few dollars. But NO, something is wrong. My helper and I go back to the customs guys. They say “bla, bla, bla, bla” Cool, we march back, wait in line, but NO. We do the whole process again, But NO. Now we go back to the customs office, get the two main guys that have been doing all the work and all four of us march back to the bank in force. The main guys jabber away to the bank guy pointing at my papers. The bank guy jabbers back. The customs guys say something to my helper. My helper tells me we have to get 2 copies of this document. We get the 2 copies, go back to the bank, I pay, all the papers get a rubber stamp, and then we march back to the customs office to get the final stamp from them, Cool... Back at the customs office the guy that filled out the forms gives me the stamps then says the bank where I’m suppose to pay this 135 Lempiras (~$7.00) is not open today so I need to pay him. He points to the final clearance document at the spot that says ‘135.00 Lempiras. I hand over the cash and go hooting out of there. Oh yeah....
I tell my helper to show Heidi where to get her passport stamped and I will pay him when they get back. Spider Man is one nice guy always carrying a big smile, hustling fast to get things done and hands over any document, without hesitation, whenever I ask for them. All the people, after the first guy, I dealt with during this entire process were good humored and smiling, even the first guy was nice and smiling after our first encounter. During every step while I waited in the customs office or the bank I enjoyed chit chatting with the people around me, cracking jokes and laughing with them. I read that the Honduras border crossing takes the cake for complexity and nonsense and that is certainly true but the entire process was like night and day compared to our experience crossing into Guatemala. It was never unpleasant (I guess I enjoyed going nose to nose with the first guy and winning) and it was all over and done with in two hours.
After, when we stop for a rest Heidi tells me about her encounter when she went into the wrong building trying to get her $3.00 passport stamp. She got the same guy I got the first time and he tried to do the same thing to her. He took her into the same office with the couch and closed the door behind him. Heidi says she immediately opens the door back up and refused to sit on the couch. She tells the guy “No necesito sentarse. Solo necesito pagar tres dolores para el pasaporte sello!” (I don’t need to sit down. I only need to pay the $3.00 for my passport stamp” The guy tried to tell her she needed to pay all this money for something. Luckily I had given her the ‘heads up’ that the passport stamp only costs $3.00. What a girl, she never ceases to amaze me. She went nose to nose with the guy who is obviously skilled at intimidating and scamming inexperienced and vulnerable people out of money. When she came back from the encounter she wasn’t rattle a bit but just told me she went to the wrong building and some guy tried to tell her she needed to pay all this money, no biggie. I didn’t think it was possible but again I’m falling more in love with this woman every day………..
This is our helper, Spider Man. I hand a wad of folded up one dollar bills and a few quetzals, about $15.00 worth, to him. Without looking at it he sticks them into his pocket, shakes my hand and thanks me. What a plesent experience.
'Honduras' A new country. We both have an unmistakable feeling inside. The countryside looks different, the villages look different, people look different. After a day or two or longer Heidi and I both usually start to feel at home where ever we are. For some reason we feel more out of place here. People look at us, a lot, everyone does, we’re not blending in, we haven’t seen any other travelers in days. I guess the feeling we are having now is a feeling we are far away from home, I think….. I’m sure we will get over this and soon call Honduras our home away from home……...
The first night we stay at a crossroad town, La Entrada. There is nothing much here but a friendly Honduras town. We get the nicest hotel in town with a pool and restaurant, $26.00. Of course the power goes out in the village at 7:00 PM, shortly after the hotel fires up its generator. We find our room is right above the diesel generator exhaust. The smell was unbearable. I go down to the front desk and ask to be moved to another room. The kid at the desk wasn’t going for it. Next I demand to be moved to another room and I wasn’t going away until we did. He gets the general manager on the phone. We get moved. The kid was pissed and had no problem showing it. I take it he wasn’t trained in hotel management.
These photos don’t even come close to showing how beautiful the Honduras countryside is. Cone shaped hills are everywhere. They look like hills in Wisconsin that were formed by glaciers but much larger. They almost look like small and very old volcanoes. I must look into this more…..
We are shooting for the Caribbean Sea to hunker down for the holidays. The weather reports say 90% chance of rain today and they are not off. We don't even get ten miles before suiting up in our rain gear. No biggie, it is warm but not too warm to ride in our leathers with rain gear over the top.
Before reaching El Progreso, our planned destination for the night, we are waved over to have our papers checked. These guys are super nice. Their eyes 'bug out' when we tell them we rode all the way from the USA.
El Progreso: We are hoping to find a hotel here or else we have a long hard ride in the rain to the Caribbean coast. We are almost all the way out of town when we see a hotel. Hotel Casa Blanca, $21 / night, and it is 'one' nice place.
We will be having fun in the sun and surf for the next couple weeks so we’ll see you all in the New Year. Felices Fiestas a todos...
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