Florida to Nicaragua Road Trip #9: Playa El Zonte, El Salvador, through Honduras & to Chinandega, Nicaragua

Dear Reader,

We are almost home! Four and a half hours and we will be home. But first we must rest and sleep and let the night turn to day.

This morning we awoke to bird song in a lovely setting in El Salvador. We’d slept well and felt excited about our proximity to home.

After a great cup of coffee and a wonderful breakfast by the pool, we were out of there.

Only two more border crossings to go. Well, four actually, in that we still had to leave El Salvador, enter into Honduras, leave Honduras and enter into Nicaragua. And with a vehicle it means not only getting ourselves stamped in and out of each country but our vehicle too.

We still had about five hours of driving in El Salvador; a land of good roads and well-behaved drivers.

As well as smoking volcanoes.

They do have an interesting way of transporting passengers though.

What do you think? Are they all wearing seatbelts?

And then we came to the Honduran border crossing.

Unlike any of the other border crossings, they like fingerprinting. They fingerprinted us on the way in and on the way out.

There was only a two-and-a-half hour drive in between. Not even enough time to have to go to the bathroom.

When we got to Honduras’ vehicle permit booth, the custom’s gal was eating her lunch at her desk and looked none too happy to have us disturb her.

So we asked if we should go have our own lunch and return later. She said Yes, and recommended a restaurant. The food there was delicious! And John, sensing Nicaragua’s proximity only two and a half hours away, was happy.

And soon we were on our way driving through Honduras.

Honduras has really good roads. And really good drivers. We’re still shaking our heads and talking about Guatemalan roads and their drivers.

I think John might be experiencing some PTSD although these past two days of driving in three saner countries (El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua) have calmed him down a bit. I even caught him humming.

Oh, and I should add that while in line at the border in Honduras we spoke to a man who was also returning from Guatemala and he told us of excellent roads just north of the main road we were on, so we are feeling a semblance of hope for our return trip!

We could tell we were getting closer to Nicaragua when we started seeing livestock being herded down the roads. A lot of livestock is herded down Nicaragua’s roads. We didn’t see any in Mexico. We didn’t see any in Guatemala. Nor any in El Salvador. At least not along the roads and at the times that we were on them.

And also as you can see, Honduras has their own fashion of transporting people in the back of pickup trucks.

And then before we knew it, we were at the Honduras/Nicaragua border. It was around 3:30 in the afternoon and we were worried about night settling in before we got to our hotel.

And then bye bye Honduras.

We checked ourselves and our vehicle successfully out of Honduras and then drove several kilometers and across a bridge and then into Nicaragua’s border crossing area. Oh joyous day!

Honestly, the last few days worth of border crossings are all starting to get jumbled in my mind. Honduras was the worst as far as having people bugging us to assist us with the process. And even if we didn’t know what building to go to necessarily, or at times literally whether we were in the line for coming or going, we felt experienced enough in the process to act as if we knew what we were doing and waved them away.

At the Honduras exit, the Immigration agent was flirting with a gaggle of elderly ladies being checked through. I got to momentarily hold one of their hands as I helped her position her fingers on the fingerprint pad.

Nicaragua on the other hand didn’t seem to care a wit about fingerprints but it definitely expressed the greatest interest in what we were carrying. They were the only country in fact to ask us the value of our kayaks. Although our kayaks are worth much more than this, to be conservative we told them $1,500 each. The custom’s agent shook his head and said “No, that’s too much.” So, I said, “What should I do? Take a zero off?” And he said “Yes!” Who am I to argue with a custom’s agent?

And then as if we didn’t know from experience, we attempted to leave the Nicaragua border with only our vehicle permit but not our own visa stamps and fortunately, quickly got turned back. Yes, there is a reason why so many officials ask to see the supposedly same piece of paper before you’re let out the final gate!

And then, this gal said she wasn’t going to let us in because we hadn’t applied for a Visa online seven days in advance. What?!?!?!?

“Oh yes, it’s a new law which we’ve had for about a year and a half,” she said in Spanish (of course) and pointed to a sign on her window. (John and I have exactly how many Visa stamps entering Nicaragua, and we’ve never heard of this before?)

That’s when I whipped out our secret weapon and handed her the two small laminated documents John and I have saying our application for Nicaraguan Residency is In Process. “Will this help? I asked. “Oh, of course,” she answered. “You should always submit that with your passport!”

And so she let us in.

Now, tomorrow we should only have four and a half hours or so to go until we get home! WOOHOO!

And by the way, we did drive in the dark tonight. And we did again swear we will Not do that again.

There weren’t any potholes. Nicaragua has great roads. But horse carts don’t have lights. And bicycles for the most part don’t have lights. Even bicycles carrying a rider and a woman carrying a baby while riding side saddle on the top tube, don’t have lights. Nor do the free roaming horses. Nor do even some of the motorcycles. Not to mention all of the people walking on the highway.

Nicaragua is like that. Most people can’t afford cars. The well-paved highways are nonetheless actively used for transportation, be it two or four legged or covered in varying degrees of rubber.

We are alive.

We are healthy.

We are adventurers.



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