I am now in Granada Nicaragua, and crossing borders cannot be done to quickly when driving a campervan. Permits are required and I could not get insurance in three countries, Guatemala, El Salvador and possibly Honduras. I tried hard to find insurance. Many locals thought I was Loca [ Spanish means crazy.] In Honduras, I was charged $35.00 US for only a three hour drive through the country. I have to be careful
When I arrived at the El Salvador border, I hired someone that said he was an agent for the country of El Salvador. Badge number #169 never gave me a price until we were all done. His price was $40.00 US. And I questioned what he really did for me? Well, he did help with the translation as well as get me moved to the front of the line which saved a bit of time. I did pay him, no problem. I thanked him for showing me what needs to be done when I to go through my next 4 countries. In a sense, I guess he helped prepare me, a good thing!
Exiting El Salvador, as well as all the countries I go through, I must go to emigration to suspend my visitor’s visa and campervan permits until I cross the new country line. I have to renew everything again. In most cases, there are big delay's at both ends, very frustrating waiting in line ups. It would be so much easier taking a bus.
While exiting El Salvador, I saw the back up of many truckers waiting in line. I then decided to drive around them, just like agent #169 instructed me to do ,in order to save loads of time .Suddenly, I had no less than 10 agents all over me screaming and yelling, angry with me? In my loud English voice, I said "no, get out of here"! "I know how to do this myself" ,but they kept on coming. Again, suddenly, one of the agents yelled my name, "Pete". I looked at him curiously, and asked "how do you know my name"? He said that his friend helped me at the opposite end. He said his friend charged me too much. But that he wasn’t really his friend....Wow?... My solution to the problem of choosing an agent was to pick the quietest one in the noisy group. I told him I am paying $10.00 dollars, US tops! He was happy with that amount. Can you believe he did not even have an agent # badge, but he did have a name, which I forgot? My Dutch bodyguard Peter [kidding, as if I need a bodyguard but we do watch each other’s back], could see it in his eyes that I was having problems. He knew I paid way too much at the last border. In the end, I gave no name a $5.00 tip but drove away with tons of valuable experience!
It took about three hours driving time through Honduras to the Nicaragua border. We drove through some real bad roads and it was getting dark..It is not a good idea to drive at night, very difficult to spot potholes. I suggested to Peter that we get a hotel once we cross the border and he agreed about the danger. While waiting at the Nicaragua border, we met another nice traveler coming through from Guatemala. He asked me if I spoke Spanish, I said a bit but I get by with laughs and smiles [you know me!]. We agreed that we couldn't do these roads at night, so he and his wife followed me to the next town. They would be a great help with my Spanish at the border. We got through the Nicaraguan border with ease this time. About ten K’s from the border, there was a road block. I did not know wither they were Policia, or Militar? They waved l me over. Opening my window, I said "I’m English (Ingles)",and he asked me for some "water" (agua)! I said "yes I am drinking one now", and he took it from me and immediately blew a whistle and pointed to proceed. I drove away laughing!...The roads were really good in Nicaragua , ended up driving an hour to a bigger city still with the couple from Guatemala. I gave the couple my card ,thanked them and told them I hoped to hear from them again!
Pete Montgomery from TravelCheapWithPete.com