Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Wednesday, July 27, 2011 01:22:56|
Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 35 La Garita Costa Rica to Leon Nicaragua
Monday, July 25, 2011
*Miles for the day: 464 (747 km) Miles to date: 18,961 (30,515 km)*
After a couple of months of fighting business wars and trying to get mechanics & body shop people to do what they said they would in the time they said they would do it we are on the road again. The car has new paint, the interior and trunk are fixed up, cleaned & repaired and mechanical brought back to proper working order.
Originally swore I'd not take on the corrupt, inefficient, bureaucratic border officials of Honduras & El Salvador again, but the thought of going through the process of shipping once more was even worse, so here we are driving the return route. Marilynn and our 13 year old grandson Jacob from Victoria are with me.
As expected, the run through Costa Rica was uneventful, and once I found the customs shed the procedure of leaving with the car was straight forward. Once in Nicaragua we were approached by swarms of people of all ages offering their services to take us through the formalities, but Marilynn was successful in beating them off and we were able to do the process with only a few minor glitches in about an hour.
Traffic was heavy on the drive to Leon and we missed the highway we had planned to take, although a secondary road along Lake Managua did the trick. Marilynn wanted to see downtown Leon, so after being lost for awhile we found the old part of town and after stopping at three hotels that were full, found a great spot in Hotel Austria. It was reasonably priced and only a couple of blocks from the cathedral and other attractions.
When we were settling in I realized I had left my travel wallet at home after last minute changes in currencies. Fortunately Marilynn had half the US cash, and I had my passport, credit cards and Canadian driver's license. Left behind were a lot of ID, bank and other cards, my half of the US cash, the Canadian cash, and the Costa Rican colons for our return. It could have been worse, but the cash reserves are now a bit lean.
We walked around the historic area, through the cathedral and had a reasonable dinner at a restaurant in the cathedral square before crashing for the night.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
*Miles for the day: 174 (280 km) Miles to date: 19,135 (30,795 km)*
Today was the day I dreaded, so we were on the road by 7 AM. We were going the opposite direction than when Vic & I came down, but it was the same two Honduran borders between Nicaragua and El Salvador that held us up for so long that we didn't reach a hotel in Manaus until 8 PM. It also cost over $650 in bribes, fees and tips. We decided that under no circumstances would we hire the hustlers that come at you in swarms as you approach border checkpoints. Marilynn was particularly brutal in beating off these thick skinned, persistent thieves.
The day started bright and clear, with traffic much lighter than expected as we made our way out of downtown Leon with little difficulty. Once out of town we were treated to the close up sight of an erupting volcano, and another higher twin volcano poking majestically into the sky.
We easily cleared Nicaragua immigration & customs in less than half an hour and entered Honduras in an hour with total costs of $46, including us and the car. Marilynn got rid of the hustlers while I went through the paperwork. We drove across Honduras in about 2 hours in spite of serious pot holes in the road, one of which knocked a hub cap off and damaged it. I managed to extract it from a deep ditch beside the road, but paid a price in itchy feet as I was wearing sandals without socks and the vegetation included stinging nettles.
We exited Honduras with no problem and entered the dreaded El Salvador, where we were swarmed by the hustlers. Marilynn had to get downright rude to beat them off - "no" means nothing to this thick skinned bunch. Immigration took four minutes and another $9 in fees. It was 5 km to the customs people where we needed to get the car permit. I filled out the forms, and we waited 40 minutes for them to be approved. The very friendly and courteous official processing us had me sign the paper and said that was it. There were no charges, and the document he gave us was all that was needed. When Vic and I went across, after all the money we spent we were permitted into El Salvador for only 24 hours or we faced a $2,600 fine. The documents that we received today at no cost gave us until the end of September to leave El Salvador. Obviously most of the money we paid went to crooked hustlers who were inventing bribes and other payments for their own enrichment.
The same Ronnie robber that had "helped" us out of our money on the way down was at the border crossing begging money as he said he was sick. I called him a thief to his face. Obviously all the money he said was for bribes, and all the various offices we visited, were part of an elaborate time consuming sting operation.
We reached the same Comfort Inn where Vic and I stayed by 3 PM, and at a somewhat higher price got a junior suite to sleep the three of us. After a swim in the very warm pool, drinks and a good dinner there was still time to get a little writing done before an early night.