Apologies once again for the time between our posts – it does seem like driving down by the coast has a bit of a negative effect on our productivity! Despite having more free time lazying by the sea, we do become more lazy… and also have much less to talk about. For better or for worse our time following El Salvador was a little busier indeed.
We had already made peace with the fact that the day we left El Salvador was not going to be the most enjoyable day. Border crossing days are never fun, and we had two of them contend with along with a 2h30 drive in between. Nonetheless we’d made our own bed by spending so long in Guatemala, and we were relatively happy to fly through Honduras in a day so off we set.
Leaving El Salvador was a breeze, literally following one road down and cancelling your tourist visa and import permit on the vehicle. If only they were all the same! Then we drove over a bridge (all these borders seem to be across rivers) into Honduras. We’d read so many horror stories about this border, and corrupt border agents. To their credit however everyone was extremely helpful and professional. The fact we had to pay $40 for a temporary import permit which was good for three months, despite passing through in a day was slightly frustrating but just the way it works. The only issue we had was that we had managed to pull in behind a bus of 50 or so people so we had to queue for a long time to get our immigration stamps. That would come back to haunt us again later….
Then we had our drive through Honduras, which took the best part of 3 hours with a stop for food included. The only thing which made us slightly nervous is we had none of the local currency, so if anything were to go wrong with Betty in the middle of nowhere we’d have been in a bit of a pickle! Luckily Betty held true for the whole drive and we made it to the border without issues. Leaving Honduras was not a problem but entering Nicaragua was easily the worst crossing we’ve done so far. It’s laid out terribly, starting with us firs having to pay $3 for fumigation and searching for 10 minutes for the place to get fumigated. There they said that it should have been there but they cant’ be bothered so we’d been looking for no reason!
During this time we even tried to leave the border crossing area and were promptly turned around! Then it was back to immigration to get a stamp, which required having done a form online a week before. Going outside to find a man to give us a form to inspect our vehicle. Then another person to stamp said form and inspect it again. Then going inside with the form with 2 stamps to get our import permit, and finally having a police officer inspect the van for the third time. Such fun!
By the time we got into Nicaragua it was early afternoon – so we’d made good progress. For our first night we headed to a gorgeous little ranch and relaxed for the afternoon, wandering the grounds with the resident dogs. The hosts gave us local liquor and fresh lemonade but despite how beautiful the place was we couldn’t justify the $15 price tag, so the next day we headed to (you guessed it) a surf lodge on the coast! This was when we first saw the effects of Summer problems on tourism here.
The surf lodge was beautiful, we could camp right on the coast they had boards to rent and a small cute little restaurant – with a cold beer fridge! You could tell it wasn’t in full swing however. The pool was empty and certain parts were a bit run down. There were old posters of ‘party Saturdays’ showing what this place clearly was like before all the problems but now it was a bit of a remnant. That said we had a lovely stay there for 3 nights and great service as the staff had little else to do! We knew this wasn’t where we wanted to spend Christmas though as it would have been a little lonely. After arguing that we weren’t happy to pay a 10% service charge on beers we had taken and signed out of the fridge ourselves, we headed to Granada in search of some Christmas plans!