Day 62 October 24 San Miguel to Leon Nicaragua
First, a quick apology for the lack of photos. The last few days have really tested me. One of the reasons I wanted to do this trip was to be challenged and indeed the borders did a number on me. I’m not complaining, just making excuses. Don’t worry my head will get back into the game.
What a day today was. I left San Miguel at 7am and by 8 I was being mauled by helpers at least 2km before the border. I was determined to cross by myself today and I told them all to go away. Eventually I needed help because I had a problem with the El Salvador immigration department. At least that was the story. The agent claimed that they had no record of me entering El Salvador and he even called the other border to get them to check. Of course I had to pay a fee of $11.00 (I got a receipt). By this time I enlisted the help of an English speaking helper who was translating for me. For all I know they are all in cahoots together including the Honduras immigration. The story goes on with Honduras immigration saying the problem from El Salvador is also a problem in Honduras. I’m starting to feel like the mark of all marks and just want to get the hell out of there. The helper and his two mates actually did help with regards to paperwork and copies and process. Despite the feeling of having “sucker” written all over my face I was pleased that they expedited the legit stuff and gave real advice about Honduras. Of course they claimed they had to grease a number of officials to prevent me from paying an exorbitant fine so including their “tip” I paid $100. This border took 3 hours. Man, would I like to come back to Central America again and do the borders once more with the knowledge I’m gaining.
I spent the next 137km on high alert waiting for all kinds of checkpoints or shakedowns. This based on reading I had done. Of six military/police checkpoints that I encountered I was stopped once and only for about 30 seconds.
Honduras…or maybe Nicaragua, the day was a blur.
The Nicaragua border was cake! The only problem I had was I missed the Nicaragua immigration/customs building entirely and had to turn around to get my stuff done. I paid $12 for mandatory insurance, a few bucks for fumigation that they did not do, and $12 for a tourist card. I spent less than an hour at this border. I hope Costa Rica and Panama go that smoothly.
100km later I was in Leon at about 4pm looking for a hotel. I found a Hostal with private room for $20 and set out looking for food. I discovered Leon has plenty of hostals near the central plaza and a number of very old looking churches. It was getting dark by the time I found a hamburger stand in the plaza. Again few photos, sorry I wasn’t focused on pictures today.