Travel Log day 7: Lots of driving,No entiendo?

We hit the Honduras border around 7:30am, and the whole hour and a half drive there we were mentally preparing for what was next. From most accounts, Honduras is a horror story. Bad roads, corrupt police, and chaotic border operations highlight the questionable reputation that Honduras holds with overlanders. We exited El Salvador without much difficulty and pulled into customs. Naturally the bank wasn’t open until eight, so we had to hang out in the muggy heat for things to continue. Other than some poorly marked buildings, and things going veeeeeery slowly, getting the vehicle permits and getting into Honduras wasn’t too bad. The first obstacle was crossed, but now we had to drive through it. Here we go. When we passed through our first police checkpoint, we almost passed out from holding our breath. When we got to the front of the line we were ready for nearly anything, but instead faced the last thing we expected: a smile and a handshake. We made through Honduras in just a few hours and zero incidents. Maybe the country caught on that tourists like to visit countries where they can travel without being harassed…


A long day with lots of planning

Nicaragua on the other hand, was a different story. Border shenanigans aside (and there were a few) the transition was relatively painless. The roads were a bit better and we were getting used to the heat, and after the perfect passage through Honduras, we were feeling good. That’s when the first police stop occurred. We were waived down to the side of the road and promptly informed that we had “failed to stop” at a previous checkpoint. We remembered full and well the previous stop, and had given the officer a thumbs up as he waved us through. That thumbs up was likely our undoing, and sensing some obvious gringos, they were going for the kill. The show they put on was Oscar worthy. It was good cop, bad cop, ambivalent cop, and less bad cop. We probably dealt with five different officers, each with their own explanation as to why we owed them exorbitant amounts of money. They took our documents and Grant’s license and refused to return it until we paid up. Fortunately, we were more or less ready than this and had our counter offensive ready. So we played dumb. Grant pretended to not know what they were saying and added lots of “I’m sorry” and “I don’t understands” and surprisingly it worked. In the end, they were far from subtle about asking for a bribe. After twenty minutes they told us to get in the car and give them our cash. We should have refused the blatant transgression, but it was only about ten dollars, and we were anxious to get the hell out of Managua.


We never got inside! Nice guard and safe campground, though.

By the time we stopped for the night we would be stopped twice more, yet again for vague and bogus reasons. This time though, we were well versed in the “no entiendo” defense and got out with only our time being spent on the corrupt police. We finally got out of dodge and headed to our campsite, but thanks to hanging out with our new police friends, it was after dark and the park had just closed. We explained our situation and they still would not let us in, but the man at the front gate was extremely nice and understanding and offered to let us park just outside the main gate near the guard house. It wasn’t perfect, but we pulled the car into some tree cover and set up camp. It was Costa Rica in the morning, and I think I speak for both of us when I say we were unsatisfied with our experience in Nicaragua. I hope we can spend more time there in the future and be proven wrong!

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One Response to Travel Log day 7: Lots of driving,No entiendo?

  1. Excellent blog post. I absolutely appreciate this site. Thanks! Elizabeth

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