Stuck in the middle with you – border crossing problem.

nightspent

Where I spent my first night in Honduras - in an 1/8 mile no man's land

Headed to the border from Santa Ana, El Salvador the day after Christmas.

I assumed ( and you know what they say about assuming) that the festivities for everyone would be over for Christmas and everyone would be back to work. Well, most people were.

borderfamily

This family was stuck at the border for 2 days

daughter

Truck drivers daughter - border crossing El Salvador and Honduras

I did not have a problem crossing the El Salvador border. Got the stamp to exit the country, then I have to go to another window so that they can see that I am taking my car out of the country. All told, it took about 45 minutes.

Entered Honduras, and got the stamp that gives me permission to enter the country. (I am getting this border crossing stuff down pat!)

Next chore is to drive up about 1/8 of a mile to another government check point that allows me to take the car into the country. Right now, just have the rights for my body to enter.

bordertruck

One of the trucks waiting to get into Honduras from El Salvador

truckyard

This is where the trucks go through customs with their loads - 14 hours here

Hop out of the car, real happy that I arrived about 1:30 PM so that if I run in to a guy on break, a small snafu, I have plenty of time to get the problem corrected before they close the offices down.

Hand over my title, paperwork from El Salvador, and smoke a cig and wait. About 20 minutes pass, and the officer comes out.

He then proceeds to tell me in broken English and good Spanish that his “jefe” is not here, and she has locked the filing cabinet where the paper work is to get the car into Honduras.

He continues on, saying that he has tried to call her, but she is not picking up the phone. How long before or even if she will call back, he does not know.

Well, normally, I would get really ticked, and start speaking slow and loud. As you can guess, if a guy speaks Spanish, and you speak slow and loud English, he still does not understand you any better.

I smile, and he suggested why not go back to El Salvador and try again on Monday? Sounded like a plan!

Hop in my car, and head back to El Salvador.

Guy has to stamp my visa that I am leaving Honduras, and I get that, and move along. Not 20 feet inside El Salvador, a guard stops me and tells me I cannot come back into El Salvador, I have to wait 72 hours before re-entry.

Oh, traveling in these countries is fun! Hop back into my car, and go back to Honduras. Guy does not stamp my passport again for re-entry. ( I remember this when I eventually get into Honduras – a  possible problem when I leave – worry about that if it comes up!)

Back to talking to the guard who is “working on” the paperwork for my car.

Nope, he has no idea what is going on with his “jefe”. She may or may not call and come back.

What the heck am I supposed to do – I say this with hand gestures, a little Spanish out of my dictionary.

He tells me walk about 100 yards to a hotel. The car stays here though.

Nothing is open – no restaurants, stores, or places to get copies of paperwork even if the darn stuff does get filled out!. I’m stuck here for the rest of the day.

Look at the pictures, would you leave all your stuff here?

I have learned to accept what I can change and what I cannot. No matter how angry and upset I get, I’m stuck. I try to stay calm, and read a book.

About 7PM, the office closes down.

Cold and windy, I try to fit my 5′ 11″ frame comfortably in my Toyota Tercel. Comfort is relative, and I accept the way I am sitting across the gear shift into the passenger side of the vehicle as the best I can do.

Electric goes out in the area, and it is black, except for the stars in the sky.

Quite pretty really, in another type of situation! In this predicament, not so impressive! A fitful nights sleep, off and on. Comfort is not there, and my back is killing me. Switch over to sitting in the passenger side, and this gives some relief for a bit.

Wake up about 7 AM, and no one is in the office.

Restaurants are open, though, and coffee’s desired!

It isn’t getting better – coffee has a ton of sugar – and that is the way it’s served, whether I like it or not. Arrggghhhhh – just not my day!!

Drink a couple of cups, bide my time until 9AM.

Go back to vehicle office, which is now open, but still no “jefe”. She arrives about 20 minutes late.

“Oh, so sorry you could not get paper work. Where did you sleep”, she says.

“In my car”, I reply.

“Did you have a good time yesterday”, I ask.

“Oh, yes I did, I was with my boyfriend. Blah, blah, blah”, she says.

“Can we get the paperwork done now?”, I ask.

30 minutes later, I am now allowed to enter Honduras.

I get pass the gate, and the police stop me. I am smoking a cigarette in my car, which I did not know was illegal. “$100 fine, or $20 now for refreshments”, the police officer says. (Again, I figure this out through broken Spanish, their broken English and my trusty Spanish/English dictionary)

“I will go back to El Salvador”, I start telling them. “No money for fines or funds from me. I will not smoke in my car from now on, but sleeping in my car, waiting 18 hours for someone to open a file cabinet, I’m done – let me in or I go back to El Salvador.”

Now, I am not angry. I am saying this with a smile on my face. Policeman do this stuff in Central America, it is the norm. I do not get angry with the guy who has the gun. I do stand my ground, though.

Policeman and I talk for about 5 minutes more, and when they realize that no money is coming from this hombre, they smile and wave me on. I am laughing and the policemen are laughing. All is good, and I am on my way to Copan Ruins.

More on that in a later post.

Cheers for now!

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About John Wilson

Traveler, writer and photographer. No home now, just traveling the world in search of the lost chord.
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