The process of crossing the border with a motorcycle is always entertaining. And El Salvador did not disappoint! The customs officer on the right asked me to marry him... Lucky me!
These guys were fun.. (it's not often you can say that about border crossing officers) I knew straight away I was going to like El Salvador. I happened across a common problem. The immigration office is closed for lunch. Why do they do that? They know people are showing up at the border all day long. Why can't they stagger the lunches so there is at least somebody working the entire day. Instead, they all go to lunch together and lock the doors and a huge line builds up outside. I seem to get lucky with showing up at lunch time far too often. But my new future husband and his colleague have me hang out in their office and we discuss whether we are going to live in Australia or El Salvador. "Sorry, I can not make that decision until I see your country!" ;-)
Once the doors were open again for immigration, they treated me like a queen and I was walked past all the waiting truckers to be the first one to get my paperwork done. Wow.. Hallelujah!! I think I quite like the life of a rock star!! ;-) (very short lived, but beggars can't be choosers.. ;-)
When I walked out of the other immigration building past all the staring angry eyes of the other waiting truckers, I hear a motorcycle on the bridge.. It's Mark!! Finally! I was worried, so I'm glad to see he made it.
The good news, is that since I have totally learned the process and made friends, it was a breeze to walk Mark to each counter he needed to visit. And even better news, they treated him like a rock star too and sent him past the waiting truckers. We are free! (I put in 3 hours worth of border, Mark got through in I'd say less than 30 minutes!?) I am so glad for that! Now we can hit the road together and continue.
After spending so much time at the border, we only rode for a couple hours before the sun was going down. The coastal towns were off the beaten track and we found a great place to stop for the night.
Now, Mark is even more on a mission than I am. I mentioned before that we need to get to Panama in time to cross the Darien Gap. Mark has an actual booking for a boat and is running out of time. I haven't booked and I know I don't want to go as early as he does, but it will be great to ride with him and catch up some miles.
The problem is: El Salvador is totally gorgeous! However we literally just buzz right through the country in 1 day.. So this blog post will simply be photos from the road. ;-(
I really know as I am riding down the road here I am missing something special. But if I stop everywhere I love, I won't meet my goal to be in Chile on time.
I have seen this in many countries. A family's harvest is dried on the shoulder of the road. At first I thought it was a worry that you'd let your food dry on the side of a dirty road. But it makes sense really, the flat long surface, which would heat up naturally by the sun and would make the drying process easier? And quicker? These crops are corn. I've seen coffee beans, all sorts of beans really as well as the corn.
This might be a bit deep in thought, but I often think about these people who grow their own food for survival, not for fun. And to think through the process of corn for example. You nourish and grow your crop for weeks. Harvest it, lay the corn out to dry. Collect and grind it. Bag it.. and then at some point you turn the corn into tortillas. I have been very lucky in my life that if I want a tortilla, I go to the store and buy it. But imagine if there was a major world crisis. These people will be the ones who survive! I'd be hopeless at working out a garden that I actually needed to support me. I love to garden, but I don't have to worry if my corn fails me this year. (These are things that go through my brain inside my helmet as I ride... sorry!)
Local transport is not nice. I like that they carry several people reducing traffic, but each truck is a choking mass of black exhaust. These are so hard to ride behind and we try to get past as quick as possible. I do my best to hold my breath. Sometimes I can, other times I come close to passing out either from the smoke or lack of oxygen.
Some have to walk. I'm in a country were not only do few people own cars, few people own motorbikes, which I usually see as the back up option. Quite often they are in horse and buggy which we see more of as we go south.
Then this guy totally on the other side of the street and opposite intersection was whistling so loud.. Take a photo of me!! Happy to!
Then the guys who had finished up their lunch stall were looking at me. I felt guilty and added one more photo. These are the lovely guys of El Salvador!
So that is all I can offer as a look into El Salvador. Really wish there was more!
We arrive the next border crossing, El Salvador into Honduras.
This one was relatively painless. The beauty of going through these with somebody else is that one of us can wait in line and handle the paperwork for both bikers while the other stands guard over the bikes and gear. I did the paperwork on this one.
At the next stop, it's Mark's turn for paperwork. And the endless need for masses of photocopies of every document we own. Mark is here at the photocopy shop near the Aduana. We have a constant gripe as to why they can't put the photocopy people in the same building or at least a building next to where they need them. Usually we have to go on a crazy search for the things. Recently I had to cross the border of one country without my bike to walk in to the photocopy place in the next country and then return back with the copies to the first country. They would make more money if they just had a photocopier in the Aduana! I'm happy to pay for the copies, I just don't want to go on a wild search! Besides the fact I actually carry loads of copies so I don't have to do this. Somehow they always want a copy of something different and something I don't have.
My job to stand guard here...
We're free! On to the next stop. There is no rhyme or reason to how or where they put the buildings you need to visit to accomplish the paper trail goal of each crossing.. sometimes each office is several kilometers apart. And that is PER country! The lengthy process to check out of the country we only spent a day in, is followed by the lengthy process to check into the next country just over the line.
More chaos ahead...
Hmmm.. this looks like a humdinger of a border crossing.. ;-/
This is the one and only time we hired a fixer to run around and do it for us. It only cost us $10 ($5 each) and the man ran around to the offices with our passports and to the photocopy shop, etc etc. Mark went along with the guy and I guarded the bikes. We didn't need to do this as we take pride in finding our own way. But I'm not sure what came over us on this one. Too many border crossings back to back? This was the third country in three days and we thought, heck it's cheap and he help support the guy who is helping us. We had many borders after this that we did ourselves. There was no problem using the fixer, but in general we'd rather save our money and do it ourselves.
After another very long hot wait, we are on the road again .. now in Honduras!
This guy didn't make it too far. I'm surprised I don't see more of these cows accompanied by vultures.
I'm always thinking that I am so glad in my business life that I don't have to make deliveries by Ox and cart. The Ox have become more popular than horses for transport down this way. I hope it's not hard for them, but for me to see this is like taking that step back in time I am always wishing I could do. And every time I see the oxen I think they are such strong and good looking animals. But I don't know how strong. The big wood blocks across their necks to pull the cart look painful no matter how strong. But maybe they are, I really don't know. ;-/
This is a very busy road with all forms of transport.
This a new one.. pig traffic!
So fun to see the young people excited for the bikes. I haven't seen this much enthusiasm since Albania.
This kid carrying the wood home for cooking...
To see Marks version, check out
Mark's blog El Salvador to Honduras