On the road again I have not touched the bike for a good week and I needed to get it out of the garden which was concerning me as considering how difficult it was to get in but getting it again was lot easier which was a relief. I had breakfast with the new batch of students, as there had been a change of guard over the weekend and then packed the bike and slowly hit the road. Tata Antigua it was fun 🙂
First thing I did was get some USD from the ATM for the upcoming border crossings and filled up the bike just outside the city and I was heading into the hills towards Guatemala City and it was only about 8.30am wow never been away this early before!
As mentioned before my GPS only has very limited maps of Guatemala so I had brought an old fashion roadmap and it was weird not knowing exactly where I was and with the Garmin I had plugged in my destination but it never seem to be on the route even though I knew I was so was just like a computer game trying to keep the route on the small screen entertaining and frustrating at the same time. I was in Guatemala City in no time and then got lost trying to cross the city as I have said very few road signs and a temperamental GPS so I got across by good old fashion compass bearings. I missed a lot of turnings or if I did like the look of a turning so added a few more miles to the trip by sticking to the main roads. Enjoyable day even though I was bit concerned about the hassles awaiting me at the border.
Driving along gorgeous scenery not sure how far away the border is I am in the middle of nowhere no one around considering this is supposed to be a major border crossing or maybe I just made that last bit up as to be honest because as usual I had not got a clue.
I finally hit the border at 1.50pm was directed to a parking lot and then to the first kiosk. Parked the bike and a couple of money changers turned up with huge wads of money I am not sure why it is but they always have loads! Enquire about the rates and they give me them as usual a low rate so I tell them I will get back to them after I cleared Guatemala Customs as I know what the rate should be and I am going to get as close as that as possible with some haggling later.
- As mention is was 1.50pm so of course I had arrived bang on lunchtime so the customs official did not turn up till 2.10pm so me and about 5 lorry drivers and a security guard just hanging around waiting. I put my helmet in front the window of one of the kiosk so when they opened it knocked it of and fell to the ground so a bit of commotion but it broke the ice. After the 5 lorry drivers who where there first it was my turn bit of a joke about the helmet then to business. They wanted 3 copies of
- Driving licence
- Bike Papers
- Guatemalan Temporary Import Papers
Bloody ridiculous as I had given them copies when I came in but nope they needed more. No problem as I had copies except the Guatemalan Temporary Import Papers so sent the photocopy building. 3 copies so that’s 3 QZL only have a 100 QZL bill okay no problem no charge! Back to my new girlfriend at the first kiosk as I have all the documentation. We then go and check the VIN number on the bike and at the same time being hassled by some creepy guy asking if I need accommodation in Copan Ruinas. I have a joke with custom chica about this and then back to the kiosk for the filling in and updating all the forms. Well in the end they only needed 1 copy of the Temporary Guatemalan so had 2 spare. My theory is it’s a nice little earner on the photocopying front but this time no score with Philly.
- So bike is out of Guatemala so now me so off to immigration. Hand my passport to the guy he does his stuff and then says that will be 10QZL. My response in my new Spanish says that’s not normal in a stern voice and he says did I pay to get in and I say yes and he says that’s fine and I can go so he saves face and I do not pay and no I did not pay coming in either so another little earner for the customs guys who try it on all of the time.
- So me and the bike are out of Guatemala next change some money get a reasonable rate for my QZL but they will not move any closer on my rate for USD and MXN peso rate is a joke so I change my QZL to HNL and will try my luck on the Honduran side for the rest
So bye Guatemala like the last time I was here I really enjoyed myself 🙂
Honduras is a complete new country for me, and the first one of what I hope is many on this trip. I had read multiple horror story’s about this border crossing so was planning for the worst case scenario in reality it was quite straight forwards and it seems quite legitimate what I had to do and pay and I got official looking receipts and proof of payments with values signatures and stamps. I had learned all the vocabulary in my Spanish lessons so was ready and challenged everything I felt was dodgy in a firm but polite respectful jokingly manner.
- So 200 meters from Guatemala to a modern looking building which was Honduran Customs. I was approached by money changers and they are offering the same rate as on the other side but I manage to squeeze a bit more out of them as they claim they are loosing on the deal. I do not mind paying a little over the odds at times like this but I am not going to be screwed so knowing the rates and playing the field can help in reducing the odds in your favour. I change some USD but no one is shifting on the MXN peso so I hold onto these.
- First immigration for me that is USD 3.00 with a big sign saying this but I challenge it anyhow as I thought that is for exit only but I pay and I probably be charged on the way out as well
- Next to get the bike imported nice bloke came out to see the bike he did not check VIN number and or number plate just looked at it and then back to A/C office to the paperwork. He opens with the price HNL661 or 36 USD seems reasonable and I insist on a receipt signature and stamp on this. He also needs 3 copies of
- Driving Licence
- Bike Registration Papers
- Guatemalan Import papers!
So as mentioned had all of these except only 2 Guatemalan Import papers and I wanted to keep one of these for my records so he sent me off to get copies of this and I argued this was ridiculous and in the end he only got my one spare one so no copies purchased here either. All the forms filled in manually on paper and this is slow then after this filled in on the computer with one finger typing so this also slow. Whilst this was going I noticed an envelope where the money was going to put in and quite clearly it said HNL 135 for Consejo Hondureno de la Empresa Privada so I again challenged the 661 again and he goes and gets another one he has done before and there are 2 charges 135 plus 525 for Forma 9A-1 and charge for admin so that is the 661 so as long as I have receipt stamped and signed I am okay with this.
So after matey boy had filled in the forms and the another one had put it into the computer of to the bank next door to pay then back to finish it all off. I got all my paperwork together shook everyone’s hand and joked about being a pain in the arse and said goodbye to my new friends and went back to the bike. A bit of a panic when I got back to the bike as I could not find my passport so back to the office to see if I had left it there nope but it was in my trouser pocket not the usual place for it so panic over more jokes with the custom guys who think I am of my trolley but I do not care as I am in Honduras.
Final hurdle completed and I check out at the gate and it is only about 10km to Copan Ruinas my home for the night so the above exercise had taken 2 and half hours the joys of travelling 🙂 its just like work.
I had been giving an address of a Hotel called Viavia run by a Belgium biker called Geraldo so I headed straight there as it was getting late. I could park the bike in the courtyard for safety, which was excellent but meant driving it through the bar and up another high kerb. But no problem as Geraldo did all of this for me so I was settled in a nice hotel nice bar and restaurant in a new country tired but content. I grabbed some food at the bar Nasi Goerang mmm lekker fresh lemonade chatting to an Interesting Canadian chap called Paul who was a fire-fighter in the Canadian bush in the summer and a ski guide in the winter and who travels in between so a pleasant evening watching the Monday football (American) I was not much company as I was totally wacked from 9 days hard studying in Antigua long border crossing as well as 300km on Latin American roads so I was pretty gaga. A sleep into tomorrow and then to the ruins yeah 🙂