Travel Blog Honduras and El Salvador

08.06.-18.06.2019 Roadblocks in Honduras, recovering in El Salvador

Volcano Santa Ana, El Salvador
Volcano Santa Ana, El Salvador

It was not far to the border to Honduras. The entry to Nicaragua was already expensive and time-consuming, but the departure was not a bit better. At least it didn't rain this time. But already in the morning at 9 o'clock it was unbearably hot and hardly any shade available. On leaving (!) we had to unload everything (!) and send it through a scanner (like at the airport). After we, as well as the motorcycles, had left officially, we crossed a bridge to enter Honduras. There it was like in another world: pigs and chicken walked around everywhere, children begged and the street (if you can call it a street at all) was in a bad condition. Also, here we had to pay again: Altogether 40€ cost us the entry per person. After three hours we were finally in Honduras. We drove through the brooding heat, nevertheless, only 45 minutes to the next accommodation. In the Mado hotel in Choluteca we stayed one night (27€!), ate a pretty expensive lunch at "Wendy´s" and stocked up our supplies in the big supermarket. In between we were brazenly pursued by a teenager begging for money. He even tugged at Kai´s T-shirt! Only before the supermarket we could shake him off.


Early in the morning we continued to the border to El Salvador. We had apparently exactly the time window between the road blockades and saw only the remains of burnt out cars and wood at the roadside. We got lucky. A real pity - Honduras is a very beautiful country.


The departure from Honduras would have been very quick if the lady had done her job right when entering Honduras. So, it was not noted in the system that we had paid the entry fee. After a long telephone call back and forth we got the exit stamp and went on to El Salvador. Maybe it was because it was Whitsunday, but everyone was taking it slow and made us wait forever. When we finally received the customs papers for the temporary import, we had to return them immediately - the passport number was wrong. After another fifteen minutes we were finally allowed to drive on. After a few kilometers we had to get one last stamp for the customs document and that took forever again. Fortunately, it was not incredibly hot! After four hours (!) we could finally drive into El Salvador. We decided (idiotically) to go to the surf spot "El Cuco", only to find out that all of El Salvador was on holiday in this place and the waves were really bad. We went to the neighboring surf spot "Las Flores", but gave up halfway, because it was simply too far to walk there with the board. Unfortunately, there are only expensive hotel bunkers at this spot and you can't get to the beach anywhere. The next day we frustratedly packed up everything, after we had waited two hours until the strong thunderstorms were gone. Fortunately, it went only scarcely one hour further to San Miguel in the "European Guesthouse" where we beside shopping and getting money (there was not a single ATM in El Cuco at all) also simply relaxed and rested. We had decided to stay two nights, which was a good decision because the next day I commuted between bed and bath back and forth. We both already had fever one week before in Nicaragua. This time it was only bad for me. So bad, that a doctor (a friend of the hostel owners) had to come by. I would not have made it to the doctor´s office. Luckily, the owner of the hostel was able to translate for us. The doctor couldn't speak English and our Spanish wasn't good enough for this situation.


An infusion was hung up in the room and I was supplied with medication and saline solution. I had simply already lost too much liquid and threatened to dehydrate. It was only 36 degrees outside and certainly more in the room. While I was vegetating, the results were analyzed in the laboratory: Bacteria and fungi. Probably since Nicaragua. Because Kai also had problems and had eaten and drunk the same as I, we both had to take antibiotics. For three days I had to recover and regain my strength. On the last day in San Miguel the hostel operator took us to the volcano Chaparrastique. Combined with a small hike over lava fields through the heat we had a beautiful view of the volcano.


Then we went on to Santa Ana. I was somewhat restored, but nausea still plagued me. Then we got into a traffic jam. The sun burned from the sky, we almost melted in our clothes and it was stop and go. I was dizzy with heat and I was incredibly thirsty. But there was also nowhere the possibility to take a break in the shade. I had to concentrate and hope that my circulation stays stable.


The traffic jam finally dissolved, but Kai was suddenly behind me and I lost him out of sight! He still tried to honk his way to me, but at that very moment the horn didn't seem to work! He had to try to pass me again on the three-lane highway. He had the navigation device! Without further ado I had put myself to the side with hazard lights and blocked half the lane. What I didn't care about at that moment. After that we had to take a short break to get along again.


Arriving in Santa Ana we went to grab some lunch. Then we wanted to plan our day trip to the volcano Santa Ana. An active volcano with a turquoise crater lake. With the motorcycles we did not want to go there, because we did not know whether there is a secured parking lot. Moreover, it would be a little uncomfortable with the hiking clothes and the motorcycle clothing. That´s why we sat down lazily in the morning in the public bus and paid not even one Euro for almost two-hour drive. Arriving at the national park we waited for the guide and the policeman who would accompany us on the hike. Sometimes it is possible to walk alone, but in the past, there were some raids. As the guided tour would cost us only 1 Euro per person, it was clear for us to take the guided tour. Only it was Sunday, great weather and 200 others had the same idea as us. Finally, it became a hike like to Mount Everest (see photo). There was nothing meditative or quiet about the hike like we know it. The only thing that was missing was someone using his mobile phone as a ghetto blaster. Nevertheless, it was beautiful on top of the summit. From above you can see not only the turquoise crater lake but also the lake Coatapeque.


Back down we had to wait another half hour for the bus. Everyone we asked had confirmed that at four o'clock the bus would go back to Santa Ana. There was also a bus on time, BUT it only went to El Congo at Lake Coatapeque! But not back to Santa Ana. We had to change buses in El Congo to get back to Santa Ana. Yay! But well, we reached El Congo and could directly change the bus and arrived safely in Santa Ana. The nice bus driver told us where to walk. On the way home it began to drip. We just made it into the dry before it really started. That evening we indulged in the Pizza Hut delivery service. Really a good thing.


The next day we explored the city. In the evening we got to feel the concentrated hospitality of the Salvadorians again: The hostess made Pupusas (filled corn tortillas) together with her sister, a specialty of the country and invited us to try it. Yummy!


As a conclusion, we can say we felt very safe everywhere in El Salvador and all people were very friendly and open to us.

Travel Blog Nicaragua

31.05.- 07.06.2019 Enjoying the sun in El Transíto & Las Peñitas

Sunset Las Penitas, Nicaragua
Sunset Las Penitas, Nicaragua

Fortunately, the first day without rain and so the dirt road to El Transíto was almost pretty easy. El Transíto itself is a small fishing village with a few hostels. Due to the crisis some hostels (and also the only camping site) had to close. We were accommodated in the Casa Guayacan and could see from the 1st floor the waves. Since we did not have much sleep in Granada in the hostel (our room was opposite the billiard table), we slept despite many Mosquitos very well.


Actually, we both wanted to stay longer in one place. We were leached out by the many back and forth driving and the rain somewhat and needed urgently times again a constant environment and a more regular daily routine. The bad weather still had effects on the waves: A huge, big mess and worse than good surfable. Besides there are big rocks in the middle of the waves. Didn't really make the spot more attractive for us though. We took long walks along the beach and watched the horses and pigs on the beach. We gave the waves two days to calm down, when there was no improvement, we drove on to Las Peñitas.


In the Hostal Oasis we could park our motorcycles even under a roof in front of the bar and did not have to cover them. There was also a good Happy Hour with Cuba Libre for the equivalent of 1€ per glass. Since the accommodation is directly at the beach, it could be endured very well.


The waves were a little more orderly, but broke everywhere and often just closed out. Hardly surfable. Slightly frustrated we went through the other alternatives. We would have to go south again, but we didn't really feel like it. The next surf spots are then again in El Salvador, but the plan was to drive through the country.


We chilled and enjoyed the beach directly in front of the hostel, worked in our "office" (see photo) and watched horses and pigs, which were walking free on the beach during dusk. The nights were quiet, but the mosquitos and the heat kept us awake.


Since there was a lot of wind, we always had the idea to go kitesurfing in the lagoon nearby. But the owner of the hostel advised us not to do it: There are crocodiles in the lagoon! So much to the topic in Nicaragua it would have no crocodiles. So, it was once told. Well luckily, we did not simply go kiting... From time to time the crocodiles even lie on the beach in the sun and one of the guests sat recently just on his surfboard, as such a specimen past him...


After two relaxed days the Happy Hour was our downfall. Not as you think now. It was so bad that one evening we even lay in bed with fever. With over 30 degrees and some mosquitoes this was no fun at all. Probably we are already too long in pairs on the way, so that it caught us both. Like half a year ago in the Atacama Desert.


Still quite wobbly on our feet, but fever-free, we wanted to take a last bath in the Pacific on the last day. Not a good idea. The shore break was quite violent and big and I was too weak and too slow to dive under it. So, the wave just sucked me in, pulled me down and spat me out on the beach. That was a lesson to me. The sea is no inland lake...


After we had recovered a bit, we went on to Somotillo, shortly before the border to Honduras. There we stopped for another night. A friend of us had written to us a few days earlier that we should be mentally prepared for roadblocks and burning cars. Therefore, we wanted to drive rather rested and early in the morning across the border. We spent the afternoon in an air-conditioned hostel room with cool 30 degrees. Outside it was almost unbearable.

26.5.-31.05.2019 Wet welcome in Nicaragua: We stand the rain in San Jorge and Granada

River crossing in front of the hotel
River crossing in front of the hotel

On the day of the border crossing to Nicaragua, it rained for a change not punctually to the alarm ringing, but only shortly before departure. It didn't stop raining any more, it got stronger and stronger. Before the border we came into a police control, but luckily, we only had to show the papers. Then we started with the procedure. For every single step we had to go to a different building. And for everything money was demanded: Departure fee Costa Rica 8$, entry fee Nicaragua 1$, fee for the entry stamp Nicaragua 12$, car insurance 12$, spraying (disinfection) of the motorcycles 2$, customs duty 12$... You just go nuts! We had taken an agent to help us. After we played again the same game as already at the last border (he wants 20$, we pay him 10$) he was not only helping and advising us, but we could partly pass and go directly to the counter. That saved us at least some time. We didn't have to unpack and search everything, but in the end, we had to pay another 5$. Well, that's not what it mattered anymore! And with the constant rain we didn't really feel like unloading everything and showing it off anyway... After almost four hours we were finally ready and so were our nerves. But we were finally in Nicaragua! And it was still raining! Our gloves had already dyed because of all the wetness!


It was only a 45 minutes’ drive to the overnight stop in San Jorge. Due to the heavy rain we needed longer. We then learned that Nicaragua had declared a red alert regarding the rain and that there was no real improvement in sight. Well, great news! In San Jorge itself, except for a few restaurants and a mini market, there is not much. But it is a kite spot and from there the ferry goes over to the island Omepete (the one with the famous volcano). The wind wasn't strong enough to kite, but it wasn't so dramatic due to the lack of beauty of the place and the bull sharks that inhabit the lake. The next day we wanted to go on to the surf spot Popoyo, but there was even more rain and the dirt road would be very slippery. Besides we could not camp in the rain and the only affordable hostel was too far away from the spot. That's why we decided to skip Popoyo and drive further north to other spots. But first we would go to the colonial city Granada for two days. Maybe the weather would calm down during this time. Because these rain masses were not normal also in the rainy season. Normally it should have sun and clouds during the day and showers in the afternoon and in the evening.


Nicaragua was unfortunately not as cheap as expected and so we paid not only for the accommodation in San Jorge more than expected, but also found nothing cheap to eat. After French fries in the afternoon, we had only a fish can and chips in the evening. Which caused Kai to comment that if it went on like this, I would have to switch to a bigger, 800 BMW...


The next day it rained again, but then it drizzled only slightly as we sat up. But what was that? Kai´s horse went on strike! The engine just didn't want to start! At first, we thought that the battery had been damaged due to the heavy rain, but then it turned out that the ignition lock must have suffered too much humidity. The immobilizer was lit up again and again and the key was not recognized. After extensive googling and calling our motorcycle specialist at home (thanks Martin!), Kai tried different techniques: Dab dry with tissues, suck out the moisture with the vacuum cleaner and finally blow dry. After several attempts, until noon still nothing had worked, we had to ask for another night asylum (this time in a multi-bed room, at least save some money) and ask the hostel in Granada for a postponement of our reservation for one more day. Since we only had a few US dollars left and almost no local money (there is no ATM in around the hotel), we went with my BMW to an ATM and went shopping. It rained again and with the prevailing problems and the falling blood sugar level, the mood was understandably at its lowest point. After a silent lunch Kai started another attempt. This time the Yamaha started! Thank God! Relief spread and so we hoped to be able to go to Granada the next day after all. Otherwise we would have to call a mechanic...


The next day we dared a new attempt. It rained only moderately and so the weather was perfect for driving on. And both motorcycles took part this time! Since nothing had dried out properly, the musty smell accompanied us even in the helmet. Then I drove rather with open visor. On the way it was drizzling only slightly. But shortly before Granada it did not only start to pour again, no. The roads turned into rivers and highest concentration was required not to drive through the deep potholes. This could have had bad consequences. Everything went well and we arrived wet and dripping at the hostel. After the motorcycles were parked safe and dry in the kitchen, we stretched again the clothesline through the whole room and hung up everything to dry. The Hostel Oasis is very big and offers a lot of possibilities to pass the time. So, we didn't have to play backgammon on the mobile phone or watch a movie, but could also play table tennis and billiards. A welcome change. In addition, we got three (small) welcome drinks per person, coffee and tea all day long, as well as a breakfast buffet with pancakes in the morning! Awesome!


After another rainy day, during which we were only outside for a short time for shopping and had worked on the laptop, the weather finally calmed down a bit. We could at least explore the city in light rain and make a detour to Lago Nicaragua. This is by the way called the Lake Constance of Central America. The next day we wanted to go on to the coast, to the surf spot El Transíto.