Friday, 25 November 2011

Day 16: Through Honduras to Leon, Nicaragua (478 kms)

We had our first real trouble of the trip today, even though the day started well. Breaking with the norm, we had a full breakfast of enormous pancakes, mine full of blueberries, in Playa El Tunco before departing. The barista commented that we must "get lots of women", travelling the way we did. She was smiling.

We decided to pass through Honduras in one day instead of spending the night. That meant two border crossings, so even though the day was low kilometers it was an ambitious day. The border crossing in Honduras turned out to be the most draining yet. About a kilometer from the frontier we came across three guys in the highway. They flagged for me to stop; I slowed and halted just long enough for Nathan to catch up and then accelerated away. The three touts then ran to a waiting truck and peeled away after us. At the check point, these fellas joined a small village of underemployed men seeking aggressively to assist us. We told them "no thanks". But one guy kept getting in my face. I decided to shove him away to make an example and concretely express our desire to be left alone. He was really shocked and thrown off balance. And then his masculine pride was severely damaged. He uttered all sorts of threats about what he was going to do to me in Honduras while slinking away.

We passed through the Salvadorean checkpoint behind a hearse and the officer looked in to confirm the absence of life. The Honduran side was a shambles; I've never been through border facilities that so completely failed to communicate any welcome to the country. The service was friendly, but slow particularly in the customs. At first the one officer was on lunch and then he spent 45 mins for each of us filling out the paper work. I think we were the only assets he processed all day.

The ride across Honduras was uneventful. We stopped at an Esso station with free wifi. I even made a surprisingly clear skype call to Yuri who was pleased with our loyalty to the brand.

Crossing into Nicaragua was another exercise in patience. The touts on the Honduran side tried to scare us into their arms by explaining that it was "another country over there". Really?!

We left the border headed for Leon in full darkness. A fellow at the station had explained that the road was quite bad for a while and then improved greatly. He wasn't exaggerating. It was impossible to avoid ALL the potholes and we each hit a few, hard. We rolled into Leon at around 8:30pm and spent another 30 mins finding a hostel and finally began unpacking. It wasn't until Nathan's bike was completely unpacked that he noticed the absence of his luggage boxes. Were they stolen or did they fall off, and if so when? It was too late to go back and since Nathan wanted to consider his options and assess the loss, we decided to make a plan in the morning.

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