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  #1  
Old 28 Mar 2009
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El Salvador / Honduras border advice: Don't cross Perquin - Marcala

Hi,

I just wanted to share my bad experience with crossing these borders, or more specifically leaving Honduras. I should add that I have now crossed 10 borders and my only problem occurred at the Honuras border, and thousands cross the Honduran border every month without a problem... just to put this in perspective. Also the problem could have been easily avoided if I had the correct paperwork for my bike, so we can start the story with the moral, make sure you have your paperwork in order :-)

I crossed from El Salvador into Honduras close to Perquin; it's an hours ride on a rough road to the border from Perquin, and then a further two hours rough riding to Marcala in Honduras where the road begins again.

There is no border control on the El Salvador side (it's disputed terratory) so there was no aduana/customs process either, I'm not returning to El Salvador so it's no problem. On the Honduras side there is both passport control and aduana/customs if you call a fella sitting at a desk with a big paper journal "aduana".

My Spanish is poor however I made three requests for importation paperwork for my bike, I produced my paperwork for El Savador, Guatemala and Mexico to help explain what I was asking for but I received the same response each time I asked "vamos, no problema" and I was waved on... I of course knew that it would be "un grande problema" when I went to leave!

When I did try to exit Honduas at Las Manos my fears were confirmed. I had thought of by passing Honduras aduana and heading straight to the Nicaragua passport control but a moment of clarity about being a repsonsible foreign visitor made me face my problem head on. Honduras asked for my paperwork, which I didn't have but I explained why and where I had crossed the border. They asked for the $42.50 fee for entering Honduras, which I paid, and they asked for an additional $20 for "road tax"... I politely refused to pay. Perhaps I should have swallowed my pride with regards to paying bribes only as an absolute last resort.

I was soon being told that I had entered Honduras illegally. I showed information in my guide book to the contrary and explained that I had videoed my border corssing and could prove that I had entered legally, which was true.

I was told I could settle the matter by paying $200 fine. I refused. Soon the amount had risen to $250 and then $300. I offered to return to the El Salvador border and sort out my paperwork but aduana said that I was in no-mans-land and could not re-enter Honduras for 72 hours; Nicaragua won't let me enter the country until my paperwork was in order. I was stuck.

I was told if I entered El Salvador they would fine me $1000 for illegally leaving the country; I pointed out that there was no customs on the El Salvador border near Perquin so I could re-enter without a problem.

I was then told that the police (in the office next to me) had the power to impound my and would fine me $1000

A Canadian also crossing the border who was Honduran by birth stepped in and attempted to rectify the problem. The officials were smiling at me whilst asking for the "fines" and my blood was starting to boil. I kept up my supermodel grimmace of a smile.

After three hours of arguing I was told that I could leave, what re-enter Honduras to rectify the problem? No, go on to Nicaragua.

No bribe was paid but the officials pocked my $42.50 official fee having not given me my paperwork. I did however have my passport back as well as my liberty!

So I'm writing this to warn you:

1. Make sure your paperwork is in order. Mine wasn't and I was therefore comiting an offence which left me open to corruption

2. If you're coming from El Salvador and heading to Nicaragua via Honduras don't cross the border at Perquin. You will not get the correct paperwork, although you will have an adventure

3. If you have comitted an offence keep calm and cool, keep smiling even though you don't want to.

4. Don't be a clumsy bumbling fool like me

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've just posted a video of my experience on YouTube if you want to see how it all transpired

YouTube - Brainrotting: Episode 9 - Corruption Electric Shock & Darien Gap, BMW F650 GS adventure motorcycling

Last edited by easyg; 26 Apr 2009 at 05:51. Reason: adding a link to a video of the incident detailed
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  #2  
Old 30 Mar 2009
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Thanks for posting

Hello,

Thanks for posting your story. I was thinking about leaving via Perquin as I wanted to see it before I leave but after reading your post I am going to head to the northern border this morning instead.

I am nervous enough about the Honduras border as I am still learning Spanish. I will post with my experience had costs as it really helps reading what other people on the hubb paid.

All the best in your travels,
Annette
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  #3  
Old 9 Apr 2009
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Clumsy, bumbling, etc.

Quote:
Don't be a clumsy bumbling fool like me
Hey great post easyg.

Many of us have clumsily bumbled across borders. Sometimes that's the only way to get across!
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Old 10 Apr 2009
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Same thing happened to me. They're a bunch of jerkfaces.

Worst. Border. Crossing. Ever.

They actually do have a "road tax" there - he was not asking for a bribe. (Although it may become one.)
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Old 10 Apr 2009
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Hmmmm. If the "road tax" is for real, then the OP was doing fine until he refused to pay a legitimate fee. So what is it that makes this the "Worst....Ever?" I am genuinely curious about this, since it seems to me that the OP got through a border after only minimal loss of time and funds despite lacking some documents.

I've done worse, personally. Sometimes you just don't get the right paperwork on entry, and knowing this you're faced with the choice of trying to clear it up in (usually) some chaotic office in an even more chaotic capital city, or negotiating your way through upon exit. It happens with and without a vehicle, and the rules are usually the same: don't be in a hurry, ask for receipts, shake a lot of hands, smile and ask about their families, etc. Because we're all, in essence, rich tourists from faraway countries, we generally get through eventually, and we almost always live to tell the tale.

I promise to eat my words next time I'm stuck at some Kafka-esque border station on a hot, sticky day, trying to maintain my composure in the face of attempted extortion by smooth-faced young men with machine guns. But if I'm not prepared to deal with it, probably I ought to just stay home....or at least stick to the main routes and more predictable destinations. Which doesn't sound like much fun, does it?

enjoy,

Mark
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  #6  
Old 10 Apr 2009
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I will remind members that the best border for entering and leaving Honduras as a tourist is El Florido, on the Guatemalan/Honduran border near Copan Ruinas. It is very low key, no hassles or overcharges.

The temporary vehicle permit for Honduras is about $30 U.S., for Guatemala it is only $4 U.S.

Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua all use the same visa, so you only obtain and pay for the 90 day visa when you enter the the first of these four countries. When you enter or leave the other countries of this "C-4" group, immigration just stamps your passport.
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Old 25 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Stone View Post
I will remind members that the best border for entering and leaving Honduras as a tourist is El Florido, on the Guatemalan/Honduran border near Copan Ruinas. It is very low key, no hassles or overcharges.

The temporary vehicle permit for Honduras is about $30 U.S., for Guatemala it is only $4 U.S.

Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua all use the same visa, so you only obtain and pay for the 90 day visa when you enter the the first of these four countries. When you enter or leave the other countries of this "C-4" group, immigration just stamps your passport.

dear friend, can i say that the C4 is something like the european union? im in costa rica now. entering nicaragua get a stamp, then get to honduras/el salvador/ guatamala, i do not need to stop to get a stamp and import permit?
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  #8  
Old 3 Jun 2009
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My experience with C4 was by the book in Guatemala and El Salvador but in Honduras and Nicaragua was a differnet story. I entered Guatemala with one stamp in my passport and all the correct paperwork in order and in El Salvador I only needed to import the bike, no passport formalities were required. By the time I got to the Honduras / Nicaragua border all bets were off.

I think I paid $3 for a stamp in my passport at the Honduran/Nicaraguan border despite repeated questions about C4 and its free passage of people within the four country block.

Whatever happens C4 only refers to the free movement of people not motorcycles so you will still need to import the bike. Any fees incurred for passport stamps are frustrating but the cost is negligiable compared to purchasing insurance (required in Nicaragua) or paying the $42.50 in fees to enter Honduras.

YouTube - Brainrotting: Episode 9 - Border Corruption Honduras Panama BMW GS adventure motorcycle travel tour
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