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  #1  
Old 4 Feb 2010
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Honduras roads and Policia harassment......

On Saturday my wife and I will be leaving Omatepe and heading for the Nicaragua / Honduras border crossing at Las Manos. We want to experience more of Honduras than the two hours we spent going from El Salvador through Honduras into Nicaragua a few weks ago. In those two hours we were stoped five times by the Policia (I heard we got off easy...ten to twelve times is the norm!!) but only once were we hit up for a $25 "fine". I refused to pay and after a few minutes I had my licence back and was told to go!

My question is has anyone done the ride from the Las Manos crossing through to Copan Ruinas (via Tegucigalpa, La Esperanza, Gracias, etc)? If so, were you harassed beyond belief by the Policia or was it reasonable...whatever reasonable means!

Also, my map shows what looks like a gravel road from La Esperanza to Gracias...is that the case or is it paved right through?

Any other tips on riding through Honduras are welcomed and appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your input.
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  #2  
Old 10 Feb 2010
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I did the short stretch from El Salvador to Nicaragua. Never got stopped. A few times those lazy guys on the side of the road waved to pull me over, I just kept riding. Just look straight ahead or even wave back and gun it.

I've been stopped in other countries with little problems. Perhaps I just haven't been "in the wrong place at the wrong time" yet but I also think it has a lot to do with your demeanor and how you play the game. First off, did you do something wrong? Well then it's a new set of rules. Sometimes I play the I don't speak spanish card or sometimes I shoot the sh!t with them. Most often I do whatever I can to divert their attention from what I did wrong to something else. Asking for directions really helps.

Not sure if that helps you at all. But goodluck and have a safe (bribe free) ride!
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  #3  
Old 10 Feb 2010
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Oh, and I never hand over my real documents. I have lamited copies of my passport, international drivers license, title. If the cop wants to keep those he can. I'll print and make new ones if needed.
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  #4  
Old 10 Feb 2010
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Thanks for the feedback Dr. Benny. We did the Nicaragua to El Salvador (through Honduras of course) several days ago and only got stopped once. Like you said, it really depends on whether or not you have actually done something wrong.....that can really change the deal. We have been stopped along this route in the past and I just refuse to pay......they just get fed up with me and tell me to go.
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  #5  
Old 28 Feb 2010
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Follow the rules!

Yup, Dr. Benny´s right! Follow the rules and you will most likely get away with nothing. Break the rules and you will have to deal with them, all day! If they can´t get any money from you, they will call ahead to their buddies and you will be harrassed all day, eventually giving in. Also, if you can turn off your headlight, it amplifies the fact that you are a foreigner. This does not apply for Colombia thou where you are required to have a headlight. Laminate coppies af all your docs. They really hate this but quickly realise your smarter than they are. When they say its a copy, just repeat that its all you have, they will eventually give up. In the end, drive the posted speed limit, don´t pass on a double yellow and don´t ride like an idiot through the towns and you should be okay. Enjoy the ride!
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  #6  
Old 1 Mar 2010
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To the OP: I did that route in the other direction several months (in other words, a lifetime) ago and had no particular problems. Entering and leaving Honduras was easy, and there were no police stops. As far as I remember, there was a dirt section between Esperanza and Gracias, but I could be remembering someplace else--they all start to fade into one massive episode of "fin de pavimento." The rest of the route was straightforward, including transiting Tegucigalpa during rush hour (to my surprise). The pavement in Honduras is remarkably thin, therefore highly prone to potholes even when brand new, so try to stay alert.

Hope that helps.

Mark

(from Coihaique Chile, where there is no trace of any sort of earthquake damage or shortage)
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  #7  
Old 1 Mar 2010
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Hi Mark, good to see you missed out on the earthquake, I am back in Oz and readying the bike for the run across the paddock

Cheers
TS
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  #8  
Old 8 Mar 2010
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We crossed through Honduras yesterday and were stopped 3 or 4 times. Only once did things get a little "complicated". At first it appeared as a routine checkpoint (just past a stop sign) with several vehicles being checked until the police officer signaled us to pull over with what seemed to be over-enthusiastic body language. Those who have ridden Central-America will know what I am talking about. A typical tactic to try and get you rattled on the get go.

So we pull over and the officer asks us very politely where we are going and for our papers. We responded in good spanish and handed over our temporary permit and my real drivers license (my second mistake, the first was to speak spanish). Once he had my license in his hands his demeanor immediately changed and he demanded to see our reflectors. I pointed to the small reflective tape all over our bike knowing full well he wanted to see those little triangles that cars must carry (but not bikes). He started talking about paying a 20$ fine at which point we suddenly could no longer speak spanish. This seemed to piss him and his 2 friends off to no end. Especially when we spoke rapid fire french to him simultaneously for the better part of 3 or 4 minutes non-stop.

So they switched tactic and tried some intimidation. Once of the officers put on one of the gloves I had taken off, made a fist and then took a few slow pretend jabs towards my head with a big grin on his face (like he was boxing). Nice.
The other then started to repeatedly tap my arm and my back in a not so friendly gesture. I was getting pissed and so was Marie.
At one point Marie got off the bike and tried to grab my license out of his hands. He held firm despite her best attempt at retrieving it. This was getting out of hand so she backed off and we said and did nothing for a few short seconds. I guess they had enough of us because they then gave us back the paperwork and license and told us to get out.

We never paid a thing.
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  #9  
Old 9 Mar 2010
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Wow. I'm surprised that the police went as far as they did using intimidation tacticts, probably trying to piss you off enough to retaliate, giving them a reason to arrest you. I'm glad to hear you stood your ground and didn't pay! One time i was harrassed to pay a bribe, i kindly demanded that they write me a ticket first, and that i would pay the fine in the station. This usually works, and this really pissed them off. The problem was that this was in Mexico City, there were three of them all on bikes, and after 20 minutes of conversation and refusing to pay a bogus $3000 pesos fine in the street, And scrutinizing the demeanor, the clothing and the bikes they were riding was starting to realise that these guy's weren't cops at all, at least the two that were talking to me weren't. Their "ringleader" was in the background watching. He had nice boots, an authentic looking police jacket and was on a Harley Police bike. He could have been a real cop, but the other two for sure were not! I had been warned about this many times and This really scared me, as the leader talked to me after the first two clowns gave up, and asked me if i really wanted to go to the station with them?? He then demanded i pay them all the money i had. Good thing a carry a muggers wallet! I paid them $250 pesos and they left me alone. This was the only time i ever felt that my life was in danger, and feel that $22 was pretty cheap. Anyways, every situation is different, and i'm glad you didn't cave in to their intimidation. I guess the silent treatment will be my next plan, but i'll try it out on real cops.
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Old 9 Mar 2010
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Never speak the language. If necessary, let them teach you....one painstakingly slow word at a time. This works equally well wherever you go.

Never hand over real documents. It´s not that they actually have any use for your documents: they want money, not a license or registration for which they´ve got no real use, whether genuine or not. But you don´t want to offer them power of any sort. Fakes, duplicates and expired documents (this last is all I´ve been using for the past couple of dozen border crossings as well as any number of traffic stops) work just fine.

I´ve never run into fake cops, but then I spend little time in major cities. They worry me more than real cops, because they´re playing by a different set of rules. But just because I guy is dressed well doesn´t make him a fake cop: I´ve seen soldiers in Africa wearing $200 sunglasses...and that´s dollars, not pesos.

Safe journeys,

Mark

(from nowhere in particular, central Argentina, following a massive detour due to the flooded highway between Bariloche and Buenos Aires)
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Old 9 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post

Never hand over real documents. It´s not that they actually have any use for your documents: they want money, not a license or registration for which they´ve got no real use, whether genuine or not. But you don´t want to offer them power of any sort. Fakes, duplicates and expired documents (this last is all I´ve been using for the past couple of dozen border crossings as well as any number of traffic stops) work just fine.

Mark
Sometimes easier said than done, particularly if you have just crossed a border. You will often get a police roadblock a few (10, 20, 40) kilometers past a border post. The majority of the time they are legit and want to make sure your temporary import permit and/or passport is in order. Showing fake documents or photocopies in this case may prove problematic as these guys spend all day looking at the same form making sure all foreign vehicles that have just gone over the border have their paperwork. "I don't have the originals on me" would be hard to explain when you've obviously just come from the border.

I guess the trick would be to know when to switch from originals to photocopies or fakes/expired.
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Old 9 Mar 2010
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Well Brian, as I said I've used only expired docs for the past several dozen borders plus all traffic stops, and no one's complained yet. In fact, I've been using non-current or inauthentic docs (i.e., photocopies) for three years and 70,000 miles now, and the only official who's ever noticed was a Ukrainian border guard, who glanced just once at my registration or title (don't remember which), sniffed disdainfully, and demanded the real thing. Which I then provided. No problem. We all know I'm not breaking the law by offering an out of date registration form....and if need be, I can always apologize for my mistake and offer the original.

Note that I don't tell people "I don't have the originals." I just hand over the ones I've got ready to hand over...which don't happen to be for real. In the case of my passport, I offer a laminated, two-sided photocopy which is obviously not the real thing. Usually they're fine with this; sometimes I've got to smile and tell them that of course I know they're fine with it, such good folks as themselves. But the people who ask for passports are not generally traffic cops looking for bribes. IMHO. At actual border crossings (which were not really the issue here) of course I use my genuine passport....along with my expired bike documents.

I think you give these cops more credit than they actually deserve. Many can't really read Spanish very well, much less English. Most don't know or care what all the entries on your documents mean. They're trying to pick off the low-hanging fruit, and I'm trying not to fulfill their dreams of sudden riches. They know it, and I know it. It's ok. I'd rather deal with most of them than with your average LA cop or Texas Ranger---and that's the voice of experience speaking.

Standard disclaimer: your mileage may vary. In fact, my mileage may vary. If my next post is from a Uruguayan prison, please send the Marines.

Mark
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Old 10 Mar 2010
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Originally Posted by markharf View Post
In fact, I've been using non-current or inauthentic docs (i.e., photocopies) for three years and 70,000 miles now...

At actual border crossings (which were not really the issue here) of course I use my genuine passport....along with my expired bike documents.

Mark
And I thought I was the only one. Our registration (bike doc) expired back in 2008 and still got us past a few dozen borders
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