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South America Topics specific to South America only.
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Old 8 Nov 2001
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Quick note on border crossings in Central America

Just passed through Central America going south and then came back north and wanted to share some border crossing info.

Going from Guatemala to Honduras there are three main borders, DO NOT cross through El Corinto in the north or take the Boat from Guatemala to Puerto Cortes in Honduras unless you are willing to give up several days of your trip and spend a lot of money. Both ways of entering the country require that you go through the maritime border at Puerto Cortes. If crossing by land you will be required to hire an "official" escort as the border is not equipped to provide vehicle permits. Unlike the rest of the borders in Central America, the maritime border is designed to process the importation of large quantities of vehicles and is EXTREMELY confusing. I never would have gone through here had I known that it would require 8 hours, over forty stamps/signatures/VIN inspections and upwards of $200US per motorcycle in bribes and miscelaneous "fees."

Instead the border at El Florido and Agua Caliente are quite easy to navigate through and relatively inexpensive (the normal $20US highway tax plus $10 vehicle permit.)

Crossing from Honduras to Nicaragua, I recommend the Las Manos border over the Guasaule border. It is not on the PanAm highway and there are few trucks making it a much faster process. The ride from Tegucigalpa to the border and from the border south into Nicaragua is also much more scenic than the PanAm. Guatemala and Costa Rica are inexpensive, quick and easy.

On another note, when in Costa Rica I highly recommend observing the speed limits. Although they are quite low, there is an inordinate number of highway patrols with radar. If caught speeding they can impound your vehicle, you will be required to go to the nearest municipal centre, pay the fee and then have a judge sign a release order for your vehicle. Of course none of this happens, you are simply extorted into paying the police cash on the spot to ignore the infraction. On the PanAm from Peñas Blancas (Nicaraguan Border) to San Jose, we saw speed traps about every fifteen km.

Everything between the borders is marvelous, and even border crossings have a certain entertainment value. Enjoy the trip.

Seamus
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Old 17 Nov 2001
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Thanks for the info Seamus, good to know!

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Old 25 Nov 2001
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It is always a good idea to stand firm and not be a victim to the dickheads at the borders. If there is a fee, demand a receipt. Always. It is sometimes indimidating with all the guns and a lack of spanish, but don´t pay money you don´t have to because you are white, a tourist, etc. Phone your consulate on the spot. Doing these two things almost always works wonders on their thinking. Tienna uno recipa por favor. Gracias. i don´t know if that is how it is spelled, but it must be close. Same with the police. They are not going to drag you to their boss at the station on bogus charges. Tourism is a big buisness here, and they tend to leave the gringos alone once their superiors get involved. Just thought i´d mention that from personal experience.
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Old 25 Nov 2001
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Oh yeah, one more thing, there are kids at the borders of Nicaragua, and also Honduras that will help you sort out your paperwork. It can be quite a muddled affair, so i found sometimes paying these kids a couple bucks for thir efforts instead of haggling with the officials is a fair price. I spend more than that for a coffee back home! I also met folks native of these countries that were baffled by the process! Le Messila in Mexico into Guatemala i did not find too bad. A well travelled American who lives down here on and off warned be not to go through Hildago. He said there is a town before the border, and it is a little confusing as to where the border really is. So some locals take advantage and politley rob you before you reach the real border. That must be a kick in the butt for those who do not know! Cheers!
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