Today, let’s just say did not go as planned. We started off on the right foot with a leisurely breakfast and made pretty good time to the border. But then the border happened.
We’d done our homework and read about what documents you need and what the typical fees are for most crossings. I mean, we’ve gone through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala without any issue. However, for Honduras we were not prepared for the multiple copies of every kind of document possible the aduana lady wanted from us, plus the fees! We were not carrying much cash at all and naively thought what little we had would be enough. This ordinarily wouldn’t be a big deal except no ATM (cajero) existed for miles in either direction.
So here’s what happened:
1/ Lady asks for 3 copies of vehicle registration, passport (which we have), plus our drivers license AND the Guatemalan vehicle permits.
2/ After much asking around we figure out there is a place to get photocopies across the street from the police station on the Honduran side. We find it and get copies. Pay about $2
3/ Aduana lady is on a lunch break so we wait.
4/ Aduana lady returns and process all paperwork THEN asks for more money than we have to pay the permits. We don’t have it.
5/ A Portuguese-Canadian man named Marcos driving his mini van from Toronto to South America (we spied his Ontario plates) pulls in. Feeling like we have nothing to loose we ask for his help. Amazingly, he gives us the money we need to pay for the permit. The travel gods were watching over us. We give him what little change we have of the local currency and make our way
6/ Immigration, at yet another window, says we need more money. A cruel joke in that it’s the exact amount we gave our friend Marcos. He’s off finding his own copies and we start to feel like we might have to make the trek to somewhere with an ATM. After some huffing around, Marcos returns to the aduana and Rick begs for the money back.
6/ Everything is stamped. 2.5 hours later, we are good to go. Lesson learned: humility.
By the time we got out of there we were hot, angry, and frustrated. We knew as it was happening that this woman was taking advantage of us, but that’s the challenge of not knowing a language fluently. I didn’t have enough to argue the cost. C’est la vie (point made).
We pulled into Puerto Cortes, an industrial port town around 4:30pm and decided to call it quits for the day. We located a bank machine and got some much needed cash, found a room at a hotel on the beach. This turned out to be a good call. The staff here were more than eager to get us settled, there was live xylophone music in the courtyard by men with tall cowboy hats and very cold beer.
Ridding ourselves of the border sweats, we showered up and walked along the beach before finding a spot for dinner. We are very much hoping the bitter taste of today’s border fiasco goes away quickly so we can enjoy what Honduras has to offer. Dinner and drinks was a good start, especially Rick’s mistakenly ordered meal for 3 (not the 3 different meats meal).
Sarah & Rick