Travels with Capi

The campsite at El Tumpo beach in La Libertad El Salvador was more than a little rustic. The campground we were aiming for was closed and this was the only other one in town, and it was getting dark. We’d stopped at a fantastic hotel, built on cantilevered decks on a cliff face, with restaurants and bars and undoubtedly luxurious bathrooms, but it took ages for the manager to admit that there was to be no perro. No dog. Even after he told me that there could be no dog, he kept extolling the virtues of his rooms, his food, the beds, telling me he had the more expensive suites left, which we would love. He talked, I listened and then we sadly agreed, no perro.

The bathrooms at the campsite were dirty, smelly and getting to them involved walking across a family’s verandah and around their hammock.

San Miguel in El Salvadore

San Miguel in El Salvadore

Somehow we managed to hit the border at Honduras late in the day. The plan was to cross the next morning, but the border crept up on us when we weren’t looking. We didn’t know how close we were until a couple of guys flagged us down, yelling “William, William!” Seems they were friends of the “agent” who had showed us the way through the El Salvador border maze. They insisted the Honduran border was a snap, 45 minutes, and we would be on our way. Our first mistake was to be cajoled into crossing.

Once the agents get hold of your paperwork, they have control. These guys insisted that we stay in the car and act dumb. Our 2nd mistake was to stay in the car. We had learned early that Bill should always be with the agent that was doing the paperwork. Nancy’s job is to stay in the car and try to keep the dog from cooking in the 93 degree heat. But we forgot what we knew. It got later in the day, and the Hondurans were taking their time. Then the agents start telling us that, to hasten the process, we needed to reward the authorities. Our insurance expires at the end of November, and the truck registration documents for December to November were e-mailed to us by ICBC, but not stamped. This cost us $150.00. They started out by asking $450.00. The dog cost something like $130. (I had already paid the Honduran Embassy in Ottawa about $60.00 to get her paperwork “legalized”.) The two immigration stamps cost $20.00 each. On and on. To bypass fumigation is $20.00 and if we didn’t pay, it would take 4 hours. Then there is another $20 and another $20. And they keep telling you how dangerous the people hanging around the border are, and the dangers of being on the road after dark. And then there is the cost of the agents. They name their own price when they have your papers. They meet you once you are through the border, and they suddenly go from friendly to intimidating. We entered Honduras knowing that we didn’t like Honduras.

When we got to the hotel the agents had suggested, it was getting dark and the hotel, didn’t take dogs. We discussed it and decided to take a room but sleep with the dog in the camper. The clerk showed Bill to a ground floor room with a big window that opened into the parking compound and suggested we park beside the window. The room had a big bed, air conditioning and a clean bathroom. The dog was discreet. The window was handy. As we left, Bill noticed that the window had a bullet hole, made by a bullet fired outward.

Later that morning, we were stopped by the police in a roadside check. Gas is expensive, so the cops tend to stand along the roadsides. This officer was wearing shades and an attitude. He asked us to open the rear window of the truck, so he could see what we had in the back. Bill hesitated, the cop was impatient, and so Bill opened the window. Capi was delighted at the attention and leapt part way out the window to deliver an enthusiastic greeting. The cop leapt back, insisting we close the window, and waved us on. We laughed all the way to the Nicaragua.

Nicaragua Border. Lots of paperwork.

Nicaragua Border. Lots of paperwork.

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