Skip to content

The Shakedown Borders

The border crossings in South America had softened us up. The  cheery waves of the officials as we hop back onto our bikes and promise to return Pronto! were now a distant memory. We recalled, we slight nostalgia, the quick and efficient entry into Colombia as we stood, baking in the Honduran sun, waiting for the customs official to finish his lunch. We’d arrived well before 10am, once migration were satisfied that we were who we said we were and had been vaccinated against every fever and contagion, it was 11:30am and a small clutch of truck drivers had started to form near the only window with “Aduana” mentioned across it. We looked expectantly in the window to show a vast office, totally deserted. “He’s gone to lunch” the first truck driver explained, “it’s a long lunch.” At which all the other truck drivers guffawed and sat back down on the concrete plinth.

We decided we may as well eat while we wait and struck up a conversation with a younger driver about what people eat in Poland. He explained that everyone here loves chicken (fried chicken joints appear every block in every town) and he had the impression that people in Poland ate pork and bread obsessively. We were all ready to educate on the other delicacies in Poland but realised we were waving a ham sandwich around so perhaps  we were the living embodiment of his stereotype.

Eventually, lunch was over and the official stamped his way through all the trucks. Our bikes ended up taking almost 30 minutes each to process and much like Costa Rica, there’s a mandatory 3 month insurance to be paid per bike. It dawned on us that the countries where one has no choice about transit, as they span from coast to coast, all have a mandatory 3 month minimum insurance whereas other countries, where one choose whether or not to transit through allow you to tailor your insurance to the days you’ll be in the country. The equivalent of highway robbery!


Crossing to El Salvador

El Salvador was cheaper to transit (i.e. free apart from the $10 it took to make the lunch break happen at 12:10 and not 12pm). We entered into Guatemala and were both so sick and wary of all the shenanigans at the previous border that when another guy tried to scam us, Simon blew his top. It really appeared that the border soldiers were in collusion with the sharks who circle around trying to drum up business by selling you their “help”. They are a hindrance more than a help and they actively try to siphon money off you which you don’t need to pay. Once Simon had shouted at all the correct officials, a soldier made a phonecall and our “disappeared” money reappeared.

Within minutes, two GS bikes pulled up with Guatemalan plates and Fred, the first rider, asked if everything was OK and offered to ride in convoy with us to the edges of the City as he himself admitted that “everyone in Guatemala will try to screw you over if they see you’re foreign.” At least once the border shakedowns were over, we could travel in style to Antigua.


All content and images Copyright © 2016 Journey Limitless. Website designed by One Day Labs.