8 Feb 2015

Nightmare on Salvador Street

We are now in El Salvador but the trip almost ended at the El Salvador border!

After spending a week at Maya Jade we received permission to bring the RHD Cruiser into El Salvador and set off the following day. Temperatures rose to 46 every day, still warm in the evening but cool enough to sleep overnight.

On the third day at Maya Jade Ahmed and Mira from Germany (we met in the Tourist Police camp site at Antigua) turned up in their motor home. They wanted to camp on the sand in front of the pools but the front wheels of the motor home sunk immediately, with the back still on the road. We had to use my maxtraks and the winch (which fortunately reached them without moving the truck) in order to pull them far enough on to the sand. As we left before them they will have to employ the services of a passing truck or bus to pull them off again or they could be there for good.

Mira is half Indian and is a Masseuse and Yoga instructor and promoting her skills to help fund their travels (we saw her giving a yoga class in the Tourist Police camp) and I took advantage of a couple of massages to ease the stiffness in my neck, she also gave me some exercises to increase mobility.

As we approached the border we caught up with a line of trucks, the car in front started to overtake them so we followed suit, finding a copy shop on the way so that we could print the permission for El Salvador. After about 3 miles of trucks a motor bike caught us up and offered his services to help us through the borders for $20. Fortunately we accepted, otherwise we would possibly now be back in Mexico.

After 5 miles of queued trucks we finally made the Guatemalan border and were through in 30 minutes. However, we could see where the potential problem lay when we read that if you cancel you Guatemalan permit you cannot re-apply for 90 days, if necessary they will issue a 24 hour permit to cross back to Mexico but this is very expensive. We had the option to not cancel the permit, but if we don't go back within 90 days you are in breach of that one and monthly fines apply (and we might want go back again someday).

After presenting our documents at the El Salvador border they disappeared for 20 minutes, on return they said they were sorry but we were being refused entry into the country. Whoops! Mega Whoops!!!

They read the part on the UK log book that says 'this is not proof of ownership' and seemed to think that the previous owner detailed was the real owner, but we could not access the man who made the decision to persuade him otherwise.

Our fixer then took us to an agent (who is responsible for arranging 24 hour permits) who provided us with a letter requesting that they re-examine the document and issue a 24 hour pass. With this we eventually managed to meet the administrator, explained the document, showed him our original purchase receipt and also the document showing when the licence plate was issued in the UK in 2004 (after being imported from Japan). He took all this away for another 20 minutes and finally came back saying that they would issue a full 60 day pass, Phew!!!

This whole process took 4 hours from the time that we were originally refused entry and we finally arrived in El Salvador at 19.30, in the dark and immediately stopped for a beer! Had we not been allowed in we would have had to change our flight again to fly back from Mexico and would have probably put another year on our trip!

Hans and Bente had emailed us and advised that they were on the coast, free camping on the beach 30 miles from the border and gave us their GPS co-ordinates, so after just one small beer we headed off to find them, missed them and ended up next to a beach bar at 21.00. They said we could camp next to the bar, they had large cold beers and could cook us fish (every other restaurant we had passed had been closed).

As we sat drinking cold beer I re-checked the GPS, found I had made an error and that they were literally 200m down the beach, so beer in hand we walked down and found them whilst our fish was being cooked.

Next day (yesterday) we headed into El Salvador to meet with Pedro and the Toyota Club and after a little driving around we found them and were ushered into a parking space they had reserved for us and asked to put up the roof tent. The meeting was basically held outside in the car park of a fast food court and the usual 20 cars had swelled to about 50 with people wanting a close look at our truck after Pedro had put it on facebook. They also presented us with a classic 1994 El Salvador number plate and some club stickers.

The original plan was that we would camp in the park but turned out this was not possible so we set up camp outside Pedros house and he then took us out for some traditional Salvadorian food. Viva El Salvador.

 Buzzed by a Bi Plane
Another sunset after highs of 46
 Ahmed and Mira trying to get their motor home on to the beach
 Benson pilots our pedelo in the river
 Whilst the rest of the local kids try to get on a flat canoe, they manged 7 in the end before capsizing again

 Pigs in camp, pigs and dogs roamed freely everywhere
 Smart (Bensons dad) waters the grass as the sun sets
Mira gives me a massage in the twilight
 We take a river crossing which goes down the river for a mile before crossing to the other side
 A big cheer from the Toyota Club of El Salvador
Dinner in a local restaurant

 Pedro and Family outside his business/home
 Pedro hands over an original 1994 licence plate (same age as the cruiser
 and it fits perfectly
 Pedro mounts it on the front of our roof rack

and we get a new moto

1 comment:

  1. wow - lots of FUn eh!
    We have some issues at the same borders recently
    We're the Irish family - maybe a little ahead of ye - we're in Honduras and into Nic tomorrow)
    Pop us an email and we'll meet up. Heading down to Panamas as well