Less than 24 hours from our previous border crossing, 12 hours from our break in, four hours since waking up from a terrible night’s sleep, one hour from having a locksmith jimmy our door, we were approaching our next border crossing to Nicaragua. As we approached the border, we felt sorry for the poor helpers and border officials that would be dealing with us in our current state but we were bound and determined to make the border crossing go our way this time.
Reading information from iOverlander and discussion with a few other travelers showed us that we should avoid the main border crossing at Guasaule on the Panamerican Highway and opt for the less crowded border at El Espino. We read that there were far fewer people crossing here and the swarm of helpers was essentially nonexistent.
As we came within a mile of the border, trucks were backed up so we pulled into the opposite lane and passed them all. It is not necessary to wait in line with the trucks at border crossings. We pulled up to the stop sign next to a hut where it was necessary to cancel our temporary import permit from Honduras. As we parked, we were asked to move to the side, but we have figured out that if you park where it is less convenient for the border, officials tend to work a little faster to clear out the congestion. At this time, about six people began to knock on our doors and windows so I exited the truck with all of the necessary paperwork, singled out the aduana official, followed him to the hut and stretched my arms across the entry door to keep the lovely “helpers” out of our way. Not more than three minutes later, we had our import permit cancelled and we were on our way to migration.
At migration, the process was simple – wait in line to have our passport stamped and finger prints scanned. From here, I walked to the aduana to stamp my passport indicating we cancelled our import permit and our visit to Honduras was complete.
Well, almost. We were stopped one last time by a border official and police officer. The border official asked for our vehicle import permit, which was kept by the aduana office and the police officer wanted to look in our camper. The border official asked why I didn’t have a copy of the permit which instantly increased my blood pressure. I told him to walk with me back to aduana to get it and the police officer was annoyed I wouldn’t let him look in the camper until this was sorted out. Using the parking trick right in the middle of the road, they both rested their case and said it was OK to pass without showing our paperwork and looking in the camper. I think they finally realized we wouldn’t be jerked around on this particular day. Ryan and Laughlin – 1, Honduras border – 0.
Entering Nicaragua was more involved than many other countries we visited to this point, but was pretty straight forward. The first stop was fumigation where our truck was thoroughly sprayed with chemicals and a fogger was sprayed into the cab. I offered the fogger lady $2 to skip the interior, but she wouldn’t have it. We kept the doors open to air out for five minutes and were happy they didn’t ask to fog the camper.
Laughlin waiting for fumigation:
The next step, as usual, was to have our passports stamped at migration and get our vehicle import permit in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is not a CA4 country so we both had our passports stamped. It was very straightforward.
To begin the process of the import permit, we needed to have our truck and camper inspected by the customs personnel. We opened the camper and just before the man was going to jump up in the camper, we used a very handy trick our friends Kurt and Elisabeth from Switzerland taught us; we told them to remove their shoes before entering the camper. Immediately, the man chuckled and closed the door to the camper indicating that the inspection was sufficient. Ryan and Laughlin – 1, Nicaragua border – 0.
Now the paperwork for the truck began. It was similar to all other countries, except, as with Mexico, they required a title for our camper. If you remember, we had our friends in Wyoming create a title for the camper, which is so blatantly fake, but accepted without question at the borders. The paperwork took a while, but once we had our import permit, we were officially admitted to Nicaragua!
After this border experience, we realized that anybody can cross the border without a helper. Our helper in Guatemala was quite helpful, but really unnecessary. Our helpers from the day before made the process much more complex than it had to be and told us lie after lie in search of more money. It is sad that we had such an experience as we wouldn’t mind paying $5-10 for honest help at the border, but continually being asked for more money and the enormous headache they can create is not worth it to us.