It was quite a difficult start of the day today – we’re not used (anymore) to getting up at 4:30am…. – but it was definitely worth it. This morning we needed to be ready by 5:00am as we had booked ourselves an early tour across the local mangroves. After a short walk to the departure dock and once the guide had tossed all the rain water outside the boat (thank goodness for that as we’d already seen enough rain a few hours before) we could start our journey. The calm lake in the morning air and the sounds of the movements of the kano stick were almost hypnotising. We spontaneously started to whisper to each other. Seeing the sun rise above the mangroves was really amazing. We also spotted some rare birds (not all caught on camera) as well as white and blue cranes. At a certain moment in time the boat even followed some hidden paths inside the mangrove (that was all a matter of ‘ducking’ in time :)).
After 2 hours we got back and Patrick extended his hours of sleep whilst Marijke sat outside and watched the fishermen catch the fresh fish of the day.
The bigger plans for the day were yet to come. Challenge one: reverse out of a parking spot with 2cm on each side – check. Challenge two: get the boat across the river on a ferry that needs to be boarded on small wooden planks – check. Challenge three: manage to cross the border with El Salvador without any issues – check. Check four: find a place to stay for the night – check.
Challenge one and two were fairly easy to complete. Whilst we were waiting for the ferry to depart we even saw this beautiful green heron.
It was challenge three that took us most of the day. Even though we didn’t ask for help we got not one but two people that wanted to assist us at the border crossing. They pointed us to the correct places but when it came down to taking copies of documents, following their advise was not the best option. It’s better to wait for the officer to request you the copy and then get one as we got a few copies too many. All in all we spent 3 hours going from one building to the other. The process in the correct order:
- Drive to the border town ‘Ciudad Pedro de Alvarado’ in Guatemala
- Ignore all the trucks waiting in the right lane and drive past them (in the wrong lane of course!) to park your car at the customs building on your left
- Get your permit cancelled; the officer might require some copies (passport, old vehicle permit, vehicle ownership document, driving license).
- Get your passport stamped at the immigration booth
- Drive across the bridge to El Salvador, you will get a stamp on your old vehicle permit document from the officer standing in the middle of the road
- Get your passports checked at the immigration booth (we didn’t get a stamp, we’ll find out at the Honduras border if that’s a problem or not)
- Get your vehicle permit; the officer might again require some copies (passport, driving license, cancelled old vehicle permit, vehicle ownership document)
- Have your car checked by an officer (they might require a lot of details about the car like number of doors, engine number, cylinder size, etc)
- Wait at the office for the officer to type all information in the computer and provide you the vehicle permit document (victory!)
- Show the vehicle permit document when crossing the border
- Pay 5 USD to access the El Salvador roads (we’re not sure if this was legal as we didn’t read anything about having to pay a fee at other border crossings but we got a receipt so it must be fine)
The rest of the day we spent driving in the car. Tonight we are sleeping in ‘Auto Hotel Camino Real’. It’s another love motel, we know, but at least they have clean rooms, clean toilet, warm water and a safe place for the car for the night.
So listen very carefully
Closer now and you will see what I mean
It isn’t a dream