Follow the published narration and story of two friends traveling South, through 15 countries and two continents. From Ottawa Canada to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rob and Nik are set to embark on a journey meant to take a year, to be completed in a mere 2 months.

January - March 2011 : A year in the making..

We promise this blog will not only be awesome to read, but PACKED with info on how to plan your own trip........

the RIGHT way.

With only two months to complete the trip, we'll be cramming in tons of VIDEOS, PICS and useful and hopefully funny info.

Stay tuned for the Extended Video Log on my YouTube Channel after the trip; this blog is only the beginning....

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Rauda Brothers + Honduras is a Shithole + More Sickness TRIPLEPOST!! -Rob

Again no internet, so I'm writing the post offline. Heads up, it's gonna be a big one as I and Nik lie here bed-ridden in the WORST (but awesome) town you could be sick in today. More on that later. I think the last time I posted was after surfing, I seem to remember complaining a lot about it, well you're gonna be stuck hearing some more complaints, mostly about Honduras if you don't mind. There's usually not much good news about it anyway, unless you're north along the coast. Transito, major problemo. Let's go back to El Salvador for a sec.

We woke up to our first cloudy morning and it couldn't have come at a better time because we were both way burnt. Obviously Nik was worse, but it caught up to me in the night only after I finished making fun of him. Sore but focused, we drove to the capital, San Salvador; a short drive of maybe 30 minutes. I thought I had the directions perfect in my head, but as usual, when you're faced with immense craziness coming from all sides, things seem to get turned around. The trusty compass has saved me from worry on many occasions, but in major cities, theres usually mass confusion. This was no different, we had to get to the Kawasaki dealership and I ended up missing it by two blocks. 112 blocks later we ended up in Mejicanos, not a spot a traveler goes unless he wants to meet the local Marreros (that was actually where our hospitable amigos the Rauda's brothers lived and we would end up there anyway, but we had to get to the dealership first). Alright, an hour an a half later, we found it (by luck of incremental streets a-la Manhattan). Slow start to the day, but the guys at the shop were SUPER helpful. More helpful than we could ask for. English, friendly and cheap, can't beat it. Place is called Moto Imports and I would highly recommend it. List of things we had done:
  • new front tire (purchased in stock) with new tube
  • new rear tube (I think I mentioned it was half as narrow as it should've been)
  • brake fluid front and back
  • tuned
  • new front tire (one I carried with me)
  • new chain (the one I brought with me was too short, goddamit online purchases always screw me)
  • new sprockets front and back (ones I brought)
  • tuned
So we left them there for the night, and one of the four brothers, Alex, came to pick us up. Who are these guys you might ask? Steph, my fiancee (hi lady!!), her mom's cousins kids (second cousins I suppose?). Four of them live together in a house/salon which is pretty massive for a change from what we were used to. They were more than happy to take us in for the night and show us around. I have a major language barrier, which is major suck, because they are great guys and I'd lvoe to get to know them better than I do now, but Nik was there to fill in the gaps and help us out. One of the brothers, Carlos, speaks a bit of english, that helps, but when a bunch of guys go out and go for 37 beers together, theres really no language barrier at all (yeah I actually remembered how many). Great time, no hangover, super lucky. Its awesome when you order a beer, and a beer comes in a litre jug for 3.25.
Anyway Steph, they treated us like kings like you said they would so we treated them to our entire time together, it was awesome.
They weren't ready to give up, but constant travel is draining and we weren't able to keep good company until 3-4 in the morning like they wanted, so we slept only to find out in the morning everyone was up and gone to work already. How they do it....Alex wished us a goodbye and we took off for the worst day of our trip!!!

First: the dealership.
No problems here. Total charges were 211.00. We calculated it would have cost us almost 600.00 bucks in Canada because of the labour. Awesome. Went to eat a double header: Wendy's breakfast + lunch in one so we could get as far as possible without stopping. Fat fkn chance.

Second: El Salvador exit/Honduras entry.
Alright, everything positive I said about borders, forget it. There is definitely a reason people hate it, and our story will tell you why.
I dunno if I mentioned that our awesome friend in Guatemala exit, he had a good friend to help us though the border again for no charge (like his friend..but now I realize the first time's always free, thats how they get you hooked). Anyway, the first guy to rush us at this hectic border informed us it was indeed the friend and we'd have no problem, "follow me!!". Everyone's running, pointing us in directions. About 4-5 of them. They clear us out of El Sal. Migracion.
Time check: about 2pm.
We get to Aduana exit, money changers rushing us, guys have all our documents running about. "you need 1500 liempras to enter Honduras". First of all, what the fuk (pardon), too expensive, its a country we'll be in for an hour transit and we need to pay almost a hundred each? Well, no falling for it next time. Here's where it gets complicated...really complicated. We don't have enough money, the bank is 15 minutes backaways, but our bikes are exited already, we can't drive. Trick number one: A friend/brother of the other helpers offers you a drive to the bank. 45 minutes later, me sitting in a piss-trench waiting for Nik, he comes back, the "ride" was 25.00....american... Fool me once, shame on you....
We now have what seems to be enough to get us through the Hondruas entry (we were told no banks in Honduras will change money....sign number 2).
Its hectic, really hectic. The confusion helps scammers and extortionists work their magic. We have no documents on us, they're all with them, and we get to Migracion. We park, Nik starts walking around to see whats up. "20 minutes, you exit". Kape. I sit on the bike for an hour, two hours...
Time check: 5pm.
People are still scrambling, documents in about 6 different people's hands. Nik pays 700 Lempiras each (35 bucks) for the entry, but they tell us theres still a lot to do. Here comes the fun part. The super friendly's tell Nik that because the bank is closed we have to pay at another location. Wheres this?? Back room of the photocopy building. Fool me twice....shame on me. Nik immediately storms out, tells me about the situation, I tell him to ask the officials what we're supposed to pay if anything else at all. This is when all hell breaks loose. They get close to our sides, real close, we still have no documents. We're refusing to give them any more money, and after arguing for what seemed like way too long, they brought us past the "Fumigation", also closed, and at the checkpoint a hundred meters away. More people scramble at us, we're way outnumbered, and they are demanding we pay them, yet the number increases and increases. Now its 900 more Lempiras each, 100 more each than last time, and more than what we had. They knew we had money, and they said we couldn't pass unless we had the banks stamp, which would come in the morning and he'd keep our documents until then. I get my official transcript somehow out of his hand and the idiot tries to grab it back. At this time, Nik's furious, I'm getting there too, and everyones yelling. Nik was telling them we didn't mind paying for their services, but that they can't fuk us (I leave out the c because its more text friendly :P) for all our money. Anyway, by this time Nik's looking for the police to intervene, and the official seems to take a 50/50 side. It started to get dangerous, Nik grabbed all our documents out of the bastards hand, I looked over at the other official, and he waved us to get the hell out of there. They were yelling more money, more tips, we had none of it.
Time check: after 6pm.
We ended up getting to the police checkpoint, we shaken a bit, and it shows. Even though we're nervous, they are joking with us a bit, and we get through no problem. Lesson learned......NO HELP EVER AT CHECKPOINTS EVER. Its not that hard to do it yourself, and you won't end up screwed. Total cost: In the midst of arguing, Nik handed over 7 or 8 American, I handed over 200 lempiras, 100 more to confuse him to get our documents back. Not too bad...but yeah, lesson learned.
Third: Riding in the dark.
I read that to enter Honduras you did need to get to a seperate bank to pay another entrance fee or some other; plus we didn't have fumigation. So I was a bit weary about checkpoints, plus the fact it was all in the dark. It had to be done, our transcript had one day on it. Honduras sucks. Sitting here now, theres nothing good to say of it. The border was gross, the infrastructure is terrible, garbage everywhere, dust everywhere, potholes the size of cows (which, navigating through in the dark is an awesome activity), and bad food. How bad? Well we're both visiting the gentlemens room every twenty minutes. Shivering, aches, etc.etc.etc. NO SHRIMP. Anyway, long story short (I tend to make my stories too long) the ride went ok. No problems, we managed to sneak by two checkpoints quickly without chase, and we made it to Nicaragua border. We will try our hardest not to ride in the dark again, everyone else uses their high beams, flashing you every....single...time....
Fourth: The last push.
Honduras exit; help is offered, help is refused. "Free, no money". Don't care, leave us alone. Another official tells us to follow him, we really have no choice, we're going that way anyway. Migracion was 15 seconds. Aduana. Not so much. Problem with riding at night is that truckers drive at night. Their paperwork is much more complicated to fill out and there's 10 in front of us.
Final time check: 10:30pm.
We're finally the only ones left there. I think we had to pay migracion 200 Cordoba's, but we needed it for hotel, so we paid 200 Quetzals, bad exchange rate, real bad :P. If it wasn't for the truckers, this border would have taken us 10 minutes.
We found a hotel right by the border, safer in Nicaragua, and had a semi-decent sleep. Was pretty cheap, 12 bucks each. The hotel room, we considered, was the upgrade, the suite, of the Escuintla hotel. A/C, bigger + better beds, but everything else the same.

Alright....thats two days down, finally today (a bit uneventful). I also apologize for the multiple uses of brackets, I'm a bracket whore to explain the story a little better without sounding redundant. We woke up early as usual , I can't seem to sleep past 7 anymore. We drove looking for breakfast...nothing for over a hundred kilometres. By this time, my stomach starts convulsing/tightening, not from hunger but from some unknown pain. We finally find an On the Run, I thought it was a Canadian only convenience store, but it was a pleasant breakfast besides the "on the run" to the gentlemen's room multiple times. Stomach by this point feels like a love grip machine, and a body builder is testing it out. Past Leon (couldn't find tooooooooo much interesting, it's an alright place), and onto this road that seemed like it was going to lead to another trip through Atitlan (read posts about Guatemala). Half paved, half potholes, I wasn't sure where the hell we were. After about an hour we popped out 5 km from Managua, thank god. We both lie down on the pavement at a gas station trying to recouperate to no avail. Only another 25 mintues to Diriamba. Well, we made it, struggled for a hotel, no really fancy ones here either I guess...we really wouldn't mind paying more for luxury once in awhile but we just can't seem to find it. After 4 hotels, we settled for one right in the middle of town. Its 8.75 a person US. For the price, we can't go wrong. It has what we need, and we actually made it for FIESTA SAN SEBASTIEN!! Its a huge party every year at about this time, that goes on all day and all night long. Everyon'es in the streets, parades, costumes, music. Sounds like a great time... if you're not sick. I went out to take some video, but Nik's doing really bad now, the worst of mine is over. Hopefully he gets better sometime in the evening, but we can't rest here. There's 30,000 watts right outside the hotel, endless parades and people yelling, and fireworks shelling us constantly. Damn, it sucks missing this party. At least we made it to where we needed to go. Haha, it keeps getting louder and louder. Poor Nik again. OH AND THOSE FUKN ROOSTERS. They are now my worst hated animal on the planet.

SO THATS MY RANT!! I'm sorry you had to sit through it, heres some pictures to make everything cheery again!!

Update on Nik. I think mine's past, I have an iron stomach and it's battles hard against any type of poison. I'm lucky for that, that's a Landon gene. Nik not so much, his progressed from what we thought was traveler's diarrhea to food poisoning once againnnnnnnn. He's totally out of it and having it attack him from both ends.

It's hard to imagine the toll this type of trip has on your body, but we're figuring it out for sure as we go. If we're not always hungry, we're dehydrating. If we're not sick, we're extremely tired. I don't think theres been a single day on this trip where I've felt normal, as if I was at home. With a huge budget, and resorts and nice hotels, this might be different, but a trip opn a budget is dangerous to the body.

List of things to now completely avoid.
  • Any ice in drinks (for some reason locals love putting ice in the damn drinks, even when you tell them not to. Please stop).
  • Most seafood (unless fried). We had shrimp and chicken last night and I don't think it was the chicken.
  • Any local drinks (we also had tamarindo last night, one of my all-time favourite drinks). The drinks are made with local water and we have to start avoiding that (I'll keep to freshly squeezed orange juice).
  • Any undercooked meat and fresh uncooked vegetables.
I'm gonna try to stick to fast food more often. These rules seems so simple, but its hard to follow when a lot of the food is prepared all together, or served mixed up. Time to get more smart...right Nik? Oh, he can't hear me with his head in the toilet.

Alex Rauda and his awesome campanion Campion

How cool would it be to have an Avacado tree in your house?!

My new pal

Steph will love this picture of her buddy too

The view of the Volcano from their rooftop

The big party of San Sebastien!

These are the bastards that crowd you and take over your life for a few hours...these poor suckers got it too

Me waiting for Nik for a good hour at the Honduras border

Late night Nicaragua border wait times

On this trip, things sometimes get up close and personal

Volcano you could see for a good 50 miles all around

Canadian only my ass

Oops, supposed to be at the top, but last but not least, awesome dealership, hands down to these guys!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! You guys made it to San Juan del Sur and saw the Festival in Diriamba! :)
    - Love, Juan