El Salvador/Nicaragua

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After Honduras, importing a car into Nicaragua was a breeze, After the border though we were stopped by the police four or five times in about two hours, all trying to catch us out on the old …and where is your fire extinguisher and safety triangle trick. Fortunately for us Kels had read up and we were prepared. It was kind of fun, I had restrain myself from including the finger when presenting our safety triangle.

But when I was caught not wearing my seat belt after digging for a map in the back it was all over – these guys make up their own infractions, so in that moment of not wearing my seat belt I had stupidly given the friendly Nicaraguan policeman a free ticket. I still haven’t quite managed to shake the remnants of the ‘gringo pressed for time’ attitude, even after nearly a year on the road, and he could smell it and I knew he had me – all our initial banter was just a tired façade. So while were being passed by truck loads of people and by families of threes and fours on motorbikes I gave him ten US dollars to look the other way and just like that my hopes of completing the drive without greasing the wheels of corruption were dashed.

We have been hard at work with our friends to create a website with the most up-to-date information for driving the Pan-American highway. When we began planning our trip we were frustrated with the lack of current information available so the four of us decided to create a site to fill the void.

After 2 weeks of computers, brain-storming, banana smoothies, scrapping ideas, coding (or learning code), writing and fireworks we have started www.drivetheamericas.com. We hope to encourage those who have driven, those who are driving and those who plan to drive to post up helpful tips, ideas, suggestions and anything else that would help a curious driver get on their way to driving the Pan-American Highway.

We have launched the site and hope that those of you out there who are looking for answers stop by and that those of you already on the road do too (we are looking for driving information for South America).

Our work environment was pretty ideal and provided the comfort we needed to really dig into this project so we owe Mango Rosa a big thank you. In between work bouts we found time to relax, read and plan for more upcoming travels.

I think I need to mention how amazing this team is…Tom brought his design prowess to the table, Kristin wrote tons of great content and also began her career as a coder and Chris, resident web-ninja, has been patient with all of us as we learn more about building a site–his enthusiasm definitely is a force to be reckoned with. We are really happy with the start of the site and aim to continue providing helpful and insightful information as well as a place for roadtrippers to connect.

And, of course, a website isn’t complete without a launch party…for those of you who were invited and couldn’t make it you missed out on a good time…drinks, laughs and cul de sacs.


Cul de Sac Party

Leaving Guatemala wasn’t too difficult. It took about 20 minutes to cancel our car permit, which is relatively fast considering some people we met at the border had been waiting for 3 days. Crazy, what a foreign passport can do for you.

Entering El Salvador was pretty painless as well apart from the two hour wait. Luis was 12 and was spending his summer break making money off tourists in need of his “assistance”–with his cute smile and cheeky disposition he charmed his way into helping us too. Besides entertaining us he didn’t do too much for us except get the papers we needed to fill out ahead of time and he also kept an eye on our car.

It was a long wait as only three people were allowed into the immigration office at a time and the guard, loving called ‘Mr. Dirty’ by Luis, was pretty serious about keeping the line under control. He swaggered around carrying his little list of who was up next and was very strict about who could go in and at what time they would be permitted to enter the office.

The permit costs us nothing except the $1 USD we gave to Luis. After saying “adios” to Luis we were on the road again this time is search of relaxation for the Christmas week.

But, of course, there was one more police stop to contend with before we could fully relax. A relatively friendly police officer leaned in asking for our papers, he then requested that Tom open the trunk so he could have a look around. I did my part playing the bored wife in the front seat listening to the officer asking questions when Tom asked me, in a strangled voice, if I really wanted to keep the WEND magazine that we had stashed in the back. I replied that I was still reading it when the trunk slammed shut and Tom jumped in the car, revved the engine and sped off. Once we were out of sight Tom explained that the cop spotted the magazine and was curious if this was a “gift” for him… hope they enjoy their new reading material.

We finally found our relaxing beach vacation in El Tunco where we spent the days lazing in the sun, ham-napping (napping in a hammock) and surfing. All in all, a pretty sweet Christmas.

We bought these babies to ring in the new year Latin American style, wearing red undies on New Year’s Eve is thought to bring good fortune in love and romance.

Ropa interior rojo were in high demand and a little hard to find but we managed to track some down in a crowded clothing market in Granada the day before.

A couple other interesting Spanish New Year’s traditions include;

  • Eating twelve [red] grapes while making a wish for each of the twelve months.
  • Those hoping to increase their financial prospects should wear yellow.
  • Packing a suitcase and walking around the block is recommended for those wanting travel during the new year.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season – we’ll have more in a few days.