Getting into El Salvador

But Only After Getting Lost in Guatemala City

The morning started off early but with complimentary coffee and bread I was feeling great. But when I was all ready to go, I was blocked in by someone else at the hotel. After a few minutes of the hotel staff trying to figure out whose car it was, a woman came out to move it. By the looks of it they woke her up. Sorry lady.

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Not surprisingly it started to lightly rain as I left Coban. Not very much but enough to make the traffic on the road slow to a crawl. After a few slippery corners the other day I’ve been taking my time on the roads here.

I came to an intersection where Google told me to go left and my Garmin told me to go right. I took the google route but right away the road through Sanarate started looking in bad shape. I was loving the fast smooth highway for a change so I turned around followed my Garmin not knowing the exact route it was taking me. Last time I do that.

An hour later I was in the middle of Guatemala City and the Garmin kept freezing. Of course the signage is a joke there as well. So I ended up getting a free tour around the city. After 3 u-turns, I found my way to CA-1 and was heading south towards El Salvador. CA-1 to Road 3 to CA-2 was my favorite stretch. A small two lane road with little traffic except locals on bicycles or walking their cattle. A few miles after I turned onto CA-2 the beautiful scenery was replaced with lines of trucks and pollution. I was obviously at the border.

The trucks were parked too closely for me to get through so I rode on the side of the road up to the Guatemala immigration office. By doing so there was one small piece I missed. More on that in a bit. I got my passport stamped and asked about my motorcycle. The lady said no, so I figured well that’s all. I was following written steps by another moto traveler but I would find things have obviously changed. I pulled up to the bridge and they checked my passport then directed me to the next building almost straight ahead. I was met by a security guard who was asking about a stamp. I didn’t know why a security guard and not a Aduana official wasn’t telling me this but he said I had to go back to the bridge. I drove back and there was another security guard who when I passed earlier kind of waved. I guess he was waving for me to stop and must have radioed the other guard. He checked my moto import paper and VIN and gave me the stamp. So back to the aduana to get my motorcycle into El Salvador. I made all the copies needed and went to the window. They said I was missing a stamp from Guatemala. So back over the bridge I went to the Guatemala SAT office. Standing in the road just before the building was a SAT official who I needed to stamp my permit. I missed him by a couple feet when I rode on the side road.  While walking there a super friendly guy came up to me as asked where in California I was from. He had lived nearby in Riverside for most of his life but then got deported. He started walking with me telling me where I could get copies and the next steps. Guys like this are common at the borders and do this for a living. I told him I couldn’t pay him anything but he said no problem, just helping out a fellow Californian. I felt bad that I instantly assumed he was one of the guys that tries to make you pay $20 or more for help. After they checked my VIN and took my copies, me and my motorcycle were officially out of Guatemala. Back to the El Salvador side where I would wait for almost two hours for them to process my paperwork.

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I had planned to meet up with Mario from ADVRider and stay at his cabin on a volcano tonight but by the time I got through immigration it was starting to get dark. On my map I saw what looked like a bigger town a few miles away so I rode there thinking there would be hotels. The town turned out to just have a lot of houses. I asked a policeman where I could find one and he said back along the highway. I had passed it coming in.

I pulled into Hotel K2 and asked for a room. They wanted $25. Wow I had it good in Guatemala with my nice $10 hotels. I asked if they would take $20 and she said ok but I had to leave early. I’m guessing before he boss came or something. When I got into my hotel room I looked in the mirror and just laughed. My face was covered in dirt, bugs, and sweat and my hair was a mess. The traveling life isn’t always pretty.

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I turned the AC to high and laughed as I thought about my day. From being blocked in, lost in Guatemala City, the border mess, to now where I begged for $5 off a hotel room looking like a homeless person. It was a great day.

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Now I’m off to bed at this hotel where they don’t have a top sheet. Hmmm. Hope they wash the blanket too, cause I’m too tired to unpack my sleeping bag. Night. I hope bed bugs don’t bite.

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