14.09. – 16.09.
The exit and entry from Honduras to Nicaragua took, as always, long. But again there are no difficulties. Again, the helpers were at our side. But when we tell them that we have traveled through Central America and already know how the process is, they leave us alone. To our surprise, no copies are required in Nicaragua. At the border we buy the necessary vehicle insurance for about 10 EUR. Compared to the other countries, you have only to pay for the disinfection of the bike and for the visa, the import of the bike does not cost anything.
Our destination is Leon. But we don’t get that far. In Chinandega Bart crosses was overtaking a car where not allowed and got stopped by police. At this time, Bart and Renate did not have copies of their driving licenses. Bart discussed for a while with the police officer, but the officer kept the license. The procedure here is like, the license is held bei the police, you pay for the ticket at a bank and get your driving license back. But, it’s Saturday afternoon and until Monday there are public holidays. The next possible day to pay the fine is Tuesday. Stuck in a very unsympathetic town until Tuesday? Less a problem for me, I could move on. Bart and Renate go to the police station, trying to clear the situation.
I stayed with the police officer, but he leaves after a while. After about 1 1/2 hours Bart comes back with a local person on the pillion and has his driving license back. It is an English teacher who teaches a high ranked police official in the district. With his help, the police officer has given instructions that Bart can pay the fine and get his license back.
Since it is already 5pm and Bart wants to thank the English teacher with a beer, I can not remember his name, let’s call him K, we decide to stay in Chinandega. K did not appear at the hotel at the promised time, so after a while of waiting we were looking for a place to eat. We sat down in a bar at the main square and had a beer when K shows up with a younger male, which we first thought is Ks son. K told us, he was looking for us and is happy that he found us. Bart payed them a beer and a soft drink. Until now, everything is still fine, but the unfortunate part is about to start soon.
Today is a big boxing match on television. K says he can bring us to a place where we can mix with the locals and can follow the boxing match on a big screen. Well, not a bad idea. We were running through the streets, because K had to lock a school and then we took a taxi. It turned out that the young person is not Ks son, but a student and friend. The place turned out to be disco. I pay for the taxi, Bart pays the entry fee for both at the disco. I thought: Ok, let’s see how far that will go.
Inside K start to talk with the waiter in a way that we were not able to follow. From this point on I suspected there is something wrong. A big plate of mixed food was orderd. The beers were brought every 30 minutes to the table. Neither me nor Bart and Renate liked the place and we decided to go, as a second plate of food was served. No way, the bill please. The waiter brought a piece of paper with an ridiculous high amount written on it. After complaining they brought us an invoice which was more than 40% lower than the first amount. We went back to the hotel by taxi. After we were paying for K and his student/friend the whole evening, K dared to ask for a little tip. Bart gave him 100 Cordoba. The arrival in Nicaragua has left a negative impression.
The next day we continue to Granada. Shortly before Managua we again were stopped. This time it is pure corruption. We were stopped by three officers and charged with an invented misdemeanor. First they said, you have to leave at least three vehicle lengths space between each other, later it was a speed violation. We have also been stopped in Honduras a few times. Since then I only show the laminated copy of my driving license. They do not know the difference. Anyway, we each got fined with 2000 Cordoba / 75 EUR punishment for nothing. The difference this time, the amount was issued on a white ticket. We discussed. Everyone is talking through each other. Bart is angry. I notice, one of the officials would like to make a suggestion. Bart keeps interrupting him. Bart suggests: We don’t leave all three licenses here. We are traveling in a group. You (the police ) keep one driving license (my copy), so we can not leave the country. Renate and Bart take their driving license back and we are almost ready to go when a local person, Eduardo, stopped with his car and asked in English if he could help us. Yes! Renate had her ticket already in her pocket. One of the officers immediately hid the other two tickets. It is obviously that there is something wrong. Eduardo discussed a while with the police and I got my “license” back as well and Renate had to return here ticket. Bart later found out on the internet that the yellow ticket is the official one and that the white papers are not valid. So it was definitely an attempt to get money from us.
We spend two nights in Grenada. Grenada has a well-maintained historic center, some other parts of the city don’t look that nice and wastewater is discharged into the lake. Renate and Bart made copies of their driving licenses, which already payed off the next day.
On the day of departure, we picked up our bikes from the fire station, where they were parked secure for a small amount. We drive about 400 to 500 meters without a helmet from the fire station to the hotel. We were promptly stopped. It did not help to discuss. Although it is only 7.5 EUR, it gets tedious. I want to pay, because I do not know if there is a system that extends to the border and as I’ll return to the country again. But that is unlikely. Bart suggests: If we leave the copies and we are going to be stopped again, we have no more problems, the licenses are already gone and to the border of Costa Rica it is just hundred kilometers. The yellow ticket is valid for a few days as a replacement for the driving license. We tell the officials that we put the bikes to the hotel and then go to the bank and we will be back in about 20 minutes. At the hostel we load up the bikes, let the first copy of the driving license go and drive towards the border. I wonder how long it took until the officer got suspicious. When the last stamp is on the vehicle documents, we are glad that we are out of Nicaragua.
Thank you for reading, Jürgen.