Monday, April 15, 2013

El Salvador Border Crossing

After a few weeks in Guatemala we were armed and ready to cross into El Salvador.  Thanks to (again) for their step-by-step instructions. (For anyone following their directions, they did get their rights and lefts confused after an unplanned u-turn).

We successfully cancelled our Guatemala vehicle permit and made our way to the El Salvador vehicle permit office.  We anxiously filled out all the paperwork checking and double-checking our step-by-step instructions to make sure we did everything correctly. The lady behind the counter told us that the permit system was down and we would have to wait until it came back online.

It started to make sense why there were nearly 50 trucks parked along the road also waiting for their vehicle permits.  We later learned that many of the truckers had been waiting for over 12 hours (overnight) to get their permits.

It also started to become clear that there was no way we would get our vehicle permit in time to drive to a camping spot.  We have a general rule that we do not drive at night in unknown areas/countries. We popped the awning a bit to shield our door from the blazing hot sun and settled into the truck for a long, hot day in no-mans land.  At least we had somewhere to sit, cold beverages, and some shelter from the sun.  That is more than I can say for the poor guys (pictured below) who were entertaining themselves on their phones in the little bit of shade they could find.

We got our permit around 6 pm and told the security guy that we would be parking at the border for the night.  I can't say this sounds like a safe situation but on the contrary, the security guy with the big gun made us a feel a little safer. We even had wildlife to look at right outside our windows (see below).

We woke up on Monday morning to hoards of people setting up roadside shops and tons of traffic.  Since then, we have realized that Sundays are a much more mellow day to cross the border (as long as the permit system is running).  Despite the hassle, we now have a new rule: cross borders on a Sunday.


Unknown said...

Scott and Heather, just a few countries away from Panama. I hope you can still meet up with Chet and probably his girlfriend Erica. She is a volunteer also in the Peace Corp, we got to meet her this last December. She is great. An Engineer from Washington and graduate from Gonzaga University and is also in the Mich. Tech Masters program. We are going back in August to visit him again, can't wait.

Unknown said...

Good idea about crossing on Sunday, we are in Guatemala for two more weeks and then El Salvador, if you are still there let us know.