Saturday, March 14, 2015

Crossing from Guatemala to El Salvador at Las Chinamas

Just a heads up that this is a border crossing blog post... it may not be all that fascinating for everyone... but we want to include the ho-hum crossing stats as it may be helpful for those reading who are planning to cross this border at some point. For those not interested in the border info, feel free to skip ahead to the pretty pictures at the end :)

We left the delicatessen factory early, bidding farewell to all of our new friends, the bakery guys pushing hot-from-the-oven loaves of bread into our hands as snacks for later. We’re going to miss these guys!

We met Sigrid and Carlos on their beautiful 1200 GS just outside of Guatemala City and picked up David about 20 kilometers from the border.


Sigrid and Carlos

As we descended a small hill to the border post, 20 or so guys began running along with the bikes shouting that they could “help” us. Ah, so these are the handlers I’ve heard so much about.

Carlos was first in line and while they crowded around all of us, Carlos, on his bike which, let’s face it, looks a lot better than ours, was getting the most attention from the shouting handlers. They probably were thinking “Goldmine!” Carlos, who has lived in Guatemala since the age of 5 said loudly, in the worst accent you can imagine:

“No haaabloo ayspaynol.”

And then he fluently told them “Thanks but no thanks.” (or perhaps it was “piss off”) in fluent Spanish with a perfect accent. They all burst out laughing, and realizing they were not going to make any money off of us, wandered away.

Whew.

The border crossing itself was pretty easy and we were the only ones there (Carlos advised us to cross at Chinamas because there are no large trucks because they cannot cross over the bridge here... hence no traffic AT ALL... happy travelers  

Guatemala Side
1. Take passports to the Aduana to get stamped out (confirm that you are leaving and not coming back). You’ll get a stamp and a TINY piece of paper that you MUST not lose.
2. Go to customs to have your bike import papers cancelled. Must provide them with originals and copies of your passport, license, ownership papers (again, I used my registration and it worked) and the original of your import document. They cancel it and then give you a copy of the cancelled import document.
3. You must give the copy of the cancelled import paper to the policeman who is standing near customs. ?

Cross to El Salvador side


Our 1st, 2nd and 4th stop on the El Salvadoran side

1. Provide copies of your license, passport and ownership papers. They briefly glanced at the originals. Have a copy made of your cancelled import document from Guatemala and provide them with said copy.
2. For us, they filled out the paperwork for the El Salvadoran bike importation, which was lovely.
3. They walked us down to a building that I think housed the Aduana where a woman inputted all of the handwritten information on the forms into a computer and provided us with our import documents for El Salvador.


They wrote "Limpio" (clean) as the condition of my bike. Funny, because they did actually appear to look at it.

4. Back at the first place, the guys who did all of the paperwork checking and paperwork-filling-out had to stamp the bike import papers.
5. We began to ride away but had to stop at a little tent alongside the road where we had to give back the TINY slip of paper that we had all fortunately managed to hang on to. She also checked our passports, which Sigrid and Carlos said was unnecessary.
6. Stop in front of Bienvenidos a El Salvador Sign to take selfie. WOOOHOOOOO El Salvador.
7. But wait, you’re not completely welcome, yet. Stop again and hand over documents to another guy who will check them. Not sure what his purpose was but he didn’t ask for any money and didn’t give us any problems, so all good by me. 



ZERO cost on either side, by the way.



I think our crossing experience was greatly improved by Carlos and Sigrid’s presence. But all of the border officials we dealt with, especially on the El Salvadoran side were extremely kind and professional.



We rode down the Ruta de Flores which was lovely. After an AMAZING celebratory lunch by the sea at Beto's, we headed to Playa El Tunco. Watching surfers and beautiful warm waves crash onto the black sand was a good way to pass a couple of days


Dry season versus irrigation/oasis?


Lunch at Beto's



The biggest portion of ceviche I have ever seen... for $8. AMAZING!


Toasting our missing border crossing buddy, Ewen... And then there were 3



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