I was feeling a bit better now, still a sore throat, but after 2 weeks in Antigua it was time to cross the border at Las Chinamas into El Salvador.
As I was getting ready to leave, I could feel some anxiety. After 2 weeks I had gotten comfortable in Antigua. My daughter said that for most it takes 2 years to get comfortable in a place. But I guess when you have been traveling for a year, hopping from place to place, 2 weeks is a long time. However, as I started to ride, the anxiety disappeared.
It was a long ride to the border at Las Chinamas from Antigua. I had thought about staying a bit closer but didn’t find anyplace I liked.
Las Chinamas Border Crossing
I spent the night before I left studying the border as I normally do. This relieves any anxiety I may have and helps me recognize where I need to go.
There were 7 steps to cross the border. The first 2 were on the Guatemalan side of hte border.
Guatemala Las Chinamas Border
I rode up to the border and went under the canopy to the middle of the building. I was immediately approached by money changers who I just ignored for the time being. At the middle of the building there are glass doors. Right inside to the right is immigration. They stamped my passport and gave me a small piece of paper that I tucked away so I didn’t lose it.
The 2nd step was to go to Customs to check my motorcycle out. I continued through the glass doors to the other side of the building. The Customs office is to the right at the end of the building. There the customs woman took my passport, drivers license, motorcycle registration and my motorcycle entry permit. After a few minutes she walked with me to my motorcycle, removed the sticker from mGy windshield, and headed back to her office. A few minutes later she handed me the cancelled entry permit and I was done!
All along a money changer had been lurking around me. When I got back to my motorcycle I pulled out the few Guatemalan money I had left and he gave me $10 US in exchange. The currency for El Salvador is US dollars.
El Salvador Las Chinamas Border
The el Salvador side of the border wasn’t quite as easy.
I crossed the bridge and on the other side was flagged down at a small building on the right.
Here I would do steps 3 and 6.
After waiting for a bit a man came out and handed me a form to fill out. It was all in Spanish. I figured out most of the stuff but left a lot blank. I then handed the form back to him with my Passport, Drivers License, and motorcycle registration with a copy of each.
After a long time, he came back with everything and checked my VIN. He had completed a new form with all the information I had given him. He kept asking “electronico” but I had no idea what he meant by it. Eventually he just stopped asking ha ha.
Another man came out and I followed him across the street to complete step 4. I didn’t have to do much for that. He sat at his computer and was entering data from my documentation. He asked if I had a copy of my cancelled Guatemalan entry form to which I said no. He made a copy for me. Like the guy before he asked “electronico.” I had no idea what he was asking for. Finally a gentleman showed up and said “e-mail.” AHHHHHHH ok … now I get it. I printed my email on a form, signed a couple of things and I was done with Customs.
Step 5 was Immigration which was pretty easy. It was just down from the Customs office.
As I was heading back to my motorcycle at the small building by the bridge, A young guy with a big smile came up to me and put out his hand. I was a bit taken aback until he spoke in English and said he was riding too. Turned out he was from Argentina and riding a Chinese bike to Mexico from Argentina.
We exchanged some info about my upcoming borders and road conditions. He suggeted I do the 2 borders in Honduras on the same day as they were a pain. He said it would make a long day but worth it.
It was pretty cool meeting another biker. I haven’t met as many as I thought I would. When I got back to my bike, sure enough, there was his.
I was almost done crossing the border. I handed the guy at the small building my stamped passport and the form completed at the Customs building. He checked it and said that was it!
I got on my bike and about 25 metres up the road I was stopped. It was hardly worth putting my helmet on. The immigration officer there looked at my passport and took that small piece of paper I received from the Guatemalan Immigration. NOW I was free to go!
I planned on stopping at Ahuachapan for the night where I had booked La Casa de Mamapan hotel. It wasn’t too far from the border.
When I booked it I said I needed secure parking for my motorcycle. The secure parking was the lobby of the hotel!
The problem was getting my motorcycle in there. There were several steps to get through the door.
The people at the hotel made a ramp, but part of the ramp was just a piece of wood the would give way every time I gave some gas to get over it.
Finally, a group a boys who were watching all this, came up and lifted the rear of my motorcycle over the piece of wood and onto the ramp made of a long piece of wood. A little gas and I was through the door and into the lobby.
For the rest of the evening people were coming by and looking at this huge motorcycle in the lobby of the hotel ha ha.
There wasn’t much to see in Achuachapan. I found a Bank of Nova Scotia to get money. And ran across a cool crepe place where I ordered a couple of strawberry smoothies. Then called it a day.