Chapter 9.  Honduras II

Day 61 Ė March 13 Ė Choluteca

(Shari) Another border day, but this one without a guide! Luckily it is not congested and thereís plenty of parking. We gather passports, separating drivers, which Bert will handle, and passengers, which Arlene and I will deal with. Our border official is a hoot and seems to want to hug us all the time. I give her candy and I get another hug. She asks if anyone in our caravan speaks Spanish and I tell her I am the best we have Ė not true, because several are better - and she gives me another hug. Itís a hoot! The passengers are done after she looks at each passport, comparing it with the person. We return to her when it is time to do the drivers. More hugs but now goodbyes.

We drive a few blocks to the Nicaragua side of the border. Here a young man named Juan tells us he helped Panama 1 and Panama 2 across. So we hire him to help us as well. At first the border official seems crabby until I ask him how he is in Spanish and offer him some candy. Happy now, he puts three people on our paperwork which means we will finish three times faster. VIN numbers, license numbers, make, model, etc., etc. are written in our passport. The same information is written on a multiform piece of paper and the same information is written on a receipt. Then all papers need rubber stamps. The blue, the rainbow, the pink, the green, the white, the yellow paper all stamped individually. The passports are stamped. Next we must make two copies of the stamped passport and stamped receipt. Why isnít the copy place in the same building as the paperwork generator? We have to come back again after the copies are made anyway. Here the papers are separated into piles, stapled and handed back to us. We are on our way in only 3-1/2 hr. Pretty good! We stop on the side of the road for lunch and split off into three groups. The thermometer reads 105ļ.

Luckily we have a swimming pool available tonight, plus an air-conditioned lobby with free WI-FI. Many decide to eat at the restaurant and I help the restaurant out by getting the number of people. I wish I had not since now they treat us as a group and want to get all the food out at the same time. That means the first orders after completion wait until the last orders are finished. I try to tell them to do one at a time but my Spanish is not good enough for that. We wait 90 min. for our food and by that time it is late, we are tired and lots of the food is cold. This place is not recommended for a group. One good thing: it is cool by the time we return to our rigs.

(Bert) Another border crossing today! This one is perhaps our simplest and most relaxing. Although it still takes us nearly four hours, the wait time is mostly while officials fill out their endless forms and the vehicles are inspected inside. The inspection is cursory and we do not know what they were looking for, but they find nothing of interest. A border helper suggests I tip the inspector $10 for his work. We are in the mountains and the morning air is cooler, we wait in the shade and compared to other borders this one is almost vacant. Two semitrailers, a car or two is all. While we wait on the Nicaragua side, Chris points out a soaring hawk to me, high up against the cliffs. Through his binoculars I see a White-breasted Hawk, a local variety of what AOU labels Sharp-shinned Hawk. On the road again, we drive among mountains and foothills on an easy and well built highway. The panorama is brown and purple shades of successive waves of mountain ridges. Now, in the peak of dry season, all is arid, the crispness of a desert but devoid of cactus and tumbleweed. Except for the vegetation, I could imagine I was driving through southwestern U.S.

We stop for the afternoon and evening at a hotel lot on the outskirts of Choluteca. We have descended from the mountains and are now near sea level. The direct sunlight is intensely hot and I help most people get their RVís parked under shade trees. Some are quick to change into swimsuits and enjoy the pool while others take their laptops to an air conditioned reception area to connect to WI-FI. Birding is sparse in the heat, the highlight being another flock of Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters. Dinner is incredibly late in coming and Iím impatient at the waste of time, but at least I can enjoy the company of others in the long wait.

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