Energía del Sol
After much thought and contemplation, we decided to skip traveling throughout Honduras for two reasons. One: our CA-4 visas were going to run up in about one month and still had all of Nicaragua to travel through and two: if we continued through to Nicaragua we would be able to complete the double border crossing with our friends Tranquilo Adventures.
In order to get from El Salvador to Nicaragua, you have to travel through a very small section of Honduras equalling about one and a half hours of driving. There really isn’t anything to do or see in that small section so most people do the double border crossing in one day. Waking ourselves up at 3:30 am was a task all in itself. Our day then proceeded to be filled with multiple tasks including a ton of paperwork! We had about 6 hours of driving time to complete along with crossing two borders. It seemed almost impossible.
Checking out of El Salvador was pretty straight forward. It was when we were crossing into Honduras that things got a bit interesting. The Honduras border crossing is not the most organized border we have ever been to. There are several different offices scattered about and you have to visit them in a certain order because you need copies of different documents you receive along the way for the next office. I must have visited the copy shop at least five separate times! Three hours later, we were cruising along in Honduras. We were warned of the police checkpoints along the way and were prepared with our safety triangles, fire extinguisher, and reflective tape to boot. In the end, we passed through about ten checkpoints, only being stopped at three of them. They only asked for proper documentation of the vehicle and the driver’s license each time. No sweat!
Once we made it to the Nicaraguan border, we were already exhausted. This one was a little more organized, with all offices in one building. The hard part came when we tried to check the dog into Nicaragua. We asked what the standard procedure was and the man behind the counter made a few phone calls and chatted with his colleagues. He then handed us a piece of paper with an account number scribbled on it. He told us to walk down to the bank to deposit money into the account and then we would receive the forms for our dog. The three of us, Kellee, Jamie and I, were in disbelief and not willing to hand money over without seeing documentation. Dogs loaded up and Kellee and Jamie in their car heading south, Nate picked up on a guard who was on his cell phone calling the police. I flagged Kellee and Jamie down while Nate level-headedly went inside to smooth talk the man into seeing the forms first. He assured Nate that this was the proper procedure so we went ahead and deposited money into the anonymous account. When we returned with the deposit slip, he filled out the form with all of Brady’s information and sent us on our way. A situation with four fugitive gringos and two illegal dogs avoided! Bam! (Thanks Nate!!)
Finally in Nicaragua, our first stop was Las Penitas. We pulled into the dusty, sleepy town and asked a pizza joint if we could camp. After pulling into our spot for the night, we all four headed to the restaurant for a much deserved beer and some homemade pizza!
We had been having some trouble with our auxiliary battery system. The battery seemed to be dying at a much quicker pace than we had remembered, therefor the fridge was not keeping cool and we were not keeping cool because we could not have a fan at night. After many talks, we decided to start looking for a solar panel to help out. Driving through Chenandega a few days later, Kellee and Jamie both pointed their fingers out their car at a solar store and quickly pulled off to the side of the road. Nate and Jamie went to check it out and came back with big smiles on their faces. They had found a solar panel that would work perfectly for our system and at a good price too! Welcome to The Long Way South, solar panel, you are in for one long ride!
A few days later, we bumped down the coast of Nicaragua looking for some good waves and a nice camp spot. The solar panel was doing great, however our battery was not holding a charge. Letting it completely die too many times shortened it’s life. This meant that we would have to start looking for another deep cycle battery to replace the one we have in order to keep the fridge, fan and computers going. We knew we would be driving through Managua soon so we did some research and found a store that would have what we needed. The store itself did not have the battery in stock but told us that if we paid there, we could go pick one up at their warehouse. After paying for a battery we had not seen yet and with the worst directions ever given to me, we headed towards the warehouse. Pulling down a dirt road, we were sure we were lost. Then we saw the faded, crooked sign for the store’s warehouse up in a tree. There was a man with a gun standing at the gate and no one else in sight. After giving the guard our receipt, he opened the gate and told us to back in. They plopped the ginormous battery in the back with the bed, and we were off!
Rendezvous back at McDonald’s, where we left Brady tied to a tree, Nate casually swapped batteries while the security guard wielding a sawed off shotgun hovered over him. Any battery called ‘The Intimidator’ has to be good!! We pointed the trucks West and headed back to the coast to find our perfect camp spot, with the perfect waves. And that we did!