This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.
Border name: Guasaule
Closest major cities: Guasaule, Honduras and Somotillo, Nicaragua
Cost for visas: $12 per person
Cost for vehicle: $3 for fumigation. $12 for insurance. Permit is free.
Total time: 1 hour
Update August 2013: The buildings at this border have been rebuilt. I'm sad to say that you may not have the same sketchy, bombed-out building experience as we did. Thanks to Tanja & Armin from www.travelsouthbound.de for the update.
Note: This is part two of the border crossing marathon day. We left from San Miguel, El Salvador in hope of reaching Leon, Nicaragua on the same day. Part 1 of the border crossing is here. To complicate matters, we were attempting this on the Friday of Semana Santa, which turned out to be a blessing. Borders were quiet and touts had better places to be. We were in Leon drinking mojitos before sun down.
After two hours of driving trying to cross Honduras, 14 police check points later, we finally arrived at the Guasaule border. It looked like hell.
Totally lost, we stopped at the cement booth on the left side of the road (not much traffic here). The only guy with an ID badge took a look at our vehicle permit and then waved us onward. We tried to ask where, but he just sort of flailed at some distant building.
With no signs, and no one but money changers in sight, we took the middle road, towards the end of the some abandoned building. We looked around for a sign. None. The money changer said this was the place to park. Or to be robbed.
We parked, hesitantly. I asked where immigration was. We were waved to the center of the seemingly abandoned buildings. Another parking lot. Some more people. A good sign. I asked again “Donde esta migracion?” More people waving in vague directions. Back there, more sketchy buildings. Seriously, we’re going to die.
Then we saw it, an old school desk, piled high with papers, and a grumpy guy sitting behind it. He waves us over. I notice “migracion” written in permanent marker on a piece of cardboard, taped to the wall behind him. Awesome.
We walk up the hill of rubble, and notice that there was in fact an office behind him, but it’s probably hotter in there. Kobus goes back to get the car and drives it to the parking lot closer to immigration.
Jared and I walk up to the immigration desk. The official takes our passports and stamps them apathetically.
We asked where customs was, and were again waved in a vague direction, somewhere at the end of the building. Seriously people, use words.
We walked to the end of the building, went in a door. Wrong door. Next door, wrong door again. More vague hand gestures. Ok, around the building. There is nothing around the building.
The back is just piles of dirt and cement rubble, and a row of windows. Ok, what now?
I go up to a window. “Buenas Dias. Donde esta aduana?” (Where is customs?)
“Aquí!” Oh, thank god.
A nice lady took our vehicle permit and Kobus’ passport through the window. She stamped his passport with the vehicle exit stamp and kept the original permit document. Then waved us away. Ok, guess we are done here.
Back in the car we snap photos of the border war zone, for your viewing pleasure. Then head out of the parking lot. We drive over to the Nicaraguan side without being stopped.
We start on the right side, the rest of the area is blocked by traffic cones. A nice guy with a creepy end-of-the-world gas mask checks to make sure our windows are up.
Fumigation time. He sprays our car and then waves us forward. A guy with in a cement booth, tell us we need to pay the $3 fumigation fee.
We pay the fee just as a lady approaches asking if we need insurance. The fumigation cashier cranks up the Metallica tunes, and we rock out as she fills out the insurance paperwork. She asks for two copies of the drivers passport and license. I hand her the copies. She hands me back the insurance paperwork and the copies. Is this just an exercise to make sure the copy guys have made their money? We pay $12 for the insurance.
Next, we follow the signs across the street to immigration. We park in the shade and walk in the long building. Damn, no air con.
At the end of the building, the immigration officials take our passports. They inspect them carefully and let us know that we have less than three weeks before our CA-4 visas expire. Good to know they are keeping track. We explain that we plan to leave in Nicaragua in two weeks. Whew.
The official asks for $36 ($12 per person). He returns our passports and a receipt. We head to the audana counter at the other side of the building. The official behind the glass takes our vehicle title, and the driver’s passport and license. He asks for a copy of the passport and license.
It takes 15 minutes or so for him to enter all of the information into the computer. Then he presents us with two copies of the permit, asks Kobus to sign both copies, and keeps one for himself.
Back in the car we notice that Kobus’ nationally is listed incorrectly on the paperwork. Kobus goes back to aduana to explain that Sudan and Sud Africa are not the same place. The official scribbles on the permit, signs it, stamps it again and returns it to Kobus.
We pile back in the car and drive around behind the immigration/customs building. A short ways up the road we are stopped at a booth where an official asks to see a pile of papers including: Nicaraguan vehicle permit, fumigation receipt, tourist permit receipt and insurance. He inspects all of the documents, returns them and wishes us a happy journey.
Another 2 hours and 80 miles later we arrive in the sweltering city of Leon. We unload, order mojitos and spend the rest of the day drinking and sitting in front of a fan.