After a few great days in Guatemala we were heading for Honduras. Crossing this border we had a slightly different approach to the Guatemalan border with Mexico where we were crossing early in the morning and wanted to beat the heat. We failed hard and this resulted in being toasted and wasting half a day. We wanted to cross the Honduran border after sunset, when things cool down and when you don’t miss out on anything else. Ready to play some Honduran games..
The sun went down just before we got the first checkpoint. Maybe also due to the time of the day, but no helpers approached us, which was perfect. Getting to the first checkpoint I went to the guys in the little booth and asked them if they could cancel my TIP to be able to take the vehicle out of the country. Considering our little language barrier we talked quite a lot, some of this was with Google Translate since my Spanish is minimalistic and their was English non-existent. Super nice guys and genuinely interested, they put effort in helping. I improved my Spanish, and I helped them improve their English (which they all wish they could speak). Checked the VIN, got the stamp, had a nice chat and we drove on.
About 2km down the road there’s the Honduran part of the border, and by the time we got there it was dark already. As we got close there was a gate, two guys in what seemed a uniform and many around them (including the ones operating the gate) without. As many helpers want to convince you they work for the border to have you hand over papers or passport, they sometimes dress up like the local authorities. It was dark already and it was hard to distinguish real from fake, I didn’t trust them as they asked for papers, the whole setup with all the people who were obviously not working. I refused and the gate stayed closed. I reversed Grisu and wanted to park, walk through the gate and followed my personal rules at borders.
The one guy who asked me for papers followed me and I explained that I just wanted to pass through and wanted to do the paperwork inside. Weirdly, out of a sudden the gate could be opened (operated by non-officials). As we parked up next to the building we were asked by the other guy (who spoke decent English) if we really didn’t want help and we kindly declined his offer.
Went inside, got stamped out of Guatemala and stamped into Honduras at the cost of $3 which we paid in American cash. Next the TIP, which was done by the guy who I didn’t trust outside. A strange situation, because he cooperated with the guy who offered to help (for a fee of course) after we parked. Anyway, I apologised for my behaviour and explained the situation was confusing.
He collected copies, and started filling out paperwork. Somewhere along the line he mentioned we had to pay the $35 for the TIP per bank, and this was where the Honduran games really were about to start. I knew based on my research on iOverlander that the $35 was the correct rate, but the bank was closed (since it was night time) and I needed to transfer online. I said no problem since I have internet (Google Fi) and asked where I should send the money to. After some confusion we said it could only be done with a local bank and he wasn’t be able to accept cash. The question why the other guy behind the counter a few meters away was allowed to accept our entrance fee in cash still remains unanswered..
Now, coincidently, there was another guy who he introduced out of nothing and he could transfer the money for us and we’d pay him in USD cash. Of course this guy wanted a fee for his services, but I accepted without asking his commission. It took a while, but a little later all the paperwork was done, stamped and signed.
Everything set, apart from the payment. The helper guy wanted me to come to his “office”, which he of course didn’t have. I refused and wanted to know his commission. With the help of Google Translate he was brave enough to ask for $50.. for a $35 payment.. interesting rates in Honduras.. Not being able to resist to laugh we refused and quickly he went down to $15 trying to make us believe it was a mistake, which we refused again (of course). He tried to explain it was his “work” and he got annoyed since he had to wait quite a while and felt he had wasted his time so he took off.
With the paperwork done, the border officer now had “an issue”, but he went the easy way and now out of a sudden it was possible to pay cash. For the small amount of time we still had to deal with him he acted “being a nice guy” quite well, but obviously pissed since the helper outside he cooperated with didn’t bring him any cash since we refused, and also the bank transfer trick didn’t work, so all the Honduran games this night turned out to be unsuccessful.
Might seem weird if you’re just used to European border crossings where you don’t have to slow down on the highway, let alone stop and deal with officials, but here in this part of the world it’s an every day routine..