Driving the Panamerica. Camino de diablo

You ever notice how all bad ideas start off as a great idea and seem so easy to do?

So this is exactly how it started, My fantastic idea to drive my semi full of all i need to get my business going in Nicaragua. All my tools and possesions stashed perfectly inside the box trailer you trully behind the wheel the sun was shining giving the illusion of a grand voyage.

All was well from California to Texas I found the border crossing, located a customs broker and got the ole ball rolling. The fee for the broker seemed high but then i have alot of tools so the inventory list is many pages long 350 dollars i used the Nuevo Vida guys and the three days i stayed around waiting for my titles to clear was not to bad, bar-be-ques every night plenty of cold beer, they even made sure to set me up in a group going to at least Guatemala just to help make sure nothing disasterous happened.

Well our group got into mexico around noon December 22, Most of the guys had families and where very eager to play Santa Claus for christmas so this set the pace for us all it was drive till you drop first one down choose the place for the night, Mexico was blur all i remember was the damn pot holes the toll roads such as they are I mean you pay to be beaten type of road. The free roads are the way As i put it to the one guy who keep insisting on the toll roads one more and i am beating you to death and the rest of the group was ready to follow my lead.

If you decide to drive down remeber these words "in Mexico use the free roads" they are smoothe just no lines so its hard to see at night your body will thank you for this decision I promoise you.

Christmas eve we made the Guatamalan border however it was the wrong place for me i needed to go to Talisman. First I need sleep and real real bad the hotels where either full or closed in Mexico I was told over in Guatamala there where rooms. A guy on a pepano (tricycle with passanger seat) offered to take me there. I was just way tired i forgot to ask how much besides i saw everyone else using them for a few pesos. We get to the hotel a distance of maybee 100 yards he says 20 dollars US. What!!! ya he wanted 20 buck i give him a hundred pesos and dismiss it, the going rate is 5-15 pesos. Well he starts screeming, pretty soon the police are involved. My Spanish is far from perfect but i can get my point across without much trouble, the cops are asking him your really charging him 20 bucks for what? Next thing i know he pulls the seat off his bike and tries to break my back and kick me while i am down, the only thing the cops did was keep me from defending myself, off he speeds across the boarder stops at my truck and breaks the drivers side window out with a rock. Well now i am sleeping in the truck with my bat in hand.

The next morning i I am alone and have no idea where talisman is in relation to where I am, so I start asking around I find a guy whose sister needed to go to talisman for the family get together and did i mind if her son rides along? She took right me where i needed to be perfect mucho gracias i bought lunch.

The place is right on the border, soon a guy posing as aduana but really is some kind of customs broker talks to me and we agreed on price for setting up my paperwork 200 pesos, he showed me a hotel close by, a nice place, pools, good food, cold beer, friendly people, and a whole group of guys from the Nuevo vida parties right-one Merry Christmas...

In the morning i was woken up by my broker to get a good spot in line as promised. The only thing was I did not know to tip the guard in Guatamala to enter the right parking lot so he sends me to some side parking lot far away from where i need to be. All morning i am waiting and the more i sit the more i am positive this is not right. So i start walking soon I find where I should be No-one wants to help me so i soon find myself talking to god, a hear a familiar chuckle coming from behind, its the chuckle of a man from Bluefield can i help you? he says.

You guys from Bluefilds over the last few years have helped me out time and again you guys are great.

He tells me how i went wrong, go get your truck and tip the guy sure as &%¤# i get my spot in line soon my broker finds me and out i go right into Guatemala, only thing is in have a guardian and a new bill for 400 dollars as i try to figure this out a few cops are closing in and remebering the previous night i laid out the cash.

My guardian the whole way was a mix of good and bad he steered me correctly with directions when to slow down when to speed up dangerous curves steep hills he was good this way. He also cat called to every girl on the road and made specticle out of himself. One the border of El Salvador he instructed me to sit in my truck as i watch him work through a window working with someone i also thought was aduana he wore the same cloths this is why i thought he was aduana, in the mean time every single person in visual range was saying hey gringo give me money, give me money gringo. Soon my guardian gives me my papers and says go over there, without pointing before i can ask where, he is gone. The guy who seemed to be helping him at the window points over there.

I pull up where instructed he reaches in my truck grabbs my papers and off to the aduana building he goes,to be fair i couldnt tell if he actually entered the building, a few minutes later he signals me to come over there, I swear he was wearing the same cloths as the people I saw going in and out of Aduana. The next thing i know he says theres a problem two guys grabb my arms and remove my wallet take all my money and put my wallet back in my pocket hands me my papers and tells me to go. The guards on the border are signaling me to go so into El Salvadore i go pennyless. It took me a second to realise i was just robbed 1000 gone.

El Salvador posts on the door in english their services are free and personal no third parties, I was approach by a guy to assist me and explain i had no money need an atm to pay for things SO he said if he help me will I pay him what, did i know he showed my the copy center loaned me the little money aduana needed for a permit and off to town we went i paid him a 100 for the help and i actually learned from him how to do it for myself, next time, if ever.

Honduras was bribery central 10 and 20 to every cop just to get through the inspections 5 police stations each one swearing i was speeding in granny gear past them ya right as if granny exceeds 4 miles an hour i would be suprized, but they wanted to be paid as well. And whats up with the time limits in these countries you have a set number of hours on your visa or you get fined? This makes for some very unsafe driving. Let alone return to town to fight a speeding ticket or get fined a 1000 dollars for violating your visa.

Whoes money built that road, it wasnt built to rip gringos off or was it?

Nicaragua was by far the most hostile, hard to enter country on the list. I will post this as a seperate posting later

I hope anyone thinking of driving this road reads these words save yourself fly. Buy using the road you are feeding these preditors that these countries allow to work their games they prey on Americans spend your money in the airport maybee some day they will figure it out, as for Guatemala fly over it swimm around do not spend a dime in this country let them starve!!!! I have found the system set up for transmigration to be extremly unfair so until this is fixed i suggest finding another way. Sure North americans have a little money earned by hard work this should not make us a target on a road built by our tax dollars as well as our fathers, this road serves as a route for central america to get goods to market as well as All Amricans to get where they would like to go , it seems alot of Central American people have the wrong idea here i know for a fact the country of Guatalmala will never see another penny of my money and i will do all i can to convinve others to not spend money there!!!

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El Camino Diablo

I made the same mistake... 16 ft. box van... Washington state to the mexican border was great. Mexican border was a 8 hour deal.. Mexico was not bad. Roads are like bad logging roads in Washington. No real rip offs. Guatamala was pretty much like your trip. Honduras was three days of hell and bribes. Do not try to think about residency in Honduras. They do not want perm. Residency they want tourists that don't even know they are being ripped off. Five years of attempts with all papers and residency requirments needed. No residency. I have heard a local deputado state "we don't want retirees only tourists. knowledge is power

Your business

What part of Nica do you plan to set up shop? Just curious. I have been involved in the marine business and around the water all my life. Good luck on your endeavor and I'm sorry to here about being ripped off. I got taken for a grand in Costa Rica once by some grave robbers trying to sell me artifacts. What comes around goes around.....I hope!

The place

At the moment its a piece of dirt on the road to San Juan del sur.

sorry to hear....

of your difficulties. i will fly. i will take your advice.

Hey Brian

Quiet an adventure.

At least you made it in one piece, and this is the most important thing, money comes and goes, so chin up and remember what does not kill you make you stronger.

Better luck next time, I am rooting for you and for your dream, so have faith things will get better.


No worry

Chin is high as well as the blood pressure, At the moment i am trying to work it out with Aduana. And when my stuff is in my hands again i will write about the Nicaraguan Side of this coin. They have made me think this is nearly the most stupid idea ever but before i judge i need to see the outcome. Thanks to all for the encouragement Bry

my wife and i

thought of driving one time. i wanted to just see the country and see different places. i usually do very well with my wife because she is from nicaragua and she can really argue with the people and get her way allot of times. but i dont think that we will try it. thanks for your warnings