El Salvador from Guatemala border crossing

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one of many volcanos on Lake Atitlan

We woke well before sunrise at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala with plans on crossing into El Salvador ASAP. Border crossings are always a process and you should expect the unexpected. Arrive prepared, well fed, and expect a long sweaty line of traffic.

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boat recovery on Lake Atitlan

Before each border you need to do your homework. Each border is different, and there are always useful tips online to better prepare you for the process. Most borders have locals that are willing to walk you through the process for a small, negotiable fee. I always try to avoid these dudes (they are just random dudes, not official by any means).

IMG_5194One of those dudes spotted us miles before the border, swerved his motorcycle in front of us, began motioning us to follow him, and straight being the only direction to go, we had no choice but to follow. We stopped to do all our Guatemala exit paperwork, and the dude just started telling us what needed to be done. “two copies of this, one copy of that, go over there, talk to that guy”. Guatemala done. We are almost in El Salvador, but before that lets sit in bumper to bumper traffic on a bridge for an hour.

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“the dude”

As it turns out, our dude was pretty damm useful. He ripped around on his bike telling all the trucks to move over so we could get by. He directed traffic “go here, go around that guy, drive on the wrong side of the road for miles at a time, cut off everyone, its ok”. We took his lead, with no hesitation. No one seemed to mind either which is interesting.  But, after countless traffic violations we were at the El Salvador border.

IMG_5187Once agian, dude helped us,  “go here, go there, fill these out, now do this”. I have to admit that we propably could have done this all ourselves, but it would have taken twice as long and would have been three times as stressful. When we were finally done, the dude, AKA George, was the man of the hour. At this point, I was ready for him to haggle me for money, but no. It was a smooth transaction. I offered him $20 bucks, and he seemed to be stoked for his two hours of helping us gringos in the sweltering heat. Well worth it in my opinion. By the end of the day we were swimming in 80 degree water on the tropical beaches of El Salvador.

"the dude" George
“the dude” George

To all travelers crossing this boarder, look for this dude named George. He was a perfect gentleman and spoke perfect english. He lived in the states for over 20 years, and is now slowly preparing to become a legal resident. Props to the kind locals helping a couple confused gringos.

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