The last you heard from us we were about to embark on a bus across three international borders driving from 2:00am until 7:00pm. Yes, a 17 hour journey from Nicaragua to Guatemala.
We left Leon, Nicaragua at about 2:00 in the morning and handed over our passports and some cash to the driver. We booked our bus through Gekko tours and overall we were pretty satisfied. In addition to the cost of the ride, $45 for a minibus which seats about 15 people we think, we were asked to pay $5 for the border taxes and an additional $2/person to help expedite the process when we reach the Honduras border. The extra money is to pay off the border patrol so we can stay in the van and drive through seamlessly. It was a little less then two hours to the border with Honduras and when we arrived I was fast asleep.
We continued through the night until we reached the Honduras/El Salvador border at around 8:00am. At the border we had to get out of the van and check in directly with border patrol, the step we luckily got to skip over at the Nicaragua/Honduras border. It was pretty simple and then we continued on to a gas station for a quick breakfast (30 minutes) once in El Salvador. From there we drove a bit more and pulled over around 1:00pm at a beach town in El Salvador. A quick stop there and another hour later we stopped for lunch at a gas station which only really was selling one sandwich of steak and cheese. Our final stop before Guatemala was of course at the El Salvador/Guatemala border where we filled out some paperwork and got our passports stamped before entering the country. It was a couple of hours from the border to Antigua and we had finally made it!
We were so happy to be off the bus even though the ride was better than we expected. We had heard horror stories but the drivers were nice, the car had AC, it was pretty quiet in terms of the other travelers, and the border crossing was simple! Antigua was immediately the best place we had been. As soon as we got off the bus the air was cool, the park was beautifully lit up at night, and the shops and cafes looked extremely quaint. We walked over to our hostel through the cobblestone streets and old architecture of the city. It was already dark so things were quiet but we had a good feeling about the city and we already knew we wanted to stay an extra night.
We dropped our bags and went to find food – it had been ages since we ate anything but Pringles, goldfish crackers, and energy bars. We stopped into an adorable tiny cafe which had a ladder you needed to climb to get to the small loft with tables and chairs. The food was excellent although admittedly we didn’t eat much (I find when I have gone a long time without food and I finally can eat, I don’t). We were happy to have at least eaten a small amount if nothing else. Then of course it was off to bed after a long night of little sleep and long day of travel. We are looking forward to more exploring of this incredible little city in the mountains.