Driving Central America & South America.

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North Carolina to Honduras, leaving in Feb.

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Burlynomad's picture
Joined: Jan 6 2009

First of all, thanks to everyone who contributes to this forum. I've learned a great deal from searching through old threads. There is truly a wealth of info here.
I'm a 32yr old male from Wilmington, NC. I'll be leaving at the beginning of Feb for a final destination of Roatan, Honduras. I'll be travelling with my 11yr old dog, Sola (Very well trained, loving, and respectful). My vehicle is a 1991 Nissan Pathfinder, in 'OK' shape (we'll see how it holds up). I'll be bringing a sit on top kayak, long (surf)board, short (surf)board, freediving/spearfishing gear, scuba equipment, Macbook, camping gear & clothes. I'm in no real hurry but would like to reach Roatan the beginning of March.
I'm hoping to meet up with some others that are leisurely driving through Mexico/Guatemala/Honduras that I can meet up to 'caravan' with. From what I've read, it seems like I could just shoot down the toll roads alone fairly safely, But I'd like to take my time and venture 'of the beaten path'.
Really, I'd like some travelling companions so I could venture into the ocean to surf/dive/hunt/kayak while leaving my truck safely back at camp. Without everything I own getting stolen. And of course just safely camping out at night 'OTBP'
I'm an avid freediver/spearfisherman comfortable hunting down to 90-100ft. I'm also a PADI divemaster. I'm also comfortable surfing on most waves (been surfing for 16yrs). I'm getting certified as a scuba instructor in Roatan and I'll be looking for work in the Central American dive industry. So this will hopefully be a one way trip.
My schedule and itinerary are very flexible so if I sound like someone you'd like to caravan with, please get in touch. I'm not stuck on keeping to the coast the whole time, either. I love the mountains and experiencing culture, too. Although, I'd definitely want to see as much ocean as possible. My main concerns are: being safe, not getting my gear stolen, having fun, and reaching Roatan in early March.
Any tips or input for my trip will be greatly appreciated. I'm sure I'm leaving important details out, so just ask.:)
Greg Davis

groundclown's picture
Joined: Jan 9 2009

Hello Burlynomad,
My brother, 5 year old son and myself are leaving in feb with the intent to drive to costa rica and back to oregon by june. I am a kite surfer/ surfer and former kayaker. we need to stop in san carlos, sonora Mexico for a couple weeks to visit family. after that we have no plans but to tour our way south and back. I may need to be in costa rica for 16 days in march. I want to hit as many beaches, jungles, and ruins as we can find.


AprilB's picture
Joined: Oct 21 2008

Hi Burlynomad
Sounds like a great adventure.
I read on other boards that a fellow crossing into Mexico with several water sports items was given a hard time and fined. Apparently there's a law that says we can't bring in more than three recreational items (not the exact wording, I'm sure). Of course, it might all depend on who you get at the border crossing...

Burlynomad's picture
Joined: Jan 6 2009

I checked out San Carlos. It looks like a great place. Do you know when in Feb you'll be leaving? Like I said, I'm very flexible with my dates and wouldn't mind camping out in San Carlos for a couple weeks, then hopping down the Pacific coast checking out beaches. Do you think there would be a safe place for me to camp in San Carlos?

Yeah, I read that post and wondered if thats a real law or if he just hussled. Either way, I'm gonna have to risk it because it'll be everything I own. I'd try to argue that surfing is one sport, and spearfishing is another sport that requires dive gear, spearguns, and a kayak. Or, like many have advised, just play dumb and say 'no habla espaniol' until they leave me alone. Does anybody know if the 'Only 2 Recreation Items Law' is for real?
Thanks April,

kurtjfred's picture
Joined: Jan 5 2009

recreation equipment

I have never taken surfboards, but we have been several times with multiple motorcycles, sailboat, inflatable boats, dive gear, etc., and this topic has never come up. Several families from our area here in Northern California travel down South to play and no one has ever mentioned this either. One friend of mine owns over a dozen pieces of property down there now and has hauled all kinds of toys and other things, he had building materials questioned before. He was required to show receipts for their value and than paid a tax for importing them, he simply buys from a Home Depot down there now. Just my two cents.

robertdjung's picture
Joined: Oct 31 2006

Greg: first -- awesome effing trip. I learned to dive in Utila, and it's way laid back. There's more money in Roatan, and though I never made it there, I'm sure it's awesome. That's a great place, and you'll be set for whale sharks that time of year as I recall.

The whole "X number of import" thing I think is half BS half real. But even if there's a law "somewhere" on the books, it's just a judgement call. Argue like hell. Bring a couple of photos of you using the equipment, that will impress the hell out of any border guard.

About the "hunt" thing -- careful -- firearms in mexico = jail. Welcome to the site and let's hear some more!

groundclown's picture
Joined: Jan 9 2009

my father lives there on a boat and says there is safe camping just a few minutes from the marina.
I plan to leave the 8th of Feb. I will stop for 2 or 3 days in Park City, Utah. (gotta try and get a snow kite session in) I should be in San Carlos by the 12 -14th. My dad wants to go to the copper canyon and sail about 30 miles to... not sure. something about 6000+ dolphins.
sounds like a barren, beautiful desert. I think I'll prefer the lush areas further south.

BTW- it sounds like we are on the same path. hoping for that one way trip as well. I work for a kite surfing company(Windwing). we are helping a Costa Rican resort, Recreo, set up a kite school. this is what got me rolling on this adventure. I just decided it looks like the right time to start living my life dream. the cards just kind of fell together. I've just started a book on that subject. THE IRRESPONSIBLE QUEST. This trip should add nicely to it.
I am 28, and my brother 20. Off the beaten path is great. plan on spending the next 5 months (if we go back) nearly living off the land/sea. A small plot of land with a yurt. Now that's what I see as home! I think some company would be nice and a bit safer. I've only snorkeled a few times, so maybe we could trade skills?

I drive a 93 Toyota t-100 with a tall canopy. I think it should fair well. setting it up to live out of the back and side. I'm building a fold down platform form a tent on one side. gearing up on international stoves, water filters, bear spray, hiking gear, and other camp gear...
oh yeah. I read on a government site that that recreation law is true. kind of. It limits you to 2 types of recreational equipment. you can have more than one board (all have to be used and not in quantities you might sell). also register your computer with a consulate before you go or they could tax you. A friend took surfboards, kayaks, and dumb-bells (weights) and was fined for not declaring the third type of recreational gear. some dumb things sometimes happen. fishing gear does not count from my understanding.
You can call or e-mail me if you like. 509-637-3439 or [email]groundclown@gmail.com[/email]

robertdjung's picture
Joined: Oct 31 2006

Good news on the hunting. I love spearfishing. Fed us many times on the road. I will say this about it: Don't worry about cooking it yourself. There's *always* someone that will cook it for you. I don't mean this in a way that's rude -- I mean that literally, if there's a boat ramp, island, whatever, there's a restaurant that will cook your catch for nothing.

So, unless you're going to be in the middle of nowhere, and I mean *really nowhere* there's someone around with a grill that will cook it up, and you can just trade part of the catch for their services.

I was adament that we take a grill on our big trip to panama. We gave it away at some point in guatemala b/c it was clear we just weren't going to use it.

A note on the "rec equipment"... Argue like hell. You got two people in the car? Then you've got double the allotment. We rarely got searched, especially at the borders, strangely. A few boards on the car will catch some eyes though. I would just argue, and declare that you're "touristas" and you're leaving soon.

Good luck!!!

atg200's picture
Joined: Feb 20 2008

A locking surf board rack is a good idea. Mine were eyed a lot, but never went missing. I brought a small folding charcoal grill and used it extensively. I liked being able to cook fish tacos on deserted beaches. Charcoal is of horrible quality down south so bring whatever you think you'll need.

I never got hassled for the amount of recreational stuff I had, and I had a lot.

Burlynomad's picture
Joined: Jan 6 2009

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Just to clarify, when I talk about hunting, I mean underwater hunting with a speargun.

Sounds great. Kite boarding? I've been wanting to try that. I'll contact you soon. That's about the same schedule I'm on. I'm kind of running out the door to watch some football right now. Go Panthers!!!!!!!