So where does the name "Latitude Fifty Four" come from?
The final destination for this motorcycle adventure was the city of Ushuaia located in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
The latitude of this city is 54° 47' South.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Day 40 to Day 43

Day 40 - November 16th: San Salvador, El Salvador to (Middle of Nowhere), Honduras
Day 41 - November 17th: (Middle of Nowhere), Honduras to Leon, Nicaragua
Day 42 - November 18th: Leon, Nicaragua
Day 43 - November 19th: Leon, Nicaragua

Our November 16th drive to Honduras was horrible. We left early in the morning and again battled the stinking fuming diesel trucks. After half a day of driving my dad's shirt was totally black from the exhaust fumes. We got to the border around 9:30 and were litterally swarmed by the border vulchers. They are at every border crossing from Guatemala down, but they were by far the worst in Honduras. They speak a little English, and insist that for $2.00 US or somewhere around that price, they will tell you what paperwork you must fill out and how much everything costs. Unfortunately, they rely on the fact that most people don't speak Spanish fluently, and will tell you that you need to pay the border officials more than is actually necessary. Often the translators will tell you there is actually a cost to services that are in fact free. Then they split up the difference with the border official behind closed doors, and to boot tell you that you need to pay them a few extra dollars for their services. Thankfully my dad's Spanish is pretty good so we have managed to go through every border crossing without their "help". At the Honduras border, though, there was no bank, so my dad had to take a cab back to a bank that gave out American dollars, and then return to pay the small import fee for the motorcycles. By the time the whole affair was completed it was nightfall. Driving at night in the middle of Honduras was already bad enough, with the flurry of bugs plastering our visors and the dangers of driving at night in a country where headlights are optional, but then we were held up by assaulteros demanding money...... in other words, the POLICE! The one officer told me he had to see my license. Then he told us we had to pay $20 per tire to cross. My dad simply said "No". The officer then said that he would need to hold my license until we paid up. My dad calmly held out his hand, and left it there for quite some time, until the officer again insisted on the $80. My dad then said "That isn't my property, or your property, it is the property of the Government of Canada, so if you'd return it now we'll be on our way" again holding out his hand. The cop looked a little baffled, but a lot pissed off, and then looked to the other officer for backup. The other officer gave him the "you're on your own buddy" shrug. Disgruntled, he then gave us back our documents and we once again raced on to try to find a suitable hotel. Then off in the horizon there was a gleaming oasis in a barren dessert.... a...well, you get the idea... there, in the middle of nowhere was a hotel, and not just any hotel.... a fancy one with lots of well dressed guests and a perfectly trimmed Christmas tree in the lobby. We had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming. The rate was reasonable too, and we found out a little later, that we were the third guests to EVER check into the hotel. The reason for the well dressed guests was that there was a grand opening party for the hotel that evening. It was the very first night they had been open! Even funnier was when we went outside to look over the entrance and there was a gathering of cops outside. My dad turned to one of them and said, in Spanish, "Hey, you look a little familiar...." at which point the guy looked totally taken aback and made a VERY abrupt departure. Turns out that our little friend from the police checkpoint was there with the higher ups and likely didn't want to deal with the reprecussions of that. After that evening we decided that Honduras wasn't for us and that we'd move on to Nicaragua. We passed 2 more police checkpoints on the way and again they both wanted various sums of money for various reasons, and again we told them no and didn´t have to pay. At the Nicaraguan border there were the vulchers waiting again, but it took MUCH less time and was much less of a painful experience. We stopped for some lunch at little comedor where the staff was very friendly, and we managed to get a few pictures of the family. We ended up in a small town called Leon. It is very nice here so we have decided to stay for a few days. Over breakfast the most bizarre thing happened. A blind man had stopped at the entrance of the restaurant. Shortly thereafter a man came walking along and bumped right into him. A few harsh words were exchanged and the man who had been waiting said "What´s wrong with you? Can´t you see I´m blind?" to which the other man responded "Are you trying to make fun of me because I´m blind?" They both assumed that the other person was mocking them, but it turned out that they both in fact were blind, and it was just a unlucky chain of events that they ended up bumping into one another. It took both of them a few moments, and the realization that they both indeed had blind sticks, to realize what was happening, whereby they promptly had a little laugh, shook hands and apologies were exchanged. Equally bizarre is a trip to the grocery store. The theme of our trip there was testicles and Bimbos.... I´ll just let the delectable pictures speak for themselves, but be warned, enlargement of the pictures isn´t for the faint of heart! I think I´ll stick with the subway store quaint as it is! For our last evening in Leon we went to the local cultural arts centre and watched a Classical Guitar Orchestra. It was a very nice evening, and the guitar music was great.

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