Lancha Privado: El Salvador to Nicaragura by Boat
Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
163Trip End May 10, 2011
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Letter to Tom, Owner of Tortuga Verde:
I want to tell you how the journey from La Tortuga Verde to La Union, El Salvador to Potosi, Nicaragua went.
1) We arrived in La Union as planned and made it through the Visa process fine shortly after 8AM. The boat captain helped us through the immigration process and confirmed he had no other passengers and we would be on a private boat as promised. But the boat would not leave until 10AM or 11AM. Timing was off track but still manageable.
2) Unfortunately, the 'private' boat was not private and did not leave until after 12:30PM.
3) The captain took us on his public boat to Meanguera Island along with 23 other paying passengers. It took about an hour and a half.
4) At Meanguea, after a delay, the captain changed us over to a smaller private boat that went quickly (45 minutes) to Potosi Nicaragua. Arrival was after 3PM.
5) The captain helped us get through customs again which took 20 to 30 minutes. By then, the last public bus leaving Potosi was long gone and expensive private transport had to be hired to get to our friends to Managua Airport.
Bottom line; La Tortuga Verde did not deliver what was promised. When we asked you to arrange our private truck and boat transport, it was with the understanding that the overall time would be 3 or 4 hours, much quicker than the taking the a van to Nicaragua. With all the delays, caused by the captain's plan, our journey to Nicaragua took over 8 hours. We expressed our displeasure with the captain and explained our reasons (in Spanish, the best we could) as well as reducing his fee.
My final recommendation is that if you are able to establish a boat directly from La Tortuga Verde to Nicaragua, you must have people and timing that are realistic and reliable. You must be able to deliver on your promises consistently. This would apply to all aspects of your business of course.
After we landed on the beach in Potosi, Nicaragua, we were greeted on the dirt trail 20 meters off the beach by border agent carrying a huge rifle.He selected a few bags to search. Mike and Kirsten were on pins and needles from 11AM on. They had a hotel reservation at the airport in Managua and planned to greet Mike's mom as she got off the airplane from Canada in the morning. Kirsten was ready to strangle the boat captain after all the delays.
We decided to get the Nicaragua arrival stamp in our passports before dealing with the captain. The Nicaraguan official had to be sent for in town and it looked like he was just woken from a nap when he arrived. His "Yankees Suck" tee-shirt was a nice touch. He took his sweet time reviewing each of our passports and checking the computer before giving us the stamps. When Kirsten and mike got through, Dave told her and Mike to go ahead to town and find out about the bus. And get on or hold the bus if it was still there. We'd deal with the Captain. We had given the captain half the money when we boarded and were debating what to do about the 2nd payment. Kirsten wanted to give the captain a piece of her mind and leave without paying any more. Dave suggested we just dock the fee for the revenue he got from the other passengers, which seemed to be the fair thing to do. The three of us took turns airing our arguments with the captain while Michelle stood back amused. She was feeling sorry for the captain when we were done. The captain did not have anything to say about what was promised and not delivered. He just asked for full payment. We offered $40 more, to be "fair". He said "no" and turned his back. Dave left the $40 on the ledge and we walked through the final gate into Nicaragua without looking back.
We hurried the 200 meters up the dirt road and where happy to see the sign for a hotel hanging from a tree.. We couldn't quite figure out which building is the hotel but we poked our head in and were greeted by Rafael, the proprietor of the Brisas Del Golfo. We asked if he has a room for the two of us. He does. We tell him we want it but we urgently need to get our friends on a bus to Managua. "No Problem" he tells us, the bus leaves at 4:30 in the morning. No bueno. Our friends need to get to Managua Esta Noche...... Kirsten takes over and tells him 'yes’ we must get to Managua tonight. Rafael paused to think a moment and told her he would find private transportation to the paved road where they can catch the bus. “Good” “Please”. They ordered a coke from Rafael’s restaurant counter and paid in USD, receiving change in local currency, Cordobas, no problem. It take less than 10 minutes before a guy with a rum and coke in his fist arrives and said he will take them and he said he had not been drinking. Or that is what we wanted to hear. We really think he said is that he will take them after he finishes his drink. No time to argue. A few gulps later, the guy disappeared and reappeared driving his big blue flat bed truck. Mike and Kirsten run to jump on the back and they left a trail of dust as they take off. Kirsten waives goodbye like a beauty queen in a pagent.
It was peaceful for us, and we settled in at Brisas Del Golfo. The room price was only $10. And Yes, they have Diet Cola. Yes, they have fresh camarones (shrimp). And later at dinner time, yes, they have more great food. Later a group of French travelers appeared. They had stopped and Brisas Del Golfo for refreshment five days earlier after visiting the local volcano and stayed ever since. They had not decided exactly when they would leave. They must like it! We still planned to get started at day break so showered and went to bed early.
We learned Mike and Kristen arrived at the paved road and the bus was waiting for them. Rafael had somehow called and asked the driver to hold the bus! The bus got to Chinandega AFTER the last bus to Managua departed. They were able to find a taxi that was willing to take them the 85 miles to their hotel near Managua airport. All was well in the end.