Hitchhiking in… (15) Central America

With Central America I want to gather all countries between Mexico and Colombia. To be specific: Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. I decided to make one article about all of them, because those countries are very small and I did not stay a lot of time in this region. Just passing through. So it would not make sense to write an article about each of them. In general I think Central America is a very exciting region and good for hitchhiking.




Stats

Hitchhiked distance: 2435 kilometer

Number of lifts: 63

Average waiting time: 15 minutes 46 seconds

Waiting time total: 16 hours 34 minutes

Log you can find here.

My Route

I went from the very end of Panama all the way north into Texas. Most of the time alont the Panamericana.

People

I was surprised by South America already. All the people said, it would be so dangerous, but in the end it was very wonderful. Same for central America. Panama and Costa Rica are kinda former provinces of the United States, now independent and a lot of retired US-Citizens live there. I experienced the hitchhiking there as laborious. I mean, what is worse than hitchhiking in the US? Right, hitchhiking in a country which exists of retired Americans. Lucky me i reached Nicaragua at some point, where it was much more convenient. Very poor country, but nice hitchhiking experience.

Honduras was a good country to hitchhike in, but it seems that this place is suffering a lot by drug trafficking and corruption. I did not feel very safe there, which is very uncommon for me. I would describe the country neutraly as…wild. Beside that also very cheap. I think the people are bloodsuckers, want to make the most out of the tourists and don’t give a shit at the one side and very hospitality at the other side, have a really warm interaction. I was only crossing but had a very intense impression. Negative as well as positive.

In El Salvador you can pay with Dollars, the life-standart is a bit higher and the people are very friendly. It is a little bit my insider tip for Central America. I never recognized this country before, but now I would say: „Go there!“, if someone would asked me for a recommendation in Central America.

And then Guatemala. My love. People are so super nice, very cheap, a lot to see and hell of a hitchhiking experience. Definitely my favourite in the review and the country with the best hitchhiking in all North America. A lot of Pick-Ups, many fast pick ups, nice roads, stunning landscape. Here I will come back!

In the stats Central America has a very good average waiting time. This is mostly because of Guatemala! Just saying.

Roads

Panama has a long highway which gets a bit unsteady in the north. But with Costa Rica the best road quality in Central America. Nicaragua is a bit fucked up, Honduras as well. El Salvador and Guatemala are somehow in the middle of that.

In Costa Rica you should follow the road along the coast line instead of the Panamericana in the middle of the country. It leads through the jungle, along of endless palmtree plantations. An ecological disaster but exciting to watch. In Guatemala you have a lot of volcanoes along the road, it is very scenic and the temperate climate is very convenient. At least if you got out of hot Panama recently.

In the South of Panama is very dense jungle. Be careful, the roads can get fucking slippery through the humidity. I was in an accident there because of this.

If you hitchhike along the Transamericana, then better take the short way through the south-west of Honduras. And check the borders beforehand. If you end up at the wrong border, it can cost you an entire day because of low traffic. Some borders are also not recommendable to cross during the night. Nicaragua and Honduras are in general kind of troubled kids in this region. But go there and find out for yourself and don’t let yourself get influenced too much by my experience.




Tactics

Panama get through it somehow. Not perfect, but possible. Panama City has a kind of city rail, which has only one line, but goes to the other end of the city, which is quite helpful. In Costa Rica I would definitely use the coast. More relaxed surfers and higher chances to get a ride. In Nicaragua just go with the flow. Don’t hitchhike during the night in Honduras, if you are not interested in losing some weight of your luggage and experience the „real adventure“. El Salvador (City) is a wonderful place to hitchhike through, if you stick to my Hitchhiking in Cities – Guide. Don’t be afraid of this cities. But when I was there the sun was shining friendly and maybe my impression is a bit too positive. For Guatemala is not much to say. Enjoy the pick-ups, enjoy the hitchhiking, enjoy the people. Guatemala City can be a bit exhausting, but possible.

Impressions

 

Specifics

Nothing to say here for this time.

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