Border Stop

Chetumal Travel Blog

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Bus to Flores via Belize City left at 6:00am and we were only about 10 min away.  Got up at 5:30am dialed up a cab to come pick us up.  Operator finally answered and I was hoping to God he understood me as this was a $30 bus ticket, and what the hell were we going to do in Chet for another day.  Cabby arrived rather quickly, but this place was on lockdown.  He was honking for us outside and I was thinking he´d better not leave.  We couldn´t get the main gate open, so we sort of broke through the gate/wall structure.  I told him Chetumal ADO and he was off.  Alright, we´re going to be right on time.  We have about 15min.  Riding along and it sure doesn´t seem like we´re going back in the same direction and it´s dark out.  We´re strapped for time, but I figure this guy knows where he´s going I´ll wait a little longer before verifying.  Soon I see the sign for the airport, which I remember seeing on the way into Chet.  A couple minutes later we pull up to the Chetumal airport.  He heard me say Chetumal and assumed we were going to the airport (I´m rich in case you didn´t know) and didn´t pay attention to ADO ie the bus terminal.  Shit, well he starts hauling ass to the correct destination as we watch the minutes tick by.  Rapido, rapido.  Make it to the station a couple minutes before 6 and the bus is still there.  Actually we are the first ones on and a couple others trickle in.  Leave about 6:05am.  Thankfully mexican time is usually way behind, but we made it and left pretty close to on time.

I know border questions are usually unknown or hard to find answers about so I will try to explain the situation as I cross each.  If you fly into Mexico the airline includes the tourist visa in your airplane ticket.  This is the card you get on the plane and is checked entering immigration.  Hang onto this or you´re bribing someone to leave or will have to buy another one.  If you leave out of Mexico without leaving the country you won´t have to pay anything at departure.  If you leave Mexico and plan on returning to Mexico you can pay 100 pesos to keep your tourist card.  In my case I wasn´t returning so I forfeited my tourist card and didn´t have to pay anything.  If you decide to come back to Mexico or come into it across a border you will have to buy a tourist card which is somewhere around or just under $30 US from what I understand.  At the border you have to get off the bus and go to Mexican immigration to forfeit your card or pay and get your passport stamped.  You then get back on the bus and drive a little further.  It is a good idea to have exact money 100 pesos or $10 US as there is often corruption at the borders and one time my friend had to pay double.

Now you have to take your luggage off and go through the Belize immigration.  I´m not sure what prevents you keeping certain items on the bus as I don´t believe the bus gets searched.  There is also a free zone between the two countries which is duty free.  I´ve always wanted to stop and check it out, but was riding an onward bus.  Entering Belize you have to fill out a form if you plan to stay, if you are just passing through as in my case you don´t have to fill out any paperwork, you just have to get your passport stamped.  I don´t think there was any paper they gave us.  If you´re Mexican or Belizian they check your id and you walk through, no hassle or fees.  If you are in Belize for 72hr or less the departure fee is $15 US.  If you stay longer it is $18 US.  This is paid at exit, so you do not need any Belize currency going into Belize.

Worst 1st class bus yet took us clear down to Belize City, where most people got off and we added a few more.  I´d been to Belize before and enjoyed it.  Since Keith didn´t have much time and it is more expensive there we just passed right through staying on the same bus.  Linea Dorada.

Arrived at the Belize/Guatemala border to a swarm of Guatemalans trying to exhange money.  First Belize immigration where you pay your money for driving through the country US $15 or BZ $30, cash only.  Next get your passport departure stamp at the next desk.  Walked over to Guatemalan Immigration.  Entry passport stamp.  They may try and ask money of you, such as BZ but you don´t have to pay here unless you offer.  We were the only ones on the bus to get stamped going through.  We were about to leave and I asked one of the guys I had met on the bus if he had to pay anything.  He didn´t even get stamped nor did anyone else come to find out.  If we hadn´t mentioned it who knows what would have happened on all of their country exit.  You don´t need Guatemalan Quetzales at the border, so unless you won´t have atm access at your destination or it´s Sunday I wouldn´t exchange money at the border or at least very minimal.  Most places I´ve stayed let you pay at the end and will let you start a tab anyway.

We waited here for the driver to eat.  Watched kids playing in the river.  I almost jumped off the bridge with them, I was so tempted, but I didn´t want to ride in wet underwear or have to dig out my tiny towel.  With the stories and warnings it did feel a little sketchy at the border.  I was keeping a close eye on everything.

Dirt road from here into Flores.  Passed some armed guards up on the hill.  Walked with Beligan Allen to Los Amigos Hostel where he was starting his 15 week intern.  Tell him I said hi if you read this and pass through.  Found it after asking a couple people.  You can walk around the entire island in probably 1/2 hr.  The collective area of Flores, Santa Elena and blank just across the causway and south respectively are often referred to Flores, however they are seperate cities and Flores is actually an island in Lago de Peten Itza.  Americans are by far the least lingual people I know.  Allen speaks 5 languages and he is hoping to add another to his arsenal next year.  Most Guatemalan´s speak at minimum their Mayan language and Spanish.  Sort of expensive meals at the hostel, but large portions and good food - usually well worth it.  They are trying to push vegitarian, but sometimes you just need meat to get full.  I recommend the chicken kabobs.  Plus you don´t have to worry about eating the vegetables or anything else here.  All is clean.  Still not feeling that great.  Over n' out.

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photo by: Vlindeke