ahhhh Guateee again!

Flores Travel Blog

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Border crossing to Bethel Guatemala from Frontera Corazal, Mexico
So I did it again.... I hoped one of those cross border buses.... I think it has something to do with Gautemala making sure there is no other way or truly, border crossing flying solo is way to hard to pull off crossing in and out of Guatemala. So this is my third border crossing with Guatemala and it has been very interesting... I think that bus networks are lacking far behind, could be that general common sense to improve transportation network is lacking or things are just so super sketchy and dangerous that tourist buses are truly the only available option. Unlike the Panajachel - San Cristobal route, this one took the cake... Ok folks for those wishing to traveling back and forth from/to Palenque to Guatemala at the crossing to Bethel Guatemala on the way to Flores, there are a couple of things you should know.
It had rained a lot that day... gloomy cold weather
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So, I woke up freaking early, it was raining pretty hard thus blowing any chance of me waiting actually in the street at 6 a.m. for the shuttle. I felt this necessary as the kid working at Chacamax (i think) travel agency was very unconcerned about not knowing where the hostal was located and just wanted to get the money and rush me out so he could return to leaning back on his chair outside the agency with his hands in his lap... obviously that was more interesting than making sure he had the right information... I had a bad feeling that there was going to be problems the next morning and thus set out to call the agency and confirm the name and location of the hostal with them.... The cell phone was turned off... If you are ever in Palenque don't go with this company, not only are they incredibly inefficient and disorganized, their driver was a little off in the head.
thank god I took the cross-border bus... there was nothing between border towns.... Nothing except miles of dirt road.
Through the trip and before, we had argued several times, he was driving like a nutball and tailgating while pulling at his hair and jerking his head like he was close to blowing a fuse... Not a happy camper.

I had the great fortune however of this kid staying in the same hostal who just happened to have booked a tour for the ruins close to the border of Guatemala. The evening before, he was shown the dorm where I was reading alone in a six bed dorm, he thanked the guy and backed out. I thought... That's good I get the whole room to myself tonight and no one else was in the hostal... As I was waiting in the morning, he came out and I asked him where he was going and with what company. He from Mexico City and had booked with the same agency.... The driver finally pulls up and was very confused about two people there.
lakeside, totally recommended
He obviously was looking for me all along the street but further down.... Then the arguments began... He kept fusing at me for having the wrong name of the hostal... I had given them only part of the name, but didn't know the full name when buying the ticket... that was my concern...... the joven at the agency wasn't terribly concerned about making sure the information was correct though I had to force him to write down the address and was trying to make him write down the exact location of the buildings and businesses around..... he kept saying that he would investigate and there would be no problem... little punk.... apparently his investigation meant returning to his propped position leaning against the wall outside the agency... I am sure, just as he, the answer would be out there blowing in the wind.
more lakeside of Flores
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Nevertheless, after many rounds of arguing with the driver as he kept mumbling and complaining in Spanish about me to the other passengers, who spoke absolutely no spanish... The only ones that did was me and the Mexican kid. The driver finally shut up after a long while and the arguments and accusations finally ceased.....

Just before getting to the border, he stopped and said that we had to pay a 15 pesos entrance into some national park.... Bull shit! The Mexican kid didn't have a problem as he was going to the ruins and everything was included in his exhorbitant fee. Us, however, were not told about additional fees and there I began arguing feverishly with the guys collecting money and the driver... I was shaking with rage... over 15 pesos, but that wasn't the point. No one was told and this national park was just a road into the border town.... He said that all entering had to pay.... If you pass this border.. Refuse the ticket... I was never asked about it again and it was just a bullshit way of a couple of guys from the town making money off tourist who had no clue and little to fight back with..... So, we finally got to the border on the Mexican side and then.... I slip my tourist card to the Mexican officials and he said did I pay at the bank? What? Did I pay the fee at the bank? Shit! I never looked at the slip or my passport again after crossing at San Cristobal... I was pissed that the duana stamped the freaking back of my passport, but nothing was said about paying a fee.... I thought it odd that we didn't have to pay a tourist visa entrance at the border.... I was definitely not going to say anything about it... Ha! I wished I had..... He said.... I needed to pay 262 pesos.. holy shit! thank god I had it on me, but it was my fault for not looking at the tourist slip.....  So with Mexico, you pay to leave - not to enter.... Talk about getting screwed from behind! He explained that I would have to pay the fee again, once I leave again as I am going through Belize, back up through Mexico and will have to pay when leaving Mexico at the airport... Apparently, if you fly into Mexico that fee or tax is covered by the airline, so he said. I don't understand that...  The main point is how easily I took it compared how terribly irrate I was with the 15 pesos crap. I knew it was a shame when he pulled up to the ´booth or check point´. We were never asked to show proof of paying this bogus parque entrance. It smelled of shit and that was why I was so mad.... The 262, yeah... that was my bad.. I had read there was a visa fee, just didn't know it would be when ya leave...

So we all climb on the lancha along with another group apparently arrived through another tour company.. I was highly peaved in the beginning, but once we started out on the boat and just kept going I realized how far the border crossings actually are. I had been raining and everything was muddy... There were no peers, you just had to sludge through the mud on both sides partly slipping down to the boats going and scrambling through the mud up the hill on the other side. We arrived on the border crossing in Guatemala nearly 30 minutes later. It was cold and damp. I wasn't expecting it to be that cold.... I had only a thin sweater... Well, we clamour up in the mud to the immigration were there are a few money changers who all seem to be part of the same family or just really close.... They were kinda acting like they were competing until we all passed and they started chating with each other like family... wife, husband, teenager and another woman... funny. They were all very persistent that pesos couldn't be changed in Flores and all the banks are closed.... Everyone was repeating it, immigration, money changers, lancha guy, bus drivers on both sides, mothers, kids.... I was like what the hell is this..... Fear strikes.... change now, there is no turning back, there are no alternatives.... really drumming up the fear aspect... That just made me resist harder... After about a couple of attempts at getting a straight answer out of anyone, I learned that the entrance fee is $5.... they kept saying they wouldn't except pesos... I didn't ask. Should have. I just had $6, seeing that my ticket was straight to Flores and I was going back to Mexico anyways, there was no way in hell I was going to change money with ´the family´cartel... The bus driver and lancha guy kept pushing us seriously hard. There is something about Guatemala that just....... gets to me....

I had woken up sick in the morning and it was getting worse, especially with the cold on the boat... We all finally made it through immigration and piled on the bus.... The drivers assistant, the tour operator that he apparently was did the what is your name and where are you from crap. I hate when they do that, like we are all in it together just because we are on the same bus.... But he was working it from the beginning, which I learned later. He had a captive audience, literally. We couldn't get away and I didn't have an ipod. I couldn't escape. He let us settle in for a while and then announced that he would be giving us very important information soon. We waited for awhile. I was happy with the spell of silence and after an hour I thought perhaps he had forgotten the information.... He didn't.

After clarifying that most people spoke English, he began.... In spanish his voice was tolerable, in English it was like a blade gently scrapping my eardrum. My headache, throat and ears were already in pain and I was definitely feeling like I was coming down with something. He kept talking and it kept scrapping.... searing.... He kept telling us about the services of his tour company, about the tour offer to the ruins of Tikal, the trip there and back with the spanish or english guide of our choice, he kept saying the best time was to go in the mowrneeng because of the ammals and theee bootful bootful weether en theee mowrneeng..... He kept repeating it over and over, as if we were going to be convinced soon or later and just cave in from the pain. He kept repeating all the different ammals we would be able to see and that 5 in the mowrneeng eess the besst time to see theeee ammals. He then asked where each of us were going the next day. If not to Tikal, his company offered services to various distinations. He with through each passenger and tailoring his services to meet their travel needs. I was on the point of tears, there was no way to make him stop.... eventually he did and glances were passed and I could hear heavy sighs all around. They were feeling it too. We had just arrived outside Flores in Santa Elena where the bus stopped and he said that we could use the ATM there. At first I thought this was a little disconcerting. He was making sure we were all heavily cashed up for what exactly... Was he just being a nice guy, proving how helpful and catering his company was.... We all lined up. I thought I would just wait, this is stupid. He said that there were others further up, but they didn't often work... What kind of crap is that? There were three of us that thought we would risk going to another ATM.... We got back and still the sheep were still in a line. We waited. Finally all getting back on the bus... He then began to tell us that he was taking us to two hotel in which we can choose which one we want to stay in...... This has gone too far.... What, like there are no others.... He gave endless, repetitive descriptions of the hotels, the view, the services. Although his accent was killing me, he obviously found it quite pleasurable... We arrived at one, I got out pissed. Told him I want my bag... while the sheep got out to view our option number one. I repeated that I wanted my bag... He kept telling me to wait... I waited like five minutes and some people were returning to the bus to be shown option number two... Again, I tried. I want my bag. You don't want to stay here? No. Do you want to see the other hotel? No. I want my bag. Where are you going? I'll walk and find out. I want my bag. He relented and dug through the pile of packs and begrudgingly handed it to me. I took off. Found the one that Jenn told me about after asking many people, dropped my bag, paid, checked the hostal out, found grocery store and bought some fruit, and was wandering around checking out the town. I passed the bus.... They were still there. Some had taken option number one and others were still waiting to be shown option number two.

Sheep.

I was exhausted. A whole day of endless struggles.............
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Border crossing to Bethel Guatemal…
Border crossing to Bethel Guatema…
It had rained a lot that day... gl…
It had rained a lot that day... g…
thank god I took the cross-border …
thank god I took the cross-border…
lakeside, totally recommended
lakeside, totally recommended
more lakeside of Flores
more lakeside of Flores
Flores
photo by: Deannimal