12.21.08 El Salvador – Guatemala – Mexico (in a day)

Tapachula Travel Blog

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Roadside Mexican food market

12.21.08 El Salvador - Guatemala - Mexico (in a day)


Forget today is France, tomorrow Spain.  We traversed 3 countries today!  We awoke at 6 am again and quickly got on the 1.5 hour CA-2 road to the El Salvador-Guatemala border.  There were no guides available, probably because it is a small border.  We seemed to make do fine, though. 


We now know the border-crossing system: 


Go to the country you are leaving:

Check out Migration (people using passports)

Check out Vehicle (using the vehicle doc of the country you’re leaving)


Then you go to the next country which is typically across a bridge, but might be in the booth next door),

Check in Migration (passports again),

Check in Vehicle (title, license, and passport of driver), which takes the longest- make sure you check their printout before you sign it, particularly the VIN, plate #, and dates.

Typical small Mexican town along free road

Then there is someone at the gate who double checks your vehicle paper (checks the VIN & license plate again).


There may be some little things like:

Fumigation (separate station)

Vehicle inspection (usually by there person typing up your vehicle paper- they check the VIN # and license plate number)

Agriculture inspection (inspector searches for fruit, etc depending on what is allowed in that country- usually just before you drive off)

Weapons & Drug inspector- who looks in cabinets with a flashlight and under cushions

Copies (separate little business nearby)

Bank (window nearby- or if they have none, you’re expected to go to a bank in that country and pay the fee and get a receipt- like at some Mexican borders).

Vehicle sticker (if that country requires it, it is put on by the vehicle paperwork person).

Yummy dinner in Tapachula by the Ford place


Guatemala CA-2 was an excellent road.  We followed the bypasses listed in the Guia Roja Mexican map book that also includes Guatemala & Belize.


By 4:45 we made it to the Aduana off CA-2 called Tecun Uman.  It was tricky at the end.  We tried going to the right branch of the road, made it past all the trucks, but they told us that was only for cargo importation.  So we turned around and made it to the rather small but busy town of Tecun Uman. 


Some of the Tecun Uman streets were dirt, some cobbled, but all of them filled with people, pedicarts, bikes, people, and cars in a slappy border town.  A policeman had our road blocked off for a Christmas celebration.

Love that delicioso Mexican food!


Let’s just say with the help of about several hundred people, we managed to find the Aduana.  Ned was a bit surprised how I’d just stop in the middle of the road and then watch the helpers appear, as if by magic.  One time, the pickup behind us whipped around and the guy got out, strode over, and in perfect English said, “Excuse me, but if you want the Aduana, it is just 3 blocks back…” and gave us terrific help.  We thought he’d be mad about my nearly complete street blocking.  How nice is that!?  So then 4 people or so spotted while I backed in the intersection and returned down the same crazy, crowded street.  There was not one single Aduana sign in sight!


We also sent Jazy out to ask at the police station, where their faces just lit up when they saw her coming.  It was hilarious.  We send her for her Spanish abilities, which are top in our family, but also for her Pretty Power.  She gets results!


We found the Aduna (Border, Frontera, Immigration- whatever you want to call it that gets your point across). 


We saw a place for “pesado” vehicles off to the left just as we entered the town, but I don’t think that was right either.  Our guide, Eric, said (in English) that where we were was the only crossing at the bridge.  By the way, the bridge is locked about 10 pm each night, so it doesn’t matter that the Aduana is open 24 hours.  They also did not have a Banjercito there, so we have to pay for Ned’s Mexican Tourist Permit at a bank somewhere in the country.

We were told the 66 Fumigation fee could be 150 NP and then we wouldn’t have to get the vehicle sprayed *inside* the rig too, so I forked that money quickly over to Eric and it was taken care of.


Eric, who lived 14 years in the U.S. and now resides in Guatemala, was a big help.  I tipped him $10 for the service, which he then complained about, so I told him that was our best tip to date and thought to myself that he was lucky not to get an earful from a tired Mom.  Regardless, for the half hour of work, I felt it was reasonable.  Lesson:  Don’t tip the Guide until I’m driving off, so I don’t need to hear more.


Not once were we stopped on CA-2 by any police officers today.  We did pass many police cones in El Salvador and Guatemala.  We headed north to Tapachula.  It was now getting dark, but the road to the Aeropeurto was a straight and flat as could be.  We made fast progress to a police check, where they flicked a flashlight at the car in front of us.  I don’t think they flicked at me and so I just drove on and they didn’t follow.  Then we turned directly right into a Pemex station, tipped 20 NP to each of the 2 guys staying overnight (and working here), and Ned & the kids fixed dinner.  While here, the police did follow someone into the parking lot who had apparently not stopped for their check and it looked like they might be getting a ticket for it.  I’m glad they didn’t come after us!


We are so happy to be in Mexico!  I’ll feel better once we’re out of Chiapas and back on familiar land.  Driving through beautiful country was terrific.  Being worried about crime is not fun and we’ll be happy to get home soon.


I’m tired and headed to bed now.





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Roadside Mexican food market
Roadside Mexican food market
Typical small Mexican town along f…
Typical small Mexican town along …
Yummy dinner in Tapachula by the F…
Yummy dinner in Tapachula by the …
Love that delicioso Mexican food!
Love that delicioso Mexican food!
photo by: anelinka