Guatemala Border Crossing


Heather

Once The Hulk was fixed (cleaned) we had to tear ourselves away from the Overlander Oasis. Life there was fun and easy but it was time to make on, we were ready for a change and decided to head to Guatemala.
The Hulk going in a shower

The Hulk going in for a shower

Our first stop was San Christobel, it was a long drive, interrupted by a protest that saw us breaking the cardinal “no driving at night rule”, which we are now hell bent on never breaking again. San Christobel is a city of tiny narrow one way streets, one of which was being dug up half way through and resulted in Dan backing up a few hundred meters in the dark, we were so relieved to arrive at the campsites door, that we had a beer and went to bed.
The next day though we took full advantage of our awesome location to the centre that we were up early and exploring.  It is a neat places, lots of colonial buildings and churches up on hills, plus a fun market. We ate some good food (and some not so great food but trying everything is an important experience), we were both interviewed by high school students for an English class (things started out well and went south quickly), and generally had a fantastic time.

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Our next stop was the El Chiflon Falls, this would be our final night in Mexico if only we could get out of San Christobel.  We managed to get our long wheel based vehicle stuck in one for the narrow zig zags they call streets. After much honking and Dan making an 18 point turn we got free with only a scratch to the running board. El Chiflon was pretty and we were impressed with all the tourist visiting, we made the most of it by climbing all the way to the top falls! It wasn’t really that far, but it is an impressive sight, we realised on our way down from all the falls that we had too many pesos still, so we stopped at all the little bars along the path for a beer, except this was the first place in Mexico to not over charge! So our pockets were not much emptier but we were feeling pretty good.  Another weird thing to occur was that our phone magically worked there, we had run out of credit a few days back, but somehow I was able to send email and message my Mommy, thanks for the send off Mexico.
Next day we set off early to the border, I was so nervous and terrified, this felt like our first real border crossing – it was easy and took less than an hour, I need to relax. So we found the SAT building in Mexico thanks to a mob of Mexicans blocking the road in front of it. There we returned our vehicle import easy enough, but when getting stamped out we were told we had to pay for our tourist cards, umm, we did in Baja.  That was fine the man said, may I see the receipt? Umm, no because I didn’t get one (note to self always ask for receipt) so after a bit of staring and awkwardness we just paid for our tourist cards (again), at least that helped with the too many pesos issue.
Back in The Hulk, we drove a few minutes and were in Guatemala, where the first order of business was fumigation, simple enough, we parked and were told to pay in the office.  We go into the first office we see, where we fill in tourist cards, and pay the man for our fumigation and head next door to do our vehicle import. It was there we realised we’d made a small error and had paid for our tourist cards not the fumigation as the fumigator chased down when he moved the truck for the official to see, I just slapped my head and looked at Dan I didn’t get a damn receipt for our entry fee again! Oh well. Truck import was super easy and the guy there did all our photocopies for us, as we drove off quite proud of ourselves.
Sneaky border pic

Sneaky border pic

That was until we got to the place we had thought we’d stop at, it was only 11am. Hmm, too early to stop, let’s press on, let’s go to Lake Atitlan. Three hours later and we reached the “cuatro caminos” basically a cross roads, I believed we wouldn’t make Atitlan so we made a snap decision to go to Quetzeltenango. Not the best decision, I’ll admit. A quick glance of the iOverlander app should no accommodation recommendations, but a quick reference of the guidebook provided us with a coup,e of hotels with parking.  Turns out Quetzeltenango is a town of narrow one way streets (our favourite!) and at the first hotel Dan almost took of the parking gate, at the attendants direction, next hotel, we may have made it into but a drunk local was screaming and people were honking, so frustration set in and Dan backed out and said “get in the truck”. I knew he was mad, we probably could have made Atitlan, but we hadn’t arranged for a school yet and I heard the road to San Pedro was iffy, so this was all on me now. Finally we found a hotel with parking that we fit in, except the parking was actually at a night club, but we were assured that The Hulk would be protected by machine guns.  Back at the hotel, after switching rooms three times to get a room that the wifi reached we were told that we’d have to move the Hulk at 8am, but no worries we could park out front then. Right.
That night we drank too much and ate a pizza, it was a satisfying night.  Next morning when we went to move the Hulk, I noted there were no parking spaces in front of the hotel, our host assured us there would be one when we got back, there wasn’t, and we never saw our host again. We did find a public parking place that we fit into and were able to set about running the errands that had to be done and finished our morning off with a fantastic Guatemalan breakfast.
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Categories: Guatemala, Mexico, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 comments

  1. What a journey,You both certainly rose to the challenge, if you didn’t have days like that though you couldn’t enjoy the days when everything goes to plan !

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  2. I have to say I am glad your phone magically worked too….but then ya gotta believe. H, I ask customers everyday ‘ do you have the receipt’? A little piece of paper really can make life easier! Glad you are enjoying Guatemala and it’s narrow roads! xoxo

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