I start early today, going to the border crossing at Hidalgo.
When leaving Mexico they wanted 30 USD from me for the visa. I left Mexico the day before and entered it again. I stayed just one night, but it’s the law. I require an invoice. He says, he can’t write one. If I want one I have to go to a bank and pay there. Today is Sunday, so banks are closed. I pay the fee, but I doubt that the money goes into the official pot.
On the way to the border I was followed again by a person on a motorcycle. Telling me, you have to go there and there. Like the day before I payed 12 Quetzal for the disinfection of the motorcycle, then I go to passport control. As mentioned, I left the country incorrect the day before. There is a penalty of 200 Quetzal / EUR 22. It is printed on a sign in 10 different languages at the passport control. I try to explain that I was not really in Guatemala. It does not help. I have to change money, that I can pay the fine and get the entry stamp.
I went on to vehicle registration. There I show all papers and documents – Passport, vehicle registration, driver’s license. I have the vehicle registration in credit card format, which is new in Austria. But they don’t trust that one here. Luckily I have also the old one in paper format with me. Although it is invalid since mid of July, it helps a lot here. The lady told me I need a spanish translation of some documents. I asked why? Answer: It’s just like that. We discussed a while. I asked what it costs. The buddy, who accompanied me all the time, got involved. Usually 200 to 300 Quetzal, today is Sunday, so it might cost 400 Quetzal or more. I try to explain that I got information from the Internet that I do not need any translation of documents. After a while I got mad and told her to return my papers.
I went back to Mexico. This time I leave Guatemala properly with an exit stamp in my passport. In 2 days I left and entered Mexico 3 times. I had to open all my luggage again. I complain about all that to the officer. She asks, “Es muy complicado, hm? / It is very complicated, isn’t it?” “Si.”
I’m driving to the next border crossing at Talisman. Once there, again some people where whistling and waving, that I should stop. The visor of my helmet is up. I ask loudly: “Porque / Why?” They have no answer and let me go. I’m surrounded by money changers, waving with their bunches of money. I say that I need nothing. They almost started to quarrel among themselves, about who would be allowed to do business with me.
Who is the first you meet at a border? Your personal guide. He is immediately at my side. This one speaks a little bit English. They do nothing else than be on your side all the time, sort your papers and intervene in the conversation with the officials.
The many entry and exit stamps in two days are confusing the officials a little bit. I get ordered in the office of the chief on duty. I tell him the whole story of the last two days and from the other border, that a document was requested by a notary, of which I do not understand why. My Spanish skills are improving especially at the border. My skills are still very bad, but I always learn a few words that help me next time. The officer is extremely friendly. This helps a lot. He got on the phone talking to someone else. Everything is OK, I can pass. I then ask him: Who are these people who walk around with me constantly, are they officials? He says no, I should ignore them.
At the customs for the vehicle import the many stamps are confusing again. Once again I explain everything. The lady also got on the phone and then tells me, I need no other documents by a notary or something else. All that is required, are the national documents and helpful are the international translations of driving license and vehicle registration. I need to make copies. My guide shows me the copy shop. Costs 4 Quetzal. I dig in my purse. I only have 3. 3 are enough. You sucker! It probably would have cost only 2. I ‘m pretty annoyed today .
There was a fee of 160 Quetzal at the border which I had to pay next door at the bank. A soldier with a rifle in his hands was protecting it. There were 7 or 8 people waiting. My helper pushed me right to the front of the line and says that is ok. This is a special service for me. The soldier does not say anything. I’m telling my helper that this is unfair to the other people and got to the end of the line. After paying, they checked the bike, if brand, color and serial number matches. I got a sticker and can drive away. The helper asks for a tip. I think about that and give him 10 Quetzal. But I regret it about two minutes later. You don’t really need them.
Today it took me 4 1/2 hours to enter Guatemala. Fortunately Guatemala is in a different time zone and it’s 1 hour earlier than in Mexico. A few kilometers before I reach my destination, I fill up gas, when I recognize: Damn you forgot to change money. The employee at the gas station asked me how I want to pay? By credit card or with cash? I say: With credit card. He replies: Does not work. Man, why do you ask? I was able to pay the gas. I have 37 Quetzal left, that’s around € 4. Not very much.
I arrive in Monterrico, checking some hostels, asking if I can pay by credit card. No, unfortunately not, the machine does not work. I understand, credit cards are not welcome. “Is there a currency exchange?” “No, unfortunately not.” “Where is a Cajero / ATM?” They told me, but there I was not able to withdraw money. Perhaps the systems are shut down on Sunday. I asked in the store opposite the street, if there is another ATM. Yes, but he told me, he would not recommend to withdraw money there, it is not safe. I got told the hostel Jonny’s Place accepts credit cards. On my search for the hostel I stop at the first place where I saw a Visa sign at the door. Paying with Visa costs 10% more. But for 15 EUR per night I don’t think twice. I am glad that I have a place to stay. For 9 Quetzal I buy 2l water and a small bag of chips. At least I don’t have to go to bed hungry. The mobile phone does not work where ever I ask, there is no internet, no ATM, credit cards do not help and no money.
Monterrico is a small village. It consists almost entirely of hotels and hostels, restaurants and small shops. But it’s nice and relaxed.
The next day I can change some money at the bank. I treat myself to a decent breakfast and my bike gets cleaned by hand washing. I stroll through the village and along the long beach. At noon I have siesta for a few hours in the hammock.
In the evening, I was sitting in the hotel on the beach. A small group of people is close to me. One of the people is approaching me. He introduces himself as an employee of the Animal Protection Association. They are releasing small turtles to the sea. He asks me, if I want to join. For a small donation of 10 Quetzales I can release two turtles. They are hardly bigger than my palm and black. We put them on a line to simulate a race. Some move quickly into the sea others need little longer. They get thrown back a few meters from the waves several times. After a while the tiny animals disappear into the big wide ocean. Good luck on the trip.
Thank you for reading, Jürgen.