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Tales from an intrepid viajero in Latin America Despite promising myself that I´d never be so self-indulgent as to write a blog that´s exactly what I´m going to do. Welcome to the blog that I´m writing while studying Spanish and travelling in Latin America over the next 8 months

The border crossing debacle

GUATEMALA | Saturday, 15 November 2008 | Views [2077] | Comments [2]

Luxury travel Guatemalan style. BTW, that´s the first class bus, my bus was nothing like as luxurious as that...

Luxury travel Guatemalan style. BTW, that´s the first class bus, my bus was nothing like as luxurious as that...

Crossing borders is always a bit and miss in latin america. However, even by previous standards going from Mexico into Guatemala was interesting to say the least. As I don´t have any guidebooks with me for Mexico and Guatemala this crossing had high debacle potential from the beginning.

I´d decided to go directly from Oaxaca into Guatemala rather than breaking up the journey somewhere nice in Chiapias. This in itself wasn´t a bad idea but I subsequently made a series of slightly amateur errors (most unlike me...)

Error No. 1 - turning up to the bus station only 10mins before the bus left

As I´m pretty familiar with travelling in Mexico I cut things a bit fine when turning up to the bus station to catch my overnight coach. This resulted in being given a seat next to the toilet - the last thing you need on a 13hr overnight but journey is the fragrances of the toilet wafting in your direction.

Error No. 2 - listening to locals as to the best way to reach the border

The locals were fairly insistent that the nearest border town to Tapachula (the last place the bus stops) is Ciudad Hildago. Ás you all know, Mexicans never admit when they don´t know something but in their efforts to help you will just tell you what they know even if it is completely incorrect. As it turned out, Ciudad Hidalgo was about another hour away from Tapachula - there was a border crossing much nearer (about 20 mins away)

Error No. 3 - assuming the customs offices would be clearly marked

I managed to walk straight across the border without even realising it. It was only when I went to a shop to purchase a snack and the charged in Quezales that I realised I´d crossed the border.

Error No. 4 - taking the adventurous route back to the Mexican side of the border

As I´d walked sufficiently far there was a small river between myself and Mexico. As I couldn´t be bothered to walk back from where I came some particularly unhelpful chap offered to take me across the river on his boat for a small fee. The "boat" consisted of a few tyres and a plank of wood - luckily it was ok if slightly extortionate

Error No. 5 - bargaining with the customs officers to reduce the "tourist fare" for crossing the border.

Trust me, it´s better just to pay what they ask and take the hit...

It is always quite an experience crossing the border in places where people don´t usually cross. Having said that, Í think I´ll be consulting Lonely Planet when embarking on any border crossings involving Columbia...

Tags: border crossings

Comments

1

Ha ha, that made me laugh! We were heading from Guatemala to Honduras ten years ago ... and ended up on the El Salvadorian border. These 'incidents' always make great memories but it wasn't so funny at the time! Have fun and take care.
Simon
(CEO WorldNomads.com)

  simon_monk Nov 15, 2008 6:11 PM

2

Well im in Tapachula and im going to give it ago in about 20mins after i have had a cup of coffee to wake me up! Hope the custum arent to bad coz im fairly tight and wont want to be paying anything!
Wish me luck

  max boxell Mar 24, 2009 12:02 AM

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