Day 62 – San Cristobal de las Casas, MX to Guatemala City, GU

Day 62 – San Cristobal de las Casas, MX  to Guatemala City, GU   10/22/10     Mileage: 324

Today I say goodbye to Mexico and hello to Guatemala! I’d also be saying hello to my friend Tracy who was flying into Guatemala City to meet me later today and ride with me for the next week around Guatemala! I was up and out the door by 8am this morning so I could get to the border relatively early in the day.

Getting ready for the last few miles in Mexico!

Passing through Teopisca, MX...

Not much going on in Teopisca this morning!

Last PEMEX and chance for gas before the border, so I topped up the tank...

I’ve heard and read accounts of border crossings in Central America that range from not too bad to 8+ hour ordeals, so I wanted to give myself as much time as possible in case of the worst. The air this morning was downright cold…I even had to put on my heavier riding gloves which I haven’t used since Oregon. As I descended out of the mountains it warmed up and became more humid, and after about 2 hours I was at the Mexican side of the border. The first job was to “export” the bike from Mexico which is done at the Banjercito. There were throngs of people on various lines in front of nameless offices waiting for some official stamp or signature so they can get on with their lives. Mercifully, there was nobody on line at the Banjercito….but then again there was nobody working in the office either. After confirming I was in the right spot, now I just had to wait for someone to show up. After 30 minutes an official came out and began to slowly, but deliberately cancel my import permit. Once all that paperwork had been properly shuffled, I was now able to go to the immigration to get stamped out of Mexico. Now with both me and the bike exported from Mexico, I was off to cross the 3 miles of “no-mans” land to Guatemala. As I approached the border, I came upon what I would describe as a cross between a Turkish bizarre and the running of the bulls in Pamplona. The narrow road was lined on both sides with stalls selling everything from farm produce to Nike sneakers to car parts. Squeezed between the stalls on either side of the narrow road was a river of humanity flowing (or trying to at least) in both directions on foot, in cars, buses, horse drawn carts, tuk-tuk’s and one gringo on a moto. I wanted to take a picture but I was focused on managing the craziness!

Here is pic after the crowds and craziness thinned out a bit and I was able to stop and get out my camera.

Here's another after the crowd thinned out...

Once at the border, an official stopped me in the road and informed me that my bike needed to be disinfected and that it would 12.50…payable only in quetzales, the local Guatemalan currency. I had read about this and it is legit and I even got an official receipt. Of course, I’m pretty sure it was just water he sprayed my tires with…but for the equivalent of $1.50, who cares.

Here is my bike being "disinfected" at the Guatemala border, which is 5 feet behind where my bike is parked.

Next I proceeded to the immigration office, and unbelievably there was nobody in line, so I had my stamp in under a minute! Now I was off to import the bike at the aduana office a few doors down. There was nobody in line there either and after filling out a form, doing some other paperwork and paying the fee’s at the bank office next door, I was in! All told it took me only around 2 hours to cross the border, which is better than I expected.

This is right at the border just past the immigration office looking into Guatemala...

 Now I had plenty of time to get to Guatemala City to the hotel and then to meet Tracy at the airport at 9pm. The CA1 road from the border was a twisty jumble of ups and downs through the rural countryside and the same as Mexico with regard to the quality (or lack thereof) of the road. There were however fewer animals in the road…but still some.

On the CA1 south towards Guatemala City...

Another from the CA1 south...

Guatemala is very mountainous, the few shots I got with my helmet camera do not do it justice!

The road is closed, I think I'll scoot to the front past all of this traffic!

I hit Guatemala City at 5:30pm, just in time to have to fight my way through manic rush hour traffic. I had the address of the hotel programmed into my GPS, but there was no hotel in sight when I arrived at the address and I found myself in the shady part of town. I’m not sure what was wrong, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to stay there in the street to figure it out…so I dropped it in gear and hit the gas. I tracked down and checked into a hotel near the airport that had secure parking and dropped my bags in the room. It was now almost 8:15 so I got back on the bike and went to the airport to meet Tracy. Her flight was right on time and we were back at the hotel by 9:45. After a quick drink and a bite to eat at the hotel lounge, we packed it in to rest up for the ride to the coast tomorrow.

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