Thursday, December 6, 2012

Border crossing, mexico to Guatemala

Hit the road early to try and have a smooth border crossing into Guatemala today at the Talisman border point. We were driving towards the border and there were tons of guys flagging us down. Turns out they are "helpers" and they want to help us handle our crossing for a small tip. They didn't speak english, which is what would have really helped, so we said no, they weren't happy. Got to the border and we were turned back to go and find the banjercito office where we turn in our TVIP's and get our deposit back for the motorcycles. I guess that having the office at the border would make too much sense, so they put it at a town a half an hour away called mexico on all the signs. That's not confusing at all is it? Anyway we found "viva mexico" and turned in our permits, but now we have been sitting at the immigration office for a couple of hours because we didn't get our passports stamped at the entry point. Again, the entry offices were closed when we entered into mexico from the USA so we got our FMM form at the airport. Seems as though that might be a problem? After 3 hours sitting in a little metal chair we were called back to the window and told that the problem had been solved and that we just needed to sign some papers. Did that, paid the "taxes" and we were good to go. Hopped on the bikes and headed into Guatemala to find a whole new set of "helpers" there. The border was very strange in that there were people everywhere telling you to go here and there and do this and that and you have no idea what is real and what isn't. We stopped first to get our passports stamped for entry into Guatemala. We were told we had to pay for the stamp, I told them I have never paid to have someone stamp my passport before, and then all of a sudden it was free. Next up was our first round of copies and then a spray down for the motorcycles for who knows what, which cost exactly 24 quetzals and may or may not have been necessary. Then we needed to get vehicle permits for the bikes which consisted of two more rounds of copies and then paying a banker at another location for which standing in a line for 30 minutes was necessary and then more stamps and then more stamping once we had those stamps and then we were told to go. One of the vehicle import guys bought my dad an ice cream cone though which was really nice as it was about one thousand degrees in our motorcycle outfits. Once outside the border zone we wondered what was really necessary and what was all just crap. Oh yeah, and later on I worked out what a quetzal was worth and figured out that I tipped our helper the equivalent of 62 cents in American money. Oops! We started down the road at 4pm, it took most of the day for all the stamping. The road was very steep uphill and the quality of the pavement was horrible. Lots of clouds quickly turned into rain and the sun set and soon it was 50 degrees and we were wet! We tried to find somewhere to set up camp but it was like we were riding along a steep ridgeline that dropped off on both sides. We kept riding until we were really hungry, stopped and had some tuna and crackers and then we got back on the bikes and rode up and up past cows and pigs and people walking in the highway. Everyone starring at us like we were the first two people on motorcycles they had ever seen. One little girl saw us and her jaw dropped as we went by. The road got worse and the pavement disappeared and turned to mud shrouded in fog when finally I saw a sign that said hotel! We pulled in and it looked to be just a garage parking place but it turned out to have a tiny studio loft above where we parked the bikes in our own private garage! Nice place, but it is decorated with hearts and there is a strange door in the room with a tray that slides in and out of it that you can order things like cigars and alcohol. We are starting to wonder if this place is like a no tell motel or something. Did the conversion and it is only costing us 12.50 US so who cares! Gonna crash out for the night! Hopefully we make Guatemala City tomorrow!

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