Leaving Mexico and entering Guatemala.

New friends along the way
Originally uploaded by refay
It was our last day in Mexico. We had spent a lovely afternoon swimming in the aqua colored water of this very quaint lake in the lowlands of Chiapas, Mexico. We set up our tent not ten feet from the waters edge and cooked our beans and ramen noodles. As I fell asleep with the sounds of the jungle all around, I thought about what the next day would bring. We where going to enter into Guatemala, our first country in Central America.

I had heard so many different stories about this country, I did not know what to expect. Would the border crossing be dangerous, with hordes of kids overwhelming us and perhaps slashing our pannier? Would the border immigration officials try to charge us horrendous fees? Would the money changers rip us off? As we rode the hot flat road toward the border, my stomach had a twisted knot and my head hurt. What would happen to us?

I balked at the border before crossing and needed several hours to build up my nerve and build up my courage. Several hours later, we handed in our Mexico Tourist Visa and rode up the 4k mountain to the Guatemala border post.

None of my fears materialized. The other side of the border was extremely busy with small stalls full of every kind of merchandise one could ever want to buy but everyone just ignored us. The border guard did not demand any payment and even gave us a 90 day visa – we’ve heard that many tourists get only 15 days. The money changer gave us a fair rate. And we had a delicious baked chicken plate at a small Honduran restaurant. All went well, we rode in 15 miles from the border and got a cheap hotel room for the night.

The only real change that I noticed right away was that people near the border were friendlier than anywhere else we had ridden, with waves, whistles, and yells of encouragement. The only thing that bothered me was the big old school buses which have been converted to public transportation buses. The go very fast, bombing down the two lane roads through congested towns spewing exhaust. They lay on those awful, awful air horns which seemed to say, “Hey, I am coming through and I don’t slow down for anything and by the way you are in my way”. I tried to figure the rules of the road in this new country as I dive off the road and let them by.