After spending the night in Chetumal and getting some mail picked up at a local post office (thank you, Ruben!) we head for the border. I have no idea how long it will take to cross over. We have read online and heard from friends that this is a simple border crossing. The facilities and roads here are all new and it is a smooth crossing. When we leave the western edge of Chetumal we see a sign that indicates “Belice” is just 3km to our left.
We follow the signs and ride up to a gate that looks like a tollbooth. I look back to see what it would look like to ride into Mexico from the other side.
There is a line of people at the window ahead of us, and they appear to either be crossing into Belize on foot or by the bus parked behind us.
They move really quickly and Brian and I approach the window. I’ve read on line that we need to do things in a specific order and be careful not to miss any steps. First, get a stamp out of Mexico (and into No Man’s Land I guess…) in my passport. Then proceed to the Aduana and request a refund for my Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (which I paid when I entered Mexico) so they can credit the $400 fee back onto my credit card. Then proceed to Belize and begin all the in-process on that side. This booth is where we get our stamp for exiting Mexico. Now we head to the Aduana, which isn’t marked but the guard at the toll booth pointed us to it.
Over to the window to request my TVIP refund. The woman working the window says it will be credited to my account on Monday. This is Friday and I’m not sure why I will have to wait, but have also read about this online and the other people say it all worked out ok. So she stamps my papers out and I get to keep my documents.
We ride along the road to the Belize offices which are located a couple of miles up the road. Along the way we cross a river and unofficially enter this new country.
We park in a gravel lot and walk into the immigration offices to get our passports stamped and start the bike import paperwork. A porter in the parking lot sees us locking up all our gear and stripping anything of value to carry in with us, a habit from the road. He jokes that we can leave it all and everything will be safe as this is no longer Mexico. Little does he know how good Mexico has been to us. Such is the way with all countries, distrustful of their neighbors.
We walk in and get stamped and then go back to the bikes. The porter catches us and asks us if we already did the bike paperwork too and we haven’t. So back inside…and a few minutes later we have been issued two handwritten slips of paper using old-fashioned carbon sheets to make extra copies for this small nation’s files. I have one for me and one for the bike. Now back to the bike to ride over the road and pay the $2.50 USD to have my bike fumigated so it’s clean to enter Belize.
Before leaving No Man’s Land we decide to get some cash. There is a duty-free shopping zone here and a couple of casinos, but they are closed at the moment. I have a few pesos left from Mexico and pay 10 for each of us to ride into the Free Zone and get to an ATM. We get some cash and now feel better equipped to head down the road.
After riding through their version of a tollbooth and presenting all the fresh documents I have obtained, including a receipt for the fumigation, I can ride ahead to the next stop…the Insurance Corporation of Belize.
After completing some minor paper work we are ready to go. Without really having waited in any lines we have spent more than 2 hours getting across a 5 mile stretch of road from one country into another. And now, finally, we ride into Belize.