I don’t have my poop in a group this morning as much as I thought I had. I have been told for ages to take along copies of my passport, driver’s license, bike registration, etc. and I had carried them. But then I also heard that the borders won’t accept them as they want to be sure they aren’t tampered with so they make you copy them at the border and pay for the copy services, a little way of making some money too.
But this weekend, Easter weekend, I’ve been reading that I should take copies to provide at the border because they will accept them, and getting copies made at the border is a nightmare. Alrighty then, where to find a copy place open. Belize makes a big deal of the long Easter weekend. Businesses are closed on Good Friday BY LAW until 6pm and most don’t reopen. Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday aren’t busy business days and here it is Easter Monday. I ask at the Mana Kai Campground, where we have been staying, where I might get a copy made on this holiday. Frank suggests I try an internet café in town and so off I go without much hope. Sure enough the internet café he points out is closed so I wander over to the Tai San market, where I have been a good customer, and ask them. They suggest another but it’s closed too. I see a sign for the Trade Winds and although I don’t have much hope I try the door and it’s OPEN!!! Halleluyah!
I make some copies of what I think I will need, walk back to the campground, finish loading the bike and suit up in my gear for a hot, hot 100-150 miles day to Tikal in Guatemala if all goes well. We ride out of Belize to the western border about 7 miles away.
First we get to the Belizean side to cancel our vehicle import papers and immigration stamps. I am asked if I intend to return to Belize in the near future. And I do not. I have been told that once they cancel your import papers there is a 90-day waiting period before you can re-enter the country, so fingers crossed I can get into Guatemala after all this.
Both the Immigration and Aduana (for the bike part of it) are in the same building which makes it easy.
There are money changers on both sides of the borders and I am told later that I might have gotten a better rate on the Guatemala side, but I decide to exchange some money on the Belize side so I have Guatemalan Quetzales in hand to use to pay my fees on that side of No Man’s Land.
After getting squared away and out of Belize, we ride ahead toward the Guatemalan side. I was warned by the man who exchanged money for me not to go through the car wash as I would get doused with fumigation chemicals. So I ride on the sidewalk at the side of the carwash instead and get through to the other side where they spray our bikes by hand.
It’s about 12 Quetzales (GTQ) per bike for the spray and I am issued a receipt with my bike license noted on the slip. Then I ride across the road to park in front of the border offices for Guatemala and go into it. It’s an open-air building and first I get in the “entering Gautemala” line to get a stamp in my passport. I pay an entry fee and then go on to the Aduana line to register my bike.
After completing a form I am directed to the Banjercito to pay the necessary import fees and then go back to the Aduana. The officer walks out and inspects my bike. I am told I have a small problem. The model number for my bike on my South Dakota registration is shown as a KL650E instead of the KLR650 I have written on the import form. I explain that South Dakota only uses the first 2 letters of the model name in its computers and he says ok and finishes my papers. I hope that’s not a sign of things to come at other borders.
Then it’s off to get them inspected by the guards at the blockade…
And all looks good, so they let me go in. All in all less than an hour after arriving….welcome to Guatemala.