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Published: January 27th 2018
During our trip to Belize in January of 2018 with our friend Cheryl we planned for a trip within a trip and travelled to Tikal National Park and Archaeological Zone.
To travel from Belize into Guatemala in a rental car took a small amount of planning and required the following process. First, the only rental car company that will allow a vehicle to go from Belize into Guatemala is Crystal. The travel into Guatemala can only be as far as Tikal National Park and Crystal prepares the necessary papers for crossing the border with a vehicle. Next you must cross the border. First you exit Belize. This is when you are in limbo and could be denied access to either or both countries at this point being stuck in Limbo Land indefinitely. Although highly unlikely, Chuck and I have been stuck in limbo in the past. Limbo Land is not fun. To read more about this go to our “One ad Border Crossing” blog from January 19, 2009. https://www.travelblog.org/Central-America-Caribbean/blog-364897.html
Back to crossing from Belize into Guatemala. We exit Belize, although on the way to exit moneychangers bombard you. The moneychangers can be a terrible nuisance. We had read that the moneychangers in Guatemala have a better exchange rate. Plus, I don’t like being bombarded, so we decided to wait until the other side of the border to change money. The exchange rate was about the same in Guatemala, but they weren’t bombarding me. After leaving Belize we must have our vehicle fumigated so that bugs don’t cross the border. Apparently there is a big bug sign along the border explaining to bugs that they cannot simply just choose to crawl across the border somewhere other than the vehicle fumigation area and apparently the all bugs obey the sign. Anyway, you pay for the fumigation and keep the fumigation receipt to show to Guatemala. At this point a kid or two or ten will come to you aid to assist you in the border crossing process. Not necessarily necessary, but the kids are truly helpful, even if the do not speak English, so pick a kid and give him a couple dollars. You won’t regret it.
To enter Guatemala, like other countries, there are steps to the process to be followed. First you enter through immigration, this is where your person is granted entry. Second is customs (where your stuff is granted entry) and obtaining the permit to bring a vehicle with. Obtaining permission to being a vehicle is when crossing a border becomes a bit more convoluted. Fill in this paper, sign that form, show these papers, give those papers, bring papers to next window to get a stamp, bring stamped paper to another window for a signature, bring signed and stamped paper to another paper to pay a fee, bring receipt of fee with signed and stamped paper back to the other window, get a sticker, sign another paper, thank kid for reminding you and several Guatemala officials to sign that other paper too, walk in a circle with a sticky note stuck to your forehead while humming circus music, put sticker on windshield, and go. First though, you must pay to cross the bridge, but now you’re in Guatemala. Yay!!!
Coming back into Belize from Guatemala is slightly less complicated. First, exit and cancel vehicle permit from Guatemala. Back in limbo for just a bit. Next fumigate vehicle to re-enter into Belize. Go through Belizean immigration, hopefully without arriving behind a busload of tourists. Next is customs and where we learned a lesson. When a group is travelling together in a vehicle across this border, the passengers get out and walk through customs while the driver alone drives through customs. Here is the lesson. Apparently all passengers’ belongings are to be carried through customs while the driver drives the vehicle with his or her possessions through customs. We were not aware of this and so Chuck and Cheryl walked through customs easy peasy like. I, on the other hand, made a customs official a bit aggravated because “there’s not the time to search through vehicles full of things” and “all of this (suitcase, bags of dirty clothes, a cooler, coats from our frozen homeland, etc) should be carried across with the passengers through customs” and…
Customs: What is all of this in the vehicle?
Leila: It’s our baggage.
Customs: What’s in the baggage?
Leila: Clothes, toiletries, snacks…
Customs: What’s in that cooler?
Leila: Nothing. I’m pretty sure it’s empty.
Customs: I’ll need to search the cooler…
There was nothing in the cooler. I was scolded for not having followed proper procedure and allowed on my way. Next stop, Mountain Pine Ridge…
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