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Published: September 13th 2006
Having both slept surprisingly well on the bus, even through rain storms and three stops, we found ourselves in Tapachula, a town about 30 minutes from the border, where we were able to catch a bus to Guatemala City.
The border crossing was not as bad as we thought it would be, but by no means easy. People shouting at you for your passport - not officials but local toerags trying to help for a few bucks. We leave Mexico, dubiously being told that we had not paid 'entry tax' into the country and we could pay there and then or go back to Tapachula. As going back was not an option, we paid the man the money (USD20 each). He was talking the international language of having a pump-action shotgun and, well, that does most of the necessary talking.
Then we walked over no-mans land to the Guatemala officials, with our gaggle of 3ft tall 'helpers'. We are treated okay, we find later, with only a $2pp entry fee. This can be anything from $1 - $20pp depending on absolutely nothing. We had to change some cash with a black market money changer, reminding Ed of his visit to Budapest with Ben when they were 17 and an expensive experience in the money-changing district.
In Guatemala City, we opt for a taxi ride to Antigua, a colonial town 1 hour from the capital. Through a rain storm and bad traffic the taxi starts to overheat, and the hour turned to two. The taxi didn't make it, but the driver managed to get us a lift with a motorised tricycle which was an event in itself.
Dropped off in the middle of town unsure where we are, we start searching for a place to stay. After a few false starts and wrong turns, we find Hotel de Don Ismael, a charming little place, cheap and clean. The helpful owner reduced the rate after we had agreed a price because he seemed to like Gemma.
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