Leaving Mexico and Entering Guatemala

This entry is part 19 of 34 in the series Latin America Series
11-03-2010 – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

I left Mexico today. Today was a good day. Leaving San Cristobal de Las Casas was liberating. The albums of Great Lake Swimmers was my soundtrack to the border. I had to navigate through the paperwork at the Guatemalan border, but it was not very difficult. Individuals with two inch thick wads of cash approached me, soliciting me for a Peso/Quetzal currency exchange.

I got my 90 day travel visa after waiting for the immigration officer to finish his lunch. I moved on to the next building to get my vehicle imported. Vehicle registration, passport, drivers license, Mexico export papers and 40 Quetzals ($5 USD) later I was crossing under the gate and made my way into Central America.

I turned off my music so I could focus on the road and absorb the differences between the countries. The Guatemalan mountains towered over me and I slipped between them.They became my gateway to my next adventure. I thought about camping since I don’t like riding at night, but I am comfortable riding at night in major cities.

Security guard at Guatemala bank
Courtesy of Flickr user johnbergdoll

I headed for the centro of Quetzaltenango and found an ATM. I parked in front of a bank with a guard holding a shotgun at the ready. I took off my gear, walked by the guard and his stoic face turned to a wide grin as he motioned to me and my moto. I’ve gotten used to being around so many men with guns. The barista at the cafe directed me to a cheap hotel. For $5 she was right. I struggled to ride my loaded KLR up a ramp to the side walk. My front wheel kept sliding back with the weight of my luggage. I spun my rear tire giving it gas until she wasn’t squirming anymore. This is the sort of urban off-roading I have to do more evenings before I park my bike inside whatever hotel I stay at. I rode to the steps of the hostel and had to negotiate five large steps. After a couple of stumbling attempts to climb each stair one by one, I realize I had to het a head start and just ride up them all at once. I finally did successfully. All of the hostel guests had their heads poked out of their rooms looking at what all the racket was. I gave a glance to them like, “No big deal, I do this all the time” while internally I was grinning.

I hit the town for dinner and passed by a music store. I bought a harmonica. The recorder I had bought in San Cristobal wasn’t really resonating with me. I wanted an instrument I could play when I am out camping. Some company in the wild. I wandered the streets playing it, and I managed to put together a simple song, the military Taps song.

11-06 Harmonica
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  • http://www.profesoraespecialnuria.wordpress.com Nuria

    Hey! is great to hear from you again! i Can´t believe that you alredy are in Guatemala!.. i hope you had some great experiences in México! but i am definitely sure that you´ll have incredible experiences in the rest of your trip.. Keep safe bud!
    O! and harmonica will definitely be good company :)
    Looking forward to hear from you as soon as posible ;)!

  • http://www.motojournalism.com Anthony – Motojournalism

    I was looking for an instrument to play on the road too. But I took the easy way out in Guatemala and bought a clave. 😀
    I can play all the hits!

  • ottawa

    Great Lake Swimmers are amazing. Good luck with your trip.

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