Not more than a week after making our crossing into Belize from Mexico, we made another border crossing into Guatemala. Jogging our memories from the week before, in preparation for the border crossing into Belize, we researched what we needed and what the process would be for a whole afternoon. Now, in preparation for crossing into a Spanish speaking country, we were hardly prepared at all having done minimal research. As we approached the border, we decided we would just wing it! Fortunately, the process was pretty easy. Here is our experience:
We arrived at the border at about 9am, parked the truck and walked to the departure building. As we walked closer and closer, we realized that the huge bicycling group we waited for while crossing into Belize were right in front of us again. What are the chances? The first step was to get checked out of the country by paying our exit fee of $20USD per person, head to migration where our passports were scanned, then cancel our vehicle import permit at customs. Passengers must walk across the border, so I pulled the Dodge into the line where I waited, reversed all of the way out, was cut by about 10 vehicles, then allowed to pull through. A band was playing on both sides of the border for the bicycle group, which halted all traffic for 10 minutes or so. After crossing the border, we were officially out of Belize and in no man’s land.
Next, we began the process of entering Guatemala. The first step was to drive through fumigation, which thoroughly coated our truck and camper with a nice coat of gunk. This is a good reason to have an older vehicle on a trip like this! After fumigation, we parked the truck and had our passports stamped into Guatemala. Lastly, we had our vehicle imported at the same office without much trouble. This completed our entry into Guatemala.
I also want to note that we used a “helper” on the Guatemala side of the border to help us go to the right places and translate for us. We could have easily completed the process ourselves, but it was peace of mind having the paperwork done properly and making the process seamless. In the end we paid him $7USD, which is a bit high, but worth the cost. He was a nice kid and spoke great English. In the future, we may use a helper to cross borderers, but will negotiate the price up front and try not to pay more than $5USD.
Insurance is different in Guatemala compared to Belize. In Belize, we purchased our insurance right at the border. In Guatemala, we could not find insurance at the border and ended up buying it in the town of Flores about 60 miles down the road. Fortunately, the insurance we found cost $65USD for two months and will cover the rest of our Central American countries except for Panama.