Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Towards Guatamala and San Pedro la Laguna.

Having Skyped the bank fraud squad and done some emails first thing, we were packed up and ready to head off by 1000. We had both really enjoyed our stay at Punto Arista and we could have stayed there much longer but Spanish lessons were calling in San Pedro. We headed up to Tonala and joined the MX 200 going south east toward Tapachula and the Guatamala border. The road was generally very good being dual carriageway all the way, but like most Mexican roads you are never too sure what is around the next corner and round one we had to cross this. Jill got off and walked which made it a bit easier. Arrived in Tapachula at about 1400 and found Walmat without too much problem. We were out of tea and Walmart is the only place in Mexico we have found that sells English tea i.e. the bags having enough tea in them that you can tell it's tea. Jill also managed to buy a swimming costume and I got some baking soda tooth paste. I find Colgate and the like far too sweet so having run out in Mexico I hunted the Farmacias for some baking soda tooth paste and found some herbal stuff that tasted like Sanilav with a hint of baking soda. You can imaging my joy to find 'Arm and Hammer' baking soda tooth paste again. I must be getting old as the little things in life are taking on much greater importance than they used too. Having reloaded the bike we headed off towards Talisman and the border, stopping just before it in a Auto Motel Notell where the hourly rate was multiplied by 9 for our 12 hour stay. Leaving to go out to get some dinner we asked for the keys only to be told that people don't usually need to lock the doors from the outside and they didn't have any. We were off by 0800 the next day and arriving at the border where we were overwhelmed by money changers and helpers who would take us through the crossing process for a fee. It was however quite straightforward. Paid the immigration $4 US for our entry stamps and then sat and waited for the temporary importation of motor vehicles office to open. There seemed to be a power cut in the passageway although not in the office, but I was told that they had to wait for the power to be restored. At 0845, with still no power in the passageway, they started to process Nancy. Most of the paperwork done I had to go and pay 55 Quetzales at the bank. Standing in line I felt like a giant. Do you see the guy with the pump shot gun. The cartridges on his belt had 4mm ball bearings in. Not to be messed with! When I was served I was told that they didn't take pesos or dollars and I had to change money using a very dubious guy with gold teeth who had wads of money in different currencies. Needless to say I got a very bad exchange rate but by 1000 we were on our way.
As soon as you cross the boarder the road starts to climb, winding it's way up into the mountains. Our ears began to pop and the clouds came down making it quite cold at times as Nancy laboured to pull us up to San Marcos on the RN-1. Just as I remarked to Jill how good the road surface was it became more uneven as always seem to be the case when you mention something. The potato harvest was in full swing and in small towns overloaded Toyota trucks were transferring there loads into bigger lorries. Some of the fields were very steep. At Quetzaltenango, otherwise known as Zela, the sun came out again as we headed north and joined the CA-1, a very good dual carriageway, which everything moves along, but due to the intense rains last year (2009) there had been a lot of land slides. There is a carriageway under there on the right. The views were beautiful as were wound our way towards Santa Lucia Ultatlán and the 150 Kms marker where we turned off right towards San Pedro. They have ways of stopping you overtaking here which I thought were quite novel, and what isn't carried by Toyota truck seems to be carried by the women. The road down to Lago de Atitlán was very steep with more hairpins than I could count and at times an off-road quality that made the 12 miles and one hour descent interesting to say the least. Arriving in San Pedro we met our friend Chris who had arrived the day before from Huehuetengo and he showed us to the Peneleu Hotel were he was staying were we got a room with a view.


  1. David, I always knew you were a giant among men (and women)...love the tale of makeshift border bureaucracy..xoxo

  2. Hi Jill and Dave, back onto reading your blog

  3. Hola Dad, glad you managed to put a comment on the Blog. People have told us it can be tricky sometimes. Hasta luego love Jillx