Thursday, April 15, 2010

Barra San Diego, El Salvador to Tapachula, Mexico – April 14

We left the beach at Barra San Diego at 7:30am and headed for the Guatemalan frontier at La Hachadura, with the goal being to get through Guatemala quickly and get as close to the Mexican border as possible  before stopping for the day.

Guatemala is a beautiful country, but we have heard too many bad things about violent crime against tourists here recently, and we want to keep moving north anyway – so we’ve decided to twist the throttle a bit.

Getting across the border was the usual slow Central American hassle, with 15 to 20 people steaming in the heat outside a tiny window waiting for paperwork to be completed by uninterested customs officials sitting behind the glass in air-conditioned bliss.  It was 11am by the time we were away from the border and headed north.

Thanks to Guatemala’s mostly excellent roads, and little traffic save for the last 100km’s towards the Mexican frontier we made great time and were at the border at Ciudad Hidalgo by 3:30pm.  The dilemma then became whether to begin the crossing process or wait for tomorrow morning – the problem being if the process takes too long, we are stuck looking for accommodation after dark.  Compounding the concern was the uncertainty about Mexican Aduana fees (if any) and method of payment etc.

The Guatemalan Aduana officials were fairly insistent that we would not suffer delays on the Mexican side and also that fees could be paid with credit cards (they seemed as anxious to see us go as we were wanting to go!) – so we decided to risk it and headed for Mexico.
The Mexican Immigration process was easy, and the import permit for the bikes is actually dealt with about 40km’s from the border, outside Tapachula where we wanted to stay the night – so we were on our way by 5pm with ample time to find a place for the night before dark.  If I hadn’t gotten us lost looking for a hotel we might even have had a relaxing evening.  As it turns out we found an OK place near centro just as the sun was setting.Chiapas, Tapachula, Park M Hidalgo - Photo by Finca ArgoviaWe walked a short way to the main square, Parque Hidalgo, where we ate local cuisine at an open air restaurant Los Tomales Grill.01-mexico-chiapas-tapachula-12406161439143 Tomorrow we’re heading up the Pacific Coast towards Juchitan.

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