Our border crossing into Guatemala went as expected. Leaving Belize we were approached by the money exchangers. “ Quetzales, Quetzales, Quetzales” they shouted to get our attention. There is no bank or ATM at the western border between Belize and Guatemala so it’s a common practice to exchange some money with them in order to pay your temporary importation permit fee and fumigation. After a few little pleasantries, we tried to negotiate the best price for our US Dollars to get Quetzales. Fat chance, but close. So we only got enough for what we needed to do. There is no visa or fee required otherwise. Checking out of Belize went well. We then got back into the trucks and proceeded to Guatemala. Once crossing no mans land, the area between the two countries , we stopped at the fumigation station. After exiting the fumigation station and entering Guatemala, we parked the trucks and proceeded to immigration and then customs. We noticed that the border was over crowded with 18 wheelers loaded down with scrap metal parked all over the place haphazardly. Parking was a mad house, oh well we thought, what are we going to do, just park in there somewhere. After getting our stamps in our passports, Angela, Tammy and Scott got in line for the temporary importation paperwork while I got in another line to pay the cashier. By getting in the other long line to pay the cashier, I was hoping they would get the TIP, and I would be at the front of the cashier line and they could jump right in, therefore speeding up our process through the border. Scott promised us that he knew of an ice cream stop just in town. “We’ll stop for ice cream, as a reward for all this torture of a border crossing mess” he said with a grin. Then we’d traveled on to our final destination for the night.
About then as expected one of the fumigation workers ran up to us asking if we could move our trucks. We were blocking traffic from entering and exiting the border crossing. Imagine that! Little old us stopping up the flow of goods and services between Guatemala and Belize. Quickly we both jumped out of line, moved our trucks and resumed waiting. Soon we’d have all our paperwork finished and we were on our way.
Just up the road from the border crossing at the first traffic light, there sat a little ice cream shop. Pulling over immediately, we went in, and in our best Spanish ordered the sweet stuff. “A double cone of pistachio nut ice cream with chocolate and sprinkled nuts.” Scott ordered in his best Spanish. Tammy and I took the easy road and just said “Mismo” meaning same order in Spanish and laughed. “Yummy” said Angela as we all nodded in agreement. To busy, all of us eating ice cream to talk. Just what we needed after a hot lengthy stay at the border.
Next it was time to get gas. Feeling a sigh of relief to see gas at $3.25 instead of $5.25 in Belize, we pulled in and filled the tanks. While getting a fill up we noticed the sky getting very dark. Just as we pulled out of the gas station a slight drizzle began. Shortly afterwards, the clouds opened up and buckets of rain poured down. “Scott” I called over the radio! “We need to take it very slow, I can hardly see back here” I said. Suddenly our speed dropped from a leisurely cruise of 50 mph down to 20. Onward we traveled barely seeing the road, yet some cars and trucks were passing us at break neck speed, splashing water up on our windshields. Making life more dangerous.
Determined to get to Ixpanpajul, a nature park that boast wild horses and sheep roaming the grounds, we drove on in the vicious storm dodging downed tress and torrential rain. About the time we arrived, the weather had almost cleared. Pulling off the road and into the gate of the nature park we saw many wild horses and sheep roaming the grounds. Just what we needed for our first night’s stay. Welcome to Guatemala.