Friday, October 8, 2010

14. Crossing the border into Guatemala. (10/24/07)

The previous night was spent at a hotel (I rode for for 6 hours of rain yesterday) with a friendly employee who new English from working in Wisconsin for 3 years. He took me to buy groceries with his wife in their brand new return of the El Camino vehicle. It was a very cramped ride and his wife had to sit up slightly for my friend to change gears.

In the morning I set out for the border crossing at La Mesilla, Guatemala. I can not describe to you how chaotic this border crossing is. All of a sudden after Ciudad Cuatemoc you run into 2 miles of shady roadside shops. There are cars parked everywhere on the road and the only way to get through the border seemed to be with a motorcycle weaving in and out of parked cars. After avoiding dozens of pedestrians and parked vehicles I finally reach the border crossing which is a small shack and a guy with an assault rifle who manually lifts a heavy metal gate. The border guard directs me to the side of the road to pay to have my bike sprayed with pesticide! grrr (they have these stupid things at almost every country in Central America and as soon as the pesticide guy sees you he gets excited because he can charge you the Gringo price). After this, I do the paper work which wasn´t too bad except having to wait in line at the bank for 30 minutes to pay my tourist permit.

Guatemala is a pretty poor country. Seeing dozens of trucks filled with people standing upinside of them reminded me of books I have read about the Holocaust and the Jews being forced to stand in railcars. On a more positive note, the people here are very friendly and and as my Lonely Plantet says ¨They make the best of what little they have.¨

Tikal was an amazing ruins site. Fellow travelers have given it rave reviews but nothing prepares you for the grandeur of the place until you see it in person. Located deep in the jungle, there was a light mist circling as I walked around the massive structures. It was not hard to imagine a tribal ceremony happening here. It was a neat feeling to realize that this place looked probably almost the same hundreds of years ago.

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