But we'll tell you more about that later on. For now, we'll start off with a little more about Puerto Arista. Yesterday was definitely a relax day. We made it out for a walk in the morning before it got too hot. We never did see a thermometer while we were there but I found a weather site that says it has been 34C (93F) there for the past few days and that sounds about right! I like the heat, but it was humid as well and you couldn't do anything without dripping with sweat.
Ruth, on the beach at Puerto Arista.
The beach at Puerto Arista stretches for 32 kms (20 miles)! Can you see the tire tracks on the beach? That's from those noisy ATV's that people can rent so they can zoom up and down the beach at ridiculous speeds. Sure looks like fun, but they are so annoying. Certainly not a peaceful beach, that's for sure.
We saw a place that does pollo asada (Roast chicken) and decided to head back there for mid afternoon lunch. One of the things we miss about this tenting lifestyle is a decent fridge and cooking facilities. It's not bad cooking actually, but the lack of a fridge has us frustrated. Yes, we could buy a cooler and have to put ice in it all the time, but that's frustrating too. Especially when it's this hot and we don't really have room in the little blue car for a decent sized cooler.
Ultimately, we miss Sherman!
We went back to the campground and played a few rounds of backgammon and yahtzee. Then headed back to the pollo (chicken) place. Turns out they do a half roast chicken with tortillas and salsa and macaroni salad for 50 pesos ($4.10). Good deal!
Back at the campground, we jumped in the little wading pool they have. It's only about two feet deep, but that's all you need. Just somewhere to cool down.
Our campsite at Jose's Camping and Cabanas in Puerto Arista.
Got to sleep early last night and we were up at about 6:30am this morning. Had breakfast and coffee and got the tent all packed up and we were on the road by 8:05am. Not as far to drive today. Oh, and no the little blue car does not have air conditioning. So driving early in the day down here makes a lot of sense.
The road heading out of (and in to!) Puerto Arista is in really good shape.
And the main highway is two lanes in each direction!
Leading all the way to the Guatemala border, the main highway was originally built as a toll road. But that was changed and now the road is totally free, but it's four lanes so it's a pretty easy drive. The toll booths have now been taken over by federal police and military, so there's quite a few checkpoints on this stretch of highway. No problems for us though, and we were waved right through.
Made it to the Aduana (customs) office just on the outskirts of Tapachula. This is where we needed to check and see if we were supposed to turn in our vehicle permit. The area was a bit of a zoo of traffic, and so I pulled over and left Ruth in the shade with the little blue car while I went to the office with the paperwork. If I understood the guy correctly (and I asked two of them), then reader John was correct and we can keep the same vehicle permit to use when we re-enter Mexico in two weeks or so. They kept pointing to the date on the paperwork and saying it's good until May 1st so you don't need another one. What will happen with regards to our tourist cards? Who knows, we'll find out the answer to that when we try to "check out" of Mexico tomorrow!
Then we came in to the city of Tapachula. We're only 18 kms (11 miles) from the Guatemala border now!
Spent an hour or so trying to find a cheap and decent hotel that also had secure parking and a good price. That's a lot to ask for, but we got lucky. Ruth had looked in our old Lonely Planet guide for "budget" accommodation and we didn't have an easy time finding it. And traffic in this city is nuts! It's every man for himself and rules (including red lights) appear only to be suggestions. We parked the car at a big grocery store and I took off on foot to find the place.
And I did. The name has changed and it's now called the Hospedaje Chelito on 1a Norte No 107. But it's only 250 pesos for a decent room with a ceiling fan, and 70 pesos more for one with air conditioning. They wanted another 50 pesos for parking, but when I balked at that he quickly waived the fee. I think the place is pretty much empty. So, for 320 pesos ($26.24) we have a decent clean room with it's own bathroom and air conditioning and secure parking. We're happy.
Next, we went out to get photo copies and some Guatemala currency. This is to make our border crossing as smooth as possible. It was easy to find a place for photocopies of vehicle registration and drivers licence, but no so easy to find a place to buy quetzales. Went to a few different banks, but they sent us to a "casa de cambio" (money exchange) in the central area. We walked there, and sure enough found a good place at 1a Norte No 1. Same street as our hotel, but quite a bit further down at el Centro.
And we got a good deal. 500 pesos for 300 quetzales. I had checked rates ahead of time so I was surprised to get this good of a deal. You can change money right at the border, but I'd rather get the best deal possible and I don't think that would happen right at the border.
So with that out of the way, we are back at our hotel and ready to cross into Guatemala tomorrow morning. You probably won't hear from us again until tomorrow afternoon, and if all goes according to plan, we'll be in Quetzaltenango when you hear from us next!
Today's drive, 235 kms (146 miles).