When we got back to Xela on Sunday morning, the first item on the agenda was a hot shower and clean clothes! We let one of the girls from the trip use our nice hot shower in our room and she said "that was the second best shower of my life!". I think we pretty much felt the same way!
Then, we simply relaxed for the rest of Sunday and most of Monday. Oh, we did do a little excursion with one of the volunteers from Quetzaltrekkers who brought us over to the school and the hogar that are supported by the money raised by the hiking trips they do. We'll tell you all about that in a separate post at another time.
Otherwise, we spent time catching up on the internet and organizing our travels north. We made reservations at what looked like a really nice hostel in San Cristobal, and did some research on our next border crossing.
Tuesday morning, we packed up the little blue car, and hit the road!
We had heard it was about a seven hour drive to do the 343 kms (213 miles) to San Cristobal, and that depends on how much time you have to spend at the border. So we set out at exactly 9:00am Tuesday morning.
At exactly 10:00am, we had driven 43 kms (27 miles)! It took a while just to get out of the city, and then the first part of highway winds it's way higher into the mountains.
We took a few photos, but it was pretty hazy and they're not worth showing.
The Pan American highway heading towards the Mexican border.
Coming in to the border town of La Mesilla, Guatemala at 12:30pm.
We had read that this border crossing was less busy than the one we had entered at near Tapachula, and it's true. It's also better organized and we were never approached by any "helpers" like at the other one. They raise a gate and you have an actual parking area in front of the offices. First, we stopped at the Guatemalan aduana (customs) office where I had to present the paperwork for the car permit. The lady kept one copy, checked my passport, and I was done. Then, it was to the immigration office right next door where they stamped our passports as having exited Guatemala. We have heard of people being charged an "exit tax", but we were not asked for any money.
We will, thanks!
Next, we drove into Mexico and we were immediately stopped by an immigration officer who checked a few things in the car and asked us some questions. Then, we had to pull over to the side where the little blue car had it's tires fumigated at a cost of 60 pesos ($4.92). Went inside to pay, and got a receipt.
There, we were told we had to drive on four km's to the immigration office. We already had our car permit and we had to show it to a couple of different people, but it doesn't expire until May 1st so everybody was satisfied. Next, came our visit to the immigration office.
You'll remember that our Mexican tourist cards were in the bag that was stolen back in early November. And we've been trying to figure out the process to replace them ever since!
This time, we said nothing about the stolen permits and just presented our passports. The officer checked them on his computer and handed us a couple of new tourist cards to fill out. He approved them for 180 days, stamped our passports and told us we were good to go! I asked where we had to pay for them, and he said we didn't need to pay until we left the country! Okay, whatever!! Fastest Mexico border crossing ever! The whole thing didn't take more than a half an hour.
So we carried on into Mexico. Went through a couple of military inspections, one guy actually was fairly thorough and made us get some things out of the trunk. Other than that, it was an uneventful drive.
Coming up the mountains towards San Cristobal there was all kinds of touristy things being sold.
We arrived in San Cristobal around 4:00pm (so it really was a seven hour drive!) and had little problem finding the La Gite del Sol hostel. They don't have parking, so we had to pay extra (50 pesos, $4.10 per night) for secure parking.
Got checked in and went to find some food. We were starved! We're really close to the central area and found a pedestrian street that looked fairly touristy. We try and avoid these because prices tent to be higher, but we found a spot advertising the "menu of the day" for 70 pesos ($5.74) each. Choice of soup or salad, and choice of fajitas or fish.
We even got a table with a view!
And a beer and a glass of wine.
We shared each other's soup and salad.
It was pretty good, and with drinks and a tip the bill came to 250 pesos ($20.50). We were due for a treat!
Today, we're just going to walk around San Cristobal. We've been here before, in early February of 2009 so we don't need to do any tours or anything like that. So far, based on last night's walk, we think that the area has become more touristy (and kind of artsy-fartsy) than it was then. We'll let you know more tomorrow!
Yesterday's drive, 343 kms (213 miles).