Out for a drive south of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 6, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Purcari Winery, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist! Arrive December 8th.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We are back in Mexico!

Now that we've finished telling you about our six day hike, and the blog is now back to our regular morning updates, we can tell you a little bit of our recent activities and current plans. The biggest news is of course that we are back in Mexico!

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).

22 comments:

  1. Wow sure was an easy border crossing, and a nice looking dinner you had too.

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  2. Well done, nice to get thru the borders with no problems. Very different rules at that end of Mexico re paying for the tourist visa.

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    1. Yes, it seems to be. Rather funny though is that the Mexican goverment works as hard protecting the border at Guatemala as the United States work at protecting it at the Mexican border. A lot more check points!

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  3. Great pizza on that street! Which way are you headed out of San Cristobal?

    Kent

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    1. We're going to Oaxaca City next, so we'll be taking the cuota down through to Chiapa de Corzo and through Tuxtla Gutierrez.

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  4. Always a good thing when the border crossing goes that smoothly. You definitely had a table with a view.

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  5. How many pairs of shoes do you guys go through in a winter?

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    1. Our hiking boots last a long time. Kevin has had his for the past 2 1/2 years and mine gave out in October when I got myself a new pair while in Oklahoma city. We wear our hiking boots more than any other footwear we have. They get LOTS of use!

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  6. Looks like a nice frosty Bottle of 2X in Kevin's hand that will make any day.Glad to see you are back in Mexico. WE were worried after the attack on the other couple in Guatamaula a couple months ago. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

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    1. Yep, the bottle of beer and glass of wine went down very well.

      We had absolutely no problems in Guatemala and everyone else we talked to said the same thing. Got to stop reading/watching the news otherwise it won't be safe to even step outside of your own door, lol! Thanks for the concern all the same though, Sam and Donna.

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  7. WHY we love reading your blog - days after reading - things pop up in our heads and make us chuckle - cute little kiddos - erupting volcanoes - Kevin bundled up in the tent - Ruth & the pig - the chicken bus - all that stuff! The best part is that you travel to the "outback areas" and we get to see the locals and how they live. We thoroughly enjoyed this trip - THANK YOU - you two rock!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment Connie and Barrie. I am glad that we can relay our experiences to everyone and we able to brings smiles to your faces. We love to see the not so touristy areas better than the over crowded ones, it gives us a much better feel for the country we are visiting.

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  8. In Oaxaca, I think you would enjoy a visit to "The Beer Company" at 1005 Violetas Street, Colonia Reforma. Leonidas runs the place, his right-hand man, Pedro, speaks English if I recall correctly. One wall is full of micro-brews from all over Mexico, the opposite wall has unusual beers from every other country in the world!

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    1. I am sure that we will be making a stop there while we visit Oaxaca City, thanks Donald.

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  9. Getting back to Mexico must be kinda like "going home" I would think. You've been there long enough.

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    1. You are so right Bob. In fact when we got back into Mexico we looked at each other and said that it felt like we were back to civilization. We loved Guatemala but figure that it is more like what Mexico was 15 or 20 years ago, still has a feel of the "wild west" about it.

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  10. "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."

    Maybe the same virus "Snobcoccus Elitistarsecocci" that infected San Miguel De Allende has now found a new host. Derek Wood ;-) the dark half.

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    1. No, I don't think that was the case. The tourists (expats) here are definitely different to the ones in San Miguel de Allende. We would rather live in San Cristobal than San Miguel if we had to choice between the two.

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  11. Looks like fertile territory. Maybe with a van camper.

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  12. You guys are such an inspiration. You played an important part in our plans before coming to Mexico. I love reading about your amazing experiences and how you handle those petty details that most of us would consider a huge problem. Thanks for giving us the ambition to keep going. We are now in Mexico for 7 MONTHS and loving it and are considering renewing our visa to stay longer!! Gracias!!

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    1. Thanks you for the kind words Al. We are happy to hear we were such an inspiration to you both. We love Mexico and want to show people out there that this is a great place to travel and that there are so many wonderful people here, maybe we can inspire more to travel here.

      So happy you are enjoying your stay and look forward to meeting you one day in the future.

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