A Guatemalan Border Crossing Experience…

We tried to find a halfway point between Oaxaca and Tapachula, where we planned to cross the border.  When we stopped in Juchitan for the night (I believe the joke was, “it must be you they are staring at, because I am starting to blend in.”  I have never felt so much on display, as if we were beings from Mars, riding into town on massive, loaded bikes, wearing astronaut suits.  I have also never been so grossed out with the only accommodations we could find with decent parking.  Seeing as how night was creeping in, we conceded to not having internet for the night, since the hotel did not offer any.  After unloading the bikes, I proceeded to get into an argument with the owner about where our motos were parked, which was currently taking up one space right in view of our window.  He wanted us to move into the corner for to make space for all the cars that were supposed to show up late at night, which not a one did.  Agreeing we were going to make this stay as short as possible, Randy and I barely unpacked in preparation for an early departure in the morning.  I didn’t even bother to change out of my clothes and slept on top of my motorcycle gear.  I considered sleeping in my boots, but decided to try for a little comfortability while I slept, but mostly I wanted to be ready to go first thing and get out of that room and out of that town.


After a taxing morning ride through a wind farm on Hwy200, we settled for the night at Hotel Los Portales ($450 pesos or $34.62/night), which was so much more tolerable with a/c, hot water and comfortable beds.  It also helped that the hotel had lovely dark wood and wrought iron décor, painted sinks, as well as internet and parking, worthy of mention, a guy to point exactly where to park, right in front, who watches the vehicles all night. Little did we know that arriving in Tapachula at 3pm on a Friday afternoon was when the Banjercito (where we get our $300 USD motorcycle deposit back) closes for the weekend. We didn’t realize until Saturday when we showed up at 8am, and was greeted by closed doors, our hopes of making it to Guatemala that day sunk.

We decided to ride to the closest border crossing to see if they would direct us to a Banjercito that was open.  We talked with immagracion, who was no help, and whose only interest was to charge us $294 pesos for an exit stamp.  I found this funny since a fellow motorcyclist who crossed the border before us was charged $294 pesos because he had no receipt for his tourist card. I kept saying I am not going to exit Mexico without going to the Banjercito first, so you might as well tell me where to get that done.  Finally understanding he was not going to get any pesos out of me then, he shoed me away and pointed me to another office.  It was there a woman in uniform was kind enough to tell us where to go.  Relieved to find out there was one back a ways out of town, we headed off in that direction.  At the office, with parking for motos right in view of the window, we efficiently made the transaction and returned once again to the Tuxtla border.  This time I walked up to a different window, and a different officer took my passport, stamped it, gave it back, and I was on my way without having to pay anything additional.  Randy walked up to the window next to mine, with the officer from that morning’s interaction sitting behind the glass partition, noticing the quickness of my transaction, stamped his passport and sent him on his way too.  Easy, now it’s off to the Guatemalan offices.

Just around the corner with a dozen helpers chasing after us, we had our bikes sprayed for pesticides, but it didn’t seem to extinguish the amount of flies buzzing around us.  One of these flies, Victor, was very persistent and Randy decided to let him help us.  He pointed to the immagracion office, which was aptly marked, so one minute and $10Q ($1.30 USD) later, we were moving again.  Importing us was done, now to import the bikes.  At another office, also easily marked, Victor was very good at translating Spanish between the administrative woman and us, which also could have been solved with basic finger gesturing of the needed papers, and had I not known what she was asking for already.  It was all a racket.  I had to make 4 trips to the copiers office across the way before they would fully process our papers.  When we walked up to pay the $160Q fee ($20.50 US) for importing our motorcycles, we had arrived just in time for the woman to be at lunch for the next hour.  Not to worry, the guard for the back (he could not have been more than 5 feet tall and a shotgun to match) was watching out for us.  Enamored with the motorcycles, as soon as the window to the bank opened, he motioned for us to stand at the front of the line, which had accumulated a dozen plus people over the course of her lunch.  Within 5 minutes, our fees were paid and we were suiting up to ride beyond the white and red striped barrier that had kept us for 2 hours and into Guatemala.

10 thoughts on “A Guatemalan Border Crossing Experience…

  1. Many more lovely hours at borders to come!
    My advice is to use the money changers…just know what the currency is worth and expect a small fee. Banks at borders don’t really exist. The changers provide a great service – only exchange what you will need at each border and possibly to the next gasolinera if a proper town is out of shot. If you want a link to the explicit details if each crossing let me know and I’ll send them off to you.

  2. Amazing journey. Frankly, I don’t know if I would be able to deal with all the bureaucracy – government, or just plain made up on the spot. But it definitely seems worth it in the end. Amazing pictures.


  3. xe.com/ucc has an excellent tracker for currency.

    I should’ve told you the story about me, the holding cell, and the Venezuelan border. In the meantime, foreign border agents are just as testy as American ones, so cameras, photos, challenges to discharge fees (just or un) can be dangerous. Tread cautiously girl! Miss you xoxo

    • Downloaded the app on my phone 🙂 and it’s great! Another motorcyclist went on ahead of us and reported back that he did not get helped by the only woman at the window for 6 hours because he pissed her off. Lesson learned, suck it up and be nice. xoxo

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