Not Ready for the Pipe and Slippers yet..... A journey by Motorcycle through the Americas
Not Ready for the Pipe and Slippers yet..... A journey by Motorcycle through the Americas

Adventures in Brobdignag – the Mexico / Guatemala border

 

 

From everything I’d read as research before the trip the biggest challenges around logistics were going to be with the Central American border crossings.

.

I arrived at the border between Mexico and Guatemala after a nice 40 mile ride early in the morning. Leaving Mexico involved paying the departure tax of £15.00, getting the passport stamped, trying to find out where to get the bike’s import cancelled and refunded (‘no, that happens in X – 45 miles back up the road’), I wasn’t going to put another 100 miles on that day, so it looks like I might have made a larger than expected contribution to the Mexican economy; paying the 20p to use the road between the two countries then dealing with the Guatemalan side. 

 

Mexico - Guatemala border

I was there for 4 hours. A flavour of some of the discussions:

 

  • ‘No, I am not an Indian Citizen – the page of my passport that you have copied is a visa not the main page’
  • ‘No, the bike is not Spanish - it was  manufactured in Spain, but is registered in the UK’
  • ‘Here, this little picture of a motorcycle on my licence shows that I am qualified to ride it’
  • ‘Yes, this is the only document we have in the UK that shows ownership of the bike’
  • ‘Yes, I will come with you to the local lawyer who will produce a notarised document (for $35) that states that I am who I say I am and so is the bike; but why?’
  • ‘OK, I will go with you to the bank to pay the import tax,  get the 4 copies of the papers stamped, then signed by me before returning to the border post’
  • ‘Please feel free to half-heartedly spray some disinfectant of the bike for 'fumigation' purposes -  it costs how much?’
  • 'Sure, I will take a rickshaw to go the 200 yards to the bank - how much?'
  •  ‘I thought you worked for the government; why are you asking me for money. I will need a receipt for that’

 

 

 

The final barrier before Guatemala

There are, I think, two options as to how you respond to all this.

 

Rail against the ineptitude, corruption and feel duped and ripped off as a foreigner travelling solo.

Or, if you’re going into a country where:

  • The average earnings are just over $2700, equivalent to about £5.00 per day – if you have a job of course.
  • 75% of people live below the poverty line, with 58% being in ‘severe poverty’.
  • 60% of people are aged 24 or under and fewer than 6% of people will see their 65th birthday
  • There is less than 1 doctor  per 1000 people compared to almost 3 in the UK.

You could feel glad that you've got an opportunity, however small, to redistribute some of your first world wealth and that's probably no bad thing.

Bike cleaning
Print Print | Sitemap
© Kevin Ford