|My path to arrive Belize City was a bit bumpy, in more than one way. I had troubles with the bus, I had troubles at the Belizean border and I had troubles checking in at my hotel. So, it wasn't exactly a smooth sailing. I never had so many little details go wrong in a single journey in a very long long time.|
First, there are two ways
to go from Chetumal (Mexico) to Belize City (Belize) by ground transportation. You can travel
like locals and take the Belizean buses (old North-American school
buses, the famous Blue bird ones) which leave about every hour from
downtown or take a Guatemalan tourist class min-bus from the bus
station which leaves only at 7 AM. I like traveling like locals and
I will take chicken buses while in Guatemala, but I figured for a
4-hour bus ride I'd prefer to get a bit more comfy than that.
So, I arrived early at the
bus station to get on the 7 AM departure. As I came to buy my
ticket, the vendor told me I had to wait because if I were to be the
only passenger, the bus would probably not leave. A few minutes
later, a woman came along to buy a ticket... so I could buy mine as
well. I thought that's nice, everything is good... I was wrong as
you will discover in a moment.
About 35 mins after
leaving the bus terminal, we arrive at the exit station of Mexico
where we had to pay the departure tax (306 pesos). It went well, but
the agent asked me when I'd return to Mexico... I said probably in
two months, maybe never. We board the bus again and we stop about 2
km further at the Belizean border. The agent asked me a few
questions... including why I was in Mexico for so long (almost 6
months)... and then tell me I have to wait for her supervisor.
After waiting about 15
minutes, the supervisor arrives. He asked me again what were my
plans in Belize and how long intended to stay in the country and
where I'll go after leaving Belize. After he seemed convinced I
would go to Guatemala and that wasn't just a visa run, he told his
agent to process me. The agent asked me the same questions again
(probably to fill a computer form she didn't save the first time)...
including how much time I intended to be in Belize. I said “about
two weeks”... including one week in Belize City. She stamped my
passport and wrote something in it. Only once I got my passport back
I was able to see that she did allow me exactly 14 days: I have to be
out by April 14th. Normally, Canadians are allowed 30
days without any problems in Belize.. so I didn't anticipate that
limitation! I didn't expect such scrutiny from Belize... which is
also part of the Commonwealth (like Canada). And that written
limitation prevents me from any improvisation like staying an extra
week because I like the place.
Ok, I'm finally out of the
customs office and back on the bus. A few kilometres from Belize
City, the drive stops the bus and tells me I have to get off there.
That he won't go to Belize City just for one passenger. I tried to
argument with him... but he wouldn't hear a thing. So, he picked up
my luggage and placed it on the side of the road, saying the bus is
coming and I have to board it, that he'll pay my fare on that chicken
bus. So, the bus arrives... it's full packed (in Central America
that means all seats occupies, people standing in the central row
from the back up to the stairs)... I manage to get on with my
luggage. I can barely stand up in that bus with my 1.88 m (6'2”)
high with only a little grip on the baggage support on one side. It
takes 45 minutes to reach the bus terminal in Belize City. If I had
wanted to take the chicken buses for that ride, I would have taken it
from Chetumal and had a chance to be sit all the way.
So, I finally at the
Belize City bus terminal... I know exactly where my hotel is... so I
head out and I walk towards it. Of course, there are the expected
numerous taxis offers. After about 15 minutes I reach out my hotel.
I had contacted the owner of the hotel a few weeks back to make a
deal for a private room. The owner isn't there when I arrive... and
his employees never heard of that deal. So, they call him... the
owner tries to backup on the agreement... but after some convincing
he stays on track to honour it. And I'm finally led to a room.
Nothing really major, but
all these small elements put together on the same journey made it
much less enjoyable than it could have been. My past self (2 years
ago) would have been infuriated and would probably have lost his
temper in this situation. Happily, my newer self is much more zen...
and at the end what matters is that everything is fine now.
How would you have reacted
in such scenario?
Belizean buses (old North-American Blue Bird school buses, with original seats)