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My entrance into Belize
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-03-31 19:56:26 | Belize City, Belize, Belize
Keywords: border, bus, crossing, transportation
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)

Related posts:
Visa Run Guatemala – Mexico
Panama to Colombia, day 4
Inter-city bus transportation
100 days and counting
Vancouver to Tijuana


left this comment on 2014-04-09 22:48:16

Good for for staying so calm and collected, that's quite the un-inviting journey into Belize, and it's crazy that you can only stay 2 weeks. Hopefully things only get better from here

Sylvain from
left this comment on 2014-04-10 06:44:59

Yes, that was a rough day... but those are very few... only my 2nd in about 300 days of travel, so I'm good. Yes, with more time I probably would have tried to venture a bit more... but with the prices of the tours here it would have been impossible anyway. The rest of the trip in Belize so far went smoothly.

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