Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Friday, February 19, 2010

Crusing into Honduras - Tuesday 16 Feb

Travel definitely gets easier after Guatemala, Guatemala City, and the Mexican Frontier.
Today we got up a little late, about 6:30 , and left the hotel and pulled in at Rosaria's Comedor, a little restaurant. Had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, refried black beans, goat cheese, and corn tortillas and black coffee - about $2.00 each for us gringoes.
Then off to Honduras. It took a couple of hours to reach the border. It is named Florida. It is a little country border crossing. Very little commercial traffic and very little auto traffic. We first went to Customs, and got the car checked out of Guatemala, and off Tim's passport. Very simple - easy. Then we went over to the Guatemala immigration office and found out that the Guatemala visa for 90 days would also allow us into Honduras, after we paid Guatemala 40 quezales- about $5.00 - each.
At the Honduran immigration, right next door to the Guatemala office, they had to record our names and passport number in a book, handwritten not computer entry, then they charged us
$3.00 each. And voila - we were in Honduras. But not the car. For that we walked down the road about 30 yards to another little wooden building that contained the Honduran Customs people. They were very nice, low key, and just asked for Tim's papers, and after stamping everything, the lady told us we needed two copíes of a document she had just created. Tim had copies for all other documents.

The Customs office did not have a copy machine, and we were told that the store up the road had one. So we set off, about 200 yards up the road. That business- whatever it was- had a copier but we were told it did not work and no hint of who else had one. We went to the whiskey store next door and they told us the bank, back down the street across from the customs office had a machine! So--- back down the hill to the first office in the bank building. There machine was not working- but they told us to continue down the hall, last office on right had a copier. The man in this office told us to go back to the first place we had gone and so we had to explain that we had been there and the machine did not work, and the one in the bank did not work. He grudgingly took our papers and made two copies. We told him thank you very much, gave him a few Limperas - Honduras money - and returned to the Customs office.
Again the Lady was very nice- took the copies - finished doing her work on the papers - more stamps etc - then told us the fee to take the car into Honduras was $35.00. SIMPLE, and that was it. We jumped into the car, smiled at everyone, and waved good bye. We went 10 yards and had to stop to show all our papers - then we were off again- to Copan, and 3 hours later we arrived at Lavearn's home...' our destination.
I'll be in Hondo till Friday night.
ps - the reason I used the dash so much is I can not find the comma on the keyboard!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday in Guatemala.

This morning we got had a nice breakfast at the Hotel Virginia, about an hour inside Guatemala.

I had mentioned several times to Tim that I never had made it thru Gutemala City without getting lost. So when we set off for Guatemala City, (all roads lead to the capital) I began again preparing Tim for Guatemala City.

We arrived on the edge of the city about 11:20 and at about 11:50 I asked Tim to pull into a Pollo Campero Fried chicken restaurant, and we would eat lunch (I love their chicken) and I would ask directions on how to get to the highway we wanted. We successfully did that. I spoke with a table of young people and after much discussion among themselves and fingers pointing in all directions and many corrections of each other they all decided on the route and a young lady took my notebook and pen and drew me a map.

Armed now with my homemade map, we set off, down a four lane street of heavy traffic. Just to make sure we were right, I had Tim stop again and ask a man how to go to Puerto Barrios (our highway). He confirmed the directions and off we went, and ..... we missed the turn we were to make! So I just said go down and turn around, and we'll get it coming back. Well, the next turn around was 25 minutes away!!!! Boy, talk about testing patience! ... But we made it back, got on the correct road that all we had to do was drive straight. No turns. However, in about 5 minutes I knew we were once again lost! We stopped, asked, got directions and took off. I realized, however, that after a few minutes we were LOST again. So, once again we stopped and asked, and got directions that did in fact take us out of Guatemala City and toward Honduras.

One thing I have learned about driving thru Guatemala City is that when you think you are lost, YOU ARE, so stop and ask!

We had made it thru the City! Then Tim asked how much further to Rio Honda. I had no idea. I said I know it is down this highway, and we just had to drive til we got there.

We got to Rio Hondo in about 2 1/2 hours, Guatemala City had taken 3 1/2 hours. It was grueling day, but very successful. From here on in it would be a breeze.

Good night from Rio Hondo, Guatemala, very near to Honduras.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

At the Guatemala Border.

(This is a continuation of previous blog....please read it first.)

... let me describe this by first saying in this description there will be window '1', window '2', window '3', the bank window, and the inspection table.

So I was at window '1' and the lady was very nice and asked for Tim's passport and car papers. We gave them to her, and she started shuffling papers and typing stuff, etc, then she got up and said she wanted to see the car. We had to go get it. However, it was parked a long ways away. But before we could drive the car to her station, we had to stop and get the car fumigated for 18 quetzales. Then on up to the lady's area. We went back in, found her, and told her we were here now with the car. Bueno. she came out, looked at the car, looked in it, and said she needed another person to look at the stuff. We waited, and a few minutes later, another pleasant women showed up, and now the inspection of Tim's ¨STUFF" really began.

She was pointing, Tim was telling me what she was pointing to, and I was trying to tell her what it was. I felt we may in trouble. But then she said 'okay', and went back into the office, and we went to her window, window number '3'. There we waited for 5 or so minutes, then she gave us our duty due papers, how much we owed... $40.00 or so, and we then had to go to the Bank window, wait in line, pay our duty, and go back to window '3'. There she sent us to window '2', she did something to our papers, then back to widow '3', and we waited several miutes there. Then that woman, still very nice, told us to go to window '1'. So back we went..... back where we had started. She took what papers we had, did some stamping and initialing, then gave us some papers, and told us to go to the bank window to pay. We did, and returned to window '1'. She then - finally - gave us our car permit and all Tim's papers back, but told us to go to the inspection desk. We did, got inspected, then instructed on where to put our car permit decal on the wind shield. Then - okay - that's all --... sort of. As we pulled out, the man at the inspection desk that had helped us put the decal on - he had to inspect all our papers. THEN -- we were ready to go ... and we WENT! Thank you, Lord, for nice people!

Next blog, I´ll tell you about the drive thru Guatemala.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Somewhere in Guatemala - Hotel Virginia

Today, leaving from Acayucan was quite pleasant, but a little disconcerting to begin with. We had told the hotel person in charge of the parking that we were leaving early so that our car would not be blocked in. It was a small parking area. So when we came out of room we saw that our car was in the corner, with two or three cars blocking us in! Kinda upset - but trying to stay calm, I spoke to the desk clerk about our situation. He calmly turned around, knocked on a door behind the desk and said something to somebody. A moment later this young man came out, looked around, saw us, got our keys out of our key box, and headed for the parking lot. As we stood there , two cars were pulled out onto the street, another moved over, and our car came out - ready to hit the road!! As they say here - NO PROBLEMO!!

Wish I could have stayed calmer!

Then out on the open road. And again, good roads - bad roads , but no problems. We got all the way to Tapachula, on the border with Guatemala, but still 15 miles from the border, about 3 o'clock and headed for the border. About10 miles or so from the border a lot of Ajudantes, helpers, were standing by the road waving there ID cards at us, wanting to be our helper through the border. I told Tim to not pay any attention to them, just keep going to the border.

Sometimes I wish Tim didn't listen to me! After about a 20-minute drive we came to the border, only to be told by 10 "ajudantes" that we had to go back and turn in out Mexican permit for the car. That we could not turn it in at the Frontier! So we picked one man so he would show us where to go, and back we went toward Tapachula. When we got to where all the men had been waving at us, we realized they were telling us to stop and report the vehicle!!!!

Oh well, .... we got it done and headed for the border. At the Mexican immigration we had to pay $20.00 exit visa, because the man called us transits not tourist. He was right, and we grudgingly paid. Then on to Guatemala. Our helper told us where to park, and his "friend" showed up to help us get our vehicle registered and to get all the stuff in the car through customs. After a few minutes I asked him how much would it cost and he said $250.00!!! At the time he had our manifest of stuff in the car and was doing all sorts of figuring, etc. I took the book, with him, and Tim and I went to the customs agent. There the lady behind the window told us it only cost 40 Quetzals to enter Guatemala and there were men who tried to get Tourist to pay more. I said, "NO JOKE". 40 Quetzals is about $5.00.

I'll tell a few more details about our trip on next blog ... yesterday is not finished yet! but I gotta go.

so come back - I've more to tell



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tapico to Acayucan - Day 4

Today was pretty uneventful! Which for traveling here is very significantly good!!

We got a good night's sleep last night in Tampico, and lit out of there this morning at 5:30 a.m. (hopefully, we were thinking before the police wake up).

Then it was just drive, drive - over good roads and bad roads, but thru a beautiful landscape. This part of Mexico is lush and green with rolling hills and little pointed mountains. We had a good lunch - my first ever Mexican tacos. They were good and not like American Tacos. You´ll just have to come and try one - can´t tell about it.

Now we are in Acayucan, in a very Spanish looking hotel in a very Mexican looking city, with people everywhere, music coming from all sides, and a lot of commercial activity.

Tomorrow we will head across the Ismus (spelling?) of Mexico to the Pacific and then turn south toward Guatemala. We should be at the border tomorrow night, or even possibly in Guatemala.

All for now - I´m in a crazy internet shop - loud and crowded, and a slow connection with a sticky keyboard.

until later

Johnny in Acayucan

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day two and three - Driving to Honduras

We left Wharton about 6 this morning, and headed to Brownsville a couple hundred miles away.

The roads were all good, and the scenery was all the same - FLAT.

Arriving in Brownsville we went straight to Sanborns - a car insurance company that specializes in Americans taking trips into Mexico. Tim had already purchased insurance from them by telephone, so all we had to do was to pick up the hard copy of his policy and his receipts.

While we were there we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of going into Mexico this afternoon or waiting till early in the morning. The two ladies that worked there said early in the morning would be no problem with lines, and it would very easy. So we decided to take the afternoon off, go shopping for odds and ends that we had thought of driving out, and to get a hotel room.

We found a room at Motel 6 for $42.00 double, so we dropped our bags there and headed for Wal-Mart. Later we had our farewell American dinner at Red Lobster! Delicious.

So, Friday morning, after a great night's sleep, we were up and out at 5 am. We had breakfast at "What A burger", and headed for the border, arriving there a little before six.

Just as the ladies had said, there was no one ahead of us. Hot Dog - we thought - we'll be outta here in a flash.
We went to the immigration office and got our Mexican Visas and then looked around for the automobile registration office. It was closed! Didn't open till 8 o'clock.!!! Now we were stuck. We couldn't get out of Mexican customs without a vehicle permit, and if we tried to return to US we would possibly have to have all our stuff inspected, plus there is always a long, long line of cars waiting at the US border.

So - it was time to practice "travel patience"!! Just smile, pull out a book, magazine, or Sudoku and enjoy the experience. We did, and before we knew it - we had our permit for the car, and a clearance from customs concerning our cargo. Personal effects are not taxed, but all tools or the like are. Tim had to pay a little tax.

And then we were finally off to Mexico. Had a good drive and about 12:30 we pulled over at a little hole in the wall restaurant that had a grill fired up outside, actually the entire place was "outside", and the chicken looked good. We each got a chicken plate which consisted of soup, chicken, rice, tortilla chips and tortillas, and a large piece of sausage, plus a coke and 2 bottles of water. Total bill was 72 pesos which I think is less that $4.00. A good meal. Tim had ordered his water as we were leaving and didn't open it for a while. When he did go to open it, he saw that it had already been opened, but sold as new! I had already opened mine and had not paid any attention to the cap! I need to get back to "cautious" mode.

After that it was a nice drive into Tampico. Tampico is the only town I have ever had trouble with the police in, and today, the police lived up to my opinion of them!

We were in two lanes of traffic when the police pulled up beside us and waved for us to pull over. We did and a policeman came up and asked for insurance papers and Tim's license. Strange to be asking for insurance papers. But we had them - so no problem. Then he said we did not have a permit to drive in Tampico. All we had was permit to enter Mexico. So - me with my horrible Spanish, and my continuing comment, "I do not understand", the policeman said 'follow him'. He said that in English. We followed and what we did was just get off the main road! Uh oh! I thought.... Now, another policeman came, and he was talking about what we needed to pay. I asked - "how much?" - and he said some ridiculous amount like 3 thousand pesos. $230.00!!!

Then in my best Spanish, I started saying we were not paying anything, yada , yada yada. Finally, the policeman gave Tim his papers back and told us to be sure to drive slowly and carefully in Tampico!! We said, "Yes sir" - and he left, and our legs were still a little shaky when we got to our hotel in Tampico!!!

We're staying at the Hotel Monte Carlo. It is an old traditional hotel... lotsa Class. It's fun.

All for now - may add some to this blog tomorrow - but have ta see.
So long for now from Tampico - in Mexico.
Johnny and Tim