Crossing borders can be intimidating. This is especially true when – you have been traveling for twelve hours; you are crossing into a country where you do not speak the language; the sun is due to set in the next hour; and, you have not yet determined where you are headed for the night.
E&I had a plan for when we landed in Belize. We would share a taxi cab to save $ on the ride into town. We would book it to catch the last express bus to take us straight to Flores where we would head to bed early in order to wake up for the early morning tour of Tikal.
It did not go as planned.
We found a nice couple to share the taxi ride into town but when the taxi driver discovered we were not friends, we received a stern lecture on how this took advantage of taxi drivers who needed to make money. What we had expected to be a pleasant drive became awkward as our new taxi companions tried to convince the driver that we would be generous tippers. He looked at our grimy backpacks and ignored them. I didn’t blame him.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at our bus terminal anxious to leave Belize City only to discover the last express bus for the day had left. Our options were – stay in Belize City; head to Caye Caulker for sun and sand; or, take the local bus to the border. The last option was greatly discouraged by the bus station employees as they warned us the local bus would take NINE hours! We decided to try our luck.
A few quick exchanges for directions and we were on the bus to Benque Viejo. The bus ride took 4 hours and cost us $4 (total!). We had no idea where we were when we arrived in Benque Viejo. We had not planned to travel in Belize so had neglected to bring a guide book for the country. We (naturally) decided it would be wise to walk in the direction everyone else was headed and that the border must not be too far away. A taxi driver took pity on us and drove us the 2+ miles to the border (for $2!) We paid the exit fees, passed through customs, walked across the border, stopped at immigration and arrived in Guatemala just as the sun was setting.