BORDER CROSSING Part 1 | Driving From MEXICO Through BELIZE!

The day has come! Talking about leaving Playa del Carmen, for so many months, it was a weird moment, since I had been so preoccupied with packing and organizing, that when I was walking to my bed, to shower and turn in for the night, I realized that I was not going to simply wake up for another day in Playa del Carmen, but I would be getting up, and departing Playa del Carmen. Saying goodbye to the place that had been my home for 3 years.

Not only that, but there was so much uncertainty that lay in our way. Was “Angelica” the car in a good enough state to get us there? Did we have everything we needed to cross into Belize? How about Guatemala? So many things go through your head, but the excitement of the trip keeps those as simply faints voices in the back of your head. “I will cross that bridge when I come to it” responds the eagerness to get this adventure on the road.

Crossing into Belize via Mexico
Crossing into Belize via Mexico

Packed to the brim, Winston in the back, Steve behind the wheel, and I as co-pilot, we turned the key to get the journey started. Cough. Sputter. Silence. Steve and I both looked at each other with blank expressions, and even Winston in the back seat could sense the tension. Let’s try that again. Second try, she rose to life with a fierce grunt, followed by a roar, as much of a roar as a 90’s Corolla will give you, we shifted into gear and rolled away, all of us looking in the direction of Casa Canada, our house, our home, that had been such an amazing refuge from the sometimes hectic life of Playa del Carmen. Next stop, Belize border. Or so we thought ...

There was a slight sense of anxiety in the car as we passed through the streets of Playa del Carmen. I believe both of us were making conversation to drown out any possible worrying sound coming from the car. Cruising on the highway, nearing Puerto Aventuras, when the conversation ended, we both noticed a noise from the back of the car every time we rolled over the infamously uneven roads in Mexico. We pulled into Puerto Maya, just before Puerto Aventuras, and inspected the car. Quite evidently, the sidewall of the tire had a line running along it that was a different shade of black, from the rest of the tire, making it easy to diagnose that the wheel well had been rubbing on the outside of the tire as we rolled over those bumps. The good thing about our relationship with “Angelica” is that she is always up for a new look. That meant taking a crowbar and wrench, and prying the body of the car, away from the wheel well, with sheer elbow grease. We bounced up and down on the trunk to simulate rolling over the bumps, to see if we finally had some clearance. We decided to err on the side of caution and pry it a little farther away, and then set off, fingers crossed. The first main test was a rolling speed bump as we approach Tulum. We went quiet, and Angelica returned the favour. Not a sound. We exhaled. For now ...

Leaving Mexico and entering Belize would pose two separate issues. One, was that my immigration situation had been messed up numerous times and was in a “suspended” position. Even though it was not my fault, it would take a lot of explaining, and whoever’s “fault” it is does not often matter in Latin America. It was a stressful situation but in the end, the border guard said with shrugged shoulders “Well, I can’t stamp your passport, but if Belize let you in, you’re good.” So far, so good. Crossing into a country, takes a little more preparation. We had to fumigate the car, import the car, get clearance for Winston and then, after all that, do our customs and immigration. It was much more expensive than we had anticipated but after a checkpoint before driving through past the guards, we were given the thumbs up, to continue on. Sheer relief, that was very short lived. As we left...

...our lunch spot in Corozal, the closest town in Belize to the Mexican border, we had our first issue. The signs, or lack thereof! Belize has to be the worst country I have ever visited, in regards to proper road signage. Without exaggeration, you would arrive at a fork in the road, each option going in completely separate directions, and their would not be a sign indicating which direction goes where. Absolutely infuriating. A couple missed turn offs, backtracking, asking locals for directions, we drove through Orange Walk, which as a landmark we knew we were on the right track. This is where things turned south.

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