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October 25th, 2010 - Entering Guatemala

We arrived at the Guatemalan border to find out that we should have gone to the customs 40 minutes back in Talachupa to process the cancellation of the Mexican registration/import permit.  Apparently, if you don’t cancel this permit before leaving the country and don’t came back into the country before it expires, you will be charged $500.00, plus a fine if  you try to enter into the Mexico again with a vehicle. We tried to see if we could sort this out by email or phone but were told that no, each car had to go back to La Garita or else potentially be charged $500.00. The RGE guys contacted the British embassy to see how negative the ramifications would be if we didn’t go back. They said it would mostly likely be ok and that they would call the custom for us from the British embassy.

We barely went a few meters out of the border queue and ended up mobbed by a crowd and unable to move. The police were quick to respond, and they guarded us guns in hand and offered to escort us all the way to our destination at Guatemala City. We had a long delay at that juncture as we worked on sorting out the temporary importation status of the vehicles. Apparently, we had gone to a different place to cross the border than where we had originally planned to cross which is partly why things didn’t go as smoothly.

With a throng of people around us, we waited around and made conversations with the locals. All the tropical rain had washed off my shoe polish so I got the best shoeshine of my life from a little boy who worked on my shoes as if I was the president. For one dollar, my combat boots were as shiny as any General’s. A lady gave Cynthia a Rombego (a local fruit) to try for free as we didn’t have any cash, and later a girl approached us and gave us a whole bag of the spiny red fruits. On the inside they look like a large peeled grape and turned out to be succulent and delicious. We shared some with the kids and the police, and the girl invited us to her mother’s store and they gave us a picture to remember our time there and gave Cynthia a keychain. Once again, we have been impressed by the kindness of people to complete strangers.

Finally around 6 p.m, the border ordeal was over, and we started out on the road to Guatemala City. The road was lined by palm trees, banana plants, and many other lush plants. We passed grazing cows, chickens, muddy rivers, and many people walking along the road or riding in bike-cart taxis. After a gas station stop to fuel up for the bike, it was a bit surreal to see how the police with their guns stopped traffic for us to merge back onto our route for no apparent reason other than they could! By now it was dark. Almost immediately we started to encounter potholes of a size and frequency that made me feel like I was trapped in a video game. Trying to avoid them and radio back to the SRZero was quite a feat and took all my concentration. It was pouring as well, naturally. The hours of riding in the rain didn’t help. When we arrived to Guatemala City around 4 a.m., I was more sick, hypothermic, tired and ready for the bed.

Our stay in Guatemala didn’t turn out to be what I envisioned. I wanted to stay at least a month in Guatemala since this country is in the grip of a protracted food insecurity crisis, and the current situation of food insecurity is worsening what is already one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world (affecting 43% of children below five years of age). We highlighted a malnutrition clinic in Guatemala a few post back. While it was our wish to visit this clinic personally, we were disappointed that my illness prevented us from being able to visit there or other clinics. Needless to say, this is a country with tremendous needs.

I also had a few contacts and a motorcycle club I wanted to visit while there which we had to skip as well. We stayed in Guatemala for 2 days and I honestly don’t remember a minute of it. I was down with high fever and the next thing I remember is getting back on the bike heading fast for El Salvador.

There are 8 Comments

  1. Almarconi
    October 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    How have the Pirelli RT66 tires been holding up?

  2. Mpanther
    October 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    If that is the “fruit” on your nose, It looks like a Rambutan.
    One of my favorites.

    Also, Hi Cynthia!

  3. Diego Aristizabal
    October 25, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Chris,
    I´been following your Motorcycle Memoir and i think is fantastic. By now i`m looking Guatemala pictures and it looks like some Colombia´s places.
    By now you are down to Ecuador or Perú ( I Think soo).
    I hope everythink is going ok and hopping know more about you.
    By the way, how are the brakes working…. i spect ok. jeje.
    Best regards for you and all the team.

    Soo long and i will keep tracking you in your Motorcycle Memoir.

    Bye Bye,
    Your Friend in Colombia,

    Diego José Aristizabal

  4. Richsuz
    October 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Hey Chis,Richard here in Guatemala. Where you able to sort out your Mexican import papers away from the border? I have the same situation. Spent several weeks traveling through Mexico in the summer (From Guatemala all the way up to Jalisco, and around. On the way back I was unable to turn in my temporary import papers, because I crossed the border on Sunday. Sunday they close the BANEJERCITO office at 3:00 PM. I got there at 3:05 and the officer at the booth said, he could not do anything, to come back the next day. Mind you, the nearest Hotel is 100 kms away. He also told me that I did not have to process the papers until Dic 30th, 2010, so I had a window to do it. Well due to sever weather, the roads were impassable for a few weeks. Literally people got killed under road slides. Unfortunatly I had a bike accident, broke my femur in two, knee cap in 3 and had an exposed fracture to the Tibia (14 screws and two plates). I am not going to make it to the border on time, since I don’t even know how many months before I can walk again. I called the embassy and told me I had to return WITH the bike in person. I am looking your solution to the problem, so I can use precedence and avoid the fine and also be able to complete my trip through Mex next summer. BTW, sorry we did not connect, Like I said, the University you stopped at “Mariano Galvez”, was less than 100 mts. from my house. And the fruit you were treated to at the border, its called Rambutan. Not native to Guatemala, imported from SE Asia a few years ago, but took off nicely.Vsss and safe trip

  5. Oldcoot
    October 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Ok, I’m a newb…. so forgive me if I sound like one…. but I’m really impressed. You’ve really found a way to focus on your calling and purpose in life — and enjoy it. Great job.

  6. AndreaMartin
    October 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Diary, very interesting reading

  7. Chris Sorbi
    October 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Diego,

    Good to here fro you. we are in Chile and crossing to Argentina in a few days. the brakes are great, thank you very much. I checked them yesterday and there is barely any sign of wear after 3000 miles. We had a great time in Colombia and by far it’s my favorite country. I will come back to it one day.

    Stay tuned.

    Chris

  8. Chris Sorbi
    October 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Rich,

    We’re still struggling with the cancellation as well. The guys at the British embassy didn’t deliver what they promised. I will call the Mexican consul in US and will ask them to contact them. Hopefully they will be more helpful. I have another 3 months to cancel so I’ll do everything I can and will keep you updated. If they go for it, I’ll give you the contacts so you can do the same.
    I’m sorry to hear about your accident, I remember the road very well in Guatemala. I’ve never seen that much rain in my life. I have a picture of a tree the size of a 2 story building rolling in the middle of one of the flooded rivers. It really suck that we didn’t get to meet, hopefully I’ll make my way back up and do it properly.
    Get well soon.

    Almarconi,
    I loved the MT66 for about a week until the heavy rains started. The traction was awful, anything off the tarmac was scary to say the least and I had 4 flats in 2 weeks in two brand new tires. One was a giant nail which would puncture any tire but the other 3 were small scarps that couldn’t even cut butter. The compound of this tire is very soft but it’s not sticky. The walls are very thin, and there is not much meat on the treads. At 4000 miles, the rear was completely bald with no tread left at all. At 10 mph, we hit a little patch of sand and it almost sent us flying.
    I only recommend them for very dry places like Arizona but I still think there are much better tires for the price. Just my 2 cents.

    Chris

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