The alarm sounded at 5:15 am and dawn was just beginning to break. Inside, the bungalow windows were dripping with condensation, the bedsheets were damp, and the air heavy. Outside a moist, heavy, mist hovered at eye level. Kev headed out to the bikes to remove their covers. I emptied the last of our bottled water into the berko and plugged it in. Breakfast is black coffee, accompanied by peanut butter spread over a banana. The peanut butter covered banana looks a little weird but it is tasty, appetizing, satisfying and one of my favorite combinations. Today, the blend of excitement along with the unknown of entering a new country brought efficiency to the bungalow pack up and bike loading. We wanted to ensure and early border arrival. By six ten we were eagerly riding the road towards Guatemala, now in the cool lifting mist and hopefully before the line clogging tourist busses.
We rode right up to the border, got off our bikes and entered the border control offices of Belize. Surprisingly enough were were the only people here! Before we entered Border Control, we were approached by money changers. Kevin had 1,600 Mexican Peso's and knew that (1) the further we get from Mexico the more worthless they become to us and (2) that at a pure exchange rate he should get $960 Guatemalan Quetzals. He chatted with the changer and was offered $650. No way, he said as we entered the offices. We finalized our departure from Belize, paid our departure tax of $37.50 Belize, about $18.75 US and had the vehicle stamp in our passport cancelled. Exiting the offices we were once again approached by money changer. He now offered Kev $725 Quetzal. After some negotiation they agreed on $800 Quetzal or about $110 USD and Kev and he concluded their business. We needed the Guatemalan currency to pay the park entrance fee into Tikal and were pretty confident that we wouldn't pass an ATM on the way… the park does not take any other currency! Awesome…we have currency! Kev and I hop on the bikes and head to the next check point. He looks at our passports, checks our receipts for proof of payment and directs us to the agriculture sprayer. "So we just ride in and get sprayed?", I ask…."Ohh No, no, no, there is a path off to the side for moto's…enter there and agriculture will personally spray you afterwards"…Great! I was a little worried about being frosted! All sprayed up and paid up for being sprayed up… We hop back on the bikes and head directly across the street to customs and transport. We are still in the neutral zone at this point. Our passports are stamped with a 90 day visa costing $20 Quetzal each. We are then directed to the next agent that is to handle the temporary importation of the bikes. We hand him our drivers license, registration and spray receipt. He then communicates to us in hand signal spanish that we need to obtain a photocopy of the front of our passport, the Guatemala entry stamp, and our drivers license. Great…..It is 7:10 in the morning, where are we going to find a photocopy place!? Lucky for us, there is one located directly over the border… We knock on the door but there is no answer. I addressed the señorita in the next shop to ask approximately when they should open. She replies Ocho! Eight, that is 45 minutes from now! Another money changer see's what is going on and suggests that we walk over into Guatemala and try another location. I stay with the bikes, Kev walks across and has success. In fact he is walking back across the border barricades with a huge smile on his face. "All good?", I ask…"great", he responds…."In fact the copying was complementary because we have a son in the military "…."WOW!" Now with all the required paperwork and copies in order we proceed to pay the $160 Quetzal and are handed our transport sticker, final papers along with a road map and a "Welcome to Guatemala!" Quite painless!