Today we faced the challenge of getting into Guatemala and reaching the legendary Tikal site. We left the campsite around 9:30am and arrived at the border around 10:00am. There we parked the car and headed for the Belizean immigration to check out of the country. Our passports were stamped after paying the exit fee and the car import permit got cancelled. A local person helped us change our money into quetzals – the currency of Guatemala. and then we drove through the fumigation car wash and started the Guatemalean paperwork. We paid 18Q (about 1,8 Euro) to get the car fumigated and went to get our passports stamped – very easy and no questions asked. We headed to the customs for the car paperwork. We handed over copies of all the documents and the guy entered some stuff into the computer and gave us a form to fill out. He then joined us to check the car VIN number and we went back to his desk where he entered some more stuff. We paid 160Q at another desk for the import fee and then the guy came with us to put a sticker on the windshield – job done!. We drove into Guatemala and were immediately stopped at the traffic light to pay another tax – 50Q for the municipality – not sure where this money is for and if the light would have been green we wouldn’t have been asked but we paid and then we were off! The whole process took about 45 minutes. Well done Guatemala border officers!
Our first planned visit of the day was the ‘Yaxha‘ site, about 45 minutes from the border. We drove up the road to the site, paid the entrance fee to the park and drove to the parking. We walked around the site for about 2 hours to the different Acropolises on each corner of the site. As the site is located in a national park, there is a lot of shade from the trees which makes the visit really nice. You can even get a view from the nearby lake or spot monkeys in the trees.
After our visit, we hit the road to Tikal. If you arrive in Tikal after 3:00pm, you can buy a ticket that is valid for 2 days for the price of 1 day. We arrived around 4:00pm so got the double-day-benefit and provided a French couple a ride for the final 17 kilometers into the national park. When you enter the park, they give you a ticket with the time of your arrival. When you arrive in Tikal, 17 kilometers further, they check the time to see if you have not been speeding (speed limit is 45 km/h). We arrived in Tikal (not too early! :)) and looked for a campground. The official campground is 100Q, but the restaurant across the parking is only 50Q and has internet – easy choice!
We already went for a walk to the main plaza in ‘Tikal‘ – which was completely empty. When we arrived, it started raining quite heavily so no pictures yet. It was a unique experience to be alone in such a magical plaza, with only the sounds of the monkeys and birds! Tomorrow we will take a couple of hours to explore the site in much more detail. Now we are focusing on drying our clothes and enjoying a local Gallo beer (Patrick) and melon shake (Marijke).
A final bit of Caribbean flavour as we are now heading back to the Pacific shores…
Sun is shining, weather is sweet
Make you want to move your dancing feet
To the rescue – here I am
Want you to know, y’all, where I stand