We left Tapachula and started the 45 minute drive to the Tecun Uman border to cross into Guatemala. I felt sooo bad for Keith because his stomach was still a mess and we wouldn’t have access to a bathroom until we got to our Airbnb in Quetzaltenango (Xela). But what can ya do? The road calls and our covid tests were about to expire.
We made it to the border crossing and thought we had all of our paperwork in order, but it turns out when we entered Mexico we weren’t given a receipt that says we paid the immigration fees to enter the country. So even though I had proof of it in my bank statement and a credit card receipt, we didn’t have the 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper that the border official was supposed to give us when we crossed into Mexico, so we weren’t allowed to exit Mexico until we paid the fee again. It was somewhere around $60. Not the worst, but still sucks to have to pay for something twice when you’re on a budget! Take my money Mexico 🙂
Once we exited Mexico we drove over a little bridge that crosses the Suchiate River and separates Mexico from Guatemala. I wasn’t sure what I had pictured in my mind prior to this crossing, but I guess I was expecting it to be a bit more hectic and to my pleasant surprise it was pretty calm.
We drove over the bridge and started the immigrations & Temporary Import Permit (TIP) process for us and the car to be allowed into Guatemala. We were there for a few hours, had our COVID tests checked, the car fumigated, exchanged some dollars into Quetzales to pay the $26 for the TIP, had the Suba searched (I’m happy to announce that I have been invited to participate in the Subaru Ambassador program!) and a few other things that ended up taking a little longer than we thought. We ended up leaving the border crossing at Tecun Uman around 3:30 and we were a little worried because we avoid driving at night and the sun was going to set at 6.
Another reason we wanted to avoid driving at night is because we didn’t have an actual address to the Airbnb we were staying in. The host send us GPS coordinates and a video showing you how to drive there from the main road in Xela, we were a little worried if it was dark out that we wouldn’t be able to find the tiny house we were staying in or be able to see the roads that take you there.
Luckily! Google maps was right about the drive time this time around so we made it juuuust as the sun was setting. The drive from Tecun Uman to Xela was wild. The majority of the drive was at high elevations, which we were used to, but it was also pretty heavily vegetated and it felt like you were driving through a cloud forest. You really couldn’t see the road more than 15 ft in front of you, fortunately we got behind a big truck for most of the drive and its lights served as our guide.
Once we got to the tiny house we were in awe. We really didn’t know what to expect since Xela is a big city, but as we turned off the main road we came onto a dirt road and started following the video directions. The roads to take you to this house were not on a map and all the houses surrounding us looked like mountain cabins. It was really cool. We approached the property and the house looked just as it appeared on Airbnb (link to book). The property itself was even more beautiful than we expected and had chickens and ducks squawking about, a wraparound swing set and all these unique accents throughout the mountainside property. We were sooo happy we made it before dark and Keith could finally go to the bathroom. What a trooper.
We were both so tired after the long day in the car, we ate some fruit and some snacks that the Airbnb host provided and made our way to the loft bed in the tiny house cabin. It was an Airbnb out of a fairytale and cost $35/night. The bed was decorated with the most intricately designed handmade quilts. It looked so cozy and we fell fast asleep.
The next morning we woke to the sounds of roosters, had some breakfast, hung out on the property for a bit and made our way to Lake Atitlan where we would be staying for two weeks.
Originally this trip started with the goal of making it to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica in under two weeks to take a Permaculture course, but the Costa Rica land border kept stalling its opening so we figured we would check out the rest of Central America and hope that it opened at some point soon!
It was the best first night in Guatemala we could have hoped for and we couldn’t wait to see what else was in store for us.
Miles driven: 3,955
Days on the road: 33-34
Next stop: Tzununa