One bus, three countries, seven nationalities

The border between northern Guatemala and Mexico is in the jungle, so to reach my next heritage site I had to go via Belize on a bus that the internet whispered existed but about which it was impossible to get concrete information. The most authoritative source, a blog all about busing round Belize, declared that it left at 5am from outside the main first class bus terminal in Chetumal, a Mexican town right on the border. The lady in the bus station could not sell me a ticket but said it was at 6am. At the smaller bus station in town, the man in the ticket office told us (by this point I’d teamed up with an equally bewildered German chap) 6.30am. A travel forum post somewhere said 7am. A taxi driver outside the bus station said it didn’t exist.

In the end we arrived at the bus station a little before 6am to be directed by the ticket office to a man in the waiting area who took our money and put our names on a list. The minibus departed at 7am from within the station with us, three Americans, six Australians travelling with a Dutch guy, and two Mexicans who were probably the only ones who knew what was going on.

After the fun of getting out of Mexico without paying the bogus 200 peso (approx £10) exit ‘tax’, which I made sure everyone else on the bus knew was a scam, we had a four hour journey to Belize City where my German friend left us.

We acquired a Japanese man at the Guatemalan border and by early afternoon were in Flores, by which time we had built up quite a camaraderie. We’d made sure no one was left behind at the borders and matched everyone up in groups or pairs with the exact amount of US dollars to pay the legitimate exit tax from Belize  – no change given.

We ended up checking into the same cheap hotel in Flores and I went out for dinner with the Aussies, their Dutch chum and the Japanese man who I also constantly bumped into going round the Mayan site next day. In fact we all kept bumping into each other; I even met the Americans in a bar in Honduras a week later. The Aussie crowd are heading southwards too and if I don’t see them again I’ll be surprised.

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