Crossing a disputed border to another language

Yes, that’s a bit of a mouthful – but I’m running out of ideas for border crossing post titles…

This border crossing undertaking was from Flores, Guatemala to Orange Walk, Belize – and as far as Guatemala is concerned this border should not be here – they think that Belize belongs to them

This crossing would also see us switching from Spanish to English – which would no doubt be confusing to us after being in Spanish speaking countries for the last 19 months… still at least English was our first language! 🙂

Our journey started with the 8am bus to Belize City – so we were up at 5.15am – yes we need plenty of time to drink coffee and eat breakfast! 🙂

All the buses and backpacker shuttles leave from an area on the edge of town – Flores doesn’t have a bus station as such, but there is a big square where they all park waiting to leave.  The area was a hive of activity, with most backpackers waiting for tourist shuttles to take them to Mexico (either Chetumal or San Cristóbal de las Casas).  A few people – including us – were waiting for the bus to Belize City.

PB waits for the bus next to some giant letters.
This was our bus. Pretty good by Central American standards!

The bus arrived a bit late, which was not really a surprise – and we were soon speeding (sort of) on our way to the border with Belize. The border crossing was very straightforward, with hardly any lines of people on either side. It’s often easier on a bus that is continuing onwards after the border crossing – because the driver usually tells you where to go for passports and customs, so that they can get you through quicker and get going again.

Our bus at the Guatemala exit.
We always take lots of unnecessary photos of anything saying ‘Welcome’ when we cross a border.
This ‘welcome’ sign has a toucan on it – so of course we need a photo of this.
The brightly painted Belize immigration building.

After around six hours we arrived in Belize City. Unfortunately this was not our final destination. Even more unfortunately, the bus terminated at a place nowhere near the bus station for our next bus. Belize City is not exactly a giant ‘city’, as it has only around 60,000 inhabitants. We had read about it and decided not to bother visiting as its main attraction was a historic swing bridge. Now I am a BIG fan of bridges, but this bridge was near where we were dropped off, and when we saw it we were glad we hadn’t made a special trip…

As it was Sunday there was pretty much nobody around anywhere, and everything was closed. We looked around and found a taxi driver hanging about looking bored. We started the negotiations for a taxi to the bus station. After much debate we settled on $8 Belize Dollars (around $5 AUD). This was probably quite expensive – but on the other hand he was the only taxi for miles around and we weren’t even sure where the bus station actually was…

Upon arrival at the bus station he declared that he didn’t have any change for our $10 note. So we offered him all of our small change which came to $7.32 Belize dollars – and he seemed very happy with that?!

The next step was to find the bus to Orange Walk. This wasn’t very difficult as there were only two buses at the bus station. The Orange Walk bus was a typical Central American ‘chicken bus’ which used to be a U.S School Bus, and it wasn’t too crowded. The journey was a quite pleasant 90 minute ride through the countryside – although it was a bit disconcerting that all the signs were in English and that people were speaking English on the bus…

Our bus to Orange Walk.

When we arrived in Orange Walk we left the bus station and headed towards ‘Ricky’s’ – which was the place where we would be staying. ‘Ricky’s’ is the only backpacker place in town and whenever anybody saw us they shouted out ‘Are you looking for Ricky’s?!’, and pointed us in the right direction.

Soon enough we arrived at ‘Ricky’s’, but he wasn’t there. His neighbours told us to let ourselves in, so off we went into Ricky’s back garden. Yes, we had successfully completed yet another border crossing! 🙂

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