Bordercrossing to BelizeJanuary 3, 2017 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C
Usually getting around is quite easy when you are traveling. But sometimes it's just hard to find out how to get somewhere and you are not quite sure if you gonna make your way to wherever you wanna go.
So today was one of these days where I would answer the question "Where are you going today?" over breakfast with "I will try to make my way to Belize...".
I wanted to go to Caye Caulker. A small island just of the coast in Belize. I knew you could go to Belize City first by bus and then take a boat from there. But there was also one boat a day leaving from Chetumal in Mexico straight to the island. I had seen a sign for that in the bus station saying "buy you ticket here" when I got to Bacalar. But when I went back there yesterday to buy my ticket they only gave me a phone and the guy on the other end told me he would put down my name. But as he had asked me to be in Chetumal by 11 am (even though the boat was not leaving before 3 pm) it sounded like he wouldn't be able to actual hold my ticket without payment. But what was really weird about this call was the guy saying the ticket would be 200 pesos which is like 10 euros. Everywhere else it said tickets were $55. Another girl at the hostel who wanted to go a day later had gotten the same answer on the phone so maybe the guy was telling the truth?
I wasn't quite sure about the whole thing but decided to go to Chetumal in the morning to see if I could find this guy and his cheap tickets and, if I couldn't make it on the boat, just go to Belize City and take it from there.
I went to the bus station with Annarieke who I had met at my hostel and who wanted to go to Tulum with the 9 o'clock bus. There was supposed to be an hourly bus to Chetumal so 9 would be a good start to make it to my ticket before 11. It probably mean I would have a few hours to spare in Chetumal before getting on the boat but that should be fine, right?
At the Busstation I found out there was no bus at 9 and I had to take the one at 10. Bus the bus was only supposed to take 35-40 minutes so nothing to worry about.
When the bus arrived all the seats were taken but luckily the bus driver let me sit on the steps at the entrance so I didn't have to stand all the time.
We got to the first big bus station in Chetumal just before 11 but I had seen there was another one closer to the ferry. I managed to ask the bus driver if this was the final stop or if there was another one and was really proud when he understood what I wanted and told me to stay on the bus for the next stop.
When I got of at the final stop I had a look around but couldn't see any sign for ferry tickets being sold here so I decided to head to the ferry terminal. Probably I gonna meet my guy there. I thought about walking but a guy I had talked to on the bus asked if I wanted to share a taxi. It was already after 11 so better hurry up.
Down at the ferry terminal I could only make out the normal ferry ticket office with the big sign saying $55. Where was this guy? He had given me his number so I called him. He answered and could even remember me from the day before. Unfortunately he told me his stand was at the bus station! I must have missed it. But he might have cheaper tickets and I had some time to spare anyway. So i walked back to the Busstation for about 10-15 minutes. At least I saw a bit of the town and even found a place were I could sit down later for lunch while waiting on the bus. When I made it to the bus station I still couldn't see his stand. I called him again just to find out that he was at the other bus station. The big one out of the center where I had stopped first.
After talking to 3 different collectivo drivers (collectivo are mini vans functioning as the public bus system around town. They are easy to use in a small town like Tulum where you have only one street with 2 directions. But it gets more complicated in bigger towns like this one) I found the right one who brought me back to my first stop in Chetumal. When I walked in I could see the blue stand right away and was greeted by a guy with a big smile saying: "It's you, isn't it?".
2 guys standing beside him looked pretty disappointed to see me. As it turned out there were only 2 seats left and the guy had told them that he had promised me to hold the ticket. I was really relieved to find out that i got one of last 2 ticket but when I asked how much I owed him he said 1100 pesos. $55.
The moment you figure out you spend over 1 hour getting around town from bus station to bus station to ferry terminal and back and forward again just to find out that you could have gotten your ticket for the same price right away is usually a point for a breakdown. But when I had made it back to the boat terminal and was sitting on the pier with a beer in my hand and the view over the blue ocean i had to laugh. It was already 1:30 by now and they were gonna start immigration and check in around 2. This was not the way I planned to spend my spare time in Chetumal but it was still fun :)
After this adventure the whole bordercrossing by boat went pretty easy. Even though it was pretty funny. For example we had to put down our handluggage in 2 rows on the floor for customs to check it. But the dog was much more interested in other stuff than our luggage. When we got to San Pedros (our first stop in Belize before Caye Caulker) we had to form a line according to a number they had written on a post-it and put on our passports at check in 3 hours earlier.
And after a long day of traveling I had finally made it to Caye Caulker!Read more