was a bright and sunny morning at the Belizean Customs and Immigration
in the town of Punta Gorda. I had already purchased my round-trip
ticket from Punta Gorda to Puerto Barrios from the nice young
men with the blue baseball cap who was squatting on the floor
in front of the immigration booth. Promptly at five after eight
am the immigration official arrived, strolled over with little
emotion, opened the door and walked in.
with six other backpackers, that had gathered quickly, followed.
Around 8:20 the man motioned for me since I was first in line
to come over to his booth. I presented my passport to him, he
scribbled some information gather from it, asked for BZ$7,50,
a conservation exit tax, stamped my passport, and I was on my
I bought a snack at the little booth and then watched the school
kids arrive at the next door Methodist school in their brown
uniforms. The boys were rehearsing their drums under the big
old tree in the front yard for the upcoming independence day
celebrations. The I walked slowly down the pier where a relatively
large crowd of passengers had already gathered. The immigration
official arrived soon with his list. He called each passengers
name who then could get on the boat.
The ride over to Guatemala took somewhat over an hour and was
just wonderful. The view of the mountains in the distance to
the right, the open blue waters to the left, a hot breeze on
my face. The sound of the motor was so loud, it swallowed any
other noise which left a feeling of peace and silence.
Slowly Puerto Barrios arrived. Hawkers and taxi drivers awaited
the boat. I chartered a cab, put my bags in it and rode off
to the Guatemalan Immigration to check into the country. Then
my taxi chauffeured me on to the bus station where I got me
a ticket for the next deluxe bus ‘directo’ to Guatemala.
I had made the mistake one time before to catch the earlier,
‘via Morelos’ bus which was somewhat cheaper and
had no A/C The result was, I was burning up, and the ‘via
Morelos’ turned out to be a 1 hour plus detour that put
me into Guatemala City 30 minutes after the later, deluxe bus.
“Never again”, I had told myself.
Today, I used the time to walk around Puerto Barrios' busy
market area. After spending quite some time in Belize it was
almost strange to see so many things for sale on such small
space. The people, the language, the smells and the music blaring
out of the loud speakers in every other shop - this was truly