As I shared a few months ago, we have to apply for a new 90 day visa every three months and then every six months, we need to leave the country to get an exit stamp on our passports. The timing worked best for us to leave last week and the quickest (and least expensive) route for us was a trip to Tapachula, Mexico.
Part of the reason we keep a blog is to inform our friends and family of the ministry work happening in Guatemala and the other part is to keep a diary of our life. Hopefully one day we'll read back through this blog and fondly remember these adventures. Don't get me wrong, I do believe our kids will look back at this last trip to Mexico and remember the 101 degree weather, driving in that really, really hot car but I am certain they'll also look at these pictures and share a good laugh while remembering those sweaty times, as well.
How about that time we got pulled over (randomly) and were asked to pay $690 pesos? Jack negotiated the officer down to $345 pesos, though I have a feeling that gentleman won't be handing in any paperwork. #didwejustpayabribe?
Who needs a bathroom sink at the Mexico Immigration office? Just use a bucket of clean water to wash your hands!
Hopefully you can click and zoom in on this picture and see the young boys/men pulling items across the river from Mexico into Guatemala (Mexico on the right bank, Guatemala on the left bank). Surely this isn't legal but it's clearly happening out in the open, in the middle of the day. I read on Lonely Planet that they focus more on vehicle entry for financial reasons (see paragraph above about being pulled over), so they don't care too much about foot traffic. I also read that some people are stowed away in those containers.
When we decided to drive ourselves, we were determined to take a day to check out the Pacific Ocean. We only had to drive 20 minutes outside of Tapachula, though it felt like we were driving away from all civilization. Just when we thought we would drive straight into the ocean, we saw Playa Linda. This beach is not for your average tourist. As soon as we drove into this beach area, 4 or 5 men start waving us over to their own parking lot. They promised us a free parking spot, free umbrella, and free chairs, IF we purchased some food from their restaurant. I only wish I could give you an accurate description of their "restaurant" but it was basically a shack with a grill outdoors and comal for making tortillas. No sugar coating here, when we realized we were the ONLY beach bums, we started questioning our decision. But when we saw the "umbrella" they so kindly offered, we just started laughing. We had such a blast making up stories of our demise. In the end, we had a safe day with lots of laughs. And we would totally go back and do it again! See our free "umbrellas" in the last two beach pictures. :)
We also had a chance to visit some Mayan ruins that dated from 1200 BC. They aren't the largest around, but they were perfect for a family with little ones to visit. Did I mention how really, really hot it was in Mexico?
Before we knew it, our visa run was over and it was time to head back into Guatemala. Our reentry into Guatemala was much easier than our entry into Mexico. They did question why we had a Chapina (Pearl) on board, but Jack explained that she was one of the very reasons we love this country and we were on our way home.
A Guatemalan guard sleeps on duty...
A worker is spraying our car for any Mexican bugs...
Home Sweet Home.
PS We drove back into Guatemala on July 4th so we were in the car most of the day. The kids LOVE celebrating Independence Day in America with their cousins, so it was a bitter sweet day. How is it possible to love two countries so much?