09 September, 2009

Freebie Crossing the Border

One of the decided benefits of gaining residency is the lack of fees to cross the border.

"Follow in your book as we learn the next three words in Turkish:"
"May I see your passport, please?"

-- Firesign Theatre; We're All Bozos On This Bus

Doug and Twyla and Dianna and I caught one of the Chetumal buses on the Northern Highway where Almond Drive enters the highway and we rode it all the way to Neuevo Mercado in Chetumal. $5.00 BZD for the 4 of us. Is that a bargain or what?

Just to keep the narrative reasonably straight, we drove from our house all the way up to Doug and Twyla's, maybe a quarter mile if that. We left the Isuzu there and the four of us walked from their house up to the highway where we caught the bus.
Of course there were a few stops, the first being for a couple of minutes at the bus station in downtown Corozal. Once underway from Corozal, the next stop was the Belize border station at Santa Elena.

Next, we had to exit the bus and go through Belize Immigration, getting our triangle-shaped departure stamp - and no $37.50 BZD fee for the first time since we've been in Belize. Then we had to find the bus and reboard it. The bus was waiting just at the end of the parking lot, so it was quite easy to find and reboard.

From there we continued on past the Corozal Free Zone and crossed the Rio Hondo (that's actually the border), stopping again for Mexican Immigration and Customs. We each were supposed to push the button to see if you got a red or green light, which determines whether you get a Customs check (red) or not (green). I drew a red. They just waved me on through. We found out later that Dianna never did push a button, so I'm sure their count was off for the day. They might still be looking for a lost Gringo tourist at the border station.

Then, a few more steps down the road, and you present your passport to Mexican Immigration and fill out a form. You have to do this each time entering the country unless you have a multiple entry card which costs some minimal amount is good for about six months (I think). There's also a card that's good for five years. We're looking into both. Paying for them is weird. You fill out the form, then have to pay for it at a bank in Mexico, bring back your deposit receipt and then you get the card.

After all that, it's back on the bus. They were waiting just a little further down the road. From there, we went on into Chetumal proper, stopping first at Handell's Pemex, a franchisee of the government-run fuel company, where the driver and the conductor filled up. Diesel cost like $7.00 MXN Pesos per liter, so I think the price came to something like $3.50 or $4.00 US per gallon. Might have been less too. As you can tell, I'm a whiz at this cross-currency calculation crap.

Our caretaker, Cody, says Handell's is the only honest gas station in the Chetumal area, so we're going to try to remember that when we start driving across the border.

After gassing-up the bus, we whipped around another few blocks to the Nuevo Mercado - the New Market and disembarked. We spent some time strolling through the market, which is a quite large affair with lots of little booths selling everything from fruit and veggies to CDs, to jewelry, you name it.

Of course, Doug and I got separated from the girls and had to spend some time figuring out just what happened to them. They apparently shop more diligently than we do. Apparently we were the ones who were lost, not them.

Anyway, after that, we hunted up a taxi and had him take us to Plaza Las Americas (also known as Chedraui, as that's the biggest store at the mall. The taxi cost $20.00 MXN Pesos for the 4 of us.

We shopped at Plaza Las Americas for a while, got hungry and ate at the food court. Three of us ordered from Sergio's Pizza, ordering pasta dishes. Dianna ordered BBQ chicken from Kelly's Cajun something-or-other (we forgot).

We got done eating and shopping, all of us bought a little bit of stuff, not much. This was more an exploratory mission than anything else.

We took another cab back to Nuevo Mercado, again for $20.00 MXN Pesos, and stopped at a quaint little bar on a back street near the market for some cervesa. We had some Superior-brand beer, nice and cold. Dianna had her fav, Negro Modelo, Also cold. They were quite nice and treated us well, even offering some fry chicken for free. But since we were still full, we declined that.

After getting our fill of beer (for about $65.00 Pesos), we strolled a block or so to the market and caught the return bus to Corozal. This one cost $4.00 BZD.

Crossing the border was actually easier this time. We turned in our Mexican visa piece of paper, and got back on the bus, At the Belize border we went in to Immigration, getting a circle entering Belize stamp, and going through Customs after, was easy. We didn't have to pay any duty on anything.

Again, we got back on the bus. Next stop, the bus station in Corozal where we sat for a few minutes, then it was underway again. As the bus went by Tony's Beachfront inn and resort, we got off and had a leisurely stroll back home.

What a great day. Since our Isuzu at Doug and Twyla's, we only had to walk to their place and drove the remaining bit home. Just as well, because with all the heat and excitement, we were tuckered out.

What a day. The first of many trips across the border, I'm sure. Next time to the Bodega and Sam's Club...


Julian in SC said...

Neat... to think I've walked part of the road you traveled.

Have you met "Herman the German" as Doug at Corozal Bay calls him? That little stretch of road (the first block) has more speed bumps and pot holes than any other road in the world!

Glad you're enjoying the benefits of residency. Still, if they stamp your passport on every trip then I can see why you'll need the extra 8 pages every now and then! LOL

Glad your experience in Paradise is going well!


sandy a said...

DId you buy anything and have to pay duty?

Dave Rider said...

Sandy, We bought some small stuff. We had a couple of daypacks that we had taken with us. Customs barely looked and waved us on. No duty.

Julian, Everyone calls him "Herman the German". He's responsible for the speed bumps. Isn't that crazy? We never drive that way. Walking is ok. Driving we go out west of Almond Drive to the next road to the highway. Smidge longer but much smoother.

Dave said...


Julian in SC said...

Well, you getting slack now you got your papers? Hope you are just slacking off! I mean it has only been 5 days with no new blog....


Dave Rider said...

As I said on Twitter earlier: "Jaysus! I got two whole posts I'm working on. But, I've got to visit Social Security and do some shopping for the little lady before that... and, and...
I can't handle the stress!!!