VISA RUNS – WANTED FELLOW TRAVELERS
The following may be a little lengthy for most people, I sometimes run on. To cut to the chase, so to speak, if your not into reading the whole page, the main info sits at the bottom of this article and highlighted.
Entry into Guatemala gives you a stamp in your passport that is valid for a period of 90 days. This can be renewed it seems indefinitely by doing what is referred to as a VISA RUN. Since Guatemala is part of the CA-4 group of countries that includes Guatemala as well as Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, to get that visa renewal you must leave this group. The options are Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, Cuba, and Mexico, or even shudder going home. Since Mexico is the closest option and least expensive place to travel to, that is where most people go to renew their visa in that passport.
Staying past that 90 day period will get you fined Q 10 per day. You are also looked upon with some suspicion when you do finally leave. That is, at least my perception from personal experience.
The required time to be out of Guatemala is 72 hours or three days. Most people who do this just stay out two nights not three and count that as three days, which it is, if your math is shaky. Some other people really tired of doing it correctly, do not actually enter Mexico at all, but get stamped out of Guatemala, go for lunch and then return to Guatemala soil a few hours later. The problem here is that when you actually do leave Guatemala and through Mexico, it can get awkward if the Mexican officials don’t agree with the way you have done it. Recently I have known a few people who have been delayed entering Mexico because the Mexican stamps are not there. The Mexican officials may be looking for a bribe? Bribing at this point could work or possible backfire making everything more difficult and/or yes suspicious. I have heard that things could be changing for border runs in the future.
There are also some illegal operators (private operators and yes surprisingly tour companies) that will also carry your passport to the border for you and get that stamp put in, for a price. This is a totally illegal practice that could carry harsh consequences for you in the future, and what if your passport was lost or stolen? One particular private (read that sneaky) operator of this illegal practice has a very questionable past, so why would you want to trust such a person with your passport anyway? DUH!! Ask him to see his passport. He will not show you that, because he is in Guatemala illegally and his passport expired years ago. So why would you trust such a man with the one document that is so important for you?
Getting to Mexico has its options. You can choose the route to San Cristobal de la cases a long 8 hour shuttle ride, or that much shorter route to Tapachula. Getting to Tapachula is relatively easy especially if you are short.
There is the option of the second class bus service also known as Chicken Buses, that where originally designed as school buses for children in the USA. Chicken Buses are really great for the average (shorter in stature) Guatemalan. They are also cheap, cramped, and driven by insane drivers all vying for some road racing trophy. Being somewhat taller than the average Guatemalan by a good foot and a half I opt out, of any Chicken Bus trip longer than two hours. The only good seat for me anyway is directly behind the driver with some added leg room.
Being taller in Guatemala has its advantages as no matter where I stand watching some parade I always have a great view. Being taller in Guatemala has no advantages for me on any chicken bus.
There are of course other options of traveling to Tapachula. There are some tour operators that will take you there, but some require a minimum of four passengers. You can also hire someone with a car or truck or even yes a taxi. The latter three really require that you go as a group to cut costs unless you have some Rockefeller connections.
I am presently, as I write this looking for fellow travelers, VISA RUN people, or anyone wanting to share a car, truck or yes even a TAXI to Tapachula.
Interested then please contact me...email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 4733-7284 or here at Xela pages. I plan to leave at the end of March. Let’s make this happen.
Open for all topics related to travel in Guatemala however we focus on Xela!.
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