[ Sayaxche, Petén, Guatemala ]
Buenas noches mis queridas—
Finally, at long last, and better late than never: I made it to Guatemala. Woot!!
I arrived at Frontera Corozal just after noon this past Wednesday. The Corozal border is the end of the road, the final stop on the Trans-Mexico, and the geographical termination of both Chiapas and Mexico itself. The town, route, state, and country bid their quiet, unceremonious and collective adieus in a quiet, grassy park at road’s end, stopping abruptly at the wide, angry, and swollen Rio Usumacinta.
This is not your mama’s border crossing.
There is no bridge, no traffic, and no substantive infrastructure. Instead there are a couple of immigration officers sitting in front of a small white house, wearing bermuda shorts and watching football on their flat-screen TV. They stamp you out of the country and point you towards the aforementioned park to hire a small motorboat for the short crossing. If you’re feeling celebratory and are willing to blow an extra $25USD, the boat will take you another twelve-ish kilomters upstream to Cooperativa Bethel, where you can find an even smaller immigration office–surrounded by thatched roofs, stray dogs, and chickens—and get yourself stamped into Guatemala.
I was feeling celebratory, and why not?
It had been a great few days, starting with a peaceful, productive, three-day layover in Ocosingo. Then four days of glorious—if hot and sweaty—cycling to the border. The whole time I could hear the end of the Trans-Mexico calling my name, could feel a visceral psychological pull and the need for completion and closure.
And it came. Closure. Completion: Trans-Mexico Norte & Sur; 3,500 kilometers; fourteen months; 84,750 meters of climbing; and one thousand and one stories all my own. All with the spellbinding backdrop of the generous, kind, and fascinating people of Mexico. Especially them! All of these things and more were now written, the page now turned, and a new chapter waiting to be released from our imaginations, discovered, explored.
And so, as of this past Friday morning—and for the first time since leaving Africa—I’ve been improvising. I have no route to follow, and don’t want one. I have decided to stay in the north for a while, heading more or less due east towards a beautiful lake called Peten Itza—not far from the border with Belize. There are tiny back roads, and unmarked villages, and a whole lot of flatness (yesssss!). I know nothing about the region, and have absolutely no plans to research it in advance. Belize and northern Honduras are both viable, easy options, and Antigua continues to beckon. We can go anywhere.
Which means we’re in for some fun and adventure, amigos, so strap in.
For the time being, however, I think a well-deserved and long overdue salutation is in order:
¡Bienvenidos a Guatemala!
Yeah. That’s the one.
Until the next time, I remain,
Your once-again-border-hopping Transglobalist,