Monday, February 14, 2011

And Then There Were Five

Christmas Eve, Border crossings, Southern Mexico, San Cristobal de las Casas

Today was our last day in Guadalajara and our last day with Paulina.  It was very strange to only have the five of us waiting in the foyer of the hotel for our bus. The rest of the group would be on their way to Honduras today.

It was an early start, and the hotel had kindly arranged a breakfast to go (sandwich, juice and some fruit).  We were soon cramped into a small bus with a couple of other backpackers and winding our way up from Lake Atitlan to the highlands.  The Misty Volcanoes soon disappeared from our view.  After about three hours of hair raising driving we arrived at the border crossing into Mexico.  This was a much busier crossing than our previous ones. 

Backpacks in tow, we quickly clambered out of our transportation and lined up at the Guatemalan side of the crossing, armed with passports and the appropriate amount of "corruption money".  As this process was to take considerable time, we had time to observe the scene around us.  A large bustling conglomeration of stalls and stands selling anything you could think of, catering for the mobile crowd making the border crossing.  Stray dogs, beggars, cars loaded with locals filled the muddy streets.

Then we were witness to a very interesting group making the crossing in the opposite direction.  If I didn't know better I could have thought I had been caught in a time warp from the 60-70s.  A large brightly painted bus, pulling a very large and over load trailer pulled up out the front guards office. Tied to the top of the bus was a collection of artifacts, ranging from stoves, chickens, tables.  As we stood with our mouths open, a group of about 30 clambered out of the bus, and lined up behind us.  Woodstock, revisited, cheesecloth, dreadlocks, peace man!!  The group consisted of men, women and children within the age groups of late 50's to 1-2 years old.  Oh, boy, I am so glad we were in front of this line, otherwise it would have been ages before we were processed.

After a very entertaining hour waiting in the line, we finally had our passports checked, stamped and signed. Time to pick up the backpacks and make the 200 metre walk across the border to our next bus.  Much to our delight this bus was much newer and we had it all to ourselves.  We were soon making our way through to the Mexican Border office about 2kms away.  Yes another line, more stamps and more money!!! Finally we were through and on our way to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

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