Sorry for the absence folks, but Nige and I just returned from a four-day jaunt over to Chetumal, Mexico. For those of you who’ve never heard of Chetumal (I certainly hadn’t until moving to Belize), lots of Expats, especially those who live in Corozal, travel here to buy U.S. grocery products, alcohol, or prescriptions that are hard to find in Belize.
We, however, were going mostly to relax and have fun, but were going to try and squeeze a little shopping in. Our drive to Chetumal was fairly uneventful. Takes about 3 ½ hours from San Ignacio Town to reach the border. Once at the border, you must park your car (we were driving across), go check out with Belize immigration, get back in your car, drive over the border, park your car again, fill out a Mexican Immigration Form, get your passport stamped, and then you are allowed to enter Mexico. No fees, and it only took about 30 minutes total.
Also while at the border, it’s a good idea to exchange your money. We were given a exchange rate of $6.00 pesos for every Belize dollar, which was about $.79 less than the internet had quoted, but hey, these guys gotta make a living.
Upon arriving in the downtown area of Chetumal, we were having trouble finding our hotel. Nige went to make a U-turn, and we were immediately pulled over by a motorcycle cop. Oops – no U-turns allowed. Great, so within the first 30 minutes in Mexico, we are in danger of getting a ticket.
We pleaded with the cop, feigning ignorant tourists (which was true) and told him we were trying to find the Holiday Inn. He asked to see Nige’s driver’s license, and when he showed it to him, the cop thought Nige was joking. He couldn’t believe that’s what a Belizean driver’s license looks like (they’re kind of fake looking, honestly).
He then lead us to the hotel, and while I was inside checking in, Nige somehow managed to get out of the ticket (let’s just say it was pretty painless compared to the alternative). After we were safely ensconced in our room (with a view of the pool), we headed to the onsite restaurant to eat, because by this point, we were starving!
After that, we got unpacked, relaxed a little bit, and then headed out to walk around town. By now, it was night time, and honestly, the streets looked a little creepy. We weren’t sure if it was safe or not, so we didn’t stray too far from the main drag of Avenida Heroes.
After asking some locals where could we find cervezas and a little snack, we were pointed to a place called Diaz Restaurant. Trying to figure out the menu, the Spanish speaking only waiter called over an English speaking waiter, who we found out later, was the owner! He never once mentioned that fact, and was so nice and helpful to us. He made menu suggestions which were wonderful and told us all about his 23 years of living in Chicago, IL (hence, his perfect English).
After several beers and a good meal, we were exhausted and called it a night. Our vacation was off to a good start indeed.