LIVING IN BELIZE – “Road Trip to Chetumal Mexico – Day 1” – 1/31/12

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.

This is the sign we saw on the Belize side - for some reason it made me laugh!

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.

On our way to Mexico!!

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).

Here's the view from our hotel room at the Holiday Inn.

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!

Here's the half corn, half mushroom soup I had. The presentation was beautiful, and it tasted great too!

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).

Queso Fundido - delish!!

After several beers and a good meal, we were exhausted and called it a night. Our vacation was off to a good start indeed.

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  • Maureen

    More more more!!!!

  • Dr Al

    Yes more. Chetumal is Mexico’s gift to ease the suffering of Belize ex pats. Without Chetumal I would have needed advanced psychiatric care. 

  • Sharonhiebing

    Don’t worry, much more coming :)

  • Sharonhiebing

    Well you’ll be getting more, but what I have to say will probably cause some controversy between us (but what else is new). So stay tuned….

  • Sandy A.

    i could totally make a Belize drivers license with Photoshop. I could make a vehicle title too. 

  • Sharonhiebing

    I know, totally, right? A Belize driver’s license reminds me of my first fake i.d. I used in the early 80′s to get into clubs before I was 21 – hilarious!

  • Sandy A.

    OH yeah, the drinking age in Ohio was 18, but we would change the “62″ on our licenses to “60″ on the typewriter because the “0″ had a diagonal line through it exactly like the bar on the 2! We’d peel the cheap laminate up, type the “correction” and re-laminate it with laminate we bought at the 5 & dime! HA HA!!

  • Sharonhiebing

    Big ha ha! Glad I’m not the only one :)

  • Sherry Geddes

    “No fees” when exiting Belize? When we visited the border there were “exit taxes” prominently listed. The amount varied depending on whether you were a resident of Belize or a tourist. There’s a boat that goes across from Corozal-Consejo actually – every Weds. that lots of ex-pats in Consejo use and seem to enjoy. We didn’t go to Chetumal so we’re enjoying reading about your experiences! Looking forward to the next instalment:-)

  • Anonymous

    Love the photos…keep ‘em coming.  So, what did Nige say to the cop?

  • Sharonhiebing

    Depends on who you are if you pay fees or not, Sherry. Nigel is a citizen and I’m a resident, so we did not have to pay any fees.  Yes, the water taxi is a popular way for locals and tourists alike to visit Chetumal – it leaves from both Corozal and San Pedro. We walked right by the terminal on our visit (as you’ll read about in today’s post)- conveniently located next to downtown. Glad you’re enjoying reading. Sharon

  • Sharonhiebing

    He didn’t say anything, if you get my meaning. Glad you like the photos!

  • Anonymous

    Well, no, I don’t get your meaning. Remember I struggle with subtleties. You said, “He then lead us to the hotel, and while I was inside checking in, Nige somehow managed to get out of the ticket”.  How did Nige manage to get of the ticket?

  • Dr Al

    Desertmanfred: Its called a mordida. I dealt with one at a nonexistant school zone near Villahermosa. I condidered it a way of helping the economy. Beats being in a cell with a bisexual hairy sweaty guy named Gomez.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Dr Al.  I’m always learning. Perhaps it is one more bit of advice Sharon could unofficially include in her syllabus for expats.  Of course it is an unacceptable practice here in the states; unless one is a politician.  Or it could be thought of as a gratuity.

  • Sharonhiebing

    Sorry, Fred, I wasn’t trying to be obtuse, just thought it was obvious what I was talking about. In any case, Dr. Al is right – for a mere $17 bze (8.50 usd) we were able to put the matter to rest right then and there -VERSUS- having to be taken to jail and/or go to the city hall and pay a ticket, which would have been much more than that. It was funny how it worked tho – Nige just had some money sitting in the car’s console, the officer looked at it, he didn’t say a word, and neither did Nige, but when he picked it up and handed it over, the cop took it. Done deal!

  • Anonymous

    COOL!