Central America borders
Don't sweat the border crossing stuff, your anxiety about them may be worse than they actually turnout to be. No need to go to all manner of trouble on dirt road crossings during the summer, the rainy season. Just make it a point to have all your document photocopies ready and do the border crossings early in the day.Some may be busier than others but that changes constantly . A bus dropping off a load of passengers for the border can happen anytime and bring a hectic bit of traffic. Stay calm and watch your wallet.
If entering Guatemala at Tecun Uman consider spending the night before in Tapachula, a nice city with lots of cheap hotels. Cd.Hidalgo at the border is a bit rough with all the border traffic, truckers and illegal aliens juggling for position.Or , from Tapachula the other crossing a bit north is near Cacahoatan, but sits in the bottom of a gorge, usually busy like a cattle drive..
Note that for both these crossings the Mexican EXIT stamp and formalities can now b e performed at the new customs facility on highway Mex 200 at Huixtla 40km west of Tapachula.
Similarly if you leave Mexico for GT at La Mesilla you must do the Mexican exit things at the customs post which is 4km into Mexico well before the hilltop border at La Mesilla. Get an EXIT STAMP but keep all your Temp.Import and tourist card papers, they will be valid for your return trip..
La Mesilla border is usually not overly busy , but the street through town is hectic.
Most crossings at the regular paved routes take about an hour , with all the beurocratic stamping and shuffling of paper , but some crossings are getting upgrades as we speak. If going from east end El Salvador to Honduras at the Rio Goascaran crossing be ready for the worst one of the lot , count on three hours, anything shorter is a bonus. Be early, be patient. Coming from the west bypass the kilometers of trucks waiting , but do stop at the little kiosk to get the first step started , then scoot to the actual crossing 4km farther. If it is getting late afternoon maybe check in at one of the border hotels in ES. If going west ,ditto at the Hotel Arcos right at the border in Honduras, you do not want to be doing this stuff after dark.
Resist the urge to do two border crossings in one day, though it is possible at the mentioned ES entry to race across Honduras to the Nicaragua crossing at Somotillo and actually get to hotels in Chinandega before dark IF you get started early.
Border crossings with Costa Rica and Panama are quite efficent , computerised passport readers and such , can be processsed with little effort.
A nice return from Panama to CR is at the north coast west endof the Bocas del Toro province at Guabito,Pan./SixaolaCR. Very interesting , the bridge is ( in March'05) still just the railroad tressle of the Chiquita banana trains- but there are no trains anymore. All pedestrians , trucks, bikes ,buses cars , have to alternate one way, , the CR side has wide pavement up to the bridge.Open hours here are limited , others on the main highway are usually 24 hours open.
Honduras to Guatemala, El Florido Copan is very efficient and paved Near the north coast the road from S.Pedro Sula via Omoa to Cuyemelito is now in finishing stages to becoming a first class higway, a cakewalk . Honduras exit formalities are at border but GT entry kiosk will send you to the Customs terminal in Puerto Barrios to get processed in.
GT to Belize , very easy crossings
Enjoy the trip