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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 22 Nov 2004
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Mexico, Guatemal, Honduras updates from 11/04

hello all...just an update on border crossings ...I just returned from a trip from US to Honduras......8 riding days to Roatan Honduras from Wisconsin

first of all....crossing into Mexico...we crossed at Reynosa (Near McAllen TX)...be sure to track down the temporary vehicle permit sticker before getting to a checkpoint 20 miles south....cost was about $32 and about 1/2 hr.....

We crossed in Guatemala at Tecun Uman near Tapachula MX...it was a 2 hr wasted ordeal...we did use a local young man who helped and I flipped him 100Q ($13 US) for his assistance...this crossing can be corrupt....I carried many copies of my papers, but we still needed a few of stamped passports so the copy shop was a few (<10) pesos....BTW....be sure to have your original title to show....if you do not, you will be escorted to a lawyer's office who (for $45 US) wil type up a paper saying it is ok for you to travel with your vehicle....but otherwise it was about40Q ($5.3US) to get thru the make work exercise of shuffling papers...even before the legal entry permits, they did bring us to an office and told us it would be $50US each for an exit permit that we pay right there.....to which I said "BULLSHI@@) and marched out without any further discussion or problems and we proceeded.....just be storng and say NO...and they respected that....

Ok here is the good part....Guatemala to Honduras....first of all Antigua is nice with some great roads up the south side that was not ont he map....this road is now my #1 favorite in Central America...new pavement, great designed curves and transitions....and Antigua we found a nice little biek repair shop to change oil, 10 minute proceedure ....$20 for 2 KLR 650 (we supplied the filters)....Honduras Crossing..I read alot of horror stories of 4 - 6 hrs and many fees and corruption...I cannot reccomend enough the off the beaten path crossing at El Florida (crossing into Honduras near Copan ruins)....I tell you, the road was fantastic...the borders was very simple....and secure and nbody there hawking you...about 40 people around....10Q to exit Guatemala (and all the step by step instructions are posted in english what it costs to enter and exit)....permits into Honduras....shuffle some papers get some stamps on scraps of paper, give them about 600 lempiras ($35US) and in under 30 minutes we were exited from Guatemala and the gate was lifted for Honduras....simple and nice friendly smiling people....we shared some chocolates and nuts and the local boys cleaned up our rims for a few lemps...a treat indeed this crossing was after the bad stories I have read.....anyhow....that is my update for now....go light go fast go NOW!, tally ho, Jeff
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  #2  
Old 30 Nov 2004
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Good info...thanks for posting this. We're likely headed that way next summer and was looking that those crossing also.
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  #3  
Old 30 Nov 2004
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When I first read this post a couple of days ago, I was aghast... but I waited till now to make a considered reply... I feel this needs to be said.

THIRTEEN DOLLARS!?! Where do you think you are? Fairfield County Connecticut? Malibu?

From my experience, with the exception of an occaisional scammer or greedy person, most of the border helpers in Central America are happy with a two dollar tip. This is what they would make working for a half or 2/3 day at a much harder job elsewhere, and if they get a couple of these tips a day, they are doing okay.

When you grossly overpay, you are creating a situation which will tend to draw people away from jobs which need to be performed in their community.

To put this in a broader if slightly less relevant context:
Right now, there are villages in Guatemala that are 75% female, because half or more of the men are working in Mexico or the U.S. for much higher wages than they could get at home. This situation is hurting their society. At the same time, it is a supply and demand world inwhich we live, so it is hard to fault people being paid an honest wage for an honest days work.

But it is a problem when a rich American (in their eyes if not ours) draws people away from their community or traditional work by grossly overpaying for minimal work.

It also creates a situation inwhich the local people will start to look at Americans or foreigners as walking winning lottery tickets. It appears that this has happened to some extent in Cuba, perhaps as a result of the exclusive dollar store economy as well as from the expensive resorts for foreigners posed in the backdrop of an otherwise poor economy. This has not happened in most of Central America at this time: local people tend to see Americans as people, not as money faucets.

I know this comes off as a harsh criticism, but I feel it is an important point we all need to keep in mind. If someone has another opinion, feel free to post.
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  #4  
Old 30 Nov 2004
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>>>>When I first read this post a couple of days ago, I was aghast... but I waited till now to make a considered reply... I feel this needs to be said.
THIRTEEN DOLLARS!?! Where do you think you are? Fairfield County Connecticut? Malibu?

From my experience, <<<<

well touche....BUT FYI...and from this and other sites, many people were paying $35 to the helper.....BTW they started asking for 400Q....yes that's right.....$53.....so backing it down to 100Q after dealing with them for an hour or so was reasonable in my book.....the poor/foolish chap behind us with his car and boat in tow was getting rooked (he had title for neither)...and he was a stubborn little man and refused my assistance....so whatever.....BTW...Fairield county?...never been there no care to be.....LOL
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Old 1 Dec 2004
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Wow, those numbers are scary. Can you imagine the effect of this person going back to his community and telling people that a gringo just paid him nine or ten days worth of wages for an hour or two of walking around with papers? This is my biggest fear.

Based on my experience crossing at Tecun Uman this past January, I can definitely see how this is happening. Here is a quote from my article:

"To enter Guatemala with the car at Tecun Uman, I paid $1.20 immigration fee, $2.40 to have my tires sprayed, and $5 sticker fee for the car. A tramitador (border assistant) with a Guatemalan card "helped" me, but he was out to scam me. At one point he tried to get me to pay a $100 fee at an internet cafe for "online registration." When we were through and I had all my papers and sticker, he wanted a $30 fee. Tramitadors are usually happy with $2, which he wouldn´t accept, so he got nothing."

I am wondering if the moderator would like to move this thread to Mexico & Central America, where it may be more helpful and get more attention.
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  #6  
Old 4 Dec 2004
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I do agree that paying to much is a bad, if not very bad idea.
By paying a nice tip (read: to much) you create an expectation which will, very quickly, faul up the beauty of a country.

A few examples:
In many country,s in Africa children wil run out onto the road yelling: "pen, pen". When the poor traveler does not give the pen soon enaugh, the children start to through rocks.

I myself once had to pay 7 USD to cross a river... only becourse an other biker had payed a month before 10 USD for the same. A normal price would have been 50 cents max. I tried to negociate for half a day with every trick in the book. The girl just smiled and told me time and time again she knew I was going to pay anyway... I would have liked to meet the guy who payed her the 10 USD... and not to shake his hand.

I India the tourist-industry almost died becourse of this when tourist masively left becourse of average 25 % a year increase of prices. When I was there most hotels were strugling to survive.

I don,t want to be seen as an ATM... so please everybody, don,t turn me into one.

Maarten

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  #7  
Old 6 Dec 2004
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well I too agree with payign too much...and nobody is to blame except the one's who traveled before you. it is a snowball effect. And once the people/scammers learn what can be paid, they CANNOT unlearn that...thsi is the problem with taking one societal customs and inflicting them onto another so called undeveloped society...that is what this site is for...to arm travellers with information...the best tool..

I was offended in Tecun Uman at the crap they tried to pull....and they could read my body language at the disrespect I was receiving....knowledge is power.....but we all do whatever we can do to get thru every travel situation....
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  #8  
Old 12 Dec 2004
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Next time use La Mesilla border to cross into Guatemala from Mexico, there's almost nobody there.

Q100.00 tip for the helpers at the border is waaaay to much, after paying that, word will spread and everybody at the border will want their share from the rich gringos.

Don't let them intimidate you, just say NO and you'll earn their respect.
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