I don’t know about you, but I had this vision of Belize conjured up in my head that was very romantic. A beautiful English speaking, Caribbean country of palm trees and modernization. The cost of living would seem to indicate this was the case. We arrive at the the Belize border around Noon thinking there’s nothing but smooth sailing in front of us. We wish that had been the case.
The Belize office of tourism is the first booth that you come to. A group of very nice people that are there simply to assist and council you through the process of gaining admittance to Belize. They give us the run down and direct us to our first stop, immigration. We belly up to the window and slide our passports through the hole in the glass. On the other side, a young, early twenty-something Belizean male combs leisurely through our passports with his long, luxurious finger nails. I imagine him feeling quite powerful as he took his sweet time looking for nothing. Finally, he looks up and asks us where we’re going and staying in Belize. Of course, we have no answer. We hadn’t thought too much past crossing the border. That’s our style.
Having been through many overland border crossings I answer without hesitation “Belize City, a hotel.” He wants to be a dick and see a confirmation of our reservation. That explains why the board of tourism has a booth at the border crossing. They empathize with the audaciousness of the situation and help us make a reservation in Belize City as well lend us the service of their email account as well as print us a free copy of said reservation.
We take the additional paperwork to mister fingernails and he begrudgingly grants us passage to Belize, but we’re not done. We still have to import the motorcycle. Thankfully, we have copies of all or our motorcycle paperwork in triplicate and get through station number two with little trouble. Next up, fumigation, a hundred yards back from whence we came. We load up, drive back to the fumigation booth, pay the 50 pesos (US $3.84) and head back to the border. I drop off Keli as only one person can pass the border in a vehicle. She walks, I drive. At the vehicle booth I’m advised that I need to unload all of the gear off of the motorcycle and send it with Keli to be inspected. Exasperated, I explain to the officer that it takes an hour to unload, an hour to reload, we’ve already been here for two hours and one person can’t carry it all anyway. I persist that it’s ridiculous and he finally waves me through. You’d think we’d be done.
Nope, we still need Belizean insurance. It’s the next building a hundred yards past the border. We don’t anticipate being in Belize more than two weeks and get away for just $23 US. Whoops, forgot to change Mexican Pesos to Belizean Dollars. Back to Immigration we go. The whole ordeal took over two hours.
For those of you who want to expedite the process, using this order might save you a little time.
- Fumigate your vehicle on the way into the border, get receipt
- Park and change your money at the booth in the parking lot
- Say hi to the tourism board and go straight to immigration with a hotel reservation somewhere in Belize
- Go to the second booth and check in your motorbike or vehicle where applicable
- Just go ahead and take your bags through customs at that point of you have a second rider, they’re probably going to make you do it anyway
- Drive motor vehicle through checkpoint
- Get insurance on the other side
Really, why does all of this have to be so hard? Seeing as tourism is a major source of income for Belize you think they would make visiting the country easy and painless. That’s not really the case, but hey, at least they speak English and you can understand exactly how difficult they’re making your life. So here’s to that.
And we’re off!