Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Can you Drive to Belize from the U.S.?

Sure you can, the road from Brownsville, Texas, to the border of Belize is just under 1400 miles.  You can make the drive in about 3 days, maybe more depending on customs.  The roads are paved and the shortest route through Mexico is by way of Tampico, Veracruz, Villahermosa, Escarega, and Chetumal.  Lodging is available along the way, especially in the bigger cities.  If you decide to drive to Belize, you will need a valid drivers license, a valid credit card, Mexican Liability insurance (you can purchase at the border and is cheap), and a passport.  You will need all original documents and one copy.

Would I drive to Belize from the U.S.?  NO.  First of all, I never have liked long road trips and driving 1400 miles any where does not appeal to me.  I am also a big baby and I don't speak Spanish and can only understand some words in Spanish.  So I will be taking a plane and having my things shipped in a container.

An encounter from a recent Expat that drove to Belize in 2010:

On the toll road to VillaHermosa, we came across a large 4x4 piece of lumber, lying in the road. Since it almost spanned the width of the road, we had no choice but to go over it. We figured one of the large trucks had lost it from its load. Almost immediately, the back right tire went flat. So I pulled over and proceeded to get the jack and spare tire out from the truck. As I was changing the tire, suddenly a couple of men came out of the bushes, looking to rob us. It had been a set up and we were the victims. It now fell into place. The 4x4 was not there by accident, but was planted by these robbers to take advantage of the shock of the blow out and the surprise of the ambush. Give us money, they said in broken English. As one of the robbers took a swing at Mischelle, she hit him hard with the police type mag flashlight we were using, when we changing the tire. That sent him back a few feet. That's when I grabbed the flashlight from Mischelle and went after these guys like the gringo from hell. I don't think they were expecting any resistance, as they both ran back into the bush. I went back to the truck and did my best imitation of a NASCAR tire change and we were out of there within 5 minutes. Mischelle all the time, scanning the bushes, fully expecting them to be back. But their element of surprise was gone, we had the dogs and we were gone before they could regroup.

You think you are safer on the auto pista, rather than the local road or highways, but unfortunately, things like this are happening all over Mexico.

Here is another Expat experience of driving to Belize in 2009.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thru Mexico to Belize

The photo on the far right shows the Honda & Land Rover's & roads in Mexico. Wish Belize's were so good!

I have to make a couple of points first.
1. We’re caravanning with a wonderful friend, Roy Pascascio, his son Marlon and nephew, Champ. Roy is driving a Land Rover which he’s taking down for a customer and Champ is driving a little Honda CRV, which Roy bo’t at the request of a lady in Corozal. We’re following the pack in our Toyota Tundra pickup, loaded to the gunnels with good “stuff” which we felt we couldn’t leave behind.

2. I also want to remind myself about how tired we are at this point. We left Oregon three weeks ago, delivered a few items to Roy in LA, to be shipped in the container along with all our other stuff for our new house. We all tho’t that the container would ship within the next week, but not to be. We ended up wandering around Arizona, waiting for the container to be packed so that Roy could leave. We had now been gone from Oregon for nearly three weeks.

The point to this is that we’re starting out really tired and trying not to be discouraged.
At Roy’s request, we sent him the title to our pickup ahead of time. It was hard to trust it to the mail, but in the long run it saved us time. Roy sent it ahead to his broker, so it was cleared by the time we arrived. I think they’re checking for clear titles, etc.

We met Roy Saturday morning in Pharr, TX, at the American ?? Brokers. Roy has used them for years. Actually, we arrived on Friday evening and had them inspect our pickup and go thru and inventory our entire load. I had already done it, but they must check everything themselves, and the biggy is that it must be in Spanish and of course, I don’t speak or write it. Our load is a real mess of foodstuff, kitchen items, clothing, dog paraphernalia, a couple of wooden chairs, tools, oil for the car and ? So glad that we got that done before Roy got there, as it took quite a while to accomplish and then repack. Something else I forgot to mention is that the whole west is suffering from a record breaking heat wave. It was 111 in Laredo on Friday and nearly that hot in Pharr.

On Friday morning we met Roy and the boys and completed the pedimento listing all our good stuff, the paperwork, for all three vehicles and headed for the border. We had to wait a short while there for the title for the Land Rover that Roy was transporting to catch up with us. We then headed for the crossing at McAllen, Tx. There you wait and head for the terminal in a group. Here you have to wait in line to apply for your Mexican VISA, fill out the papers and wait in line again for it to be issued, buy your Mexican insurance and here we also changed US dollars into Pesos. We changed $500US into 6500 pesos. I will say right now that that was a lucky guess. We probably paid about $5oo pesos in tolls and the rest in motels and food. It took us the better part of three days to cross Mexico.

Warning – At one of the most expensive toll booths, the toll was 140pesos. We gave him a 500. They will return your change with the receipt wrapped around the bills. We drove on as there was a string of cars behind and we didn’t want to lose our caravan. WRONG! Always count your change before leaving. We were only given 260 change. He shorted us 100. He was chatty, but of course in Spanish, smiling all the time, actually laughing at us.

Warning #2 – At the fuel pumps, be sure that they roll the starting $$s to zero. That’s the good thing about a locking cap. You can get out and ask them to roll it back before you open the cap. Otherwise they might jamb the nozzle in and start pumping and you’re total will be yours plus what was already on the meter. Of course it’s not everyone, but I did have to tell one fellow to start with zero and he just grinned like “it was worth a try”.

If you feel like you must drive to Belize, you can always hire a Spanish speaking guide, someone that knows the route and how to deal with getting through customs. 

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