Stuff: Some of the information you just can’t do without, plus a whole lot of filler

Making A Run For The Border

“86-87-88-89-90”  That is the sound of Xela visitors counting down the days that they have left until their visas expire. Right about now in September is when great numbers of folks realize, “Hey, I should’ve taken care of this a while ago.” In the interest of making sure nobody gets deported, here’s our rough guide to visa renewal.

Go to Mexico; do not go to Guate. Yes, you can technically go to Guatemala City, drop off your passport for a week (!) and then pick it up later. XelaWho, however, has learned of many, many folks who have had problems because the visa renewal is not put into the system. Do you want to spend your last week here sucking up to customs officials? Thought not. Just go to Mexico.

The shuttle might be worth it. If you’re looking for the fastest renewal (Tapachula) then it might be worth it to spring for the shuttle. Pretty much every town between Xela and Tapachula is described as “dodgy” in the guidebooks.  Also, it’s much faster.

Change Q100 at the border. No more. If you plan on staying in Mexico for a while you’ll need pesos—obviously. You’re much better off at a bank or an ATM then with the dude wearing gold chains yelling “Pesos! Pesos!”.  Q100 is more than enough to get you to San Cristobal via bus from La Mesilla, where you’ll get better rates.

Watch the calendar. Travel on September 10-16 might be dodgy because of the elections on September 11 and Independence Day on the 15th.  Plan ahead.

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Cuatro Caminos Delays

There were times in the not so recent past when any bus that passed Cuatro Caminos would regularly wait 15, 20, 25 minutes as the driver bought lunch, hit on women, etc.  Between the new-ish highway which is cutting down on car traffic and increased transit police making sure that buses don’t idle all day, the wait has dropped to a reasonable 5-10 minutes to wait around in the sheca-selling capital of Guatemala.

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Impromptu Signage

Now that every lamppost, rock and billboard is filled up with political propaganda, political parties have been digging up holes around the city to put new signs in. In theory, the parties are responsible for removing propaganda after the election, but given that eagle-eyed bus riders have occasionally seen signs for Oscar Berger who was elected in 2003, there may be very little hope for parties to go about digging up their own billboards that they have installed specifically for these elections.  An unfortunate trend for public space advocates.

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