We’ve begun (very slowly) moving south again. And it isn’t a choice we take lightly. We have spent a lot of time at airports in the last few days, especially for people on a road trip. Apparently visiting aduana (customs) offices away from a border means going to the nearest international airport and entering the exit. Well, not so much entering as that’s prohibited, but approaching the arrivals exit, telling the guard that you need to speak to the aduana and standing outside while they are fetched from inside. Its an interesting process and we actually got flagged for security as the two suspicious looking gringos hanging around the airport and taking photos. He seemed to buy our story and all ended well. Luckily Karma had already made friends with the other guards nearby. We have now talked with two different aduana offices as well as the US consulate in acapulco. They all tell us the same somewhat sad news…that we have to return E to guatemala, and that we should do so before the expiration mid-february. In fact, there also seems to be a general impression that we should do so without driving as the vehicle could technically be seized. How exactly we get our vehicle/home to Guatemala without driving it… that gem of information nobody seems to know.
The urgency comes from our paperwork overlap. Apparently, a vehicle permit has to be tied to your temporary visa in order to be valid. Since ours didn’t get renewed at the border along with our visa- its no longer valid. Which means all sorts of applicable fines and seizure of the vehicle, should some policia decide to do so. We tried everything from hardship renewal to applying for a FM3 (or whatever they call the new one since FM3s don’t exist anymore) to get around having to leave the country so soon, but it suffices to say- we’ve begun making a run for the border.
We have also decided that since we will be in Guatemala, there’s a strong chance we might continue exploring the other countries of central america. I say might because (as you may recall) we already tried that once and the beauty that is mexico somehow lured us back after less than 2 weeks away. Regardless, since there’s a chance we will continue on we, are going to have the engine retooled before our departure. The discussion here was difficult, but we did have the same diagnosis from two different respected mechanics, and the simple fact of the matter is that if one should ever need considerable work done to their kombi- mexico is the place to do it. We’ve been warned that once we get across the border, the prevalence of mechanics with old vw knowledge might not return until columbia- which we haven’t even decided to visit yet.
We also happen to be in an area that is among our cheapest lodging to date, and since we can’t exactly sleep in the bus while it’s in the shop- we have to consider the additional expense of sleeping as part of the repair. The cost of engine retooling and 4 days in a hotel room weren’t exactly part of the plan, but we do often say that we travel without one. argh. At least the room here will be essentially free compared to having the retooling done back home. All of that decided, we are currently heading south of our cheap hippy heaven, waiting to drop off the vehicle and taking care of other time stamped details in Huatulco.
Our first stop was at Playa San Augustine, which we were pretty excited to visit after reading that it had snorkeling (hard to find on this coast). We pull in and feel like were back in Majahual waiting on the cruise ship to reach port. No large cruise ships here but clearly this pristine little beach is too close to the tourist center of Huatulco and the beach is lined with uninterrupted restaurants and snorkel operations. The boats come in back to back dropping people off for lunch and the main occupation in town has changed from fishing to boat taxi ferrying people back and forth the last 15 meters from boat to beach.
We should have known something wasn’t right when we were getting out of the bus and spotted life jackets in mexico…but it didn’t really soak in until we looked at the prices on the menus. A real pity too, this is just the type of beach that we would have tried to find a way to stay for a few years were it not bombarded by tourists- instead we left after lunch (just in time, as the ATV tours were heading to the beach to join the boaters).