Hanging out in Belize
I have been to Belize before, but I thought I would stop over for some sun and beach for a couple days on my way South anyway. Unfortunately, my timing was awful. I wanted to get some scuba diving in, but 2 cruise ships docked so everybody is all booked up. Sometimes, just flying by the seat of your pants works out well, sometimes it does not. But, still got a great day of snorkeling yesterday...coral reefs, sharks, rays, etc., etc. Today, will be jungle and ruins and some errands (when you are on a LONG vacation, errands have to be done eventually, like shopping, laundry, car wash.
Travel tips for driving into Belize;
Exiting Mexico and entering Belize (with a car) was not too bad. There are just a lot of steps. The whole process took me a little less than an hour.
First, exiting Mexico you need to stop at the immigration booth. You wouldn't think it would be a drive up building the size of a toll booth, but it is. And, you MUST have the receipt from the tourist visa card, or you will pay again. Luckily, I kept mine.
Then, you park right across the street on the left from the tiny "toll booth". There, they will process your car out. They take the sticker, take pics of your car, and basically check your car out of Mexico. They will also process the refund of the deposit you paid entering ($US 400) that will credit on your credit card in a few days. That is all for leaving Mexico.
Now you can drive across no man's land and over the river to Belize.
The first thing you will encounter is the required fumigation booth - which is now on the right side of the road - and get the car fumigated. Then pull forward to the next tiny building 100 feet ahead to pay for the fumigation. Luckily, since you have not changed any money yet; for all of the money needs going into Belize, they will take Belize dollars, US dollars, or pesos.
After paying for fumigation, drive forward, turn left at the roundabout, then the first right. This takes you to immigration. You will find the immigration booths ahead, and a little parking lot on the right, immediately in front of the booths. Park at that lot on the right, and proceed to the building on the left, across the street.
At this point, a "porter" will come to help you. This is not really necessary if you know what you are doing; but if it is your first time, tipping the porter to walk you through it all was pretty helpful. This is where all of the steps happen, and they have to be done in the right order.
Fill out immigration form (just like when you are flying) - you can get this at the information booth as you first enter this building.
Go to the immigration booth, and get your passport stamped.
Take all luggage from your car to the customs line. (the "line" was 1 person including me) :-)
After your luggage is cleared, your bags go out the back door, and will wait for you later. see...a porter can really help!
Go to the next window for the car import. You will need passport and registration. There was no fee for this. Nice touch after needing more than $500 to enter Mexico.
After you get those papers, go back to your car, and drive it through the far left lane. Here, there will be a small fee - again in Belize, US, or pesos. This is where they will check your car.
Then, proceed forward and left about 30 feet - another check - no fee.
Then, proceed forward a few feet - my porter had my bags waiting for me here. Load the bags back in, and now only one step left.
Drive out of the immigration area and proceed about 1000 feet to the white building for car insurance. easy to find - you can see it from the immigration area. Car insurance cost 290 pesos for a week (about $$US 15). Again way better than Mexico where I spent over $300 for car insurance for a month with Grupo.
Remember, on the Belize side, this is all done in English. Pretty simple process.
One last tip - google maps then directed me down the Old Northern highway - don't believe Google. The first 20 miles of this are an old dirt road that is more pothole than road. I had to drive about 15 to 20 miles per hour most of the time.