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#490311 - 05/03/14 12:21 PM Mexico to Belize: Bumpy Boats & Immigration Issues
Marty Offline

As we ate our last quesadillas and sipped our last Coronas in a lively Mexican restaurant, a feeling of melancholy crept over us. Our two months in Mexico were relaxing, rejuvenating and exactly what we were looking for, but we weren’t expecting to be so sad to leave this colourful country. We reflected on our time here and enjoyed our last delicious Mexican meal. As we made our way to the Chetumal pier, our sadness soon melted away in the intense sun and we both became excited for our next paradise,†Belize.

beers in mexico

Cheers to an awesome two months in Mexico!

We were greeted by unexpected costs and fees when we arrived at the windy dock. Apparently there is a $5 USD “port fee” as well as a $25 USD fee (306 pesos) for exiting the country. The somewhat friendly immigration officers told us “If you flew into Mexico, this fee would have already been included in your ticket price”. The good news was that we did fly into Mexico, the bad news was that we didn’t have the papers to prove that we already paid this†“tourist”†fee. Officially, there is no fee for exiting Mexico†and the fact that we flew into the country should have been proof enough that this fee was already paid.

This is a border scam that you either have to give in to, or be prepared for, by having the correct breakdown of flight costs sent to you by your airline. You either pay the fee, present the proper papers, or you’ll be left sitting at the dock watching the boat leave without you.

As we searched through our documents, we realized we still had our boarding pass and printed itinerary. We crossed our fingers and hoped these would†be sufficient. As our turn in line came, we presented the border patrol with these papers, which they immediately said were incorrect documents. After about 30 minutes of talking, smiling, pleading and being overly polite, we eventually got our way and they waived the fee!

boat from chetumal to caye caulker

Time to board the boat to Belize

Due to these border issues, we were the last to board the San Pedro Belize Express Boat that would take us from Chetumal in Mexico to Caye Caulker in Belize. We looked around, eager to find two spaces to accommodate us. The small boat was full, with no proper seats, just hard benches to sit on. Knowing a bit about boats (and knowing that I tend to get nauseous when on them), we were both praying that we wouldn’t be sitting at the front of this ride. Fortunately, we were able to find two spots on the middle bench and settled in for the bumpy journey ahead.

The water was abnormally choppy and treacherous on this travel day. Even though the sun was beaming down and the sky was bright blue, the sea was angry. During the first 10 minutes or so, the people at the front of the boat were laughing and enjoying the intense jolting upwards with each wave, and the inevitable slamming down hard on the other side. There were no cushions on these benches and as we predicted, those smiles soon turned to frowns and those happy white faces soon turned green.

boat from chetumal to caye caulker

The jolting wasn’t as bad for us sitting in the middle of the boat

Nick and I tried to make the most of this 2 hour ride to our island paradise. We listened to our iPod, tried to talk (which was basically impossible due to the loud engine) and put life jackets under our bottoms to reduce the ensuing numbness and soreness. Standing up to stretch our legs wasn’t an option, unless we wanted to be tossed to the other side of the boat. We were reduced to wiggling around and trying to stretch our long legs under the seat across from us.

After a little over two hours, we saw land up ahead and began to get very excited. Our boat passed over the offshore reef and we were instantly relieved. The waters were glass-calm and we all cheered at being able to finally stand up! We had arrived at Ambergris Caye, where immigration for the Northern Cayes is located.

boat from chetumal to caye caulker

Notice how the boat is tilted sideways and this photo is blurry? Ya, the seas were rough!

We eagerly disembarked†onto the wooden pier that jutted out into the turquoise waters. By this point, the sun was setting and we knew we were going to be arriving at our final destination of Caye Caulker in the dark. As we were waiting in line, Nick and I decided to have a look at our exit stamp from Mexico. We bought new passports when we were home in Canada and†since we only had a total of two stamps in our passports, it shouldn’t have been difficult to find this exit stamp, Nick located his, while I was still frantically searching for mine. Finally I gave up, looked at Nick and shook my head.

The Mexican Immigration forgot to stamp me out of the country!

During our four years of travel, this has never happened. So, we stood nervously in line on the rickety wooden dock waiting to see if the grumpy immigration woman would send me back into the choppy waters to Mexico. Luckily, she was too busy yelling at a tourist for taking a photo that she didn’t even look in my passport, she just stamped it and shoved it back in my face.

Phew! Note to self: Always check for entry and exit stamps. †

immigration ambergris caye

Arriving late to immigration in Ambergris Caye, Belize

By the time everyone was done checking in to the country of Belize, it was 7:00pm and dark. We hopped back on the ferry and enjoyed the calm, moonlit, 30 minute ride to Caye Caulker. We were greeted with Reggae music echoing from funky beach bars and as soon as our feet hit the soft sand, we knew this was a place we were going to want to stay a while.

***Goat Notes

  • There’s only one boat per day from Chetumal to Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker. It leaves at 3:00pm. From the Cayes back to Chetumal, there’s only one boat. It leaves at 7:00am from Caye Caulker and 8:00am from Ambergris Caye.
  • The cost of a one-way ticket from Chetumal to Caye Caulker is $49.50. Book ahead as this boat can fill up quickly. You can book tickets online if in Mexico, or purchase from the terminal if on the Cayes.
  • Make sure to get a seat in the middle or near to the back of the boat. Otherwise, it’ll be a bumpy ride. Also note, there are no toilets on board and†you are only given one small bottle of water to drink.
  • As there are some long formalities that need to be dealt with when leaving Mexico, make sure to arrive at the Chetumal pier at least an hour before departure.
  • If you arrived in Mexico by air, make sure to have your airline send you a breakdown of all taxes & fees that were included in your ticket price. You will need to show immigration proof of payment of the “tourist fee”. If you can’t prove it, you will need to pay 306 pesos (or beg and plead like we did!)

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#490346 - 05/04/14 09:36 AM Re: Mexico to Belize: Bumpy Boats & Immigration Issues [Re: Marty]
Sunny Reef Offline
[quote=Marty]<p>This is a border scam </p>
Well, I always wonder why we "the Westerners" always complain about a small fee that would be our contribution to a poor country and we're incapable to see the positive effect of this small fee. "The goats" staid 2 months in Mexico - 60 beautiful days in a beautiful country and then they cry about a 40 Cent contribution to the country and they get mad when authorities insisit in these fees (that can be researched everywhere in the Internet and I wonder how very experienced travelers like "the goats" could not find out long time in advanced: Could it be that they did not prepare their travel?
If you want to travel into the USA as a European you will never enter the States without having paid a "border scam" of 14 US$ and there will NEVER be any border office who will finally waive the fee just to be nice to visitors - NEVER! 5 US$ port fee - well - there's nothing for free in this world and I'm not sure why "the goats" claim this to be for free in Mexico????
If you do not have any entry stamp in the US you'll get into very big trouble and might have to spend hours in custody and it is the visitor who's in charge to make sure everything's fine with his papers: Good for the goats to always have a finger to point to the "bad guys around" - I don't want to use one "s-word" that pop-up in my mind but want to ask: Are you silly or naive? .....as experienced travelers?

<p>Due to these border issues, we were the last to board the ..... that would take us from Chetumal in Mexico to Caye Caulker in Belize. We looked around, eager to find two spaces to accommodate us. The small boat was full, with no proper seats, just hard benches to sit on. Knowing a bit about boats (and knowing that I tend to get nauseous when on them), we were both praying that we wouldn't be sitting at the front of this ride. Fortunately, we were able to find two spots on the middle bench and settled in for the bumpy journey ahead.</p>

Well, to be honest: I feel sorry for them: Traveling the third world and no white leather seats with space on the right for the remote control of the entertainment center and no space on the left of the seat for the Champaign that would be served for free during your luxery transfer to your "private island" Caye Caulker! Finding out that you need to be early and not understanding that even on flights they request to be there at least 2 hours before departure - guys; did you realize that you're in the Third World? Oh my GOD - and water was choppy which I hardly can understand as you made a chooice for the 48 US$ nice weather deluxe passage to your island? How can such a thing happen?

I read the advises and I have some too for "the goats"
- always prepare your travel
- remember: Third world is not like Canada or like anything in the Western world
- don't cry for a small contribution for poor countries
- don't always point with your finger to others - have the courrage and look into the mirror and admit that you're "the goat" - not the others
- enjoy every single trip and focus on the good things, smile and be happy! :-)
_________________________
Again another beautiful day in paradise - just smile and be happy :-)

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#490407 - 05/05/14 09:33 AM Re: Mexico to Belize: Bumpy Boats & Immigration Issues [Re: Marty]
seashell Offline
What forty cent contribution are you talking about? I thought they were trying to save themselves from having to pay $50 again that they had already paid. Of course, they don't want to pay twice.
_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#490438 - 05/05/14 05:23 PM Re: Mexico to Belize: Bumpy Boats & Immigration Issues [Re: Marty]
Sunny Reef Offline
well, seashell, 25 US$ divided by 60 days of their stay in Mexico are lousy 40 Cents per day and per person and if you prepare your travel you can research in the Internet and find out that "the law said you need a proof of payment " and still they complain? - I feel ashamed about such a behavior.

All those American and European hotel companies that make so much money in Mexico with their hotels they first keep 50% of the paid hotel room fees back in the States or in Europe, send the rest (which is really not too much) to Mexico, where they have to handle all the garbage, pollution and all the destruction of the environment, and the moment a tourist must pay something to the Mexican people we want to avoid it? Ridiculous!

These guys are experienced travelers and did not research that you have to prove that the fee was included in their ticket - in fact they want to make us believe that they didn't have the ticket with them - WHAT? You never can enter any of these countries if you can't show a return ticket and you can't enter Canada neither and they simply do not let you into the country if no return ticket is shown - and then they don't have a ticket just a boarding pass with them? Well - I don't want to be bullshitted and don't like this permanent crying about travel circumstances and some small fees: All these countries are poor countries and we should be honored to pay a small fee: We spend hundreds of US$ to send stupid sms to people we just met minutes before but cry about an exit fee for Mexico? Oh c'mon!

What's going to happen when they leave Belize and need to pay 39.25 US$ departure tax? Do we have to read another trip report about border scam?

I feel this as a contribution directly to the country and no company will keep anything back from these lousy 25 US$!.....and I'm happy to pay this!
_________________________
Again another beautiful day in paradise - just smile and be happy :-)

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#490675 - 05/09/14 08:05 AM Re: Mexico to Belize: Bumpy Boats & Immigration Issues [Re: Marty]
seashell Offline
I've never had to produce my prove of return flight, anywhere I've been in the world. Yes, I am aware that it is required, just haven't ever been asked to produce same.

I disagree with your premise that they should gladly pay twice.
_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#490690 - 05/09/14 11:55 AM Re: Mexico to Belize: Bumpy Boats & Immigration Issues [Re: Marty]
collyk Offline
I'm a bit confused here. Mexico is one of the top ten economies in the world. It is far from being a poor country. In fact, they've recently had to tighten up their immigration laws as more North Americans are immigrating to Mexico than the other way round.
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www.conchcreative.com
Belize Wedding Photography


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