Bacalar, Mexico to Antigua, Guatemala is not a well-travelled path especially via public transport and chicken busses. It’s a long, grimey, involves 2 border crossings, random buses, some luck and belief there will be a bus available.

Throughout this journey I’m not sure if I’m stopping in Flores or completing the journey to Antigua. The original plan was to stop in Flores but as the day progresses I have an opportunity to catch up with a chica who I really like from earlier in my travels. So I haul arse and get to Antigua. I always say it’s about the people you meet and you never know when you will get to see someone again. With love in my heart, I make the long and tiring 21-hour journey.

”Do everything with so much love in your heart that you would never do it any other way.”

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Tuesday
5am – Watch the sunrise in Bacalar.
10am – Cross the border into Belize.
10am – Change Timezones.
10am – Taxi into town and a bus to Belixe City.
1pm – Bus to the border.
4pm – Cross the border.
5pm – Bus to Flores.
9pm – Bus to Guatemala City.

Wednesday
5am – Bus to Antigua.
7am – Breakfast.

A total of 5 busses, 2 taxis, 1 tuk-tuk, 1 motorbike taxi and 21 hours of my life!

Leaving Bacalar

My day starts around 5:30 in the morning to watch the beautiful Bacalar sunrise, followed by a quick breakfast. We get a lift to the border crossing thanks to Daan and the hire car. In total there are 3 of us making the journey and we are sad to say our goodbyes to the crew.

Sunrise in Bacalar

Entering Belize

We arrive at the vehicle border crossing and are redirected to the pedestrian crossing where we pay our Mexico exit fee (550 Pesos). We take the tuk-tuk to the Belize border crossing from the very strange town that sits in between the borders. Border towns whether they sit in between or outside the borders have a very strange vibe. Time seems to have forgotten them and they are always run down and derelict. The entrance into Belize is simple and as we exit we are greeted with 2 taxi options. 1 looks very nice and has air conditioning, the other is an old people carrier with torn seats. We are backpackers on a budget, our choice is simple.

We arrive at the border town Chen Chan in Belize and catch a chicken bus pretty quickly into Belize City. The chicken buses are not the comfiest but who cares. I can’t remember the exact cost but its around $10 USD and we arrive in Belize City with no issues. We haven’t taken our bags off the back and we hear a call for the bus to the next border town Benque Viejo del Carmen near Guatemala, it’s another $10.

Three Gringos making the border crossing
Three Gringos making the border crossing

In Belize City, we lose Malty AKA the optimistic German. It’s a shame as I really enjoyed his dry humour. However, for the next leg, it’s me and Joseph riding dirty to Flores, Guatemala.

We catch the next bus and depart quickly for Benque Viejo del Carmen. The weather has become very cloudy and rainy. It’s amazing how anywhere can look beautiful or horrible depending on the weather. The second bus takes a toll on us as we feel very beaten up, yet we make it with no drama.

Benque Viejo del Carmen is a very poor town. We are greeted by taxi drivers who are begging us to take us to the border cross to exit Belize. I count he says please at least 10 times for our $5. He looks really desperate as we take the short ride in his 1990’s Volvo estate.

It’s a hard-hitting truth that poverty is real. Whilst we live in the western world more concerned with political correctness than human welfare.

The route from Bacalar to Antigua

Crossing Guatemala

Joseph and I make the border cross and we are in Guatemala. It’s dark, we are tired however we are in, just to get to our final destination now. I’m still not sure if I’m going to Antigua or stopping in Flores.

We easily catch a shuttle bus from the border to Flores. It’s direct and drops us in town. The main Flores bus station is outside of the lake and away from the main restaurants, hostels and hotels.

The driver also convinces me to use an agency. If I chose to continue into Antigua, the second part of the trip requires a shuttle at 5 am to go from Guatemala City to Antigua. Our ride only takes a few hours but we have been awake for 12 hours now and feeling weary.

Thanks Poo!

On the shuttle, I’m weighing up continuing on to Antigua and another 10 hours of travel or staying in Flores. Lake Flores is beautiful and is close to the biggest and best attraction, the Mayan Ruins of Tical. As I weight it all up I ask myself why am I making this journey and the answer is simple. The opportunity to catch-up with a chica I met in Mexico for just half a day, means so much more to me than the sites. When you travel you meet some amazing people and it’s hard to keep in touch. So with pure intentions and love in my heart I’m all in for Antigua.

With pure intentions and love in my heart I’m all in for Antigua.

I arrange the bus with the agent and Jacob checks into his hostel. We grab a quick dinner and at 8 pm my ’taxi’ pulls up to collect me. It’s a 125c scooter. I have a huge backpack to carry yet somehow we make the bus station if only I had a picture!

Last-leg to Antigua

The night bus is really comfortable and has this bizarre leg rest that makes you feel like your lying on a flatbed. I get a great nights sleep even though the air conditioning makes it feel colder than the Artec! I’m greeted in Guatemala City by my shuttle driver to Antigua, and we are off again on the final leg of the journey. I arrive in Antigua very tired but its a new city. It will be home for the next few weeks as I have a job in the amazing Matiox hostel.

No tango o necesito, solo amor!

My evening goes great. A little walk in the city, dinner, salsa dancing and a few drinks, before we say our good buys. I’ve travelled 21 hours and 817 km for a few hours with 1 person. Not because I have or need to but because I wanted to. With love in my heart and it was worth every hour and kilometre!