Bright and early Tuesday morning, Aaron and I packed our bags and checked out of Gumbo Limbo, our Airbnb in Caye Caulker. We were supposed to be at the water taxi dock at 6:30 a.m. Luckily, we scored a golf cart taxi almost immediately, so we didn’t have to lug our bulky load too far across town.
The water taxi took us to San Pedro first, where we had to clear Belizean immigration. It was pouring rain off and on, and the line moved at a snail’s pace. One man input our passport information into his computer, another woman took our $20 US exit fee per person, and another man stamped our passport to indicate we had left the country. There was a separate line for each – a study in inefficiency if you ask me.
When I purchased the tickets to Mexico, the woman working at the water taxi had told me that we had to pay the $20US Belizean exit fee and a Mexican entry fee of $25US. We learned on the way to San Pedro that she had told us the wrong amount for Mexico, so we had to quickly locate an ATM to get more money so they would let us into Mexico. Of course, in typical Belize style, the first one we found was out of order. Luckily, the second one was up and running.
Back at immigration, the line was nearing an end and almost everyone was ready to board again. We lined up, shuffled on, and off we went.
I don’t think that the water taxi ride is ever totally smooth sailing, but the water was especially rough due to the front end of Tropical Storm Franklin heading toward us. For nearly two hours, we rode what felt like a roller coaster while leaky windows dripped on passengers.
When we finally reached Chetumal, Mexico, we had another line for Mexican immigration. This one was far quicker and far more efficient than the one in Belize, and we soon paid our 500 pesos per person entry fee and were cleared. We scored a taxi for around the same price as the bus would have cost us, and settled in for a nearly 3-hour ride to Tulum.
I began to get an inkling of how much less expensive Mexico is than Belize on the ride to Tulum. We passed several vendors selling pineapples on the side of the road, and most were 5 or 6 pineapples for 50 pesos – which equates to around $3US. In Belize, we typically paid anywhere from $2-3 for a single pineapple.
Our accommodations also reflected this pricing change. The brand new, large, nicely appointed one-bedroom apartment was cheaper than nearly everywhere we stayed in Belize, and definitely the nicest place we’ve stayed on the entire trip.