After leaving Tulum, we headed down to Bacalar, where we would camp for one night before undertaking our first border crossing from Mexico -> Belize. We pulled into a super cool, lakeside hostel with a lawn scattered with tents. It was another wonderful place to call home for the night. We got out of the truck to check in and were a little confused as to what was going on. The woman that appeared to be in charge was frazzled, informed us that there was no electricity (we will take the discount over the electricity any day), and told us that we could check in after they took their lunch break which wasn't actually until about 8 pm. Then, some awesome guy told us that he was doing the same trip as us, just going north by bus from Argentina. But a few minutes later we spied him making out the aforementioned lady manager. After an afternoon of swimming in all 7 colors of the "sweet water" lagoon, and chilling on the dock this all got cleared up...
It should be mentioned that shortly after this photo was taken, a man came running down the hostel dock being chased by a swarm of bees that were incessantly stinging him. I'm allergic to bees, so of course I jumped in the water and hid for about an hour and everyone else around seemed to get stung. Turned our some guy disturbed a hive while climbing a tree to get a coconut. Go figure.
So, earlier confusions were cleared up as the best thing ever unfolded. First of all, the Argentinian guy turned out to be dating the also Argentinian lady from the beginning of this story and they were traveling together. They were essentially doing a HelpX kind of situation at the hostel for the time being. So, the awesome guy, Augustine, said he wanted to give us some tips for our trip in South America. Understatement of the year. He sat down with a map of South America and a journal and proceeded to spend about tree hours marking points and writing explanations as he explained the best ways to travel some places, the cheapest places to stay others, how to get free fish here, and what to say to get free BBQ there. It was like divine intervention. He knew everything. A huge boost to our South America plan. At one point he was describing a place and said, "you know that movie Avatar? It's like that". I know that we are just getting into Central America, but we have never been more excited for South.
While we were at this hostel, we met a nice little French Guy that was about our age. He had just finished 6 months of studying sociology in Guadalajara and was looking to go to Belize with the hopes of doing a WorkAway in Caye Caulker (one of our upcoming destinations). Eager to pass along good travel karma and put our extra seat to use, we agreed to drive him with us over the border and into Belize. So, we woke up in the morning and the three of us piled into the car to head to country number 2. While Mitch was excited for his fluency in Belize, French Guy was a little more apprehensive with his beginner-intermediate English skills. We exited Mexico by canceling our vehicle and tourist permits. However, we were surprised by a 390 peso exit fee that had to do with the fact that we all entered the country by plane but were exiting by car. Mitch and I were fresh out of pesos, so French Guy kindly offered to loan us some pesos that we could repay in Belize dollars on the Belize side of the border. We grudgingly handing over the money and headed into no-man's land between the borders. At the Belize office, we were busy filling out information, showing our title, trying to convince the customs lady to come out to our car to inspect our luggage instead of us hauling everything inside, etc. Meanwhile, French Guy ran into some trouble. By the time we were pulling back up from the fumigation building, French Guy was woefully meandering away from the Belize customs building looking very frazzled. In a fit of bewilderment, rage, and Spanglish he explained that he had been denied entry into Belize. He was panicked, difficult to communicate with, and impossible to calm down. Apparently, the Belize border officials were under the impression that because French Guy's student visa expired in 7 days, he was a big loader trying to escape into Belize and drift around sucking the livelihood from their country. We were very worried for little French Guy and wondered what we could do. We asked the Porter who pointed to a bus heading back into Mexico (although French Guy had just canceled his visa there). It seemed to be his only hope. He was very rattled and took off for the bus before we could try to say or do much of anything to help. I ran his iPod out to him from the backseat of the car and just like that, he was gone into the mist. As we crossed into Belize, we realized that we were the only criminals that we had met so far on our journey. We had tried to bring French guy over the border with us, taken 780 pesos from him, and abandoned him in no man's land with no idea what would happen to him. In fact, despite our efforts we still have not heard from French Guy. We can only keep him in our prayers now. Poor guy. Unless you know him. Then tell us. So we can fix our travel karma.