About 3 years ago and 4 months ago roughly, I was in Mexico City at my apartment by Metro Juanacatlán.
Sitting in front of my laptop, I’m planning on my trip out of Mexico City to Guatemala.
Even though I fucking hated the idea of leaving Mexico City for Guatemala.
So why leave?
Well, when you live in Mexico or anywhere in Latin America on a tourist visa…
Your time will run out eventually and you will have to leave.
Or don’t and live here illegally like I know a few Americans doing actually.
Either way, if you plan on doing things more legally than that…
Then you have to leave the country when the tourist visa expires…
Though in Mexico, it’s called a FMM and not a tourist visa…
But regardless, you leave and come back in a day or two later to get a new tourist visa or FMM.
Though some countries down here won’t let you come back in right away necessarily – at least not until next calendar year starts.
I heard Colombia can be like that supposedly but I have no experience with doing visa runs there.
But for Mexico, you run through the 6 months that the FMM gives you and come back in a day or two later.
I remember reading back then that I had to leave for 72 hours though.
Not sure how true that is but it’s what I did.
And I could head for Guatemala or the US – and Guatemala was cheaper.
So Guatemala it was!
Now I had been in Guatemala before and liked it for the most part.
Spent most of my time in a city called Xela that you can read about here.
But, truthfully, I’m not that big of a fan of Guatemala.
It’s OK – worth visiting if you have never been there before.
But I’m never too excited to stop by nowadays.
If I had to go to another Latin country right now, Guatemala definitely would not be anywhere near the top of the list.
Maybe Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, the DR, Panama, Paraguay, Bolivia, etc…
All of those countris would definitely be higher than Guatemala.
Regardless, I’m planning out my trip now..
Looking for a hotel and a flight…
And got it set up.
Now, by this point, I had spent enough time in Mexico City that I really liked it a lot.
Even when in Mexico, I never have felt much desire to leave the city.
Because before arriving to Mexico City, I had traveled around Latin America and been all over the place.
From Colombia to Argentina and Bolivia to Venezuela and Nicaragua to Paraguay…
And though many of those places were nice…
Mexico City was significantly nicer than most places I have been to in Latin America – relatively cheap for what you get, close to the US, plenty of easy chicks, good nightlife, good food, relatively modern, etc…
So why the fuck leave?
It has everything I need!
I even found an article online where the author claimed he knows a guy in Migration who you can bribe to get a new FMM without leaving.
I contacted him since I really didn’t want to leave Mexico City for Guatemala.
He didn’t reply.
God fucking damn it.
So now I’m stuck with what I got to do or else be illegal – get my shit together and into a taxi for the airport.
Heading to Guatemala City
On the morning of leaving for the airport, my girlfriend at the time texted me to have fun.
And I had to make a shitty joke for the occasion.
“No quiero ir….voy a la tierra mala…..!!!”
“Como?” she replied.
“Guate – mala…. Ya ves??? Es una tierra mala!!! Porque, bueno, pues, es tierra mala – guate – mala!! Ya entiendes? Jaja jaja jaja jaja jaja jaja.”
Left on read.
For those who don’t speak Spanish – mala is the feminine word for “bad” in Spanish.
And Guatemala has the letters “mala” in it.
So, you know, saying I am going to a bad place because, uhhh, “mala.”
I know, I know….
I don’t have a career in standup comedy.
I arrive to Guatemala City after a relatively short flight – I don’t remember it being too long.
And started looking for a taxi to get to my hotel.
Once inside, he drove me to my place and I remember thinking just how shitty Guatemala City looked.
The roads, the buildings, everything…
It just looked kinda crappy.
Even some of the described dangerous neighborhoods of Mexico City looked better.
Maybe I was walking into this with a negative mindset because I had to leave a place I liked for this.
All of which is stupid and pointless – if I’m coming back anyway in a day or two, why not just let me fucking pay for a new FMM while I’m in Mexico City?
Well, fair enough.
We get to my hotel and it was in some average neighborhood – nothing dangerous but not really touristy seeming.
Anyway, I get the keys to the room and get on my laptop and phone.
On a Mission for Tacos
Before deciding to take a walk around the neighborhood just to see what is around me.
Once I started walking outside…
I guess some of the usual…
Some homeless dude was staring at me for a long ass time until I turned around the corner to another street.
Some rabbies infected looking dog started barking at my ass and I had to pick up a stone from the ground and pretend like I was going to throw it to scare it away.
I did see an advertisement for Taco Bell if I remember right – it was some American fast food chain but I think it was Taco Bell.
“ahhhh….the food of my people!” I thought in excitement.
I tried looking for it but I couldn’t find it after like 30 minutes of some Dora the Explorer type shit adventure of walking around to find it.
“But shouldn’t you be trying the local cuisine?!?” you might ask.
“Nah, I’m good…”
I’ve tried Guatemalan food for a few months back when I lived with a homestay years ago.
As you can read about here.
Food is isn't that great there in my experience.
I’ll take Taco Bell any day.
Granted, Taco Johns would be better – or Jimmy Johns – or Wendys.
And it supports my country! Supporting an American owned business with my money.
Never forget where you came from, chicos.
Regardless, I eventually find a reasonable alternative to Taco Bell.
Some small restaurant that serves everything from tacos to hamburgers and more.
Got me some tacos and good enough.
Funny though – the restaurant had the words in Spanish “the best tacos of the world” written on a sign in front of the restaurant.
I had to take a photo of it of course and send it to my Mexican girlfriend at the time…
“Ya ves??? Los tacos de mexico son de mierda!!!! Todos necesitamos tacos de guate!!”
Or said in Spanish – “you see? Mexican tacos are shit. We all need Guatemalan tacos!”
Well, suffice to say, she wasn’t convinced.
Anyway, I eat some food and head back.
I had 72 hours here for this trip.
The day after, I didn’t really do anything.
Like I said, I honestly didn’t feel like going to Guatemala but I had to leave for the new FMM.
My then girlfriend asked me by text “How is Guatemala? Tell me everything!”
My reply – “Well, Guatemala City looks quite nice from the vantage point of my hotel window. I see they have trees here, some grass, some cars, a plane in the sky! Oh and they seem to have some kids over there playing soccer and now I see an elderly couple walking…”
“No mames Matt.”
Well, she did have a point.
In that I’m in a new country and I should go enjoy it!
The next day I did.
I decided to go to the historic center of Guatemala City to check it out.
To the Historic Center
So, unlike Mexico City, there was no metro for me to use to get around.
They have some bus system that is easy enough to figure out and didn’t seem poorly run when I used it.
Once I got dropped off by the historic center, I did find a open air market that seemed quite active and enjoyable to walk through.
Before checking out much of the touristy sites in the Historic Center.
Admittingly, the sites didn’t seem all that unique or interesting to visit.
I feel once you have traveled from country to country down here and see a lot of places…
At some point, some of it starts to look the same.
Here’s a statue dedicated to some Latino general of the 19th century in some conflict.
Here’s a local Catholic church that has importance for some reason.
Over here – you can see a nice presidential building with maybe a plaza in front of it.
Where if you sit down there long enough, you might get harassed by 2, 3, 4 or more people for money.
With the occasional one who goes up to you going in slightly rough English “friend!! Friend!!! hOw ArE yOu?!?!?!?!?!?!”
But after enjoying the historic sites anyway and spending some time seeing what the Historic Center has to offer briefly..
I decide I might as well buy a few things for the road.
Where I ended up stumbling upon some market that didn’t seem too popular in terms of clients but had a ton of sellers.
Mostly folks selling artisan crafts and all.
Right away, it became obvious that the first few – 3 or 4 or so – were trying to hit me with a very obvious “gringo price.”
Charging me considerably more for something than what they would normally offer a local.
Well, like always, you got to shop around and see who has what prices for what products before buying something.
If you want anyway.
And I ended up finding some cool wooden artifact that said “Guatemala” on it.
Anyway, got some cheap gifts there..
One for my parents, one for my girlfriend at the time and one for myself.
Before stumbling upon a Wendys.
Which, being honest, is one of the few fast food chains I miss in the US.
Yeah, the quality of the food isn’t the best – piss off.
It tastes great!
Either way, that was the trip more or less before it was time to go back to Mexico City.
The Flight Back to Mexico City
At the airport in Guatemala City…..
I’m at the person who is checking in my bags.
And she is giving me a rough time about my trip back to Mexico City.
First, she needed proof of my intention to leave Mexico and not stay there indefinitely.
Some flight or bus ticket out of Mexico.
But the problem was I didn’t have any ticket bought out of Mexico just yet.
Because I had plans to go into Mexico for another 6 months and then buy a ticket around December to visit family for Christmas and New Years.
But I get my laptop out and pretend that I have this document of my flight out of Mexico just somewhere in there now…
And holding up the line behind me a bit as well as more and more people are lining up and the line is only getting bigger.
Then I pull off a “ah damn it! The laptop ran out of power! I promise I have the ticket!”
She didn’t seem too convinced and insisted I needed a ticket out of Mexico.
And so over the course of us talking back and forth…
With her implying I can buy a overpriced ticket from their company right now…
And me not going along with that…
And the line behind me getting bigger and bigger…
She eventually folds on the ticket out of Mexico issue.
But she had other suspicions.
“Do you live in Mexico?”
“How long were you there for?”
“6 months before going to Guatemala? And now you are going back again?”
“You sure you don’t live there?”
Despite not being an employee of the Mexican Migration folks…
And only an employee of this random airline…
She sure did seem curious about if I am one of these “perpetual tourists” living on a tourist visa while making his few day run to Guatemala…
Anyway, she drops the issue relatively quickly and we finish what we needed to finish.
Before I make my way over through security and eventually on the plane back to Mexico City.
Arrival to Mexico City
Funny enough, I thought the Migration people at Mexico City airport were going to be the ones who give me a bad time and suspicions about my visa run to Guatemala.
But they didn’t!
They didn’t seem to give a fuck – here’s your new FMM and that was it.
So I walked out of some door and my girlfriend at the time was waiting for me.
That’s one thing I like about arriving to an airport anywhere in Latin America…
Is having a nice local woman wait for you at the airport.
Be it a local girlfriend in this case….
Or just a person you will be hooking up with in an hour or two when you get back to your apartment.
Though, in the last case, you usually have to make arrangements unless you already have chicks for hooking up in the city you are going to.
But you can organize that by meeting chicks online on some Latina Cupid site or Tinder Plus – build something with them a few weeks or a month before your trip – and try to get one of them to wait for you at the airport.
Or in this case – be it a local girlfriend you are good with.
Either way – freedom at last.
Back to Mexico City.
And with a nice woman waiting for me with a cup of ice tea from Starbucks to welcome me back.
Back from La Tierra Mala.
Haha haha haha haha….
Ok, yeah, shitty joke, I know.
Well, either way, that was the basics of my very first visa run in Latin America.
Looking back at it…
I’d recommend anyone doing visa runs – if they have the money for it and need to spend a few days somewhere instead of just crossing back into your country an hour later…
Is to set up a trip to some place maybe nicer than Guatemala City.
Some beach area in the DR or Cuba perhaps.
Lima, Peru during certain months of the year when the weather is nicer.
Or wherever really!
Either way, you might have a more exciting trip then to look forward to.
Nothing against Guatemala City – I liked Xela a bit more – but it’s not the right city for me.
Anyway, I wrote about this experience because recently I saw someone ask in a foreigners in CDMX group about doing visa runs during times of covid.
And found it funny the amount of snowflakes I saw getting angry at a foreigner doing a visa run.
But hopefully this experience sheds some light for those thinking of doing one from Mexico City.
In case anyone reading this might do a similar visa run.
And if you have any experiences or questions with visa runs…
Drop a comment below.
Follow my Twitter here.