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Driving from Quetzaltenango "Xela" to California then back to Xela
June 2003 - Jeep Cherokee

How to import your car into Guatemala - Information here!

Hi everyone!

Why would anyone drive to California and back to Xela???

Good Question...

Well after being in Xela for a few months and getting settled in we started looking at what it was going to cost to import our 1993 Jeep Cherokee.  Luckily you can find this information on the SAT (Taxing Authority of Guatemala) website.  Look under "Importacion de Vehiculos" you can enter your make, model and year and get a good estimate of the taxes that will be required. 

After looking at the total we were amazed, SAT wanted Q50,000 ($6250) just for import taxes.  In 2001 Guatemala passed a new law which doubled the import taxes on all vehicles more than 10 years old.  Our car just passed the deadline so the taxes were doubled.  I understand the reasoning, they want to get the old cars off the street but our California Jeep ran cleaner than just about every car new or used on the streets in Guatemala!!  But that did not matter :-(

As luck would have it my parents had a 1996 Jeep that they were considering selling or trading in.  So they offered the Jeep to us in exchange for our 1993.  The catch was we had to drive to California to get it!!!

That is why we made the trip, to save on the import taxes!!!

Not everyone was lucky enough to make this trip.  Only myself and my son, my mom and daughter stayed home.  We got started on May 30, 2003.  Again we were joined by Lew and Dottie and Laurie and her kids.  It is great to have company on these trips.

We crossed the Gua/MX border at El Carmen/Talisman. It was a smooth crossing until we reached the 20 mile check point.  This is the place where you must get your sticker to transit Mexico. NOTE: When you enter Mexico with your car you receive a piece of paper called "Corprobante" you MUST keep this paper for the life of your vehicle!!! - DO NOT THROW IT AWAY.  If you do you will NOT be able to cross into Mexico again with out paying a hefty fine.  I ended up paying $400.00 - NOT GOOD!!

After several hours of haggling and cursing I paid my "fine" and we got on the road.  We drove for about 6 hours and stayed the night in Hotel La Mission just north of the town Zanatepec. Cost $25.00.

The next morning we made our way to the Costa Esmerelda and stayed in a Resort Hotel with a swimming pool right on the beach.  The name of this hotel escapes me but there are tons of hotels along this beach route. Cost of hotel: $50.00

The next day we were in Brownsville Texas and stayed in our favorite Brownsville Red Roof Inn. Cost with coupon found at Shoney's next door - $34.99/night with swimming pool and Jacuzzi.  From this point on the job of my son was to find hotels that had swimming pools and Jacuzzis for the entire trip!

The next 4 days were drive, drive, drive & drive some more.   We made it to Kerrville, TX the first night where we stayed at a wonderful lodge called YO Rancho with coupon $45/night. The had a great swimming pool with Jacuzzi. The next day we stayed west of Las Cruces, NM in a road side hotel The Atrium again it had a pool and Jacuzzi - Cost $40.00.  On day 3 we made it to Palm Springs, CA we felt like we were so close!! Quality Inn with coupon $45.00 pool & Jacuzzi. On day 4 we made it Manteca, CA by mid day.


After spending a few weeks in California we got back on the road.  We were determined to do this whole trip back to Guatemala in 6 days.  So we bought Book 2 of the Harry Potter series on cassette tape and started listening to it.  It is a great book, especially when someone else is reading it to you!!

We made it the to the Red Roof Inn in Brownville 3 days after we started the trip home.  We went to the border and got all our paperwork done so we were ready to take off early the next morning.  The next morning we crossed the border around 7:30am and headed south.  12 hours later we were at the beach on the Costa Esmerelda and stopped at one of the first decent hotels on the beach - $35.00/night. 

The next morning we got an early start and pulled into Tapachula by 5:30pm that evening.  Unfortunately it was Sunday evening so the border was closed.  We stayed the night in Tapachula at the Kamico Hotel which is very near the turn off to El Carmen/Talisman.  Cost $45/night.

Our last day was spent crossing into Guatemala with the new Jeep and heading home to Xela!  We did it in 6 days with only one driver!!  Next time we will make my wife go with us so we can have 2 drivers and we will push for 5 days.


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Brownsville Red Roof Inn

Mexican Tourist Road Atlas

Tom Lingenfelter

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