Guatemala is Hotel California… You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…

As one of our friends recently said, “Antigua is like the Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” This really has never been more true.

We finally got Kaden’s passport renewed and decided to go to the immigration office immediately after picking it up from the embassy, thinking it would be easier to extend the CA4 visa in Guatemala since we were already here. We arrived at the immigration office, it was just around 2:30 pm. I asked the guy at the front where to get our visas renewed. He explained that We’d have to come back between the hours of 7 am and 2 pm M-F. I told him that we had just gotten our son’s passport renewed and needed to pay a fine for overstaying our visas due to the passport problem and state of calamity due to covid. I told him we were planning on leaving the country and heading south to El Salvador on the following Monday. He pushed me to the front of the line where I talked to a lady and explained the situation again. She entered our passport information in the computer and told me to go to the second floor.

When I got to the second floor, I talked with the guard in the front who told me to go to window number 1. Everyone else had taken a number and were patiently waiting for their number to appear on the screen. I walked right up to the window and explained the situation, yet again to the new lady. She said I’d have to go up to the fourth floor to pay the fine and then come back down to get the renewals, but they couldn’t renew the vehicle there. I would have to get the visa extension and then go to the SAT office which was a couple of blocks away and renew it there.

I went up to the fourth floor and explained my situation, yet again for the fourth time to another person. This man looked us up in the computer, and said, “it’s much easier for you to just go to the border in El Salvador and get the CA4 extension there. You will have to do the temporary import there for the vehicle anyway. Pay the fine at the border and explain the situation. There shouldn’t be any problems getting all of that done there. I took my paperwork and left. A little frustrated, but at least now I didn’t have to find parking in the middle of Guatemala City during the beginning of rush hour traffic.

I scheduled our Covid tests for Monday morning so we’d have results by Monday evening when we planned to cross the border. Everything was going smoothly. When we got home, it was late and I knew that I needed to reschedule Roxy’s vet appointment for her transit paperwork to avoid having to quarantine her at the border in El Salvador. We went to the vet the next morning and were told that the paperwork couldn’t be completed by Monday. It would be back on Wednesday or Friday at the very latest.

Immediately, I looked over to Bronson, the look of defeat and utter disappointment on his face. I asked the receptionist if people have had any luck recently just going over the border without paperwork. She said yes, but it was hit and miss. If you get the one agent that says no you can’t pass without the paperwork, the dog would have to go into quarantine for 2 weeks up to 30 days. That means, we’d have to stay in El Salvador for up to 30 days, find another vet to do her paperwork for our next border, and find a place to get new covid tests before going into Honduras just to pass through to get to Nicaragua. Adding up the cost in my head, there would be a fine for quarantine per day, the covid tests, the temporary import permit for the car, lodging near the quarantine site because they don’t take care of your animal for you while in quarantine, (it’s still your job to come by and take care of it every day) and then we’d have to pay a new vet to get all the paperwork for the dog that we would have gotten from our vet here in Antigua. It would be much more expensive than camping around Guatemala while waiting for the dog’s paperwork while in Guatemala and we have a solid friend base here now. I also wanted to visit one more place before we left Guatemala for good.

Ultimately, we decided to stay for the week, this way our passage into El Salvador would be easier and less stressful, avoiding quarantine for the dog. So here we are a year and a month after we first arrived in Guatemala on a maximum stay of what we expected to be 6 months, still waiting and hoping the borders don’t shut down again before we get to Nicaragua. We’re crossing our fingers this time and hoping it all works out.

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