We had spent an uneventful couple of months at the Oaxaca Campground and time flew by swiftly. We celebrated several holidays including Halloween where we got together with a couple of campground neighbors for a Halloween party and Thanksgiving which we spent with Stacey and her family. The beautiful thing about staying in an RV park in Mexico is that it is a ready-made social pod. Even better no one has a regular job where they have to go to the office five days a week to interact with outsiders. The ones that do still work, are already working remotely and so our chances of being exposed to the virus is lower than most.
However as we came towards the end of the year we had a problem in that our six month tourist visa was going to expire by January 3. Last time we had been able to extend the visa in Oaxaca under a special pandemic program but Mexico had ended that program and was no longer extending tourist visas. We would have no choice but to leave Mexico.
The one bright spot was although we had to leave Mexico we could turn right around and come back to obtain a new six-month tourist visa. One of our friends had flown from Oaxaca to Dallas, stayed two hours at the airport and immediately flown back to Oaxaca. This was not a very good option for us though since many countries were closed to Americans and we didn’t want to fly back to the US since the pandemic situation in the US was worse now than over the summer. Stories of cities in Texas renting mobile refrigerated trucks to act as morgues discouraged us from this option. In addition, the cost for three airplane tickets would have been quite high.
We had planned to drive to the Cancun area for the winter but it was a five day drive and some friends who had gone earlier were actually returning to Oaxaca because of the high heat and humidity in the Yucatan. Hot and humid might be fine when you are staying in a hotel resort with good air conditioning but is not good at all for staying in a motorhome, especially since the humidity will rapidly lead to mold and rot in an RV.
This left our final choice of making a border run to Guatemala. The Guatemalan border was only ten hours drive from Oaxaca which we could do in two days driving without too much effort. It would cost us about US$400 in gas which was lot less than the US$600 per person to fly to the US. There we could check out of Mexico, turn around and come right back in. As an added bonus the Mexican border town of Tapachula was only 30 minutes’ drive to the beach. We would take two days to drive down, spend a day or two at the beach, make a quick visit to the border, two days to drive back and return before Christmas. Entry to Guatemala required a Covid test but since we didn’t want to actually enter Guatemala this would not be a problem.
We had packed up the night before so we were able to get on the road by 9 AM. I had arranged to leave some of our stuff at the Oaxaca Campground so we would travel with a full tank of fresh water. We had planned to drive five hours each day so there was no need for an early start. The road south was surprisingly good, and we had smooth driving going from desert highland to coastal greenery by the time we got to our stopping point for the night, the town of Santo Domingo Zanatepec. Santo Domingo was a very tiny town occupying less than a half mile of one lane highway. It was in a very convenient spot and had a hotel that was highly rated on iOverlander.
We were told to park in the back of the hotel in a lovely shady parking lot which would have been perfect except someone had parked a trailer in the driveway so we had a nerve wracking time squeezing rover past the trailer. Once in though it was a lovely, secure, private spot, albeit a little expensive at 200 pesos with no hookups. After parking we walked down the street to the Restaurant Deyliz restaurant where we had dinner before turning in for the night.