Rio Dulce.....Sweet River

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sorry for the long time between posts, but as previously mentioned, the internet in the third world is not always what we would like it to be.

I am in Guatemala for three weeks now and have really enjoyed my time thus far.  I spent one week in Livingston and now am two weeks at Tortugal (,  a marina in Rio Dulce.  Highly recommended. 

Livingston was a pretty cool place and much like Dangriga in Belize, it reminded me of New Orleans a bit.  There is a large Garifuna population there....sort of like Jamaica meets Playa del Carmen and the vibe is good.  Not lots to do, but I spent quite a bit of time inputting my journal into the computer and walking around town.  Unfortunately the Caribbean beaches are not desirable for me as far as swimming goes.  Livingston is at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, a river that starts about an hour inland at the base of Largo Izabel, and dumps into the ocean at Livingston.  There is lots of trash on the beaches and the water is not clear.  The people, however  are exceptionally friendly, and  just about everything is surprisingly cheap.  I found a really nice family run hotel in a neighborhood about 15 minute walk from the main dock and hung out there for the entire time.  My impeccably clean room with private bath and ocean view was a whopping $7 a night. 

I did take one walking tour of the area that included visits to both a Garifuna and Mayan community and really enjoyed meeting some of the local folks.   By the time I left I had made some friends and expected that I would be passing through again on my way out of the Rio Dulce area.

My boat ride up the Rio Dulce to an area known as Fronteras was the exact opposite of the previous two I had taken getting to Livingston.  The river passes through an amazingly beautiful, lush and green gorge as it makes it`s way first into El Gofete, a sort of small lake like area and then thins down again as you approach Fronteras.  Just a stone's throw from Fronteras further up river is Tortugal and then just beyond that, access to Largo Izabel
On the boat I took from Livingston to Rio Dulce I met a really fun English gal named Rachael that was going to one of the two places I was hoping to look at for lodging.  When I checked the first place out and parts of the dock system were underwater (the river is high now during rainy season) I decided to head to the hotel/marina she was going to and boy was THAT a good decision.  We ended ups spending a week together before she moved on and had a lot of fun together.  We went on one tour, kayaked from Tortugal to a castle where the lake and river met, played lots of pool and scrabble and laughted A LOT. 

The highlight so far from a nature perspective was the trip I took with Rachel to Boqueron Canyon and Finca Paraiso.  There were 6 of us from Tortugal and we were driven first about an hour up along the shore of the lake to the Boqueron and piled into this very small wooden dugout boat and paddled up river through this amazing quiet and tranquil spot.  We were the only folks in there and reminded me a lot of a trip I took to Zion National Park.  Just beautiful.  There were these really cool blue morpho butterflies flying around and against the green of the jungle were easy to spot.  Then at the end of the boat part, several of us got out and floated back down the river to where we had parked the car.  It was fabulous.  The water was clean and cool, a pleasant and refreshing change from the warmer waters at the marina. 

We piled back into the car and headed back towards the Tortugal and stopped at the Finca Paraiso and that was mind blowingly (word?) fabulous.  It was a spring fed cold water stream that ran into a natural and hot waterfall.  That's right, a hot sulfur spring waterfall.  So the water coming over the rocks was about 110 degrees and the pool of river water below was about 70 degrees.  It was awesome.  Then along the river's edge there was a little cave and if you went inside and stuck your hand into the water at the back of the cave (this activity was not for everyone) you found a warm mud pile that you could then pulled out and used as an exfoliant.  It was like a 100% natural spa day in the jungle complete with plunge bath and hot mineral spring baths.  The cost to enter this paradise $1.30 US.  AWESOME! 

One day while laying in the hammock under my living quarters reading (I can never seem to get enough of this particular activity), a German gentleman named Dietmar came there to set up a party at the picnic tables next to me.  Seems it was his 65th birthday and he and his French partner Claudie who live on a boat docked at the Marina were having a celebration.  Rachael came along, we were both invited to attend and ended up having a really fun time.  There was another German couple, Barbara and Wolfgang and a really sweet couple from Switzerland, Ariane and Martin.  Also present were Russ and Janet, the Texan couple that manage the Marina.  Suffice it to say that we had a great time and made some terrific new friends. 

Dietmar and Claudie do charters for a living (  -- in German but both read English if you are interested in more information from them) and invited the same group at the party out for a sail on the lake one afternoon.  They wanted to take the water route back to Finca Paraiso and invited me to join them.  The lake is AMAZING.  It is about 38 miles long and my guess is that about 2.0% of it is developed, if that.  It is like riding through Lake Tahoe but instead of snow capped mountains you see lush green jungle covered mountains.  The entire 8 hours we were out there we only saw one other pleasure boat under sail.  We basically had the lake to ourselves.  Just beautiful. 

When we docked several of us went onto shore and we were taken up to the waterfall via a tractor drawn crude wooden box, but the ride was very beautiful and quite amusing.  When we got back on the boat we enjoyed lunch before heading back to the marina.  I laid in the trampolines stretched between the two pontoons on the boat (Catamaran ) and thought about how lucky I was to be enjoying such a beautiful ride with such interesting and pleasant people. 

Rachel had left but returned the on the night we came back with a few very fun and funny English women she had met and we had a few more days of laughter together before the headed out again.  That and lots of scrabble.  I have even learned to play speed scrabble and that is not for the faint of heart. 
I was told today that I have broken a record for the person staying the longest at in the hotel at the marina and will be justly rewarded with a free cocktail from my favorite bartender, Elder, when happy hour kicks in tonight.  The Hora Feliz (Happy Hour) is from 5:30 - 7:00 and is not a big drinking event, but an opportunity for the folks on their boats to come and hang out together at day's end.  We play board games and chat and I am thoroughly enjoying this little community of people.  I have been keeping a pretty low profile up to now with meeting folks, and I am now enjoying the change.  I also have a new boyfriend, Jefe.  He has four legs and his photo is included herein.  I have really gotten a dog fix while I was here. 

It is likely that I will head out this week, but not sure when.  I am enjoying myself and staying within my daily budget at the Marina so I am not feeling rushed to move along.  Besides, they have the best showers in Central America at this place.  NO LIE.  They have those huge rain shower heads that are about 9 inches across and what seems to be and never ending supply of scorching hot first since leaving the US.  And....the hamburgers are AWESOME.  And, of course, the people are making the stay that much more enjoyable.
Not much else news.  Guatemala is treating me right for sure.  Will catch up when I hit the next country....likely Honduras or Nicaragua.

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badnomad on

keep up the good work girl, i am presently living vicariously through you and enjoying every moment,, where do we go next?



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