Wednesday, June 02, 2010



We've made it safely to Guatemala and a new chapter in our adventure begins.
After 7 months of living on the sea and on the hook at anchor, we are now tied to a marina dock to hide from hurricanes. The wierd part is we are in FRESH water! Yep. We motored up the Rio Dulce river about 22 miles inland to Mario's Marina where we were greeted by cruising friends and friendly staff waiting to help us slide into our space and tie up to the dock. We are the center boat in this photo.

Here's a picture of Jonesy enjoying the Indy 500 race on television the day after we got here. He was served lunch and was brought cold beers by his lovely and attentive (except when she's knitting) assistant throughout the day so that he wouldn't miss a single moment of the race.

Despite the heat and humidity, we had chores to complete as soon as we got here to switch modes from active cruising to dock life; pickle the water-maker, set up the shade awning, do laundry in a real washing machine, hook up the electrical to the dock, paperwork with the marina, get onto the WiFi, get the air-conditioning working. Oops. The water pump (the A/C is water cooled) didn't work. After 2 trips (by boat) to town we bought a replacement and Jonesy installed it. Oops. The A/C needs to be recharged with refrigerant after 2 years of being in hibernation. So that fellow is coming out today.

"Town" is called Frontiera or Rio Dulce and is a rather long dinghy ride from the marina. So, another chore was to buy better transportation as our dinghy is old and failing. Ta-da! Here's Jonesy in our new 14' fiberglass panga launchita. Our 9.8hp outboard from our dinghy powers this new boat and we can get to town in just minutes now.

So how did we get here - up a river and on a lake? First we had to determine when there would be a high tide in the morning at the entrance to the Rio Dulce. That is because there is a sandbar across the entrance which is very shallow so we need a high tide. Plus, it takes several hours to check into the country and we needed plenty of time to get all the way to the marina. At the same time, we needed a weather window to sail from Roatan island of Honduras to the mainland of Guatemala.

So, everything came together and we crossed over to the little mainland bay of Tres Puntas where we dropped the anchor for a night's rest. Early the next morning, we motored over to the entrance of the Rio Dulce river and "crossed the bar" at high tide and never tapped the bottom. Phew! What a relief as we've been anxious about this for a long, long time.

But before we could continue up the river, we had to check into the country of Guatemala; immigration, customs, health inspection, agriculture, and the port captain. We had emailed an agent to handle this for us and he came out to our boat soon after we anchored outside of the town of Livingston, bringing with him all of these officials! As we all sat in our cockpit, papers would passed and signed, questions were asked and answered and friendly chatter abounded. What an easy process this was here compared to some other countries! There are no roads to Livingston - it is only accessable by boat.

We wandered around Livingston for awhile while our paperwork was prepared. Check out this play equpment. I love the metal basket swings! And this strange looking set up is the laundry facility for the local people. Because many houses do not have running water, the local towns build these plazas with individual basins for the women to do the wash. You know, I think it would be more fun to wash and socialize at the same time than to do it alone at my house! After we stood in line at the bank (45 min.) to get the Guatemalan currency to pay for our processing (Q1000 or about $125 total) we completed the transaction and set out to motor up the river.

From Livingston, we entered the Rio Dulce river gorge. The current was running about 2 knots against us so we could only make about 3 1/2 knots speed over ground. Over thousands of years, the river has carved a deep gorge down through the rock and nature has covered the cut with jungle growth. Those are TALL full grown trees in these photos. Look closely and you will see another sailboat right ahead of us making the trip - that will give you a little sense of the scale of this gorge. And here's a photo looking back - that's our sad, overworked, over-patched dinghy being towed behind us. Time for a summer's rest little Scooty Puff Jr. before we head out cruising again next fall.

Along the river there were people fishing from wood canoes or paddling between the small Mayan settlements. The sound of the cicadas (insects) was deafening! Total jungle! We found out later that this was the first non-rainy day here for over a week so maybe that's why all the birds and insects where out singing.

We passed mineral hot springs where we could smell the sulfur fumes. You'll just have to trust me, but in this photo there is a canoe at the base of the cliff with a couple of people in it (the small white dot in front of the smaller cave). Jonesy and I kept remarking on the vibrant colors of GREEN. They were almost unreal.

Sadly, right after we arrived, tropical storm Agatha blew in on the Pacific side of the country (we are on the Caribbean side). At the same time the eruption of the volcano near Guatemala City was going on. Two natural disasters for the people of this beautiful and poor country. We only experienced a tad of ash falling and some heavy rains. Bridges were washed out so that there was (is still?) no travel between here where we are and the capital city. But, parts of Guatemala are still reeling. There are boxes here at the marina to collect food (rice & beans) and clothing for the people who have lost everything which wasn't much to begin with. I'll post about the status of the situation when I know more.

And, I promise to post photos of the socks that have been completed recently...later! I'll leave you with this road sign we saw in Honduras for a school zone. What? Watch out for chubby kids being pushed by rotund parents?

Wonderful pics. I was wondering about you when I heard of the tropical storm and the earthquake. I remember as a 6 year old washing our laundry at the local well. We lived right across from it. A skinny underfed 6 year old. But did I feel important, and the women around me helped me when an item was too big for me. This was right after the War in 1946. Have a good rest till fall. Renate
Hi Terry. Thank you for that beautiful tour of your travel up river to your new home....away from home... Something that I would never get to see otherwise. I love your word pictuers as well as the pics themselves. Congratulate Jonsey on his new Dingy, lovely shade of blue on my monitor. Have a safe and peaceful stay. Huggs from your ravelry friend, Darrell aka darrlaa
Glad you made it safe and sound....How long will you be in Guatemala? That sign is very funny! I cant wait to see pictures of your recent need to find a place on your travels it an LYS LOL :-)
I absolutely love hearing about your travels. Thank you so much for sharing! :)
Loved reading this! Pics are great! Jealous... ;)
So glad you guys are safe and sound. I worried about you after hearing about the hurricane in Guatemala. Beautiful pictures, as always!
Thank you so much for sharing Guatemala with us. My son is adopted from Guatemala - so it holds a very special place in our hearts.
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