Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Up the River

Yep. I guess it was time to give up Roatan, Honduras after all...our courtesy flag was tattered and torn after so many months in the sun and trade winds. Looks like that's another item to add to the list to buy for next year. We are required to fly a small flag of whatever country we're traveling in as a "courtesy" and to let the officials know that we have legally checked into the country.
Upon arriving in Guatemala, we contacted our agent Raul by phone and he came out to our boat with the whole gang; representatives from immigration, customs, and a medical inspector. Now THAT is service! Here they are arriving at our boat in their hired skiff.

We all sat in our cockpit and passed around documents, copies of documents and pens. It all happened so quickly that I didn't have a chance to serve the ice cold Coca-Colas to our guests. Dang, I guess I'll have to just have a few more rum and cokes in the coming days. Or add a wedge of lime and call it a "Cuba Libre". That way I can count it as a serving of fruit!

We waited a little over an hour, then sent a captain from each of us 3 sailboats to shore to pay our fees and pick up the completed paperwork, visas, boat cruising permits, etc. Here's a photo of Jonesy, Karen from s.v. Interlude and Randy from s.v. High States dinghying into the little town of Livingston. That left one crew person on each anchored sailboat. Why do it that way? Because 1) Livingston isn't exactly scenic and the street con artists and beggars can be aggressive, 2) The anchorage does not have good holding and the boat may drag it's hook and end up somewhere where you don't want it unless someone on board can start the engine, 3) There are "opportunists" who may see and know that a boat will be vacant for an hour or so and may want to see what is good for the taking.

Livingston is a "wild west" outpost. It is only accessible by boat (no roads) and thus has developed a different culture than the Spanish/Mayan interior of Guatemala. The population of Livingston dates back to the slavery and pirate days in the Caribbean.

So, in the afternoon our little caravan headed up the Rio Dulce river gorge. This is a photo of our boat entering the interior. Yep, look closely, we are way up there. See? You have to have other boats along for the journey not just for safety, but to take photos of each other's boats!

We were greeted by the sounds and smells of the jungle. We could smell different floral scents and woody/earthy scents. The birds and cicadas were plentiful. Unfortunately, it was also very smokey. This is the end of the dry season and there was apparently lots of slash and burn going on in the agricultural areas.
Along the 20-mile trip up the river, we encountered other river traffic including these small boys playing and fishing in their dug out canoes. There are many local Mayan indians living along the river  - as they always have. We are just a passing curiosity to these boys.

The limestone cliffs are quite high in some areas along the river. At one point there is a steady flow of water from the limestone at the bottom of a cliff and locals use this as a water source during the dry season.

Here you can see how smokey it was that day and see how high the cliffs are compared to our 63 foot mast on our boat. We have heard that this is the location for the filming of the first Tarzan of the Jungle movie. I wonder if I could knit while swing from a vine?

Along the way, there is a mineral hot spring that you can smell (sulfur) way before you can see the facility. These houses are the typical structures that we see along the river - with thatched palm roofs and very open to let the occasional breeze in to cool.

All three of us sailboats arrived safely at Mario's Marina and summer camp for cruisers. Jonesy even took my suggestion and BACKED the boat into our designated slip. Whoa! This big boat really doesn't like to back up at all and shows us that by going in the wrong direction. But this time, Jonesy did a great job (Okay, the guys at Mario's also helped a lot by grabbing the lines and tugging us in). But we are quite happy. This way, we can board our boat from the dock and walk directly through the opening in our cockpit instead of walking all around the outside (in the sun or rain). And, our rear stateroom where we sleep is in the shade every afternoon with the bow (pointy end of the boat) facing into the afternoon sun and getting hot and HOT. We're in a steamy jungle here.

One of the first jobs we needed to do was go buy an air conditioning unit for the boat. We have built-in marine air, but it is very inefficient and costly to run at 42 cents a KWH. So, early one morning, we tagged along with Marco, the marina manager to the "big" town of Puerto Barrios. First, we rode in a boat over to the place where the van is stored, then we rode the 45 miles along a 2-lane road to this seafront shipping town. We passed many trucks for Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte loaded with either bananas or pineapples headed to the port.

The first thing we did when we got there was go to McDonald's  This is a very special treat for us. Look at this great breakfast "Traditional". See, McDonald's has to serve food that these people like to eat. I looked around and everyone but Jonesy had ordered this meal. It is scrambled eggs, sausage, mashed black beans, fried plantains, a slice of fresh cheese and several warm corn tortillas and orange juice. Yummy! Actually I have to say that McDonald's does a great job with this breakfast.

We bought our window A/C unit and then stopped for another errand. As I waited in the van I noticed this SUV. your rear door is missing. Just get another one, tape over the missing window, and use straps between your tow hitch and your luggage racks to hold it onto your car. No problem!

These are another pair of socks for the kids in the orphanage in Kazakhstan. I just used a ball of the jacquard patterned Regia sock yarn and a ball of a gray mottled sock yarn. Now I'm onto a pair of purple Hug Me Socks as my "take-along" project.

Also on the needles is a set of leggings with feet for the baby house in Kazakhstan. I'm using some lovely baby/fingering weight Lang wool in a soft green shade. Plus, I have some teal which I'll use for the feet (because I don't have enough green). I'm still trying to think of a decorative way to do this so it doesn't look so much like I HAD to do it, but rather that I CHOOSE to use two colors. Perhaps a little Fair Isle patterning of the 2 colors before switching to the teal booties/footies.
Besides that I've been working on a new beaded Christmas stocking design. The easy part was the charting and planning stage. The HARD part was when I decided to get clever and do the cabled ribbons patterning in 2 different colors of beads. Then I kept making mistakes  had to fight the beads to get the order correct for pre-stringing on the yarn. Like they say...the 3rd time's the charm. I hope the folks who knit it will have an easier time because I have gone to the trouble to make a listing of the bead color order and have checked it 3 times.

Now look...that doesn't look so hard does it?

I certainly wouldn't have a clue as to how to arrive, and arrive safely. It was very interesting to read your adventure - and great to hear from you. Happy days to you!
WOW! I want to be there too. It looks incredible. The knitting isn't too bad either HA HA :)
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