Thursday, August 16, 2012


River Life

Jonesy and heliconia blooms at Mario's
It's been a week now since I returned to Guatemala and life on the Rio Dulce (river). My bags have been unpacked and believe it or not all the boat parts and other household purchases have been safely stowed. Or, in the case of the indoor/outdoor thermometer and the new overhead light in the salon, have already been installed by Jonesy.

Most of the sock yarn has even been packaged in XL Ziploc stowage bags and added to the stash to provide additional insulation until I need it. But of course a few skeins have been left out so that I can lovingly gaze at them and dream of the socks that they will become. In fact, one more pair of socks is just waiting for me to weave in the ends and another pair has been started since the last blog. No, I'm not an especially fast knitter. I just have plenty of time to play with yarn and pointy needles.

$5 veggies
Last week as I rode the bus from Guatemala City and crossed the high bridge over the river on the last few meters of the trip, I looked down and saw a man paddling his dugout wood canoe. It struck me as so exotic! But then I was also surprised that I had even noticed it. I realized that after a month in the United States, I was once again seeing everyday scenes here as "new" experiences. That's why we need to travel, if even back to first-world countries. It's so that we can observe and appreciate even the simplest differences in the places we go.

Life here in the tropical lowlands of Guatemala on the Caribbean side of the country has been slowly changing during the 3 years that we have been spending the summer/fall months here. For example take a look at the photo of $5 worth of vegetables that I bought the other day in the town of Rio Dulce/Fronteras. Those are swiss chard, romaine lettuce, broccoli, snow peas and peaches tucked in with the common local vegetables (potatoes, peppers, papaya, tomatoes, and limes). These things in the first list are very exotic to the local population. Earlier this year when I purchased broccoli at a large commercial grocery store the cashier had to ask what it was so that she could ring it up!
2/3rds of the Regatta participants going at it

A Regatta on Lago Izabal was held yesterday upriver about 2 miles from where we are in the marina. Only 3 sailboats participated in this racing event. Really, I'm not surprised there were so few as many of us don't move our boats once we are safely tucked into a marina for the hurricane season.

Why? Because we postpone many boat projects for this time of year so we are often not in operating condition. Plus, our boat is our HOME and we have everything we own on it. Racing means you go very fast (relatively speaking) - and that makes us mono-hulls heel (tippy) over. When we heel over everything that isn't in a locker or tied down goes sliding to the down side of the boat. Then after tacking (turning sharply) everything slides again to the other side which is now downhill. Not an issue when you have a "bare" boat as a play toy, but us live-aboards got stuff!

The spectators
Anyway we had fun riding along with Trish and Bob in their nifty speed boat up to the lake. The other spectators were already there and partying heartily in their two dinghies. Have you ever watched a regatta? It's all about the party on shore (or floating as we do) because there isn't really much to see. Although we did get to observe the leading boat get too close to the buoy marker for a turn and actually run into it. Then he sailed along towing the marker with him for a while! OK- that's all the excitement.

Jonesy and Trish speeding along
Too much "excitement" for us, so we cruised down the river for a little sight-seeing. Along the shore we studied the big houses of wealthy Guatemaltecas and their fancy yachts. Suddenly a massive gray hunk rose from the water and just as quickly disappeared. It was a manatee! These elusive giants are very rarely seen as they spend their lives underwater except for occasional breaths and are quite timid. We had seen one in the same place the day before which was the first time that Jonesy spotted one.

There was no use hanging around in the hot tropical sun for another spotting because we had probably scared it off with the boat engine. So we then crept up some little tributary rivers for some more nature watching.
Giant lily pads

These quiet backwaters are where it's possible to see a large variety of birds. But this time we only just caught a glimpse of a bright blue medium sized bird flying too quickly to get a good look. Late afternoon isn't that great for bird watching anyway. We simply appreciated the peace and quiet, the giant lily pads, butterflies, common birds like kiskadees and egrets, and the bromeliads which grew so thickly on the trees.

Life is good on "the rio" and we're fortunate to be a part of it.

I always love to hear of your adventures :-)
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