Bienvenidos a Guatemala
Jun 8, 2008
|The Captain and I dropped our anchor just offshore from Livingston, close enough to row in. We hailed the Port Captain on the radio and were told that someone would be out to perform our boat inspection in about 15 minutes. We had cleaed up house in anticipation of visitors, showered and changed our clothes so as not to appear like a couple of boat bums after our sleepless night.
A party of six arrived at the boat, 4 officials who came aboard, including a doctor and a couple of men who ferried them out and waited to take them back. I offered drinks all round as we showed them our paperwork and answered their questions. I thought back to a year ago and how much more Spanish we understand and are able to use this time around, since most of these officials speak no English. The whole process only took about 10 minutes and they were off to greet the next vessel, a sailboat that we had passed back at Cabo Tres Puntas.
We were instructed to head to shore and see the Port Captain and Immigration. We headed for Raul Morales' office and acting as a boat agent he completed the entire check in procedure for us while we strolled around town and stopped for a delicious lunch. Last year the cost to check in, all inclusive was $100 US. This year the price was $135, a substantial increase. We paid the fellow who had grabbed our rope and offered to watch our dingy when we came to shore and headed back to the boat.
The cruise up the famous gorge of the Rio Dulce is a magical experience. I cannot resist quoting John Lloyd Stephens because he captures the Rio with his words.
"In a few moments we entered the Rio Dulce. On each side, rising perpendicularly from three to four hundred feet, was a wall of living green. Trees grew from the water's edge, with dense unbroken foliage, to the top:not a spot of barrenness was to be seen; and on both sides, from the tops of the highest trees, long tendrils descended to the water, as if to drink and carry life to the trunks that bore them. It was, as it's name imports, a Rio Dulce, a fairy scene of Titan land, combining exquisite beauty with colossal grandeur.
As we advanced the passage turned, and in a few moments we lost sight of the sea, and were enclosed on all sides by a forest wall;but the river, although showing us no passage, still invited us onward."
John Lloyd Stephens(1841)
Jim and Jeannie who were a few days ahead of us had planned to stop in Texan Bay, a little spot between the gorge and La Golfette, the large body of water that leads to Lago Izabal and the marina district. We poked our nose into Texan Bay but there was no sign of them. We found them down the Rio, back in their home at Mario's, right next to the slip where we spent last summer. We had plenty of time for a leisurely tour of the area, having a peek at the various marinas to see how full they were. Hoping to get wireless internet at the far end of the stretch by Tortugal Marina we cruised by and turned on my laptop to check for a signal. Receiving no signal, we turned around and anchored close to Brunos Marina in downtown Fronteras. With no outboard motor we wanted to start out close to town and research cost and availability of slips at various marinas in the area. There are so many choices, it was going to be a daunting task.
Funny how things end up. After all our discussions and planning we ended up in the exact same spot that we spent the first night in the Rio when we arrived last year. It was deja vu as the wind howled through, the skies opened and torrential rain fell. The Captain had gone to bed before me and as I turned off the computer and crawled in beside him I noticed that the bedding was all wet. The hatch had leaked and he was so tired that he didn't even notice it. I tried to wake him with no success so I crawled on to a litle dry patch and fell asleep. He woke a while later, wondering why the bedding was wet and gave me one of those looks when I told him that I had tried to wake him. He crawled out of bed and came back with a screwdriver. Two seconds and the hatch was tightened and we both fell asleep, too tired to even change the wet bedding. AHHH sleep, with no rocking or pitching or lurching. It was heavenly.
With our newly acquired wireless access on the boat (OK NOW I'm in heaven)from Brunos Marina we were ready to begin researching price and availability of slips in the area. First we rowed in to Bruno's, a popular dowtown marina and the site of the most used dingy dock. We assumed that there would be a waiting list for slips at this popular place but were surprised to find out from Steve, who showed us around that there were a few emtpy slips. The price was great, $175/month vs the $255 that Mario's is now charging for a side tie slip. Power cost is 36cents/kilowatt hour vs .40 at Marios's.
Bruno's has a great restaurant, a nice pool and great location. Last year we didn't think we would like a downtown location with the noise of the bridge traffic with large trucks etc but we actually love it. We have a fabulous view and face the prevailing winds coming from the east so with our hatches and windows open the boat is cool. Hopefully we won't have to use our a/c (easy now because it's on the list of things to repair)and therefore keep costs down.
An armed guard walks the docks at night, nice to know in this neck of the woods. Best of all is the workshop with bench press and all kinds of goodies for the Captain to use when he takes our outboard apart. Just before leaving the Islands the mount bolts which had broken last summer and taken 6 weeks to have repaired, broke again. This time the Captain is going to attempt the repair himself rather than turn it over down here where the concept of time is pretty vague.
So we're all settled here in our new home at Bruno's and I'm very happy. It was unsettling for me not knowing where we'd be for this next half year and the poor Captain, who assured me all winter that it would work out can get a little peace now. We can step off and stroll into town which is at our doorsteps practically whenever we need something rather than make the long, sometimes rough dingy ride from Mario's. We can go into town at night, something we never did last year because a dingy ride back in the dark would be unsafe. I can sit in the cabin and look through my windows and see everybody coming into town because they all dock at Bruno's dingy dock. Oh yes we even have cable tv. We haven't even hooked it up yet, so many new toys to play with but we are looking forward to a little tv after over a year of none.
The Captain has his work cut out for him. We have one transmission to repair, our a/c, one of our bilge pumps, our wash-down pump and our outboard motor. By the time that is all done, there will be more. However, the generator is now repaired, mind you we have shore power so we don't need it but it's great to have it ready for next winter. The Captain can go and work in the comforts of the little shop on shore and I can sit here and write and become rich and famous. Sounds like a plan!