Guatemala at Long Last
Jul 5, 2007
|There were times when it seemed like we would never get here and times that I felt like turning around and heading back but I'm happy to say that we are finally here! It took us 3 weeks and 2 days to get here from Marathon, however we stopped to enjoy many places along the way.
We experienced a lot of bumpy rides even though the weather wasn't bad. The prevailing winds from the east caused waves to hit us in the side pretty well the entire trip down from Isles Mujeres as we headed from north to south. The last few days we devised a method of "power tacking", heading first into the wind and then letting us follow us rather than taking it in the side which is most uncomfortable. It adds a few extra miles but makes for a much more pleasant ride.
Once we reached Livingston we passed on the rough and spooky looking anchorage and proceeded to a rickety dock at "La Marina". It was deserted but we found a neighbour who understood that we needed to get into Livingston, accessible only by water, to check in with Immigration and Customs.
We asked about a water taxi and he quickly headed for his own boat and took us into town. In our broken Spanish we arranged for him to pick us back up in 2 hours. Checking in was a breeze in Livingston compared to Cuba, Mexico and Belize, probably because so many cruisers come here for hurricane season. After exploring the town we found our ride back to the boat and continued on up the Rio Dulce.
We found the same quote about the trip up the Rio Dulce in both our Cruising Guide and in the Guatamala book that Sylvia bought us and it describes the experience better than I can.
"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)
Many years have passed since that was written about the Rio Dulce but not much has changed. We read this passage many times on our way here, wondering what it would look like and we were not disappointed. There are still many, many little dugout cayacos on the river, some with just children in them, fishing with nets or marking traps with plastic pop bottles. There are also plenty of small boats with outboards like the one we caught a ride to Livingston in. Beautiful properties with expensive yachts in covered boat slips, owned by wealthy Guatemalans line the shore.
The river entered a small lake called El Golfete and it was here that we found a quiet little anchorage with 2 sailboats already settled in, safety in numbers as we had read in our cruising guide. Relieved to finally be here, we enjoyed an enchanting evening surrounded by jungle, complete with the sounds of howler monkeys and all sorts of noisy nightlife. In the mountains we could hear the sounds of people calling to each other from long distances. There are no roads here, no telephone, no internet, just human voices through the jungle. There were no lights as far as the eye could see, only a fire that a family was sitting around on shore and the light of a lantern as they climbed up the slope to their home.
I wished for rain hard enough to clean the salt off the boat and as the saying goes "be careful what you wish for". Never in our lives have we experienced such rain. The picture of our dingy shows how much rain fell between the time we went to bed and the next morning.