For those of us used to travelling by water, land trips are a novelty and we have heard much about the wide variety of inexpensive and fascinating land trips available here in Guatemala. It is something that virtually all of the boaters here at Marios have done and they are more than willing to share their experiences and make suggestions about where to go and what to see.
Our first outing, however was by water taxi to the coastal Garifuna community of Livingston where we checked into Guatamala a couple of weeks ago. Our schedule did not permit much sightseeing or shopping in this touristy little town the day we cleared through customs and immigration so we headed back and enjoyed having someone else drive for a change.
It was a different perspective that we enjoyed from water level rather than up on our flybridge and the taxi stopped off to give us up close looks at some of the interesting features along the river.
Our first land trip was one that is offered here at the marina, a tag along day with the Dock Master Marco Antonio Linares, who drives into the towns of Puerto Barrios and Morales every Wednesday to do some banking, shopping and pick up the mail.
We were ready down at the Cayuco Club at 7 a.m and got away at 7:30 in the launcha(a narrow, tippy boat) which took us to Rio Dulce where the marina van is parked. We drove through the lush, green Motague valley, enjoying the view of the Montanas del Mico, which we had been looking at from the marina since we arrived. They are small compared to some of the mountains in other parts of the country but still very scenic.
We had breakfast in Puerto Barrios, at a very modern, clean, American style chain restaurant, different than anything we had seen yet. We even saw a McDonalds. Marco made all the stops that he needed to any that we and our neighbour here at the marina wanted to make. We found a toaster which we hadn't been able to get in Rio Dulce. John found a store there with an empty box and the storekeeper told him 'dos dias'. After 2 days he went back and the storekeeper said to come back after 1 pm. At 1 pm. he told John to come back after 2. At 2 o'clock he asked him to come back after 3 to which John replied "Manana". Two days later we returned and he told us 'dos dias' so when we saw the toaster in Pureto Barrios we grabbed it. People don't eat much toast in Guatamala, according to Marco. They are more likely to scoop their eggs up with a tortilla, along with salsa and beans usually.
Puerto Barrios is described in our Guatamala Guide book as a town people don't normally visit unless they are travelling through on their way somewhere else and refers to it as a forlorn place which is was but it is the closest place to buy many of the things that the marina needs to operate.
After we left Puerto Barrios we retraced our route and stopped along the way in the little town of Morales, another pretty forlorn place. Our guide book calls this town "a ramshackle collection of wooden huts and railway tracks that was the headquarters of the United Fruit Company" and refers to it as a squalid town, again only a place you pass through. Sadly a blight wiped out the entire fruit crop in the area, leaving the town with virtually no economic base.
It is, however, where the marina mail is delivered to and where all mail goes out from. I wanted to mail a few postcards and buy some stamps and to do this we took an all day trip. It was interesting but I made sure that I loaded up with stamps so I can ask Marco to drop off my postcards for me from now on.
A friendly Canadian couple here at the marina are flying home in a couple of weeks and I will probably send my next round of postcards with them so don't be surprised if you receive a postcard from Guatamala with a Canadian stamp on it.