I hope to say these words about 25 more times on this trip, but I am really going to miss this country. Guatemala has been good to me! I am spending my last nights at an Italian villa…yes, I said Italian, and enjoying an Italian meal. I am not a traveler who searches for a McDonald’s while on the road, but whenever a chance for bread and pasta comes along, I can’t say no!
After leaving Flores, I spent three days in a tiny cabin on Rio Dulce with the marina directly in front of my window and a jungle trail and rubber tree plantation not far behind. Hotel Tijax is a cool hotel for anyone traveler looking for a quiet place, but is ideal for sailors and people traipsing the world on boats. It’s one of the safest hurricane harbors in this area so people sailing from all over the United States store their boats here and explore Central America until the storms pass.
I arrived in Rio Dulce via bus and hopped on a small boat to the hotel. The cafe on the water was a breezy place to enjoy dinner and a strong WIFI connection. For a small fee, a woman who lives and works at the hotel invited me for a morning hike that included a yoga session. I decided to join her and went back to my cabin for what I imagined would be a great night of sleep. The cabins have sliding doors and try as I might, either I couldn’t master the lock or I have really gotten strong in the past weeks because with a strong tug the door opened every time I pulled. As I laid down under a mosquito net..in my poorly locked cabin…near the jungle…the wind started to pick up, and the downpour began. A repetitive pounding sound start to boom boom boom and the power went out. I sat in the dark…listening to what now sounded to me like an ax pounding outside of my cabin, and had a funny thought. I decided that if I were watching a horror movie, this would be the moment when the audience would start screaming at the oblivious girl to get the heck out of there. Luckily, after a short time, the power came back on and as the rain stopped, I found there was no ax of a nearby madman, but instead the sounds of water lapping against the dock in the wind. I REALLY liked this hotel and would consider a longer term stay there for a relaxing adventure.
In Rio Dulce, Shona joined me again and traveled via boat to Livingston…the city where Guatemalan and Belizean cultures collide. It is a small town where I can start the process for traveling to Belize. After a bit of negotiation at the dock, a local boat captain found six straggling travelers to make up a group that he was willing to take directly to Porta Gorda, Belize without the stop in Guatemala made by the public buses. It seemed a bit sketchy at first, but when passing the immigration office, the captain flagged us down and introduced us to his other travelers and everyone seemed nice so I opted for the direct route.
There is not much to do in Livingston…one day was enough. We signed up for a boat trip to climb on the Seven Altar waterfalls and took some time in the sun on Playa Blanca. The altars were a slippery climb up rocks and waterfalls and we survived with only a scraped knee and cut ankle between us. Our proudest moment was when we noticed two YOUNG girls who were not going to participate until they saw the two of us climbing and pulling the rope to get to the last waterfall and seemed guilted into participating. Not only were we sure their boyfriends appreciated that, but it also made us feel pretty good!
Off to Belize!