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GUATEMALA

Part 6:  A visit from Steve's family

 

 
 

Click here to jump back to Guatemala Part 5 on Pictures/Journal - page 22.

 
 

June 2007:  Time to stage for the bar exam at Cabo Tres Puntos along with 3 other boats.  (Remember, there is a very shallow mud bar at the entrance to the Rio Dulce River that has to be crossed at high tide if you have a deep keeled boat.)  Leaving the Cabo Tres Puntas anchorage in the dark, we arrive for the bar exam at 6:00 a.m., high-high tide.  Of the 4 boats, ARGO drawing 6'4" is the shallowest drafted boat of all.  We go first, seeing 5'9" several times, and slowing a couple of times, but we pass the first time!  We report depths back to the others. The other 3 boats all had difficulty:  One did make it on their own after an hour of squirming through the mud with sail raised; 2 others got assistance from high-powered local fishing boats.  The fishing boat takes the halyard (from the top of your mast), extends it, and then heels the boat over while you motor forward, hopefully allowing your keel to skim over the shallows.   Pictured:  Sailboat had one fishing boat heeling it over while another fishing boat pulled it through the mud.  All boats eventually passed this day's tough bar exam!

Clearing in to Guatemala via customs and immigration is easy and straightforward in Livingston.  Afterwards, an evening spent in Texan Bay (owned by fellow Texas cruisers) at their restaurant with other cruisers was a nice way to reenter the Rio Dulce.  A torrential nighttime downpour got rid of the salt residue.  We are now in fresh water.  We arrived back at Monkey Bay Marina to our old slip and quickly got back into the swing of things.  It's nice coming back here for a second season where we are now the veteran and not the new kid on the block.  With inexpensive labor, ARGO was thoroughly cleaned outside, and we did the inside.  Before heading off to travel Central America, and before the onslaught of returning cruisers in the fall, we are taking care of boat projects, some requiring outside assistance:  Restitching canvas and various sewing projects; minor refrigeration project; a minor radio problem; and various mechanical projects (e.g., replace engine remote oil hoses,  change out generator diodes, run new wiring and install new autopilot drive unit).

 

 
     
 

 

A FAMILY VISIT to GUATEMALA

(July 2007)

Steve's brother Ray, his wife Chris and their daughter Jackie, 10, came to Guatemala for 15 days, which allowed us plenty of time to show them the highlights of Guatemala at a fairly relaxed pace.  From Houston, they flew in to Guatemala City and then on to Flores, where we rendezvoused with them at the hotel.  Our trip highlights follow.

(NOTE:  As Deborah and Steve have been to all these places before, trip narratives and pictures have been detailed in our previous website updates - see our Guatemala web pages.)

 

Part 1:  TIKAL

One night in Flores (Hotel Isla de Flores).  Two nights in Tikal Park (Tikal Inn):  Sunrise atop Templo IV (although there was a lot of ground fog), mornings and late afternoons spent exploring/climbing ruins and visiting museums, afternoons cooling off in the pool, lunch at Jungle Lodge and Jaguar Inn.  Our last day in the park we all did the Canopy Tour zip line - a trip highlight for Jackie.  Last night back in Flores.  Linea Dorado bus to the Rio Dulce.

 

We rendezvous with Ray, Chris & Jackie in Flores to start our adventure Tikal's Gran Plaza -->
<-- Atop Templo II

Climbing Lost World    -->

Templo V  -->
 
Canopy Tour zip line:9 stations (platforms) and 8 zip line cables strung between trees high above the jungle floor Ray & Chris suddenly wondered what we had gotten them into . . . <-- that's an "oh s__!"  if I ever saw one (Ray's very 1st zip)

Chris now poised after a few zips -->

A highlight for Jackie: first with a guide, then solo!

Jackie -->

WHEW ! WHEW !
 
Part 2:  RIO DULCE River

We took the bus for the 3-hour ride to the Rio Dulce, where ARGO is currently at Monkey Bay Marina.  We spent 3 nights on board and enjoyed meals alfresco in the ranchito.  We hired a lancha for the day to take us down the river, through Tarzan country, to Livingston - home to the Garifuna Indians and the mouth of the river where all cruisers are subjected to the "bar exam" before entering the river.  We went to a local village and finca (plantation), dipped in the hot hot springs, ate whole fish mojarra  and fish soup, and toured the Castillo de San Felipe - a castle that sticks out at the entrance to Lake Izabal to ward off pirates in ages past.  A few visits to "town", Fronteras, gave lots of local flavor (literally) to their visit.

 

Tarzan country Local fisherwomen
Hot hot springs -->  
Castillo de San Felipe (at opening to Lago Izabal) Jackie had to sample the papas fritas in Fronteras - and ice cream everywhere
 

Part 3:  ANTIGUA

We took a private shuttle van from the Rio Dulce directly to Antigua.  Spent four nights (not nearly enough) in Antigua (Hotel San Pedro Posada, Norte).  We did the Elizabeth Bell cultural walking tour (excellent!), explored various ruins including Santo Domingo, the textile museum/workshop (Casa del Tejido), shopped, rode tuk-tuks, etc.  Had great meals and music at Meson Panza Verde (Cuban jazz, Buena Vista Social Club), La Pena de Sol Latino (Andean pan flute music, owned by cruisers Bill & Mary, s/v Back Stage Pass)), Queso & Vino .

 

Coffee and croissants in Central Park
Jackie (10) at Reilly's Pub with our friends & textile sellers (lt to rt): Maity (16), Vincy (8), Flor (12) <-- This boy took his goat door-to-door to sell the fresh milk

Elizabeth Bell, a historian and preservationist, gives a great guided tour with insight into the Guatemalan culture.  Of particular interest now, are the upcoming elections in September.  People only vote for 3 positions including  President and Congress, won by a simple majority.  So far, 17 people have entered the presidential race.  Although there are political parties, candidates freely move between parties so the populace votes for the person and not by party lines.  Political parties are, however, evident in the papers, banner-waving rallies, drive-by car PA systems and a favorite - colorfully painted rock walls and boulders along the roadways with the party insignia.  

 

Part 4:  LAKE ATITLAN

A shuttle van took us from Antigua to Panajachel, the gateway to Lake Atitlan - a beautiful lake surrounded by volcanoes.  A water taxi took us directly to Santiago Atitlan, where we stayed at Posada de Santiago, a new experience for us.  A tuk-tuk ride took us into town to browse textiles and pay respect ($) to Maximon.

Posada de Santiago in Santiago Atitlan:  Great lake and volcanoes views from casitas, restaurant, sitting areas and hammocks; lovely grounds extending up the hill; lots of fruit and flowering trees including avocado (used on their sandwiches); hot tub & sauna

<-- Small world in the hot tub:  We met a guy who knows a colleague of Chris' who also is a sailing buddy of ours Jackie made a new friend

 

La Casa del Mundo in Jaibalito:  Spectacularly built place with rooms (with baths) scattered up the steep mountain side; lake and volcanoes view from each room, restaurant and hot tub; great lake swimming.  
  <---->

Our room / view

 

Ray, Chris & Jackie's room: 2 beds, big windows and French doors opening onto large balcony

 

We hiked to the village of Jaibalito.  There we saw women fill large gunny sacks with sizeable rocks from the lakeshore, then strap the sack to their forehead and carry it on their back uphill 100 yards to a construction site.  Right, a young local attracts attention by displaying this deer he apparently killed.

Hot tub, lake swimming and a hair wash - another highlight for Jackie

 
Our trip sadly ended in Guatemala City after a wonderful 15 days of sightseeing, lots of great food and drink.

 

 
   

As we have now seen a lot of Guatemala, next week (beginning of August) we will hop on a bus in Guatemala City and begin traveling Central America - El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and maybe Panama.  Several cruisers we know have done this in the past, one of them giving us detailed notes about their trip including lodging, transportation, restaurant and sightseeing recommendations and suggestions, along with guide book, maps, brochures and cards for El Salvador and Nicaragua, so this will get us started.  So far, we have done very little advanced planning and intend just to flow with it - seems that our experience as a cruiser is carrying over to our land cruising!

Continue to Traveling Central America by Bus  .  .  .

 

 
 

Click here to continue to Guatemala Part 7 on Pictures/Journal - page 29.

 

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