Published: January 7th 2008January 7th 2008
Hot springs waterfall
The water is hot, like a shower. Really nice! This is our guide, who took us there.
This comes from the Rio Dulce (the sweet river) but right now I am not smelling quite so sweet! On Friday morning all three of us had a 3.30am wake up call, Jack headed to Honduras to visit the ruins at Copan while Lucy and I headed up here for our sailing trip.
We got a shuttle to Guat. City and then changed buses to a Pullman, which is first class local travel. It was another 5 hours to get to Rio Dulce, with plenty of stops, but we had good seats near the front (which reclined!!) and we left and arrived on time. All in all, a much better experience than an American Airlines flight we agreed. The funniest moment was at the very beginning, when the pedometer I have been wearing every day came to a sticky end and now resides in the toilet on the bus between Guat. City and Peten. Lucy and I found this hilariously funny. Probably not a bad thing that we weren´t counting steps, as our last few days have been very lazy.
Our trip left the town of Rio Dulce on Friday afternoon, and arrived back this morning (Monday). We were
Where were we?
A map of Lago Izabal and Rio Dulce
sailing on a catamaran, which was fantastic. Unfortunately the weather wasn´t that great, apparently unseasonably cold, plus with some rain, but all the same we had a great aventure. The last two days have been hot again, so even I managed a couple of swims in the Lake. This is a good thing, as it´s the only water our bodies have seen for days!
There were 8 of us in total, plus two crew. It was a nice group - me and Lucy obviously, a Canadian couple and their 10-yr old son who live in Guat. City, and their friend visiting from Vancouver, and two sisters from Germany. It was really interesting to talk to everyone, as there were so many interesting stories. We learnt about teaching Aboriginal children in Townsville, learning English in Antigua, teaching Guatemalan children in a village project near Antigua, life in Peru ( and a bit in Venezuela) in the mines, and about British Columbia, particularly Vancouver. We were a happy little crew, which made the trip even nicer.
The sailing trip took in the Rio Dulce, Lago Izabal, which is huge, and stopped off along the way at interesting places. Lago Izabal
promotes itself as ¨The Green Caribbean¨ and it is truly beautiful. One morning we were dropped off and walked up to some natural hot springs. It was really gorgeous, with a waterfall pouring down with hot water like a shower, and the water underneah quite cold. Amazing. The scenery was lovely. We even saw a coatimundi, which is described as a rather cute-looking, rusty brown, raccoon-like creature with a long nose and striped tail. The poor thing was up a tree, with local children in the water underneath it throwing stones at it. It reminded me a bit of a possum.
We also visited Castillo de San Felipe, which was originally built around 400 years ago to protect the Spanish from attacks by pirates. It was later turned into a jail. It was the kind of castle you´d see in a fairytale, lots of turrets, built in stone, and complete with a moat and a drawbridge.
Yesterday morning we woke to find ourselves travelling up the Rio Dulce to Livingston, a Guatemalan town on the Caribbean coast. The scenery is truly spectacular - lush green jungle densely lining the river, storks and other birds fishing. Absolutely stunning. The
Photos don´t do it justice at all!
town of Livingston is home to the Garifuna people, quite different to the people you see elsewhere in Guatemala. They are thought to be descended from a slave ship which was shipwrecked off the coast, so it is a laid-back town with lots of chilled out black people and dreads! The highlight of the trip was when we saw a tall black man with dreads dressed in robes for church walking down the road, who greeted us with - ¨Welcome to paradise, mon¨.
Yesterday afternoon we also visited a local artesan village project, which was created in 1992 with the aim of improving health and education of locals, generate income through handicrafts, and sustainable agriculture. I really wanted to support them, but the locaal handicrafts were not that enticing.
This morning we woke to the sound of howler monkeys in the jungle. About us the river activity was starting to pick up, so you could also hear the sounds of river boats competing with the monkeys. It was a beautiful morning, already hot, and the sun was glistening on the water. Sweet river indeed!
This afternoon we meet up with Jack again, then it´s off to Flores,
On the Caribbean, very different to the rest of Guatemala.
near Tikal, by bus. We are both very excited about the prospect of a hot shower!
There are more photos below