Thurs 15 November - Day 20 to 20 - Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Published: November 21st 2018
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Thurs 15 November - Day 20 - Rio Dulce

Up for a 6am departure, we drove in a minivan on to the river town of Rio Dulce where we overnight in Hotel Catamaran cabins right on the water. At the end of the 3 ½ hour drive through small-holdings farm country and coming across small villages on the way, we arrived at the little harbour and our group boarded 2 boats, both with 115hp outboard motors with a canopy. The weather was clearing with only high clouds remaining. We were hope for good weather.

The boat trip to our accommodation took only 15 minutes where we unloaded our luggage and stored them in the bar/reception area. Within 30 minutes we started our boat tour along the 23 kilometre stretch of waterway to Livingston which allowed us to experience one of the most scenic areas of Guatemala.

Before arriving in Livingston, we saw by our boat, the entrance to the Caribbean at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, a tiny castle built by the Spanish. This was used to control the pirates and any unwanted vessels from entering the Rio Dulce from the Caribbean. Today it is a popular picnic area.

Along the Rio Dulce we saw beautiful waterlilies with white and pink flowers, several turtles, leaf-walking birds and many other species of water birds. We also observed fisherman huts and beautiful waterfront homes, often owned by foreigners who were seeking warmer weather or shelter during the northern country’s hurricane and earthquake season as this area of Guatemala for free from these natural disasters.

We arrived at Livingston around 1.30pm. Livingston is situated at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, where it joins the Bay of Amatique, and is inhabited by the Garifuna people. This lively little town has a Caribbean atmosphere different to the rest of Guatemala and is a great place to try the delicious local specialty tapado (seafood coconut soup) and listen to the local African-style punta music.

Immediately on arrival we saw many people of African background. Music was played in the street, surrounded by colourful markets and signs. One such sign in front of a restaurant said “no Bali belly here”.

We walked for 5 minutes to the Happy Fish Restaurant and noticed the clouds coming over. By the time we were half way through our lunch, the rain was falling but only lightly. We decided not to order tapado as it took 1 hour to cook but several members of our group had it for dinner. I tasted it and it was quite tasty. Crabs, fish and shrimps in their shells were in the soups so was a little messy to eat. The fish in this area was very fresh, which you would expect so close to the water.

It didn’t take long to look through this very touristy town. About 4.00pm we all boarded our boats again for our faster trip back to our hotel. The pilot gave us sheets of black plastic for protection from the rain. This only lasted 15 minutes of our 50 minute trip.

On arrival, we ordered our dinner then found our spacious cabins. Ours was called ‘Romeo”. Others were called ‘Sierra’, ‘Victor’ etc. This as the first time we only had 1 power point in our room but our phones could be charged with one outlet.

We were just in time for the beautiful sunset. They are always so much more impressive by the water. We could see over the water, the 2nd longest bridge in southern America. The resort had a pool but it wasn’t really swimming weather. After getting cleaned up for dinner we all congregated in the bar for pre-dinner drinks. Often the hotels would discount cocktails but Tom & I would often prefer vino blanco (white wine) or ceviche (local beer – Gallo).

Meals were always interesting times, hearing fellow-travellers’ stories, both history and future plans. It was during these conversations that travel ideas expanded!!!!!!! We both slept we under a fan only as it wasn’t hot enough for the air conditioning. It was up packed ready for a 6.00am departure. After having a coffee and collecting our light breakfast (to go), we hopped in our boats to return to the mainland.

After our 2 hour drive, which was an incredibly busy main road, full of trucks and oil tankers, we stopped for a real breakfast in a large roadside stop on our way to Antigua. There was also a lot of road works along the way. I even noticed a couple of trucks registered in Salvador. We passed through many variable sized towns and eventually drove through a mountain range, again with some road works and more trucks.

When we arrived on the edge of Guatemala city we noticed many kilometres of stationary cars on the other side of the road. There was an accident that was blocking the way so we were very pleased we were travelling the opposite direction.

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