Eco-living via bus and a brief aside about bedbugs.

Published: December 2nd 2012
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On November 28, we started our trek to Rio Dulce. First, we hoofed our back-packs from the hotel for a few blocks until we found a taxi. This may seem like a causal task and something simple. However, as we would walk down the street, waiting for a tuk-tuk to come along, we would see one ride by us on the next road over. After the first 3 tuk-tuks passed us on the road up the hill, we decided to climb up to that road to be sure and catch the next one that came by. No sooner had we trudged up the hill with our packs and started down the new road, we looked down the hill at the road we just left and it would seem that the tuk-tuks decided to take the low road. At this point, we were reminded of the phenomenon where one stands in a checkout line and waits for a great while without moving. Inevitably during such time, all lines around you move at lightning speeds. It is only after much deliberation that the decision to change lines is made. But once again, the fates act as they will and the newly chosen line comes to a complete halt and all those around you, including the one you just left, move at full speed, leaving you where you started!!! Just as were about to give up and stop looking for a taxi, the crazy “Hollywood” guy from the day before walks towards us and says, “Hi.” We chatted for a few minutes and we stated that we were looking for a taxi. He said that there was a taxi (not a tuk-tuk) just around the corner looking for a fare. Jackpot!!! We hire the taxi and off we went to the bus station.

At the Santa Elena bus terminal, we felt like old pros. After securing our “luxury” bus tickets to Rio Dulce, we watched as a wide variety of people gathered for the bus. Our bus was much better than before - imagine an old greyhound bus. Although worn, the seats were able to lay back and there was A/C. Behind us were two older, lively but portly German gentlemen who laughed much of the way, sucking up snot all the while (so you just had to laugh with it). The bus driver had a co-pilot, who mostly napped in the back of the bus. The bus driver made a critical speech before take-off. “Importante! Banjo para passengers solo for numero uno, NO numero dos.” If you needed the bathroom for numero dos, you needed to let him know and he would stop somewhere. Priceless information!

We stopped at some point and picked up other passengers. Two women and two girls got on together. When the bus started rolling, one of the girls took out a plastic bag which had some food and green liquid in it. We have seen more often than not here, people eat AND drink out of a plastic bag by biting a hole in the corner of the bag. Anyway, we never figured out for sure what she was eating, but she made it look like the best thing on the planet. She lovingly sucked the flesh off of something that resembled small avocados until she got to the seed. When the flesh of the fruit (whatever it may have been) was gone, she sucked the juice out of the bottom of the bag (the green liquid) and then turned the bag inside out and licked the whole thing clean. On another note, someone’s cantaloupe fell on a passenger’s head and some evil eyeing ensued. It was funny to us, a melon bomped a melon. J

About four uneventful hours later, we arrived in Rio Dulce. When we got off the bus and gathered our packs, we were accosted by men trying to get us a taxi or an accommodation. But without assistance of the locals, we found our way to the Sun Dog Café, the place we were told that would call up our hotel for the boat to take us to our hotel (no other way to get there). Believe it or not, it came off without a hitch. A short boat ride later and we arrived at the Hacienda Tijax - - the widely touted, eco-friendly, lodge, a combination lodging and marina. There are a significant amount of sailboats docked there and we met some of the folk that own them - - from the snotty English fellow who proudly touted, “I have never worked a day in my life” to the chap who came three years ago with his boat after retirement and never left. The common area lounge and restaurant is on the waterfront and completely outside, although well covered and accoutered. Surprisingly, the area is barely buggy at all.

We were shown to a small self-sufficient cabana down a slippery rock pathway and then up some stairs. The cabana was interesting (see photos). There are plenty of nooks and crannies for bugs to enter and a wasp was our guest when we first entered (Ann freaked out and Clay was the hero). The bathroom is separated from the main area by a shower curtain that almost closed - - the least private facilities yet. Mosquito nets surround the two beds - - a single and double. Interestingly, the room leans to one side, so much so that Clay thought Ann might fall off the bed. The room was very clean and neat, but musty. However, there was an air conditioner that had two settings… freezing or off.

We went to the restaurant and devoured some cheese sandwiches (Swiss is really big here for whatever reason). We also indulged in an afternoon cocktail each as they actually had Gin and Vodka (Belize is a big rum place and we are not big partakers). After that, we went to our room to read and a big thunderstorm hit. What a nice way to spend the afternoon - - reading, satiated and listening to the rain. The only sound which made no sense was the sound of big trucks gearing down to go over the big bridge up the river. That is a sound we will not miss, as it continued all night long. The lodge had a nice pool and many families swam in it that evening, despite the rain. The sounds were happy and inviting, but the water was far too cool for us.

The staff was really nice but spoke little English, which required us to work a little harder at getting what we wanted. The next day, it was raining so we decided to forego our river tour (manatees are a big pull here so we didn’t feel we missed out on too much) and trip to Livingston. Instead, we decided to take a day to figure out where we would go after December 2 (Happy Birthday, CK!). Luckily, we had great internet at the lounge area and were able to put out some feelers for prices and such. One thing is for sure, travelling from Honduras to El Salvador, or anywhere else from stateside Honduras for that matter, is NOT easy. We will need some skills and patience to make it work.

In the evening, we had a girl come over from the town and give us massages. This happened on a table outside in an open cabana. It was really cheap and good (wannabe Raiki-er), but the smell of the oil reminded Ann of bug spray. Maybe it kept the bugs at bay during the massage!

The promised aside - - my good friend Kathy, emailed me and said that she pictured us suffering from some bed-bugs, but had not heard about any. Well, we were not going to write about our experience, but we wanted to de-romanticize some of the accommodations. Without naming the hotel, let us just say that timing let us know when and where we contracted bed bug bites. They are horrid red bumps that hurt. See photo – Ann’s arm. They are in places that are not good. The thought of this creepy, nasty bug coming up in the bed and biting Ann (if you look up the bug on the internet, you will see what she means) made her want to vomit. But, it did happen, we did experience it, it was disgusting to comprehend, it hurt and a week later, still hurts, but we lived. Clay had the brunt of the bites, we think because he put the chair cushion under his head to make a bigger pillow in the flattest bed in history. Central America is NOT known for its pillows. We think the mention of a “pillow menu” would be met with great confusion and then hearty laughter. KM, I hope you are satisfied, now.

A final note about eco-living here follows. We are not sure exactly what is so different about an “eco” hotel/lodge vs. other hotels that we have visited. All of the hotels ask that you conserve water and towels. The lodge was surrounded by a rain forest, but in most accommodations so far, we have heard monkeys in the morning and were surrounded by nature. Maybe “eco” is just “cool” and “in.” If so, we are really cool now!!!!

Additional photos below
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13th December 2012
Rio Dulce River

This is awesome!

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