Random Stopovers

Published: January 30th 2013
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So.... we left Antigua. Next planned stop was Flores or Tikal - undecided. Our options were bus to Guat city and fly which we determined was too expensive or take an overnight bus (dom dom dom). Depsite our last experience not being too bad we looked for an alternative and found a small place where we could stop over for the night and spread the bus trip across two days.

So we booked our bus ticket with a local travel agent. When we were handed the ticket which only took us to Guat city. I questioned where the additional ticket was that would take us to Rio Dulce to which we were advised the first bus driver would issue a new ticket - the first bus driver was good for it however his definition of covering us for the next ticket was handing us a wad of cash and pointing us in the direction of the ticket counter at the next bus stop. It was 5 Quetzallas short as well - which was only about $0.75 so can't complain.

Just to put into perspective where we were going; Rio Dulce has a population of 3000 and could be likened to stopping in Tokoroa for the night. We looked in the guidebook and it offered about 5 words and certainly no suggestions of sights or things to do. The attraction of Rio Dulce for most travellers was that it was a jumping off point to Honduras or to Belize by boat - Rio Dulce is a river town and can access the coast by about a 3 hour boat trip.

We were told the bus was 4-5 hours and expected to arrive at around 8 that night. It should have been no surprise that this was in fact understated, as every trip we have done so far has been significantly longer than what we were advised. We rang ahead to one of the accommodation suggestions in the guidebook and told the host what time we were leaving Guat city. He laughed and said he's see us at midnight. He wasn't wrong - we got there at 11:30pm.

Once we got there we gave him a call - he told us to turn right out of the bus station walk 500 metres, carry on underneath the bridge until you reach the boat shed "I'll be waiting there". Bear in mind this is 11:30pm so at this point it sounds a little more like we're about to complete a drug deal rather than get to our accommodation. He was there though, with a boat to take us to our accomodation just up the river.

We couldn't see really what anything looked like but when we woke up in the morning our surroundings were stunning. We were on an island and the surrounding area could best be likened to the Pauanui Waterways, only jungle style.
We liked the look of it so much that we ended up staying another night.

During the day we caught the bus back to the small town and took a trip on a local bus. I can't remember the name of the river / waterfalls where we went.... but we got dropped off, went for a short hike and arrived at a picturess waterfall and swimming hole. The falls were around 10m high but here's the cool thing.... this is apparently the only place in the world where the river and swimming hole are cold but the waterfall is hot. You heard it people waterfall was hot - there was a hot spring at the top so we also went up and had a spa, and on the locals advice had a mud treatment. Although it is entirely plausable that the mud treatment was for their humour.

We made our way back to the town later in the afternoon to have our rule of "don't eat where you don't see people" reinforced..... We know not to break this rule and the meal was just another example of why. At least some homeless guy got to enjoy a big piece of meat. It was funny trying to order though - as our Spanish isn't the best we did check to make sure that we weren't ordering sea food by making a fish swimming motion with our hands to which the vendor replied by putting her fingers above her head, wiggled them and mooed at us.

The following morning we left as we had a while till the bus left, so we took our bags and instead of going into town went to 'Castello San Philip.' It didn't look much from the outside but turned out to be a really interesting and elaborate little fort. Originally build by the Spanish circa 1500 to defend their armada, it even had a dungeon.

So that was Rio Dulce. From there onwards to the bus station and to Flores.

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