Friday, March 27, 2009

Welcome to the Jungle

Lord in heaven it is hot here. Two days ago we arrived in Rio Dulce (town), Guatemala, 22 miles up the Rio Dulce (river) and we were greeted by staggering heat and blistering sun. Sun so hot you couldn't walk on the deck without scorching your feet, and so strong I burned with SPF 50 sunblock on. Heat aside, this is already proving to be a wonderful and fascinating place.

Tunny Tim & Other Critters

We've had lots of quality time with quite a wide variety of wildlife of late. Before leaving Utila, we stopped at one of the coolest bars on the planet - Treetanic at the Jade Seahorse. Treetanic is really cool except for one really creepy bit - gigantic spiders, everywhere. Our last meal in Utila we shared a restaurant with what appeared to be large nocturnal hummingbirds...until we snapped a picture and took a closer look! Yikes. In just the time we ate dinner they emptied half of the hummingbird feeder. En route from Utila to Puerto Escondido on the Honduran mainland we caught a (tiny) Little Tunny. He may have been only 3 lbs but tuna is tuna. Nothing really strange about him, but he did make a tasty ceviche!

Clearing in

When we arrived in Livingston, Guatemala at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, we were promptly greeted by a very professional boarding party of no less than 6 officials. The Port Captain, his assistant, an Immigration official, a surgeon, and two other people (we still have no idea what they do). It was the first time in almost 2 years and 15 countries that we have been boarded. The boarding didn't make us special here, though - every boat gets the same treatment. Everyone was polite, professional, did their respective jobs, and no one even hinted at a "propina" (tip or bribe). Unfortunately it was also the most expensive clearance we've obtained - it cost us about US$130. But this is a poor country, and they really seem to be using the money rather than lining beaurocrats pockets with it, so we don't mind.

Up the River

After obtaining our clearance and getting our passports stamped, off we went up the river. The Rio Dulce winds through 300 ft high sheer cliffs, with dense jungle clinging to the sides. This spectacular section of river leads to El Golfete, a 10 mile long lake on which we enjoyed a lovely spinnaker sail. At the head of El Golfete is another short stretch of river that leads to Lago Izabal, a large fresh water lake. It is on this short stretch of river that the town of Rio Dulce sits, along with Tortugal, the marina which will be Cielo's home for the next month.

Castillo de San Felipe

Guarding the entrance to Lago Izabel is the near perfectly preserved Castillo de San Felipe. It was built in the early 17th century by the Spanish to stop the British from continuing to attack and raid targets further upstream and along Lago Izabal. How the British managed to get war ships 22 miles up that river, through deep winding canyons and against the current, I do not understand. But apparently they did it, and did it well.

Tomorrow we head to Flores and the ruins at Tikal. We'll be taking one of the infamous "chicken" buses, so I'm sure we'll have some great stories for you next time.

Posted by: Kevin


Blogger Latitude 43 said...

Careful on the river, as there are folks who would like to visit your boat when you're not on it. I read about this on another blog

Looks like a great time. Fair Winds

March 28, 2009 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Lily said...

funny, Justin also took a lot of big bug pictures when we were there. Miss you!

March 28, 2009 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

be in touch on skype or whatever when you get ready to head to Belize -- i can fill you in on some of the islands in the south on the barrier reef, Placencia on the mainland, and the diving up north at Ambergris Cay...!

April 2, 2009 at 1:40 PM  

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