Rio Dulce

September 25, 2009

Fronteras, Rio Dulce

Guatemala

15°40.53´N   88°58.98´W

September 24, 2009

Up a Lazy River

Man, is it hot!

We came here in late June, about 25 miles up this gorgeous river, to escape the hurricane season. The trip up the river gorge from Livingston, at the mouth, was stunning. Blazing green, parrots and monkeys screaming, a real jungle. Unfortunately, despite all my clever timing of the spring tide, we ran aground at the river bar and had to be towed into Livingston sideways. That was fun. We tied up at Mario’s Marina, and haven’t moved since (the boat, at least). I do start everything regularly (on boats, as in people, motion is lotion). While the boat hasn’t moved, the people have, a lot (more on that later).

This place is a wide spot on the river, just downstream from Lago Izabel. Years ago, someone started a marina here, and now, like us, scores of boats come to the many marinas that cater to cruisers avoiding hurricanes. There are lots of people to play with (although many just leave their boats for long periods to do inland trips and to avoid the heat), many restaurants, a real fuel dock, some boat parts, and it’s very lush and pretty. The town (Fronteras) is a throwback to the wild west: one main street along the river, no sidewalks, lots of people and traffic, open stalls and markets, and an occasional real shooting.

We chose Mario’s from among the many other marinas for one main reason: the luscious, shaded pool. The water is actually cold (the river isn’t). I’m told it’s spring fed from high in the mountains. Who cares? It’s delicious to jump in on a blistering hot day and freeze one’s ass off.

It’s so hot here, that one gets sweaty just from doing a few minute’s boat work; or making the bed; or walking to the pool; or thinking about doing any of the above. Jeff (a well known good sweater) sweats so much that he had to install windshield wipers on his glasses to see. Have I mentioned how hot it is here?

After about 2 weeks of living in the oven, we went to Antigua, the old capital, which is a delightful colonial town in the mountains, thus cool (the opposite of hot). No, we didn’t sail there, those of you who are geographically impaired, we took a bus. It’s a wonderful place, quaint, interesting, with numerous attractive hotels, restaurants, museums, bars, and lots of outdoorsy things to do. We climbed an active volcano, where, unlike in some countries with too many lawyers, the guides not only allowed us to get as close as we wanted  to the lava, but even brought marshmallows to cook on sticks. Unfortunately, one of us got too close (guess which one) and crashed through the newly hardened lava, shredding his or her arm and hand. The blood soaked tissues, when thrown down onto the rocks, immediately blazed up, suggesting religious themes.

On the way up, one of us insisted on hiring a horse because of extreme fatigue, even though that one of us hates horses. On the way down, our actual guide fell, severely injuring his ankle, and had to be carried down the rest of the way on another horse. Finally, we were all stranded, and had to eat the horses to live. The two of us were, by far, the oldest farts on the trip, and only went because we were assured by the tour company that anyone could do it. Ha!

We also rented mountain bikes and toured the surrounding area, Very interesting, despite the heart attack. Part of the trip was a tour of a macadamia nut factory, which claims to supply the oil in various obscenely overpriced Lancome products, which one of us uses to excess.

We spent 2 wonderful weeks in Antigua, spending only the monopoly money that is a time share exchange. Jeff met and started a relationship with a scarlet macaw at the hotel, which was surrounded by signs warning guests not to approach or touch the macaw. She (I assume) was in love.

Jeff’s mom Lillian died in late July, after a truly nightmarish last few weeks of life. She was 91, and had a good life, but didn’t deserve the end she got. Credit and love goes to Stephanie, who held it together and did the hard work at the end. Thanks is inadequate.

We had made plans for a long trip back to the States before all this, and suddenly had to rearrange our plans to accommodate this reality. Of course, American Airlines couldn’t (wouldn’t) help. Incredibly, the best we could do was dovetail a completely separate trip onto our pre-existing trip in order to attend the funeral, etc.

The good news was we got to spend a lot of time with long lost (?) family. We were in NJ, NY, Mass. We then flew back to MIA, then to Guatemala City for one night, to start our original trip (I promise, we weren’t smuggling drugs), then back to MIA, for a connecting flight to San Francisco.

It was a rewarding, fun and eclectic trip. We were in San Francisco, Healdsburg, Sea Ranch, back to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. Then, we flew back to MIA, drove to Daytona (actually, New Sphegma Beach) for a more relaxed family reunion, then drove to Lake Placid to see the Potters, then to Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and finally, back home to Antares, with, what else, 2 big bagsfull of boat parts.

Special thanks go to all who extended their hospitality to us during this long trip. It’s a burden to have cruisers (aka schnorrers) as friends. This includes (you know who you are) Steffi and Marty, George and Jerry, Steve and Janet, Donna and Charlie, Rick and Vicki, Jordan and Cindy, Bruce and Sandy, Aunt Milly and Uncle Ray, Ethan and Kim, Lara and Aaron and the adorable Logan,Vela and Joel, David and Lois, Maureen and Glenn, and especially Charlie, Lisa, Caroline (the queen of Healdsburg High School) and Kenneth (the triple threat madman of the Healdsburg Bulldogs). Please come to visit us (while there’s still time).

We’re back on the Rio, not yet acclimated to the heat, and September is the hottest month. Oy! The good news is we are just now planning a short land trip to Lake Atitlan for next week. The Lake is supposedly prettier than Tahoe, and cool. Can’t wait!

Did I mention how hot it is here yet?

Antares getting dragged over the bar

Antares getting dragged over the bar

Traveling through the river gorge

Traveling through the river gorge

A new look

A new look

Market place in Chichicastenango

Market place in Chichicastenango

Party animal on church steps in Chichi

Party animal on church steps in Chichi

Hiking the volcano

Hiking the volcano

Sitting on the hot seat

Sitting on the hot seat

Under the Volcano

Under the Volcano

Back rub at the macadamia nut factory

Back rub at the macadamia nut factory

After the bike ride

After the bike ride

Head scratch; one of them is dead

Head scratch; one of them is dead

"Mayan Tortoise"

"Mayan Tortoise"

"Jeff's New Lover"

"Jeff's New Lover"

"Providencia"

"Providencia"

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