Sweet River. Indeed.
Bye Bye Bikes
One too many topes. One too many crappy roads. The steel on our Yakima FullSwing severed in half, dragging our bikes on the highway. We were fortunate we checked our rear view camera when we did. We pulled over in a small village a couple dozen kilometers outside of Tikal. The rack was toast, ripped in half like a piece of toast. And we couldn’t fit all the bikes inside the van. Thus, the cheaper ones, Andrea’s and Paheli’s, were donated to the village, along with the remnants of the rack. We sold what was left of Everett and my bikes for pennies on the quetzal in Antigua.
The Funny Thing About Expectations
We’d been told from a fellow traveling family that it was a good stop. A great stop if you consider the quality of the showers. It was also a convenient half-way point between our previous destination, Tikal, and our next destination, Antigua. We didn’t see many other options on the map. At least other options that did not involve sketchy roads.
We’re not sure what we were expecting. A nice stop. A warm shower. Perhaps a flushing toilet. We weren’t expecting a gorgeous, otherworldly river.
It felt like floating through a scene in Avatar as we cruised up the river Rio Dulce toward the Caribbean. Limestone cliffs surround you. Volcanos overshadow you. Snowy and Great Egrets, pure white, glide from perch to perch over you. Northern Jacanas, Jesus birds as some call them, with their banana yellow beaks and scary, spidery toes, hop across lilly pads near you. Iguanas swim, yes swim, in front of you. And occasionally, an artfully and architecturally fetching hut, juts from the jungle next to you.
We made two fun stops in route to Livingston, the town at the cusp of the Caribbean. The first was a restaurant slash place to extract tourist dollars for the local community (a non-profit restaurant, which is pretty cool). Next to the restaurant, a natural hot springs flowed into the river. It lived up to its name. You have to swirl the river with the spring water to make it tolerable. The second was a restaurant slash mini water park. A couple waterslides, a trampoline, a rope-swing, and several jumping platforms extend from the deck of the restaurant. You can eat here. You probably should eat here. But if you’re like the Lingle’s, you’ll be far too focused on the waterslides to concentrate on eating.
The Spanish Again
Spanish conquistadors sailed up the Rio Dulce to invade Guatemala. While, I suppose, it’s a bit sensational, a bit, como se dice, macabre, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would’ve felt like to witness the massive Spanish galleons wind from the ocean through the limestone cliffs, which get quite narrow in sections, to the mouth of Lago de Isabel, where they launched their attack on Antigua. But I’m fascinated by sailboats.
Hence one reason we chose (or were likely forced, by me) to stay here. The facilities were immaculate, built for the yuppy yachters that dock here after a season sailing the Caribbean. It has laundry, a well-provisioned grocery store (one of the best we’ve seen in Guatemala), nice showers, and of course, bundles of beautiful boats. Most days, I found myself just strolling the grounds, ogling, lusting really, over the various catamarans “on the hard”.
This may have been our favorite stop on this trip thus far. Life mimics the tempo of the river here. Peaceful. Calm. Serene. It’s a place where you can, and you want to, just squat in a chair with a book and watch the sailboats meander by.