12/04/2012/5:37 pm, Casey's Dock, Rio Dulce
In all our careful timing and working backward from day of departure, we forgot about making adequate time for visiting. It seems strange that even with all the social time we've had recently, we missed this important part at the end.
We know that Guatemalans place strong emphasis on family and friendships. The folks "from away" who have settled here do the same thing, and so do we. Yet in our flurry to get everything done and see one more part of the country before we fly home (earlier than usual because of things we need to do there), we didn't allow tiiiiimmmmme to spend with our friends at Madcap's summer home. We paid a short visit to the sailor on that little 22 ft boat in Gringo Bay. I don't want to tell you his name because his mother thinks he is safe and sound along the US coast somewhere. Instead, he sailed solo all the way to Guatemala and is bound for Panama - on a 22 ft boat! We could have used more time with him. We drifted by Lapus to find out that they live in Stella Bay, Amherst Island in Lake Ontario - a favourite weekend anchorage for us when we sailed out of Trident Yacht Club. We could certainly have spent an evening reminiscing with them.
We came over to the dock on Thursday morning, said "Hola" to Casey and Che and Bilo and Nicholas, did laundry, cleaned out cupboards, hauled out the dinghy, fine tuned "the list" (things to attend to over the next 6 months). At the end of the day, we sat down with Casey for a beer and a look at the list and then the three of us headed off for a final dinner at the Mothers' in Texan Bay.
Martin and Karen and Keith joined us there and we ate a delicious ribalo (fish) dinner, told stories, shared jokes - oh my - the way these 4 old friends tell jokes is a whole new experience - and remained on the patio after the women cleared the table, closed the shutters and turned out most of the lights. We had found a warm and comfortable and stimulating group of friends - and we had to leave them the very next day. Bad planning.
Casey steered his lancha back along the shoreline under the stars - through a tiny little hole in one mangrove cay - across the bay - past the church with the lanchas tied up outside - and snugged it under the thatched roof by his workshop. It had been a wonderful day, a fabulous evening, and we wiggled ourselves into our berth for one last night on board.
Those last nights are hard ones ... Thank goodness we are coming back.
11/04/2012/5:14 pm, Gringo Bay
We've been tearing ourselves away from one place, only to tear ourselves away from another in a day or two. I can't remember if all our departures felt like this.
We celebrated Easter Sunday with a pot luck. The resident cruisers came bearing bowls of multi coloured salads, food for the BBQ, (I bought some thinly sliced pork that turned out to be tender and tasty once marinated and threaded on skewers) bottles of wine, and Ellen's blueberry cake. We met some new folks - including a Swiss couple, a young Russian guy set to head off across the Atlantic with his father, Canadians Honey Lynn and Ted (Patron). There is a Belgian man, a Scot, a few more Canadians and a few American boats here so we are truly an international crowd. Dave (Cordelia) brought out his guitar at the end of the evening for a fine finish.
I took my last walk at Tortugal - this time going down the road that leads to El Estor. Andree and I both have long fast legs and the desire to see what's around one more corner so with Jefe on the leash we wound through grassy hills and vales dotted with tall trees and herds of Brahmin cattle. Although the fields look green, they can't be too nutritious because these cattle aren't fat. There are lots of them though, and we saw them both in fields and in the backs of the dusty trucks roaring along the road and through downtown Fronteras. Although it was a beautiful road, it was most definitely a dangerous one. Cars and trucks routinely pull out to pass on blind corners and hills here. Sometimes they pull back in and sometimes they screech on by with horns blasting. With no protected pedestrian lane (as there is on the main road to Lago Izabel) we could not ever afford to take our personal safety for granted. On more than one occasion, I kept a wary eye ahead and was prepared to leap into the ditch as trucks filled both lanes behind us.
On our last day, I decided to take advantage of the 200Q (less than $30) price for a massage. Although I didn't realize I could use one, Blanca soon found the knots and stiffness that come with age and balancing on boats (and maybe twisting around to watch for trucks?). It was absolutely the best massage I have ever had. She is one of those strong, short Guatemalan women; she knows how to use her skills and has the hands to do it. Add in the fact that she uses the massage table on Daphne's deck - up on the hill under swaying palms where bird songs, sweet almond oil, gentle breezes and warmth of the tropical sun on the roof brought all my senses into play. It was so wonderful I booked Jim in for the afternoon!
With foresails down and put away, decks all washed, lines soaked and softened, fuel tank topped up and water tanks mostly drained, we untied ourselves and backed off the dock on Tuesday.
Even with the activity of Semana Santa over, the marina district was still busy and the mountains seemed far away, often shrouded in haze. There was still noise from the bridge and light from the marinas and the town. We could feel ourselves relaxing as we motored down river, through Lago El Golfete to the westernmost of the 3 little bays at the eastern end. We dropped anchor among the other boats - Genesis, Androsian, Campania, Scrammin' and a little boat we had last seen at San Pedro, had a swim in the beautiful clean water and settled into the peacefulness - for just a couple more days.
The stars came out, lights flickered along the waters edge, the occasional lancha motor was heard as the fishermen came back from laying their nets, Madcap moved gently on her anchor and all was well in our little corner of the world.
10/04/2012/12:26 pm, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
We're heading back down the river to Casey's place this afternoon. It's been a grand stay at El Tortugal and we'll be back up here again in the fall.
We made our last stroll through town, bought bags and bags full of fruit for less than $10 US. Wonderful abundance here. And we found the nut man again too - cashews, spicy peanuts, macadamias, sesame and honey coated peanuts, crispy salted lima beans - now even Jim can say he likes lima beans!!
Oh yes - the craziness on the water really did go away by Sunday night.