Guatemala Dias Uno (Nov 23, 2012)
23 November 2012 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
James/Fair, with patches of clouds.
Starting in Guatemala City
Morning started fresh with a nice breakfast (eggs, frijoles, and cafe). Senor Fernando of the hostel (Mariana's Petite Hotel) was very helpful getting me to an ATM, we talked about his short time in Canada as a pilot. He flew P51's and A37's for the Guatemala Air Force. He arranged a taxi for me and set me on my journey with a smile.
So, I'm on the Litegua bus as i write this, somewhat mystified about where exactly i am going. People talk quite quickly, and I only understand every 6th word. The taxi from the hostel dropped me off at the bus stand, but apparently schedules have changed and so I wasn't in the right spot.
But, the helpful security guy (there are thousands of spiffy uniformed security guys in G) machine gunned spanish at me with the word Morales and some hand gestures about Rio Dulce. A bus arrived, I got on, and at this point, I don't have a ticket. I'm lost, confused, but happy.
Woo hoo! A few miles on, the ticket guy arrives. I have a ticket to Morales, which i gather is somewhere near Rio Dulce. And from the directions of the ticket guy, there is a bus going there either later today, tomorrow, or later this year.
I think I should have studies my Guatemala geography a little better, but I do recognize the road we are on, so unless we turn in another direction, means I'm at least going closer to my destination final.
Guatemala is fairly mountainous, and the road to Rio Dulce is a winding highway. It is well paved, and quite modern, but there is an ominous smell of overheating brakes from the bus as we wind through the mountains. The Black Eyed Peas sing about bananas and ma hump on the bus radio. It seems to be on infinite repeat.
An hour passes, We're out of the mountains, into the flatter country valley, with lots of lush green farms on either side of the road and the mountains forming a backdrop on the horizon. The bus moves faster now, no longer struggling up slopes and hurtling down them.
I'm playing a game called "como sie dice" with a young boy of about 4 who is learning english. His Dad speaks english well, and was teaching his son english words. I got drawn into the game with my meager spanish words.
We had a little competition pointing to things and finding the english/spanish words.
He kicked my butt. I haven't studied body parts and he soon learned my weakness. He wore a big smile the rest of the trip and said "later dude" and gave me a high five as his family left the bus.
It was an easy trip the rest of the way to Morales, but just when i figured my travel acumen had been tested, I get thrown a nice curve. The bus stops, the conductor waves at me frantically, and I'm left at the side of the road, at an intersection. Breathe, says I, this is probably ok and things will work out.
5 minutes of waiting at the dirt road, and a little microbus packed with people pulls up, a guy hanging off the side shouting "Rio rio rio rio!" and I'm stuffed standing on a little shuttle bus, my shoulders almost touching the ceiling, my neck crammed over to one side, the bus zipping along swaying through traffic and around bikes, chickens and mayan women carrying things on their heads.
It ended well, as we crossed the big bridge in Fronteras, the bus dropped me off almost at the dock to catch the boat to the marina. I celebrated my safe arrival with a tequila and a hibiscus tea and waited for the Sledgehammer (the boat from Hotel Catamaran) to take me home.
Cost of the adventure? $37.00
Endnote: Excited to arrive, I found Karma 1 in exactly the same spot I left it. It's in good shape, with a slight musty smell and green highlights of algae in spots. Work day tomorrow.