A Leisurely route to Guatemala
18 November 2015 | Madcap in Rio Dulce / crew in Guatemala City
Beth/ comfortable weather all week - not too hot, not too cold
Jim likes to find novel ways to make our annual trip south to meet Madcap wherever she happens to have spent the summer. This year it was via a weeklong road trip through Florida – and a quick trip over the border to Georgia.
We flew to Jacksonville and drove our rented fire-engine-red Ford Focus up to St Simon’s Island for a rendezvous with Steve and Sandi (Yonder) before they flew off to Panama. After much note taking over delicious dinner and breakfast, an examination of their latest marine gadgets, and conversation about the state of the world, we departed the next morning for Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach.
We think our last visit there was in the spring of 2012 when we picked up our car to drive home after leaving Madcap for the first time in the Rio Dulce. We were happy to see that the folks at Tiger Point Marina still remembered us - and for good reasons we hope! Jackie has her office in the “shower building” now, and there are lots of boats in the yard – although not many we recognized. Baird (Romulus) is in his usual berth on the dock and we had a wonderful catch-up chat with him. I do love finding the “old salts” still in place and still full of stories.
And speaking of people still in place, the very best part about Amelia Island is that Dick and Tina Devoe are there! We lounged in their sunroom, walked on the beach, lunched on the patio at the club, danced to the big band sound of Crescendo Amelia at Walkers Landing on Veteran’s Day, ate mouthwateringly delicious shrimp and penne at Arte’s Pizza (Antonio is still making magic in the kitchen!), and curled up on their comfy couches for late night fingers of scotch – for some of us!
We remembered that we were with them on one other Veteran’s day – when the band played the songs of each service, and those who served in them stood to be recognized. I don’t know if we do that in Canada. I have never experienced it at home anyway. Do we have particular Army, Navy, Air Force (and several more in the USA) songs?
Next stop along the road: St Augustine. No time for sightseeing this trip because our destination was the Sailors’ Exchange. Oh my! The Sailor’s Exchange! I LOVE that place and I can’t even pinpoint a particular reason except that roaming between its crowded shelves is like wandering through a marine treasure chest. Line and chain, new and used of all dimensions, and shackles and clamps, and blocks and chocs, and piles of teak and used boat parts of every description. We picked up some bits and pieces and discovered that we still had a credit there from some things we sold years ago so we were even happier!
With our treasures loaded into the car, we set off inland to Ocala to visit Christine and Art. We have seen them a little more frequently than other friends on this trip – but it is usually in Nova Scotia as they make their way to their summer home in Lake Annis. It was lovely to be on their home turf this time - and to have a visit with Christine’s dad, Bill Crowell and his wife, Suzanne. We visited Silver River State Park for Ocali days – and experienced the old Florida days of sugar cane syrup making and blacksmithing and bluegrass music. It had a bit of the feel of our northern pioneer days, and yet a distinct southern atmosphere.
Next stop on our fast paced trip was Vero Beach where we spent some happy times on a couple of occasions on Madcap. This time we had a mix of emotions. We were delighted to discover that Mary Lou and Bob (Cygnus) were still there on their Bahamas-bound cruise and we met up with them and several of their friends at the Riverside café just under the bridge. On a sadder note, we had hoped to see Nancy and Jim Aadland, with whom we spent many a happy day in the Bahamas. But Jim’s experience with cancer came to an end shortly before we got there and Nancy took him to be buried with his family in South Dakota. We got to meet their big orange cat, Snap, though – and that was a plus!
Fort Lauderdale was our last stop of the road trip and we made good use of our time there. Jim had a massage to work the kinks out of his back and shoulders while I strolled the shopping area of Las Olas Boulevard. We met up for dinner at American Social where Happy Hour prices are in effect 4-7 – and the sharable plates of ribs and shrimp salad are sooooo good. We checked out Cooley’s Landing where we spent a week or so a few years back and it is still as lovely a place as ever to spend a few days.
And then the week was over! We used the American Airlines curbside check-in at Miami airport, dropped off the rental car and then relaxed for an hour before we boarded our flight to Guatemala City. All went smoothly and after a short snooze, we landed, made a quick passage through customs and immigration and exited to find Elmer holding a “James Bissell” sign and ready to take us to Villa Toscana for the night. It continues to be our favourite first night in Guatemala abode.
This year we made a change though, and instead of going up to Antigua for a few days, we moved to a hotel in Zone 10 for our second night. We have never stayed over in the city, but the Radisson hotel gave us a taste of the high life (but still more affordable than a comparable hotel in Canada). The picture is from our hotel room window - some pretty fancy architecture here. We bought SIM chips for our unlocked phones, browsed through high end shops, dined on true pub-style Shepherd’s Pie at Shakespeare’s Pub almost across the street and called it a night.
And tomorrow we are off on the 9 am Litegua bus to Rio Dulce. It has been a great journey so far!