A Week of Fun in the Sun
04 December 2015 | Tortugal Marina, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Beth /mostly sunny, high 20's
Our Halifax neighbour, Yvette, joined us for 4 days and we got such pleasure from introducing her to life in Rio Dulce. Unfortunately, Madcap was not ship shape enough to have her onboard for more than a happy hour, but Tortugal has lovely rooms, swimming off the dock, lots of comfy places to sit, and a fine restaurant so while we slept in our "cubby-hole" as Yvette called it, she enjoyed the comforts of the hotel. (To be fair, boaters enjoy all the facilities of the hotel as well.)
We were able to introduce her to the high life right away, since we discovered that there is a music jam at Sundog every Monday night. After dinner - really good fish tacos - we piled into the Tortugal lancha with Dave and Ellen (Cordelia), Jerry and Debarah (Czech & Mate), Dave and Linda, (Northern D Light) and headed to town. Our pal Dave Betts (Cordelia) entertained the jam-packed place with some of his tunes, and we enjoyed people watching as some of the other musicians did their thing. As in many such sessions, the quality of the music varied from fine to not-so-fine. Sometimes magic happens in those sessions; sometimes it is just people having fun. Either way it was a first night filled with fun and laughter for us all.
Yvette is an old hand at visiting Guatemala so our shopping trip to town didn't faze her - the ducking in and out and around trucks and cars as we avoided mudpuddles, street food vendors, and clusters of other shoppers. Despite a heavy rain shower, we also managed to avoid getting drenched as we checked out plumbing valves at the concrete mall, bought a cake at the upscale bakery, got cash from the ATM - where you step inside the booth and lock the door, and mandarins from a tiny old lady along the street. And the water level has gone down enough that we didn't get our feet wet on Bruno's dock either!
On that afternoon, and the next, when we took the dinghy to the Castillo at San Felipe, Jim was busy with boat projects. I must admit to a tingle of pride that we didn't need to rely on him to ferry us around. I love being able to take the dinghy wherever and whenever I want to go, and Jim appreciates it too. And it was fun to say to our friend whenever she asked how to get somewhere, "We take a boat!"
The Castillo is a lovely place to spend an hour or two of exploring. It costs nothing to leave the dinghy (we beached it beside the dock - which appears to be reserved for commercial lanchas), 20Q entrance to the park. Several families were picnicking on the grounds, and a friendly but not pushy guide told us we were welcome to wander around the fort on our own, or we could hire him. It is a small fortress and we had an information sheet so we were happy to wander. It was interesting though to learn from him that he has lived in Calgary for the last 10 years and is just back here for a few months because it is cold there!
In the evening, a whole gang of us went to Mar Marine for the evening movie - The 33 - about the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground a few years ago. It's too bad their sound system wasn't working well because while we could see just fine, we could hardly hear a word of the dialogue. It looked like it would be worth watching again. And Yvette said, "What a bunch of polite people!" because after several of us said we couldn't hear, and the response came that this was the best they could do, we all sat there nicely and watched anyway! I hear that the system is fixed now - and the ground floor isn't flooded any more, so movies can be shown back where they used to be.
We've been wanting to get down to Cayo Quemado to see Jennifer and other friends there, and we wanted to introduce Yvette to "our neighbourhood" so we rented a lancha for a day - a bit of a splurge at 500Q plus fuel - but worth it because our time was our own. And what a lovely time we had! Coffee and apple crisp on Jennifer's flower filled porch, a stroll through her garden, and a cruise through Gringo (aka Buenavista) Bay to see our favourite anchoring spot. We stopped at Casey's dock to see where Madcap used to be berthed during other off-seasons, and then took a spin through Texan Bay before heading down through the gorge to Livingston.
There weren't many birds around the gorge, but the sheer height and greenness of it never fails to delight us. The few Cayucos slipping silently along the edges were dwarfed by the cliffs that rose above them as their owners fished with hand lines in the shadowy waters. Yvette came up with the apt description of one section of greenery - a Kale forest - and indeed it did look like enormous bunches of kale reaching upward.
In Livingston, we had a quick chat with Raul and then headed off to find Tilingo Lingo restaurant - up the hill and down the hill toward the beach on the ocean side - but it was all closed up and gone. Back up the hill again, we stopped at Bahia Azul for shrimp, rice and beans and salad. I wouldn't go there again because our shrimp was a little soft - just as well probably, that we didn't spring for Tapado. We might have been disappointed. While the wait was long - longer than one would think for sautéed shrimp - we had a lively and enjoyable conversation with Paulo - a local Garifuna "character" who likes to educate visitors on his culture and his people - in return for a few quetzales. He is an articulate and informed man (and a fine musician too, apparently) and we don't mind spending a little time and a couple of dollars with him.
And then our time was up. We retrieved our fancy lancha (seats with backs and a roof over our heads!) at the dock and roared up the river again to Rio Dulce - about 1 hour and 45 minutes - passing the fishermen casting their nets in graceful circles,
After all that fresh air and sunshine, we opted for a light dinner of shrimp ceviche, accompanied as always by lively conversation among the cruisers here. It was so lovely to see how they embraced Yvette into their midst, and how a neighbour from home was so comfortable in our neighbourhood here.