Closing in on Guatemala
22 July 2021 | Nana Juana Marina
gg | sunny after the rain
July 15 , 2021 Punta Gorda, Belize to Livingston Guatemala
Arriving in a whirlwind! Being blasted by the wind the entire way gave us a really good ride from Placencia. We decided to check out of Belize in Punta Gorda, but it did not afford us the time to tour the area. However, the officials did allow us to walk through town briefly. We met some really nice people and had a peak view of the area. Tourism appeared to be at a low. We tended to appear as a magnet for the homeless. We must have looked similar to dollar bills because they kept asking us for money. Instead, we gave out water, ice cream and chips. It is hard to see people suffering but at the same time, you do not want to encourage bumming as a way of life.
I think of Matthew 25:35-40 -- "'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in?' The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"
Jesus was filled with compassion and grace. He gave to us all what we did not deserve, which is life to the full for those who choose to believe in the one who was sent. If we believe Jesus, then we will believe His word. If we believe His word, it is wise to live His word. There is also a wise poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was "Judge Softly." “Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps, Or stumbles along the road. Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears, Or stumbled beneath the same load.”
Approaching Punta Gorda by water, I was impressed by the beautiful buildings stretched across the waterfront. I was expecting a very small village and was surprised to see such a large, busy settlement. Customs and immigrations was located directly off the town dock, and it was an easy checkout. On our return, we are in hopes of having time to explore. But what was so interesting was that our guests aboard Viento Azul are from Willow California, and who did we meet in Punta Gorda but a young couple from Willow California!
At 3:30 in the afternoon, we decided to move on to Guatemala instead of looking for a protected cove to spend the night. We only had 17 more miles to go and with the wind in our favor blowing 10-12, we skimmed across the water, moving at 9 knots, making a fast trip of two hours to the mouth of the Rio Dulce before dark.
It was so great to hear the sounds of the river! Coming over the sand bar, you could smell the change from the sea to fresh water. Ashore, the birds were starting to roost, singing the song of night. The sounds of town carried across the water; it was good, and felt like home. Little did we know, Jerry and Cosme, our local friends from up the river, came down to keep watch at night over our vessel. This is local hospitality at its best! When anchored off of Livingston, it is a good idea to keep an eye out at night as many a dingy or motor has gone missing in the wee hours of the morning.
The night passed with a good rainfall, which made it feel even more like Guatemala. As the sun rose, the town began to wake up, with roosters crowing and boats starting to move about. Customs and Immigrations would not be out to our boat util 9:00 a.m., so there was plenty of time to make pancakes and coffee. After being checked in to Guatemala, we took a small tour up the main street of Livingston. I loved seeing some of the people we have met in prior years and saying hello, especially to Kipis and Levi, assist us in clearing customs and immigrations and keep an eye on our vessel when we are in town. Livingston is full of activity, art and food. Many vendors show their wares on the street. You will find handmade baskets, jewelry, articles carved from local wood, fresh coconut oil, rum, and spices. And you never want to leave without some of the most delicious homemade coconut rolls. I believe the best ones in town are halfway up the hill on the left, from a little counter bakery window. Then before you head back to your boat, a coco chino from Bugamama’s will top the day!
It is another 22 miles up the river to the marina district. At the mouth of the river there are many shrimp boats, fishing boats and work boats carrying supplies. Heading up the river is a mix of fast luxury power boats, launches carrying passengers touring for the day, and cayucos moving about, which are small, hand-carved wooden boats. Nature is intense and green here; as we head up the river and pass through the canyon, the steep jungle cliffs are breathtaking. So are the birds and butterflies. A trip up the Rio Dulce is like a dream. I highly recommend carving out the time and making an effort to experience it for yourself.
By 4:30, we had arrived at Nana Juana Marina, our home away from home. There are many marinas and hotels to choose from. Often it is hard to decide where to stay because each one has something special to offer. The greatest thing that you will find is the hospitality, gentleness and kindness from the heart of the Guatemalan people.
After getting settled in we ventured to Casa Agua Azul our chidlren’s home up on lake Izabal. The wind was still and the lake was a mirror. Two hours later we arrived with a welcom from ashore as the chidlren greeted us with sheer excitement!
Our guests the Bell family were a blessing to the children for the next couple of days before departing for Guatemala City. After a long sail from Mexcio we will miss them. They left behind endless love in our hearts and in the children's. Their love and compassion shined bright through many hands on teaching through art and various media. All of which were met with joy and eagerness. Sucess in measured by the light in the eyes and smiles on the face all of which was great ! We pray for the Bell family to have a safe return home to Californina and we are in hopes that they will returnwhen the time is right. The greastest gift one can give is love. We thank Jim, Trinity, Nahomy, Layla, Amelia and Ian for the bright light of love of who they are.