A Whirl-wind Family Retreat
29 July 2021 | Belize
gg | sunny and still
The Z Family
Arriving in a ball of fire on July 22, 2021 to the Rio Dulce is the Z family! This Michigian family of 7 drops their bags on the decks of Viento Azul . They keeps on rolling to Avatar falls with Jerry of the jungle for a tour. In the rain they never missed a beat trekking through the mud to the hidden falls and relaxing in the hot springs of the Rio Dulce.
As we said good by to our precious guests of the Bell family from California it was time to prepare our vessel for our new guests. Each person that comes on board is a gift from God carrying special gifts from heaven to pour out on to the earth. With Olga and Gris by my side we had a presto change o!
The next morning was an early start to visit our mission friends at Boatique before heading out to Casa Agua Azul . Here we meet two more team members for the day Jill and Angel. We met them a few days prior when we were checking in to Livingston as they just sailed into the Rio themselves. Today Cosme arrives with his wonderful smile to load up our team in the launcha while Ted and I take the truck with our new guests for the 40 minute ride through the country side which is exquisite. The mountains on one side and Lake Izabal on the other.
After a full day at the house it was time to jump into Agua Caliente where two rivers meet in the jungle, one very cold and the other feed by a hot spring making for the perfect temperature coming over the falls. A great way to end a good day of work. Afterwards we all piled into the truck for the ride back to the marina. In the morning we will work our way down the river and check out of Guatemala and say hello to Belize.
I never get tired of the the beauty of the Rio Dulce as we motor down to Livingston located at the mouth of the Rio Dulce where we will clear customs and immigrations . The cliffs of the canyon with the jungle sweeping up high was full of life as the sun reflected off the leaves up high. The river was quiet with a few personal pleasure crafts passing by. Anchoring off of Livingston we motor ashore to hike up the hill to the medical clinic for covid testing. We had God's favor this day as we walked in and were immediately taken care of and in 15 minutes were walking away with signed negative tests to enter Belize. One woman at the clinic had been waiting 3 and a half hours so we were extremely grateful. Heading back to the boat mid-day left us time to move on. The wind was nil so we motored on glass calm seas all the way to Punta Gorda Belize arriving 3 hours later. It was too late in the day to check in to the country so we enjoyed the water cleaning the hulls of Viento Azul.
God is so faithful and so was our agent in Belize at 8:30 a.m. July 24th we received a warm welcome-into the country. It was a Saturday so the market was open filled with beautiful fresh vegetables and local cuisine. I was taken back by the green beans which were about 14 inches long and the cucumbers running neck and neck. The locals were milling around and were all very kind to us. Across from the market was a small store with local weaving and art wares made out of native woods all showing incredible craftsmanship . I have always appreciated natural handmade items and I desired to take all the pieces home!
It was mid morning and our goal was to reach Placensia before dark. Going back to our boat the predicted wind never materialized so cranking up the motors is the next best thing when you are on the move. The air was hot and humid again the seas glass calm but what are you going to do? I was grateful it was not blowing 25 -30 on our bow , motoring sounds great. We arrived in prefect time to meet our new mission friends in Placensia for dinner at Wendies. The food was great from hamburgers to seafood with fresh salad in between and my favorite, mashed potatoes. There is a curfew in place so at 10 p.m.town shut down. It was a quiet night out in the harbor with no rain so sleeping under the stars was taken advantage of also the opportunity to cool off with the air being close to still.
We love morning and are up early to take the younger members on board for a little surfing behind the dingy. What teen and pre teen does not love this. Next was taking a walk on the waterfront to find a hammock and a few gifts for friends back home before a white truck was to pick us up for church. Don was our driver a church member who was originally from Canada and made Belize his home 4 years ago. He shared about building on the island as he was a contractor before we arrived a small church filled with people and children to worship the Lord in english. It was refreshing and a great way to start our day. On the way home our conversation turned to the book of Revelations and Don was filled with passion to share his heart and vision of ministry before him. We are with the Z family so its time to keep moving heading back to Viento Azul we load up say good by pull anchor and head for Wippari Cay. Our sailing adventure has turned in to a motor adventure which makes for great snorkeling and that is what we did on the shallow reef. Brain coral soft coral and some of the biggest sea fans I have ever seen were hiding below to be discovered. Our family this week is not familiar with salt water and their first snorkel was last year with us in the florida keys so this was a perfect spot to jump in and see God's beautiful creation filled with large angel fish bringing joy to our friends. The sun is still up so you got it we are moving, next stop Lagoon Cay!
Well I must say I have experienced the Z family before but this trip we also have the Grimmetts who are the source, the parents to the Z's. This is one action packed, joy-filled group . There is not one dull moment. While relaxing playing cards in the afternoon it turned Ito an arm wrestling match with grandma. I was wondering if they were going to conclude with a boxing match on the front trampolines. All in good fun !
Evening came 5 miles north of Lagoon Cays sits quietly North West Cay which had spectacular shallow water snorkeling with soft corals as taller than myself in multiple colors. My favorite was a vibrant purple flowing gently with the moment of the water. Schools of tiny bait fish filled the background as the mangrove roots made home to various tropical fish. Naturally the parrot fish being the most stunning in color to new snorkelers but to the fisher man not to many to get excited about. A few lobster mostly juvenile which is hopes of a good harvest next year. There are many scatter fish camp amongst the lower outer islands of Belize and many private homes hidden in the trees of the tiny Cays scattered in the Caribbean. Each place as lovely as the next . It would be hard to have a favorite.
The night was still as an award winning dinner was being prepared. We had an invasion of large flies looking like a combat unit coming to attack. I was alarmed we may have an unrestful night with bug bites galore in a sauna fit for a red lobster. The Lord is good as the evening progressed sitting out on the fore deck in the somewhat cool of the night the moon was a romantic movie scene. The light made a golden path across the still water which could not be ignored. It set us all in silence in the magnitude of beauty which is only a glimmer of the glory of our Lord Jesus. How great is our God to create such a world of such wonder in the grandeur of artistic expression to the utmost of heavenly imagination. It was so enthralling Danielle and I spent the entire night under the night sky blessed by the light cool breeze that developed in the wee hours of the morning.
Sunlight in your eyes with a new day ahead. There is time for one quick snorkel where our family found sea stars and treasure below. The squeal of delight and laughter may have been heard on the mainland Sailing when all is well is a time of relaxing and bonding. To take a retreat on the sea will revive your soul as the ever presence of God is clearly seen in nature. The still air is constant , with our anchor up and the motors purring like a happy kitten next stop will be to Colson Cay were we are in hopes of seeing our new acquaintance Lynol and the wild fisherman.
Along the way we found some lobster hiding out below and rays swimming about. A grand turtle came to the surface and the porpoise came to play. The variety of sea life was fun to watch with hound fish skimming across the surface putting on a show. The shallow reefs never seem to cease each appearing as a little island below its own private aquarium. Many clusters formed of a varitey of sponges with a conch placed in the center picture perfect.
Arrivng Colson Cay was quiet and a great place to spend the night . We were the solo sailors. The wind was still nil making for a good snorkle and surfing behind the dingy . The night came before we knew it and so did morning a new day to celebrate and we have a birthday aboard. Brady turning 15 waking up to more water activity before heading out to cucumber marina. The wind finally arrived so we raised our sails making our trip complete. Arriving the marina our guests will depart in the morning. The greatest birthday suprise was ahead. What could be greater for a 15 year old than having a theme water park all to your self! And that is what happened at the marina the water park has been closed thourgh out covid and they are in the process of reopeing and were gracious to allow us in and use the facility. I have to say that is God's favor over this family! Ending the day with dreamed of air conditioning from a hot week out sailing and catamaran cake for the birthday boy makes for a very memorrable family retreat aboard Viento Azul.
Morning comes with a rianbow in the distant a reminder of GOd's promise. He is here , He is present and it is to hime we give thanks for all the blessing along the way may we continue to give praise.
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.