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.
Closing in on Punta Gorda, Belize
15 July 2021 | Puenta Gorda, Belize
gg | sunny
Ambergris Cay, Cucumber Marina, Colosn Cay, Placencia, Punta Gorda
Ambergris Cay / July 13, 2021
Wow what a beautiful, sunny day on flat-calm water. Inside the reef of Belize is like night and day compared to the open ocean. It will be smooth sailing for quite some time now. Our youngest sailors are enjoying watercolor painting in the main salon. The pre-teens have the praise music going as the adults are keeping us all on course. Our next stop is Cucumber Marina in Belize CIty where we will clear customs and be free to explore the islands.
Trinity, the mother of these four precious children, reflects that her wisdom for sailing is this: to keep your eyes on Jesus, not on your stomach. "How wide and deep is his love" (Ephesians 3:14-21). She knows that there is nowhere you can hide from His presence, and this is a good thing as Jesus is carrying her in His arms. For some people, the rocking of the ship is a lullaby or a fun action, but for a few it is a time of trial from the constant motion. Sailing is a great time for reflection, to bond with friends and to hear from God. For all, the beauty of God’s creation is pure joy to the heart.
Arriving Cucumber Marina, we were met by our agent Carolyn, a wonderful local woman who organizes the process of checking in for us which includes the Port Authority, Agricultural Inspector and Health Inspector. After a pile of paperwork, we were all allowed to go ashore.
Cucumber Marina is a great place to resupply your vessel. Fuel and water is available as well as a laundry facility. In town, there is a fairly large grocery store which has many specialty items you may be looking for. Stepping ashore is also a welcomed activity. What I love about sailing is the fact that small things become great things. Your apprecaition for what is often taken for granted increases in measure.
While we spent the night at the marina, the wind picked up significantly, whistling through the rigging and vibrating a tune of its own, the song that says I am glad I am not out sailing off shore! In the morning, we set sail in bouncy seas and sporadic winds which were peaking at 30, pushing us at 9.9 knots, only to change direction and let up, dropping our speed down to 4 knots. Arriving Colson Cay on the lee side, we set our anchor down to explore these remote cays.
One house stands alone, surrounded by mangroves, sand, and a lot of water. Here we delivered a package to Lynol, the caretaker, who lives out here alone. Our friends from the Rio Dulce, Pamela and Sheldon, had met him in their travels a month ago. He was wanting a Bible, and God heard his call.
There is also a fish camp out here on one of these very small cays. The fishermen had been out lobstering and had a fine catch. They came by wanting to trade for liquor. All we had to offer was PowerAde and Bibles. They seemed happy to receive what we had with big smiles on their faces.
Night came with some rain, and the morning came in a flurry. Before departing, we snorkelled over the fan beds. Not too far in the distance, four porpoise were out for their morning swim. They decided to investigate us and swam over within 25 feet, which was a delight.
Back on board Viento Azul, it was time to move on to Placencia. Our slow boat was soon to become a fast boat. With following seas and the wind at 20 - 25, our top speed of 13 was surpassed and peaked at 15. It was a sleigh ride today under grey skies, making record time to Placencia where we anchored in the calm harbor.
Going ashore, we were reminded of the covid restrictions. A $500 fine for no mask and a trip to the jail, and it is said they are enforcing it quite well. We have found Placencia to be very welcoming and a beautifu part of Belize. We visitied with some local missionaries who are leading the Calvary Chapel in Seine Bight -- we thought they said "snake bite!" The church our guests attend in California supports this missionary couple, so it was really fun to meet up with them. We also went to the health clinic and met the local doctor, as something happened to my eye. The attention and care given was very heartwarming and impressive. A local man actually walked me to the doctor's house to see whether the doctor was in or at the clinic. Since he was at the clinic, we called a cab and were able to see more of the town. The community is diverse with large homes, hotels, small homes, and plenty of restaurants and shops. The funny thing is you are not allowed to vist your neighbor at this point in time with covid rising, but you can take the bus and go to the restaurant. Just like most places around the world, covid restrictions are often confusing, but it's best to follow whether you agree or not.
July 15, 2021 We are approaching Punta Gorda in the moment, which will be our last stop in Belize. We hope to check out the this beautiful remote area and meet the with the mission group Kabod International , and visit LOL children's home, which is said to house 60 children . Our prayers for fair winds and following seas have been answered. It has been a week of yellow and white butterflies as the wind carried us down sea.