Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Final Leg, Guatemala, Mexico, and Florida

The map of Earthling's voyage, Oct 2010 to July 2014
After Guatemala and Rio Dulce, a 360 nautical miles sail on the Caribbean Sea took Earthling and her solo Captain to Cozumel, Mexico. The weather during this passage cooperated and it was smooth sailing inside of Belize barrier reef. However, I don’t remember anytime in life that I’ve been totally alone for five continuous days, without seeing or talking to anyone. On top of that suffering of some kind of food poising followed by stomach cramp did not make the emotional time easier. When you are at sea alone far away from any other human being for a longer time, all that goes in your mind is love. The love you have for everybody and everything. You think about all the lovely people that existed in your life that are not around anymore. When the school of dolphins were swimming next to the boat, it got me so excited that I was talking to them and I’m sure they understood me, because the common language for all beings is the language of love!      

The anchor was dropped off Cozumel, Mexico. Why Cozumel? because I heard so many people visiting this island and was curious to see what's here. Cozumel is around 200 sq miles flat island, it’s a popular spot because many cruise ships stop there. This is not a destination for cruisers, because the anchorage is unprotected and has fair holding! The most exciting part in Cozumel was the arrival of the first mate Katherine. She flew in for skipper’s birthday from the U.S. We got the chance to drive around the island on a scooter and check out some of the very few sites there are to see!

On captain’s 40’s birthday, sails were set and the wind and strong current brought Earthling quickly to Isla Mujeres (Island of Women). This is an island everyone should visit, because it has a great energy and vibe. First, as we were motoring into the bay to find an anchorage, we saw an identical boat as Earthling, an Islander 36’. That’s exciting, we haven’t seen a sister ship for a long time. Later on the same day we met the owner and guess what, he is from Chicago and his name is George. What a coincidence! Later, Katherine and I went to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner, as we are enjoying our meal, I turn around and low and behold sits my friend, “Michael” from Francesca’s restaurants in Chicago! Through out this day, numerous people invited us to share drinks with them. Here on the last island of this four years voyage, the world suddenly became so small on Isla Mujeres. This made the 27th of June 2014 a memorable day!   

The crew also wondered to the main land for a couple of days by car to explore what’s to see around Cancun and on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This part of the Latin America has many Mayan ruins that are worth visiting such as Tulum and Chichen Itza. Another site worth seeing is the Cenotes, which are natural sinkholes in the ground that looks like caves and they contain a pool of water, perfect place to take a natural fresh water bath. On the way to the city of Valladolid through a small town we also saw and attended a Rodeo for the unique experience of it! 

Tulum Mayan Ruins


Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

Conote Zaci

After the stay in Mexico, Earthling had to sail back to her motherland. From Isla Mujeres we motor sailed 600 nautical miles, following a course of 28 degrees for 107 hrs. And she arrived Clearwater Beach in Florida, which brings this chapter of Earthling voyage and the circumnavigation of the Caribbean to an end!

In the last four years Earthling has sailed more than 7000 Nautical miles, anchored off more than 70 different Islands, checked into 25 Countries, had 27 different crew aboard, and met with lots of beautiful people around the Caribbean. We feel extremely fortunate to have been able to experience all this and that Earthling is floating with her mast up and that she is safely back.  
Earthling, captain, and first mate are now taking a break for a year from sailing the seas. Meanwhile, the boat will be upgraded, refit, and repaired and in a better condition than before to set sails to new destinations.    

Much love to all and thanks for following

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Serene Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Cliffs on Rio Dulce
The impression that we receive from a new place depends on how we got there! After sailing solo overnight through squalls from Roatan, Honduras to Rio Dulce, Guatemala, it felt like I entered a different planet. Earthling has not seen fresh water for a long time and being in fresh water is just like being clean at all the time.
Rio Dulce is a river that runs into the Caribbean Sea from Guatemala. It’s connected to two large lakes and there are tons of rivers and creeks running into the lakes. The main River is around seven miles long from the ocean to the first lake and that distance is absolutely spectacular. Entering the river can be tricky, since it’s less than 6ft deep! Most sailboats with a draft of 4-5ft or more must wait for the high tide to pass through the channel.   
The natives around this area are Mayans and some still indigenous.  There is abundant of life here from birds (lots of them, different colors, types, and sizes), to fish, fruit trees, flowers, etc. The first Tarzan movie was filmed in the jungles around Rio Dulce. You certainly can enjoy the sound of nature in most of the anchorages, since roads and cars are absent in a large part of Rio Dulce.
After a day here, I noticed tree branches on deck, I look up and there were two birds building a nest by the radar dome on the mast! The following day, I moved and the birds flew with till they realized that the wind is slowly taking their nest down, after a few miles into the lake they gave up living on Earthling and flew back into the forest. Now there is another little bird that has been building a nest on the mast! But Earthling is going a sea tomorrow and the bird is welcome to stay but she is better off staying in her beautiful neighborhood of Rio Dulce.   
Birds on the boat everyday
Guatemala has lots to offer. There are many sites of Mayan Ruins and the nature is absolutely exquisite. A visitor cannot see and do it all in only two weeks time. The area around Rio Dulce and Lake Izabal has so much to offer that one could wander around and get lost! Earthling got the chance to sail around and explore Lake Izabal.
One of my childhood dreams is to have a horse, an animal that I love. Around Lake Izabal, there are numerous small villages and many people ride horses. At Denny’s Beach, I got the chance to ride a horse through the fields, rivers, villages, and jungle and live my dream partially. I have to admit that living expenses in this part of the world is very low. Not in so many places in the world, four hours of horse back riding would cost only $13!

Horseback riding through fields
Another village that is rarely visited is Mariscos, not much is happening here besides a few small stores and restaurants, but there are buses that go over the mountain to the “Quirigua” ruins. I had to visit at least one Mayan ruin and this one was the closest and conveniently located. When you observe old structures, it makes you go back in time and try to picture yourself in that era. The Mayan ruins are over 2600 years old and it makes me wonder how those people lived then in this area!
Quirigua Ruins
On the north side of Lake Izabal, there is the village of Finca Praiso. A 30min walk from the waterfront takes you to one of the most amazing waterfalls ever. This is not a regular one; it’s a hot waterfall into a cold river, absolutely spectacular. Note that you can take a bus to all these sites and not necessarily your boat, unless you like the thrill of exploring and being the only boat in the anchorage. Sightseeing by boat and taking a dinghy ashore sometimes puts you in through the back door! I walked on the little trail by the river to the Finca Praiso Waterfall and as I was entering the waterfall area, a gentleman asked for my ticket, what ticket I replied? He said where did you come from, didn’t you come through the gate? No, I walked by the river! Then I realized I had to pay to get in here!
Finca Praiso Hot Waterfall
 Earthling anchored off the Castle of San Felipe also, I rowed ashore to the fort! When I got in to the fort structure, I was asked for my ticket, I don’t have a ticket! Once again the security was wondering how I got in there, and I explained. So I had to walk to the entrance and purchase a ticket!  
Castillo de San Felipe
At the end of Lake Izabal, there are the major rivers that feed the lake, like the Polochic River. Every night, out of the four on Lake Izabal, there were lighting strikes and they all seemed to be right at the end of the lake. As much as I wanted to go to the end and explore the rivers, I had to hold myself back and save that for the next time I visit Lake Izabal and Rio Dulce.
The main river

Women and Kids in Livingston

San Felipe
San Felipe Castle
Horse Back Riding through Fields

Sunset at Denny's Beach

Cows Following the Horse

A cave in the mountains
A view of Pueblo Nuevo
Main Strip in Mariscos
Quiriqua Ruins
Quirigua Ruins
Quirigua Ruins
A view of a house by the river
Tuk Tuks, cheap way of getting around in towns
Dinghy Sightseeing in the river 

A True Artist that Touched my Heart

Con Mucho Amor de Rio Dulce