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

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