Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala’

Peru – First Thoughts

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

I remember last year flying into Panama. We had been in Panama for almost a year but flying into the country anew we could see the vigor and the life in the people. There was a feeling of joy, energy, adventure in their walk, in the feeling on the street, in the shop owners and the customers. That same feeling we feel in Peru.

Lima Peru Shore

Lima Peru Shore

Guatemala was different. While many things about the country are magical we found that the people seemed to be carrying a heavy burden. They were moving forward, but slowly. Peru and Panama are moving at light speed.

Oh, both countries have a long way to go but they are moving in a positive direction; not just positive for the wealthy but one that is good for most everyone. One HUGE difference I find in Peru is the number of book stores and the emphasis on reading.  One can judge a country’s health by their dedication to education and the peoples ability to read with access to knowledge. In Guatemala Libraries were rare and from what the locals told me; reserved mostly for the gringos. The few book stores had books but by the standard income of Guatemalans they are expensive. Textbooks in schools had to be purchased and only the rich were able to buy them. Students of the rich sat in the front rows. The rest were left behind. In Peru most every business has a note about how to recycle, trade books.

One local told us that in Ica there is 100% employment. I kind of doubt the 100% but I understand that anyone who wants a job will find one.

This doesn’t mean there are no problems in Peru. We would actually like to bring our boat here but were told that near the Navy Station there are still Pirates. Go Figure. So until the Pirates are of minimal concern we’ll have to skip visiting by boat. But….

Ceviche Peru Style

Ceviche Peru Style

We like the country. We’ve been here a week, the Pisco Sours are ok, a bit strong for my taste but the Ceviche is great. Equal to and often better than in the Bahamas; which until now I felt had the best Ceviche in the Caribbean.

We arrived in Lima and checked into our hotel, changed money, picked up some SIM cards for the phones and started this adventure. We’re into our fist week, already we’ve been to 3 museums, flown over another UNESCO site; the Nazca Lines, ate at a dozen local restaurants, traveled cross country on their bus lines and visited one Winery where we were shown the old ways. No one really makes wine the old fashioned way anymore but it was interesting. We visited a zoological garden by accident (it was part of our Hotel)  and have been moving every couple of days.

My grandfather was here in 1952 and I can’t wait to look at his pics from those days and compare them to now.  That experience will occur later as the pictures are in Florida and we’re in …. Peru.  Ciao

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Antigua – Review

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

We are outta here!  Yep, left Antigua and Guatemala. I was a bit disappointed but also looking forward to our next adventure. W/ has us on a trip to Peru.

Since leaving Guatemala I can talk about the good and the bad. The good was quite a bit, good friends, good beer, good food, good restaurants, and a good Spanish School.

The bad; and it’s not much, was the small vehicles we had to travel in, a few of the restaurants that we didn’t believe played fair, 3 Roosters, Volcanic dust, and my iron stomach was tenderized while here, but due to politics we were having to leave before we’re really, really, really, fluent in Spanish. (I say politics because even if one has income a foreigner can’t remain in Guatemala for an indefinite period of time and two when we bought the tickets for our flight they wouldn’t sell a one way, we had to choose a date and a return flight).

We ate at two restaurants that clipped us a bit (one was Fusion and the other, Sabe Rico – the worst). At Fusion IB and Becca ordered some wine by the glass and Fusion didn’t have the wine listed on the menu so without advising anyone they took it upon themselves and poured the more expensive wine. Now truth be said,  I’m guessing either of them would have said “OK”, but no one likes to be blind sided and we / they were.  The other restaurant;  Sabe Rico delivered “uncorked” wine to the table and didn’t provide anyone a taste test.  Thinking this was the wine the “girls” ordered I kindly poured. It wasn’t the wine ordered and they wouldn’t do anything about the “switch” they quietly pulled on us. We paid the bill and left.

The smallish vehicles I’ve written about – so enough said. The Roosters too. But; the volcanic dust, it  is over most everything and for the most part of our stay there, at the end of the day the bottoms of our feet were the color of lava. No mater how much the floors were cleaned or when, our feet changed color ever day.  And remember, we’re cruisers, we like bare feet and clean decks.  This was, to say the least, a bit irritating.

Since I left the boat in mid November I’ve been sick now 4 times. Four months; 4 times under the weather. Three times in Guatemala. I don’t know if it’s the food or because I was  living with more people or the water I drank. We tried to always drink bottled water and I can’t say bottled water helped much – but I wasn’t going to stop. It could be the “jet” setting around, could be in how some food is prepared, could be in the closer proximity to other people; I don’t know, but those times being sick were not part of my planned adventure.  To put it in perspective; in the last two years on the boat I was sick once; and that was when I went to Panama City.

Leaving San Jose El Viejo was bitter sweet. However; we need to practice our new language skills more, we need to let the words we know ferment in our brains, we needed a break from the formal study. We both miss our teachers; W/ had gotten quite close to Erika, they exchanged some gifts on the final day; and I thoroughly enjoyed working / learning from Isabel. Her laugh is infectious,  and with me she was patient and a little pushy  all at the same time. My day started with talk for about an hour or so (all in Spanish but sometimes I had to ask for the correct word or look it up) and during that time she would then identify an area I needed a great deal more work on. Then we corrected  my assignments and depending on the day we discussed my numerous and other times rare

Mi Maestra Isabel

Mi Maestra Isabel

errors. After a break we would talk for another hour with Isabel patiently waiting for and forcing me to use the words I know. At times she would let loose with this infectious laugh because of the stories we each told and I’m sure too because of some of the ways I used in structuring my spanish voacabulary. About 5 minutes before the end of the morning she would  ask if I wanted to do any homework. I was there after all to learn Spanish so I would always acquiesce to some..more….homework. She was kind in that what she assigned me  I usually could complete in under 3 hours.

So we left Antigua after learning much about the people, enjoyed teasing our palate with an abundance of different food combinations, suffered with some bugs we could never see, and have a 1,000 or so more words in Spanish that we can use. Of course putting them together in the correct order will always seem to be a challenge. If the winds of our life provide any justice we’ll again return to Antigua and spend some more time learning the poetic language of Spanish.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Long Weekend

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Traveling again? Yep, Becca won’t let us rest. She; and W/ too, have arranged for the four of us to visit Lake Atitlan, a rather large lake inside an old volcano crater. The lake has no place for water to drain, it is close to a mile high and said to be one of the most beautiful sites in the world. We’ll see.

We arranged with our Spanish teachers to work only 4 days this week and taking Friday off we planned on traveling to Atitlan and staying at Isla Verde; a semi primitive luxurious resort on the edge of the lake.

By Tuesday the week before Becca fell ill and IB too ran out of energy. Thus they were considering bailing on the trip if she’s not feeling better by Friday.  Luckily our principal tour guide was improved. At that point, we were all feeling pretty damn good. We were picked up by Chesubin (our local traveling company) and proceeded to make our way  50 km as the crow flies but 2-2 1/2 hours on the European mountain style roads.

We worked our way out of Antigua and I was amazed at the industry and commercial businesses we drove through. While some individuals talk as if we’re in a 3rd world country,  by the opportunities and the scope of businesses here I would argue against it. However what seems to make one place a 3rd world and another a 1st world by all appearances has more to do with the direction a government takes in support and enhancing communities, more then just the opportunity in a country. People work and work hard here, but the roads; the ones we’ve been on are good, once off  the main thoroughfare the roads are poor and the travel dangerous (lack of police and government funding) and often bridges of poor or substandard construction; easily washed away by excessive rain. So while Guatemala is still considered a poor / 3 rd world country it’s not because of the people living there, it IMHO is because of the lack of government funded and needs supported for the people and thus the business community. When your infrastructure fails, education, roads, bridges, police, water, sewage, etc, the community and country suffers.

The road to Panajachel was a main thoroughfare and we made it with the contents in our stomach remaining put. We hike a bit in Panajachel to find an ATM (there were only 3 we understood) to gain access to more funds for our wild (not) weekend on the inside of a very old volcano.

Once we secure adequate funds we ran down a private launch with 2 other travelers and made our way to Isla Verde where the girls checked out the room while the guys cleansed their pallets with some cool brews. A few drinks later the girls returned with smiles on their faces and we made our way to our cottages  with an abundant view of the lake. We hiked up 160 steps to the Cabin. Yeah, I counted them!

There we rested till din-din and then it was down and back up again. At dinner the food was grandly cooked but I wasn’t grandly appreciative of it. For some reason Guatemalan food is not fully entombed in my DNA. So I ate my meal and plopped down to another guest; Susan. We had a good chat; she too from the states, working on her masters and doing a project down her for said degree. Her mom was about the same age as mine and we chuckled with each other about our own future as we hope to someday make it to our parents’ age now.

That evening we wandered; up 160 steps, and I fell into bed, I expecting a good nights sleep without roosters. W/ on the other hand chose to test out the Hot Tub with IB and Becca. She came back smiles and with the skin of a Sharpei. That evening we slept well.

And I was lucky, there were no roosters close to our cabin; however it is spring and the birds would NOT SHUT UP!  Once the Sun rose they screamed as if they were being strangled; some would call it singing but I believe it to be a disorganized set of musical notes inside a room with an echo. First one bird would spew out a melody and then another would answer and a third would repeat. Not just with 3 birds but with an entire zoological garden; the cacophony was so much for me that I rose early and wandered. Shot some photos and waited for the cadre to rise. By 7 or maybe it was 8 all were up and we had breakfast at our lodge where the others met and vetted Susan (remember I have poetic license here 🙂 ). She was stout of character Colorado-an and able to keep up with Becca and IB on our morning hike. BTW that mean pass W/ and I.

Lake  Atitlan and the Volcano

Lake Atitlan and the Volcano

We went off in search of grand vistas and  serendipitous  discoveries. Contrary to much of the last few weeks we had a nice rain shower this am and the air cleared more and more as we walked. When we arrived we could barely make out one of the three active volcanoes that are surrounding the rim of Lake Atitlan and this am we were rejoicing in air clear as window glass. We walked on the inside of the crater, passed some small towns, a couple more lodges, and a couple of quite nice homes build almost on the edge of the lake. We later

Nice House Lake Atitlan

Nice House Lake Atitlan

discovered that some of the homes built on the edge of the lake were no longer habitable as the lake had risen 2 meters in the last couple of years. Some homes were now existing for fish to enjoy the living room, dining room, etc.

I now understand a little better what W/ was always telling people; “Dave always wants to see what is around the next;  bend, corner, tree, shop, etc.” . While this started out as a 30 minute hike it was turning into Gilligan’s Tour, except no boat and no Island. We ended up 4 hours later after passing farms and villages, at a rather gorgeous Hotel on the side of the lake but still an hour walk from the town we had later transpired to make. Susan had work to do, W/ was tired; and truth be told I was a trifle tired too. Becca and IB never admitted to much  but we all gathered in another launch for our return to the place of our beginning. Or at least close to it; cost 20 Q which was about 3 dollars / person.

The Girls

The Girls

Susan went back to the lodge for work and the 4 of us had lunch at La Laguna Hostel.                         .

The afternoon we were planning on relaxing, after all we did plan this trip for a relaxing weekend, 🙂  and as the evening wore on W/ started to feel bad. I’m hoping she does not have what Becca had because that was about 3 days of hell, Montezuma’s revenge should not be attacking any of us this late in the game as we’d already been in Guatemala almost 6 weeks.  The 3 of us had dinner with Susan joining later. I retired early to climb the 160 steps to see how W/ is and care for her. NOTE:  W/ wouldn’t say I should use the word “care”  here but remember: it is I who is writing, not W/.

Wendy wasn’t doing well and the rest of the evening was lazing about. The am we ate breakfast, packed our bags, paid our bill and returned to Panajachel by launch. There IB and Becca chose to stay an extra night as they we no longer in Language School. W/ not feeling well chose to hang in the room till our transport arrived. I went with my two amigos and found a pharmacy that had the right medicine for Montezuma, returned to W/ so she could start her new regime and then back out for lunch. Upon my return. W/ was feeling a tad bit better having kept her appointments with the ceramic thrown to minimal she felt comfortable – almost in making the trip back to Antigua.

We caught the bus at 4 ish and began our journey home; with a FULL van. Luckily she was able to sit in the front seat; unluckily she had the middle seat. The front is her favorite seat and although I’m not there for her to tell me how to drive she’s able to look out and avoid any additional motion sickness from our real life Disney ride. As eventfully uneventful as the ride was we arrive well into dusk at central park, Antigua. There we made it to our apartment without incident and W/ went to bed. I stayed awake a bit longer and completed my homework for next weeks class. It was quiet; our roomies were still in Panajachel. My long weekend was over, I was looking forward to my am wakeup call from the Roosters; NOT. All was almost well with the world.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Spring Break Pt 3

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

We left Tikal in a Public Van. We started off with about 10 people in a 15 seat (counting the jump seats) van. At one point we ended up with; I counted,  32 people!  Yep, that’s right. There were people sitting on laps, 4 people in the front and some were hanging on behind the last seat. The door was closed; barely. When the van stopped  one Guatemalteca actually refused to enter. One doesn’t see that too often here.

We made it from Tikal to Flores; again, and there waited in a new, old bus station. The station looked to be about 30 years old but from the dedication placard it was new in 2000 ish. I don’t know if the wear and tear is from the climate, the maintenance, or the abuse a place like this takes.  But the building was definitely older then it looked.

From my perspective; culturally, the Latin philosophy is to build it as nice as possible and use it till there is no more life in whatever it is they built. At that point mother nature will have destroyed it, the people worn it out or just that no one cares anymore, then  they’ll build something new the way they want it now.

In Flores we boarded a large comfortable bus and had seats that denied me the choice of which knee to nibble on.

Streets on the town by the Rio Dulce

Streets on the town by the Rio Dulce

About 4 hours later we arrived at the Rio Dulce where IB and Becca’s boat Passport is. They had to change slips at the marina they were at and prepare the boat for a 6 month stay without their attendance. But first:  lunch.  I had a Conch Ceviche which was quite good and more like I’m use to with a great deal of lime, tomatoes, peppers and onions.  Sweet,  or best said bitter sweet.  I think the only ingredient they’re missing was Sour Orange. IB then called the Tijax for transport across the bay to their

A Hotel Room of Tijax

A Hotel Room of Tijax

marina where we took a room at their inn. They’re good enough friends that they said there was no need to get a room but W/ knows better. We took one of the last rooms the hotel had as we were traveling on a holiday week. W/’s  my social conscience and so now we all had our own space… for a bit.

We help IB and Becca in the next couple of days take the sails down, tie off the sheets and halyards, stow and cover the dinghy and most importantly remove the gooseneck fitting so IB could make a new one in the states. While Becca is choosing what to bring back to Antigua  and the states unbeknownst to me she’s also suggesting stuff to W/ to buy so we end up getting more stuff for the boat that W/ said we need. I’m not so sure. We also move their  boat to a slip that was much

Livingston, Guatemala

Livingston, Guatemala

more secure and protected from boat traffic.  Once most of the tasks were accomplished IB secured transport to Livingstone where we would have a chance to see the canyons of the Rio, visit the port and they could complete the paper work for their boat to hang longer in Guatemala. What a fascinating town but one in which sailors are advised to not stay overnight. Sometimes information is out of date but in the interest of safety we and most other cruisers follow advise from other cruisers and a place called Noonsite. With their paper work completed and  food in our stomachs we departed for the trip back up the river, through the canyons and back to the marina.

Next to their marina  I ran across a sailor we had met 5 years ago in Tarpon Springs;  Mike McCoy and his Westsail 32 Hallai. When he was beginning his adventure we met him at the Tarpon City Marina and chatted up Westsails, drove him and his crew around for supplies and gathered some food for our daily bread.  Now years later I see him here, doing some work on his boat and enjoying his time in the Rio.  We chat up others we know, changes in the boats, what we have to maintain and not, then part ways to continue with our own adventures.  The cruising community is rather small. I wouldn’t bet my boat on it but I had read that at any one time there are about 3,000 boats out cruising the world. We keep running into those we’ve met along the way and during those times we always feel like we’re home in small town USA; spread out over the globe.

We spend the majority of time hanging with IB and Becca, helping with the boat, checking out the many restaurants, walking the streets and enjoying this small, busy town. They seem to have most things that boaters would need for repair or maintenance and I can see why so many want to spend hurricane season here, supplies as well as the area being safely inland from hurricanes. Mike and Sue sat aboard s/v Infini, a Westsail 43 (sister ship in the hull to our Westsail 42) through one hurricane that went right over them. By the time the storm reached as far inland as they were it didn’t even have tropical storm winds and I remember talking to Mike and he told me they had a good bit of rain and a nice breeze out.  Maybe on our return trip through the Carib we’ll stop there. Who knows. Plans change and with sailors they can change daily.

Finished with their tasks we practiced some Spanish; IB mostly as the sauce had struck him funny, had a nice meal at the Hotel and hit the sack ready for another bus ride in the am to home, Antigua, Guatemala.  The following am W/ finished packing and we took the launch back to town, there we waited for the next bus to Guatemala City. No buses ran to Antigua on Sunday. 🙁  Finally, Finally, after standing shoulder to shoulder  with a hundred people our bus arrived and we boarded. Five hours later we arrived in Guatemala City and luckily received all our gear. There, Becca secured us a Taxi to Antigua.  Here is where we really  know we

A Stuffed Taxi

A Stuffed Taxi

are not in America. The smallish taxi barely held our stuff (we met a 5th person on the bus going to Antigua and invited her along) so with 5 people – 6 counting the driver and all our bags we squeezed into the taxi and took off. Becca ended up sitting on IB’s lap for the hour ride to Antigua.  What a ride it was.

Exiting the taxi at Central Park, Antigua was akin to inhaling from a long dive. We stretched, breathed, paid the driver, gathered our gear for our 2 block walk home. Now we can rest and relax, our vacation was nearly exhausting. We spent approx 35 hours traveling in a bus covering a good part of the Eastern and Northern area of Guatemala. It is time to do nothing.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Spring Break Pt 1

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Disney has nothing over Guatemala. Talk about reality, in Guatemala reality exists. We choose to take a Spring Break. Heck, we’re in

Ready 2 Rock & Roll

Ready 2 Rock & Roll

school, Spanish School, and everyone else in school gets a break so why not us?  Becca and Wendy took it upon themselves to organize a trip for a week in Guatemala and was I in for a surprise.  Generally, I’m the one to stick my neck out but with two women running the show I wasn’t about to. I just sat back and did my best to keep quiet while they figured a way for us to see some sights and then with  (Becca and IB ) make one last stop at their boat to prep sv Passport for summer.

Not even a day after our last class we were up at 7 am awaiting the arrival of our “tourist” van to Semuc Champey. When we boarded the van we thought “This won’t be too bad”.  A van with 12 seats had only 8 people. Sweet. We left Antigua in great spirits. A Holiday.

In Guatemala City we stopped and picked up 3 more gringos. Damn! We were all squished a bit now. I was chewing on my knees. IB was sandwiched on the other side of Becca and 3 students from a volunteer Spanish School / medical program joined us. Fortunately the mix was congenial and we shared stories most of the way to Semuc. Unfortunately the road rose and fell, turned right and left often enough that W/ was beginning to turn pale. However, she made it without incident. Late afternoon we were dropped at our primitive accommodations. We had a room; clean, with two beds 🙁 , 2 pillows 🙁 , a door lock and an easy pass ceiling. The commode, shower and sink were out the door and down the walk. Disney can top this for comfort but not for reality.

We stowed our stuff, plugged our phone into the only electrical outlet in the room and went looking for something cold to drink, place to sit, and people to watch. We found some of what we were looking for but food wasn’t to be till 7 ish and we were all tired and hungry. Becca located  the Zephyr Lodge  on line (we had 3g cell service here) and we strolled towards the other gringos, food, and cold beer. There we found a place we could settle into, signed up for dinner and planted our tooshes on a picnic bench. The food was exceptionally good as were were exceedingly hungry. As darkness was now upon us we stumbled our way back to the luxuries (not) lodging. But then again, at least we weren’t sleeping in bags on a rock with a tent around us. After the day stuffed into a van for 8 hours we found sheep nearby and lost track of the count moving into the world of dreams quickly.

Morning arrived without much ado and all of us gathered for the walk to town for breakfast. In typical Guatemala fashion IB, Becca, and W/ had what seems like the standard fare; refried beans, two scrambled eggs, plantonos, corn tortillas, and coffee. I chickened out and had the fruit plate. Satiated we returned to our luxurious accommodations and waited for the ride to Semuc.

Against the odds in Latin America our guide and the vehicle arrived on time. Closer to a moving cattle pen then a van,  we boarded over the tailgate and held on. We proceeded to pick up more tourists (50 / 50 gringos to Guatemalans) and finally headed towards Semuc only to end up behind a Semana Santa procession. There we waited with another cattle van escorting more tourists. After what seemed a month and a day we motored back to the center of town; picked up two more tourists and eventually made it around the procession and began the trek through the mountains to Semuc. The ride is more Disney then anything Disney could come up with. A 1,000 feet up the mountain pass and then down the other side. We covered what the sign said was 10 km but signs often lie. It was close to an hour in the cattle van before we arrived at the park. There thankfully we climbed down from our cattle van and  followed our guide on a walkabout while he gathered more tourists.  While the guide was only partially needed he was still comforting to have around. We made it into the park with little problems, our bags were checked; for what I don’t really know, soap, alcohol, weapons – what would we shoot?, etc. We passed without incident and began the walk to the lookout for the natural swimming holes.

SeMuc Pools, Guatemala

SeMuc Pools, Guatemala

Quite a hike and always a wonder how anyone could build steps up the side of the mountain. We walked the trails or should I say

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

dragged our tooshes up the trail and then climbed higher with steps to heaven. Alternating steps, trails, break, steps, break, trail, break, break; after what seemed like reaching a location somewhere above the cruising altitude of commercial jet liners we crossed the ridge and were within minutes, awestruck by the vista. There I came upon some bad news. The battery in my camera died in the middle of my photo shoot from an altitude close to requiring Oxygen mask. As they often say, leave only footprints and take only memories. Hope my memories hold. Fortunately IB and Becca both have cameras and I can slip some of the pics onto our computer. And too I left the iPhone back at the ranch because today was going to be a water day and I didn’t want to trust that I could keep the iPhone dry. Although one can purchase an iPhone here in Guatemala I’m not sure if they’re unlocked and they are still expensive.

After a bit of time at altitude we were beginning to feel light headed and our guide suggested we descend. The descent to the pools  was a bit easier and finally we were able to keep up with Becca and IB. They love looooong strides and hiking with them is like trying to stroll beside a train leaving the station. Ever so slowly they keep pulling away. But now; Becca had slept a little off and awakened with a back ache,  descending was a pain for her; pun intended and for the most part we were their shadow.  However all too soon she discovered that if she moved at a slow trot / run she was pain free. Bye, Bye Becca!

The pools were not all that far. We arrived to ooooh’s and ahhhh’s, then moved to one of the middle pools for a swim and snack. The

Going Down

Going Down

water was clear and cool.  I chose to enter slowly remembering my training as a lifeguard but there were those taking a risk and plunging head first into water, luckily the bottom appeared much closer then it was. I’ve not heard of people getting injured by swimming / diving in the pools but the park had an area roped off that was dangerous. The river rapids dive prior to the pools and traverses 300 meters underground exiting on the down stream side. In the last year or so the park ranger indicated that 5 people had fallen into the rapids never to exit the other side. Depending on ones beliefs; you could now infer they’re swimming in Paradise.

As I lounged in the pools, sitting on a ledge I discovered the fish were hungry. In mass they began to

Natures Pedicure

Natures Pedicure

nibble on my legs, feet and toes. Had I stayed in one place longer the fish could have given me a complete body scrub nibbling off any flaking / old skin.  However, every once in awhile they bit hard enough that I winced. Time to move on.

Becca Swimming at SeMuc

Becca Swimming at SeMuc

in the early afternoon we had a poor lunch at the park entrance. Poor in terms of quality yet it did meet our caloric needs. We were going caving.  W/ abstained from this adventure as we would first wade into the cave, then need to swim some while holding a lit candle to light our way and finally retreat the same route. While the description was technically correct we also climbed up a wall with running water and a  rope secured further up with knots for aiding in our ascent. That and two poorly constructed ladders, squeezing between rocks all the while trying to keep the candles dry and lit made for an exciting, cool if not cold, caving adventure.

Caving in SeMuc

Caving in SeMuc

An hour later Becca, IB and I exited the cave close to shivering while W/ was comfortably warm lounging in the Sun.  There we dried off, warmed up only to find another surprise for the days end. A swing had been constructed where one sits only for the descent, we are launched to the middle of the river where  those wishing to survive drop the swing and fall / leap / dive into the water. Society say’s that people become wiser with age. That is not always true. After watching a couple of other gringos and the two guides partake of this mini adventure I figured I had it nailed. Besides, the two gringos were college kids and girls to boot, there was no way I could stand by and watch. I had observed a couple of bad water entrances so I figured to travel with the swing to the end of the arc, drop the swing and drop straight into the water. My descent didn’t work as I had planned. All was fine till I let go the swing and began to drop. Somehow I figure I held on to one side of the swing just a micro second longer than I should have. As I dropped from the swing I entered more on my side then with my feet. I had the wind knocked out of me and that experience gave me a few moments of wonder. Wondering if maybe I didn’t really break a rib. Wondering if I would catch my breath before taking one last dive. Wondering how inelegant I really looked. Wondering if I could swim out of the way of the next subject on the swing. Those on the shore indeed had a great box seat. of my world classless water entry. IB didn’t fare much better but he seemed to recover sooner. Then Becca made us all look bad. She said her thoughts were about rememberong her porch swings and jumping off.  She tried to repeat her experience here and made a near perfect water entry.

By the time the three of us had swum to shore W/ was preparing for tubing down the river. The only thing  we were missing was some refreshments!  Finally, a part of the day we could all relax. We tubed for a hour then made a 15 minute trek back to start as the river ran around a large horseshoe bend. Now exhausted we climbed aboard the cattle van to transit over the mountain and back to our primitive,  but clean room. A shower, a beer, and a walk to town for an evening meal was the exclamation point to a grand day. Night, Night.

Falling … Into Place

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Ironically, events have been moving smoothly. We arrived in Panama City (PC) with 7 bags checked and wrung out like fighters having just lost a bout. However; we did make it through Immigration and Customs without a scratch. Roger picked us up at the Airport and we loaded all our belongings into a smaller then we’re use to room at the Hotel Milan. There we slept like the living dead and planned to commit  the following  for recovery.

PC is like a home to us in many ways. We know where to walk. We have several good restaurants in mind and we even know of  a walking route to one of the malls. On day two of our weekly transitional stay I was updating the computers and phones; internet was part of the Hotel fee and I wasn’t  paying by the gigabyte for data, aka upgrades. So I upgraded the OS’s in the computers and then W/s phone and  lastly mine. Mine went kahooee. I spent all day trying to identify what happened and solve the issue. I wasn’t successful. Both phones are unlocked so when we reach a new country we  purchase a local SIM and have a local number. Having phones in the host country is one way we are  still connected to the rest of the world.

That day the best I could figure out is that either there was a problem in the router setup at the hotel or the factory unlock code for the phone was only good in the US.  I connected with the phone unlock people and found that there should not be any issue anywhere internationally. Good. My next try will be to attempt the Restore in a breakfast restaurant we know that has a good and fast connection. That would be In two days.

The following day we were planning on delivering the boat goods to Elysium and replace the tarps that were keeping her s little, dare I say; LITTLE, protected from the Sun. Alfanso picked us up at 10, we stopped, bought two tarps and had an easy trip to Shelter Bay Marina. There we unloaded  5 pieces of luggage (we kept some at the hotel, clothes etc), and then ferried all we brought to the secure yard where the boat was. The bags were heavy enough we hauled them aboard with a halyard, then emptied them out with W/ doing the rough placement. Little if anything was stored. From that point on we had no more need of the luggage, nor any place to really store them.  One piece went to some friends traveling soon to Macchu Pichuu, two others went to Lopez a Kuna Indian we’ve known since we’ve been coming to SB and the last two soft bags we fold up and carry on the boat.

In the midst of the unpacking I discovered that the house bank of batteries had  drained pretty low so we connected the power up for the charger to top them off. Later while pulling the old tarps off I found the reason of the low batteries,  somehow the solar connector wiring  had been disconnected. 🙁  I reconnected that wire and the batteries are now charging.

After the unpacking we began to re-cover the boat. The old and beginning to tatter tarps were removed and discarded. The new ones unfolded and tied off. This was the trying part. With the boat on the hard we’re in the middle of the storage yard; aka – no breeze, and with the Sun out we were hot and thirsty. The water in the boat was good but not cool. The tienda at the Marina was closed for inventory!  Warm water it is.

About 2 hours later we were finished and exhausted,  ready for a shower and  lunch or since it is 4 o’clock I should say dinner. Bob and Vicki on Fox Sea came to join us and Annette on Tempest stopped by. We shared some quick stories of the recent months and soon Roger arrived for our return to PC. Half way to the locks Roger received a phone call from IB and Becca ( sv Passport) for us. They had found an apartment for rent in Antigua, Guatemala and wanted to make sure we were still interested and all was ok.  Bingo.  Plans are dropping into place.  Arriving in PC  completely tired we soon fell into bed looking forwards to the dawn of a new day.

With all the goods stored on the boat, the boat shaded, us back in the city, it was time to finish fixing or buying a new phone and time to get secure transportation to Guatemala. We started to look at fares and we soon discovered that we had to get a return ticket. We really wanted an open end ticket but ok.  Later IB and Becca had said they could have given us a letter to say we would be leaving on their boat but that may have been more messing with the government people then we wished.

We were lucky. We had breakfast at New York Bagels and there on the second try the phone was fully

Banana Split at Trapici

Banana Split at Trapiche

restored. Don’t think I’ll update it again for a long… long …. time. At least until I see some real benefit from the update. Then back to the hotel for getting tickets to Guatemala. After the light headed feeling of paying more for round trip to Guatemala then we did for the States (which is farther away) we went to lunch at Trapiche. There fate smiled on us as we ordered a Banana Split sight unseen. Sweet!

The following day was a hang out day. Hang out and pack. We packed up 3 bags of stuff and one computer bag to travel with. We hadn’t known what traveling this light is like. The rest of the day we walked some, and just “chilled”. We were ready.

The ride to the airport was akin to an adventure at Disney World. That taxi flew down the freeway and we couldn’t help but smile. We hadn’t been to Guatemala by boat ever so this is all new to us. This and we were flying on Copa Airlines. Also new to us.

For some reason when I tried to pick seats on Copa the web page didn’t load. No big deal. I was quite sure the airline had our seat assignments, they did have our money.  We arrived plenty early  to complete all the paper work and check the bags only to find the line made Disney’s seem normal. We stood in line for close

Big Seats - Copa Air

Big Seats - Copa Air

to an hour and had our black bag twice sniffed by a dog.  The desk clerk was kind and W/ asked about her children. She was pregnant. W/ trying to speak in Spanish and doing admirably well. We then walked another 15 minutes to the gate and waited. When we boarded the plane W/ and I went to the rear where I had tried to get assigned seats. Yeah, the numbers were on the tickets but I ended up mixed up and not knowing if these planes numbered from the back to the front or visa vera. Opps. After hiking to the back of the plane we recognized that we were up front and fought our way back up the isle to be quite pleasantly surprised we had been assigned seats in First Class; the big seats, extra leg room. I”m wondering, did I die? Is this heaven?

We land in Guatemala City, Guatemala and take the looooong walk to Immigration and Customs. On the way we change out some money for Quetzels (the currency used in Guatemala). Immigration was as smooth as when we travel back to the US. Customs must either have known we had been sniffed by the dog or we looked OK. At least W/ did. We walked through the building and met our driver outside; he was holding up a placard “Wendy Dave Kall”

The ride to Antigua was uneventful and enlightening. We traversed up the mountain for 30 minutes and then slalomed downhill –  on all 4 wheels with brakes all the way. We made safely to the bottom  and arrived to a city with cobble stone streets and an old city flair, surrounded by both active and inactive volcanoes. Our driver found our residence and I”m sure was close to laughter as I banged on the door for IB or Becca. The door enters into a courtyard and in the residence one wouldn’t’ hear me no matter how hard I …knocked. W/ read the instructions Becca sent  and I then rang the bell protected in a wire cage to the right of the door. Still no answer. Not wanting to keep our driver waiting we paid him and then unloaded our bags while  planning to await IB and Becca  in the Hotel next door. As we entered the lobby of the hotel IB appeared; with Becca right behind him, all smiles, surprised we had made it as fast.

Nachos at 1 of almost 400 Restaurants in Antigua, Guatemala

Nachos at 1 of almost 400 Restaurants in Antigua, Guatemala

That evening we wandered the town taking in the sights and sounds of new city.  IB told us there are over 360 restaurants here.  (We might be here a little longer. 🙂 )  Antigua is celebrating Lent for the  entire mont and  tourist have traveled in mass to this area witnessing the festival. We had dinner at a quaint Spanish restaurant (4 tables) and then meandered out to watch the procession. There the floats were all carried by people dressed in Purple. The largest float; with Christ carrying the cross, had 17  men on each side and two rows of men inside underneath. The front and back had 4 additional men. I don’t know how light or heavy the float is, but I will say, those underneath carrying the load we’re not on their toes. The float moved like a wave, one side then the other, two steps forward and one back as they moved down the cobblestone street. How many groups of men they had to carry the float I don’t know. The procession made it’s way along the streets winding throughout town, and 3 hours later they came back again. What struck me as the large float moved by a smaller one appeared, this one carried by women.

Erupting Volcano, Antigua, Guatemala

Erupting Volcano, Antigua, Guatemala

As the evening wore on we were slowly tiring out and IB spotted the Volcano erupting. A fit exclamation point to our arrival.

Gos Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long