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
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
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
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
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.