Mobetah in St. Pete Beach Florida just prior to leaving for the Northwestern Caribbean

Mobetah in St. Pete Beach Florida just prior to leaving for the Northwestern Caribbean

About Us

Until his retirement, Bill Was a Landscape Architect for the National Park Service and Pat was a Physical Therapist.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Settling Down In Guatemala

After arriving at the Monkey Bay Marina, our friends Rodney and Katrina, aboard Angelina, gave us a tour of the town and the other marinas as well as introducing us to several of the cruisers in the area.

The town of Rio Dulce (also called Fronteras) basically consists of a lot of small shops, fruit and vegetable stands, and food carts crammed along the edge of a very busy road which crosses the bridge across the river. Cruisers can find most basic items locally. However, once beyond the basics, obtaining parts etc. for the boat becomes a challenge.
There are several marinas located in the area. While ours does not, many of the marinas have restaurants/bars where cruisers gather, usually on the day a particular marina has a lunch special, dinner special, shows a movie or has a nautical swap meet. Less than a day after arriving in Rio Dulce we were having dinner with several other cruisers at Bruno's Steak Night! We have since enjoyed numerous lunches at Las Mexicanas, Pizza and a movie at Tortugal and Saturday morning at the Mario's Marina swap meet.
After a few days on the Rio, several cruisers made a day trip to a local hot springs and falls known as Agua Calliente. (Hot Water) After a very crowded ride in a van (16 of us), it was a nice walk in to the swimming area, where we wadded and swam in the cooler spring water or under the hot falls.

We planned to stay in Guatemala for about six weeks before heading back to the U.S. for summer and the height of hurricane season, however, most of the other cruisers were in a hurry to get their boats ready for in-the-water storage and get back home. Rodney and Katrina were scheduled to go back to Texas in late May, so we planned an inland trip to Antigua with them and Kent and Faye aboard Southern Mist, as well as Art and Rene aboard Jewell. We all bought tickets for the Litegua bus which travels from the Rio Dulce to Guatemala City in about 5 1/2 hours (cost = $7.50 US per ticket). Some buses, in the Litegua fleet are older than others. We were lucky and had a nearly new Chinese bus (which basically means the air conditioner worked all the way to Guatemala City). Once in Guatemala City we transferred to a Litegua Van for the 30 mile trip to Antugua. All our luggage was placed in a rack on top of the van with no cover or protection from the elements (after all, it was a bright sunshiny day)..... that would prove to be a mistake, because as we approached Antigua, we suddenly ran into very heavy rain. After being dropped at La Continental hotel, we checked in and begin drying our clothes. We entered the hotel through a massive wooden door that enters to a nice courtyard, around which the rooms are positioned.

The town of Antigua was originally the Spanish capital for most of Central America during the 17th and 18th centuries, but was nearly leveled by several earthquakes in 1773, after which the capital was moved to what became Guatemala City. Antigua is now a major tourist attraction, with many restored colonial Spanish buildings and ruins. It is surrounded by several volcanos. Much of the inland Mayan population lives in the hills around the town. They come into town daily to sell their wares. We spent four days visiting local tourist attractions such as the Mayan textile museum, the local market, local restaurants and a lot of old churches. The men, however, seemed to always end up at Reilley's Irish Pub for happy hour, which lasted from 1:00 pm until 7:00 pm.

After an enjoyable time in Antigua, we headed back to Guatemala City, where Rodney and Katrina, as well as Art and Rene, had to catch a plane back to the US. We checked into our mom and pop hotel, Las Torres, then took a walking tour of the neighborhood. We were in zone 10 (the safest and most Americanized of Guatemala City zones) so we were surrounded by such American icons as the Holiday Inn, Raddison Hotel, Hooters, Applebee's, TGI Friday's and of course McDonalds. We also found a casino where you could pass the time by playing electronic gambling games for a small cost (it was possible to even win a little). The good thing about the casino was, as long as you were playing the games, they kept giving you drinks. We also went to the big Central Market, which is a huge three story underground market. After two days of touring, Rodney, Katrina, Art and Rene caught their planes back to America, and the rest of us caught a bus back to the Rio Dulce. We were not as lucky going back, since ten miles out of Guatemala City the air conditioner on our not so new bus quit.

Once back at the Rio Dulce we began work on our boat's shade structure. We had planned to provide the materials and have a local canvas worker do the work (the proper materials are not always available in Guatemala), however, we were unable to get the canvas worker to commit to the project, so we set up shop in the palapa and began the week and half long project ourselves.

Once the shade structure was complete, it was time for us to start packing up and preparing to return to the US . On June 13, we got up early and had John (our marina manager) take us into town to meet the bus. Once again, we were lucky ........ The air conditioner worked all the way to Guatemala City. We spent the night once again at Las Torres Hotel. In the two weeks or so since we had been there, they had completed a renovation on some of the rooms, so we were surprised when we were given a room that was newly retiled, freshly painted and had a new T.V. and bed. We had little time to enjoy it, however, since we had to get up at 3:30 am and head to the airport for a 6:45 departure.

We arrived at the airport and were surprised that two or three hundred people were standing around outside the front doors. Our taxi driver told us that all those people were there to see a friend or family member off. He said one person would leave and fifty or so would come to see them off. Since, only ticked passengers are allowed inside the airport terminal they just stand around outside and watch the plane take off. We had no problem obtaining our bording passes etc. however Bill was searched twice and our bags were gone through two or three times.
A little after dawn, we lifted off and were headed back to the good old U.S. where Pat's brother and law picked us up at Ohare International Airport in Chicago .