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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Busy 90 Days In Guatemala!

   As usual, when we arrived back in Guatemala, we received a 90 day tourist visa. Our 90 days is up on January 11th, so we are now preparing to sail off to the Bay Islands of Honduras. Due to weather, we will probably leave after our 90 days are up, which will make us illegal aliens. Not to worry, you just pay the fine when you leave. The fine, by the way, is 10Q ( $1.25 US) per person per day you overstay.

One of our first projects when we returned was to strip all the old varnish off the exterior teak (Mobetah has a lot of teak) and replace it with 10 coats of the latest and greatest varnish available (Epethanes ultra high UV varnish). Thank goodness we were able to find a quart of it here in Rio Dulce. We hired Marta (a local woman) to do a lot of the sanding, while Bill did the flat areas with a power sander. Marta did all the hand sanding on the hard to get to places like handrails and around cleats and such. She was a very hard worker, so we paid her 200Q a day ($25.00 US), which is considerably more than the going rate down here. She did bring her teenage son and husband a few days to help, at miumal cost.

After the teak refinishing was completed, we decided to take time off from boat projects to do a land trip. We went with two other couples to Copan in Honduras. Man, did we pack a lot of sightseeing into four days. We visited the Mayan ruins on the first day, which are very impressive. Many of the ruins have been rebuilt by archeologists from around the worlld, and there is a very impressive museum on site which houses a lot of the original artifacts from the ruins. Although Copan is smaller than other Mayan sites, it has the best preserved carvings. Our biggest break, on that first day, was finding Renaldo and his two brothers. They all own TucTucs (those funny looking little three wheel taxis from India), and all three speak good English. They became our unoffical tour guides from then on. On the second day, Norm and Linda decided they wanted to go horseback riding, and everyone else later decided to just go up into the mountains to some lesser known Mayan ruins and eat lunch at a nearby resort. After a short hike from the resort to the ruins, we arrived at the ruins to hear Renaldo on a trail leading from the opposite direction telling John and Linda that their friends were there. When we left the ruins, we went back with John, Linda and Renaldo to a small village which produces corn shuck dolls (which all the little girls try to sell to all the tourists) and has a small factory where the ladies of the village weave native fabric with hand looms. Renaldo called his brother (it may be a third world country, but everyone has a cell phone, and there seems to be excellent coverage almost everywhere), and he came up the mountain with a tuc tuc to pick us up, while Linda and Norm rode back down on the horses. It was a white knuckle trip down the mountain. We saw some tobacco barns which looked just like the tobacco barns in South Georgia looked fifty years ago. We also stopped at a small shop where artifical Mayan atrtifacts are made for tourists and for decoration of businesses around the world, (think MAYAN PRINCESS HOTEL in Las Vegas!) The next day we went up to McCaw Mountain, which is a beautiful park that nurses and houses abandoned or injured birds. We first enjoyed a fried chicken lunch at their restaurant (operated by Twisted Tanya and her husband ,who we had met previously at their restaurant in town), then toured the park and enjoyed the birds and exotic plants. Before we left we had a cup of fresh coffee which is grown, processed, roasted and packaged on site. We know it was fresh because it was just coming out of the roaster as we showed up. On our last day everyone but Bill and Sandy went ziplining. They were taken on a bumpy ride in the back of a 4-wheel pick-up way up in the hills. From there, they came down 4 kilometers of lines stretched between 14 platforms. It was exhilerating, and the views were spectacular. To compensate, Bill and Sandy went back (we had discovered it earlier) to a little comedor in the market for their pork chop, egg, bean and coffee breakfast (at a cost of about $2.50 US). Our van driver from Rio Dulce showed up right on time, and we headed back to the Rio.

Our Copan Taxi (It's called a TucTuc)

Colorful  Macaws
Artifacts At The Museum

Pat On The Zipline

Bill, Terry and The Big Saba Tree
You're  Safe In Copan Honduras If You Stick With These Guys

We also made a trip to Frutos Del Mundo (Fruits Of The World), which is a small plantation specializing in growing exotic fruits from around the world. Dwight, the owner and our guide, came down to Central America 23 years ago with the Peace Corp and just never left. We enjoyed the tour and got to taste several new fruits which we had never tried before and also enjoyed a fried fish lunch (prepared using fruits, vegetables and juices produced on site along with their own fresh Talapia taken from their irrigaion ponds.)

Dwight, Our Guide and Owner Of Frutus Del Mundo

Lunch at Frutus Del Mundo
  A happy hour discussion of the use of pressure cookers, turned into the cooking of dried beans and then to the plotting of the first annual Fiesta De Flatulance. The four couples who were here in the marina at the time all brought their pressure cookers and beans up to the marina's kitchen and prepared beans to be shared for supper. Everyone had a great time and the beans all turned out to be delicious.

John The Marina Manager
When Christmas came around, many of the Monkey Bay residents volunteered to help Casa Guatemala (a local orphanage here on the river). Since we were told that some of the most needed items were panties and bras for the older girls at the orphanage, the ladies of Monkey Bay spent one day shopping for these. John, the marina manager, volunteered as boat operator to get them to town and even assisted in the bra and panty shopping. Pat, Linda and Jan spent Christmas Eve morning helping to cook turkeys at Backpackers, a local restaurant owned by the orphanage, where many of the older children get training for jobs. Jim, a boater here at Monkey Bay Marina who has white hair and a big bushy white beard, played the part of Santa Clause on Christmas Eve night at the orphanage. Gifts were given to the childern of the orphanage, and small gifts were given to each of the over three hundred Mayan children who showed up from neighboring villages. The Monkey Bay volunteer also assisted in feeding all the visitng children tamales, which are a Central American Christmas tradition. Then the staff, volunteers and the children from the orphanage had a wonderful Christmas Turkey Dinner. The following morning we had Christmas for our marina caretaker's children, with Jim once again playing the part of Santa Clause. The four children become almost like surrogate grandchildren for all of us cruisers at the marina. Christmas of 2011 was truly a Christmas none of us will ever forget.  
The Turkey Cooks At Backpackers
Jim (Our Santa Clause) from S/V Dreamaway

Monkey Bay Crowd at Xmas Dinner - Hotel Kangroo

 During our 90 days we have had happy hour almost every night, several pot luck dinners and one shrimp boil (with shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes boiled in seasoned water) here at the marina. It's always a good time here at Monkey Bay.

 In spite of all the good times here, it's time to sail on to new territory. We plan to sail to the Bay Islands of Honduras about the 17th of January.