Category Archives: Central America

Posts that relate to travel in Central America

Cruising on the Rio Dulce, Guatemala’s Sweet River

This morning I reported to the ferry dock to buy my cruise ticket on the Rio Dulce, Guatemala’s sweet river, from Livingston to Rio Dulce where I will then catch a bus back to Guatemala city.

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Livingston Guatemala Port

I’m pretty happy to be leaving Livingston as it’s sweltering with humidity and definitely the most “dismal” place I’ve seen in the Caribbean.

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Goodbye Livingston!

Many travelers had great things to say about the Rio Dulce and maybe the river itself was better, but I probably already had my fill of sitting around the middle of the jungle sweating my a** off in Semuc Champey/Lanquin so that’s about how I feel about that.

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Old Boat near livingston Guatemala

The mouth or “Buga” of the Rio Dulce was beautiful and the water was nice and calm making for an enjoyable boat ride that was supposed to take 2 hours.

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Entering the Rio Dulce

For a portion of the ride, there were steep limestone cliffs (some replete with graffiti) also covered in thick green jungle.

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Limestone walls of Rio Dulce

A few miles up the river there was a Mayan community which I had read about as this area is more renowned for the Garifuna people I wrote about yesterday, but they do work together in this area and live in perfect harmony.

About 30 minutes up the river we stopped at Agua Caliente or the hot springs… that’s just what I want to do when it is 90 degrees out and 85% humidity… sit in some hot springs.  But we were there for 15 minutes so I dipped my feet in.

Considering it was RIGHT on the river, that water was HOT.  I’d probably have boiled up if I put my whole body in, as if I haven’t been miserable enough from the heat.

A few minutes after we departed Agua Calientes where they also charged me 2Q to use the Banos, we came upon a place filled with lots of lily pads.  They called it the Laguna de flores (Flower Lagoon).

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Laguna de flores

Some people commented they had never seen lily pads before…. I grew up in Minnesota which is the land of 10000 lakes, so I’ve seen my share.

Next up seemed to be an egret nesting area, although the guide/boat captain didn’t really comment much about it.

About an hour after we left Livingston I knew we were already in the city of Rio Dulce as I began to see hundreds of docked sailboats.  Apparently this area is renowned for being safe harbor during hurricane season and many people send their boats down this way until the end.

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Sailboats on the rio dulce for hurricane season

About a minute later we passed over a massive soaring bridge before pulling into the dock.  Our 2 hour “tour” took about 1 hour 10 minutes and I was already in Rio Dulce Guatemala…. so now I just have to waste 12 hours away before my flight takes off this evening.

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Bridge over the Rio Dulce

Luckily? if you can all it that, I’ll be stuck on a Guatemalan bus for at least half of that watching bad American action movies in Spanish…. so I’m on my way back to the US for a few days to see my family, friends and do a much-needed resupply before the journey continues <3

//The I.A.

Exploring the Garifuna Culture in Livingston Guatemala

I decided to head back out to the Caribbean coast to Livingston Guatemala for my last few days in this amazing country as many people had great things to say about this area as it was supposed to be completely different from anywhere else in Guatemala.

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Ferry to Livingston from Puerto Barrios

You see, while the rest of Guatemala has mainly Mayan ancestry the people of Livingston Guatemala are Garifuna.  In the 17th century, a boatload of slaves shipwrecked on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent… eventually mating and mixing with the indigenous Carib blood and these became the Garifuna people.

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In the 18th century after a lot of fighting the British colonized St. Vincent and decided to deport the Garifuna people to Roatan, Honduras where many of the surviving Garifuna starved.

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Street fruit vendor in Livingston

This led to them leaving Roatan and spreading peacefully across here to the Caribbean Guatemala which today has the highest concentration of Garifunas, but to Honduras, Nicaragua and southern Belize as well.

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Livingston community bath/laundry

Livingston Guatemala is a landlocked town only accessible via boat and the Garifuna’s call it “Buga” which literally means “mouth” in the Garifuna language due to its location at the mouth of the Rio Dulce which I am going to explore tomorrow on my way to the airport.

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Tienda in Livingston

The Garifuna people still speak their native language which is 45% Arawak, 25% Killinagu, 5% French, 10% English and 5% Spanish… there is also still a lot of traditional Garifuna food in Livingston, the most “famous” dish being Tapado which is a seafood filled coconut milk soup.  Probably delicious, but soup doesn’t feel so amazing on a sweltering hot day.

I have to say I expected something else from Livingston as I’ve already been to the Keys in Belize, Roatan and the Corn Islands of Nicaragua, I felt it was more in the same culture-wise but dirtier, trashier and a lot less to offer.

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Livingston community basketball

So hopefully tomorrow my boat ride up the Rio Dulce will be a charming experience and making the long trip out this way to Livingston Guatemala will be worth it.

//The I.A.

An Afternoon Adventure to Siete Altares

Yesterday I did another longggg road trip from La Antigua to a town on the Caribbean coast, Livingston Guatemala.  According to the owner of the guesthouse I was staying in, I should have arrived in the afternoon, but this wasn’t the case at all as it was well past 7pm when we finally were able to drop our bags at Casa Nuestra.

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Puerto Barrios

The owner of the guesthouse is on vacation but had sent me a list of recommendations of things to do here while in town.  But first let me say, my God its hot here… I have two fans in my room and I’m dying, even just laying there, I’m drenched in sweat.  It’s horrific.

So it took some willpower to make myself go on the first recommended activity, a hike to Siete Altares.  I didn’t know anything about it, except that Siete Altares was some type of waterfall area.  So I threw on my bikini and trudged off down the beach along Bahía de Amatique… in the sun… for 3 miles each way.

I was sweltering…. and thought about turning around several times…it also didn’t help that the stretch of beach I was walking on was filthy.  ABSOLUTELY the most polluted disgusting stretch of sand I have ever seen…. most of it being plastics…. it made me sick.

siete altaresBut finally I eyed the lush entrance to Siete Altares, luckily lacking filth.

I paid the 20Q entrance fee, used the clean bathrooms and climbed my last hill… and found myself in a pleasant oasis.

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first pools

Siete altares is a series of seven waterfalls joined by a pleasant slow flowing creek.  The water looked pretty clean and I was relieved to find a private little swimming hole with a waterfall to cool off and relax in.

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My pool at Siete altares

As I was sitting there, relaxing I saw three germans hiking toward me from up the river… they told me that 5 minutes further upstream was a larger waterfall that I had to check out, especially since I had already come this far in the heat.  So I threw my flip-flops back on, and walked up the river.

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Large cascada at Siete Altares

It was nice up there as well, but with a few more people…. some were jumping off the falls into the pool below, and it was also pleasant except for some idiot who kept yelling out at the top of his lungs “piscina” every 30 seconds to make his kids laugh… which was enough to annoy me, so I turned back around and went back to my private pool to read, bathe and nap the afternoon away.

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Little crab

The worst thing was, I knew I had to pull myself away from the Siete Altares oasis and walk in the heat and humidity the entire beach back to Livingston…which was awful.siete altaresSiete Altares is definitely an amazing place to visit and due to it’s lack of people, although smaller than Semuc Champey, I actually prefered it as I felt I had the entire thing to myself (except for the biggest falls area).  I’d definitely recommend it if in Livingston Guatemala along with lots of water for the hike there and back.

//The I.A.