Jungle Book Speed Boat

Guys, I got up at 5:30am this morning in order to get to Rio Dulce in time for the Jungle Book boat tour. I almost didn’t make it – my hotel door was padlocked from the inside and I couldn’t get out. I finally woke up the proprietor by dinging the front desk bell hard enough. She was not happy to see me. I took a shuttle to a connecting bus whose aisle, by the way, was filled boys aged 9-13, most of whom had machetes. I got into Rio Dulce around noon, watched the local Bombaderos recruits run an obstacle course on the way to the dock, and met a ferry captain whose name is difficult so he goes by “The Black” or “El Negro” en Espanol. The Black helped me buy my ticket and told me to come back in an hour. I got lunch and then met a strange old man who graduated from my high school 55 years ago.

Finally the moment arrived. I was ready for a relaxing trip through the jungle… I’ve had some early mornings lately so I imagined I’d be so relaxed I’d drift off to sleep for a stretch – and how great would it be to nap in the sun and wake up with the jungle giving you a nice warm hug as the river sings sweet songs to you??? This trip was just what the doctor ordered. Buuuuuuuttttt I think I got in the wrong boat…

picstitch-8You’d think at that pace we’d make it to Livingston in no time. Not the case. The “River Tour” that I got was a tour of every delivery and pickup they had up and down the river to small inaccessable villages. I still enjoyed it – the scenery was beautiful and it exposed me to a different way of life… But I didn’t get my nap. I think it’s the return trip that’s slow and relaxed. By the time we pulled into Livingston, I’d missed the last return trip to Rio Dulce so I got a room at the “Iguana House” or some place with Iguana in the name. It’s great – we all just had a sit down family meal and then had a trivia night! I’m glad I got stuck here – Livingston is fascinating. There is a large population of Garfuna people in this area. From the little I know, these are descendants of survivors of a shipwrecked slave ship that crashed on St. Vincent back in the 1675. When the British took over St. Vincent, they deported the Garfuna to Roatan – an island off Honduras. They had a hard time on Roatan so they made a deal with the Spanish to move to the mainland. That’s a super simplified account but it’s more than I knew about this morning…

So that’s that. I’m on the Caribbean in Guatemala. I have nine days of traveling left! Here are some options for tomorrow… I found some cool stuff but I don’t know about travel times… I need to slowly head West to meet my friend in Antigua later in this week but tomorrow, should I:

1. Take the 9am boat back to Rio Dulce and then head 20 miles west along the lake to a place called El Estor that has a Hot Spring Waterfall. I’ve heard this place is amazing. You swim around and then hike up and cover yourself in mineral mud and then wash it all off in the hot water of the waterfall. ADDED BONUS – there’s a canyon a little ways down the road that you can paddle up that has cliffs of more than 250 meters (my guidebook is British). Canyon Pics.

2. Take the relaxed boat back and make my way to Semuc Champey. This is a limestone formation at which most of the river goes underground but some is diverted to a series of pools in the jungle. I hear it’s an absolute must. I definitely want to do this – the question is whether or not to try to get there tomorrow or wait a day…

3. Skip the morning boat to Rio Dulce and instead take the earlier and faster ferry across the bay to and catch busses from there to the Hot Waterfalls & Scenic Canyon.

4. Same as #3 but take busses to Semuc Champey.

5. Stay in Livingston, explore, check out the white sand beach and relax for a day!

Vote soon – I’ll check in the morning!

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