This morning I crossed my fingers and bought a return ticket to Rio Dulce in the hopes that they’d take their time and I’d finally get my Jungle Book boat tour. Guys, it happened. We took our time, I got to re-introduce myself to that weird old man who didn’t remember me from yesterday’s boat trip, and I even got my nap. Perfection.
On the boat I met a couple who were also interested in checking out the hot waterfalls that won the poll yesterday so once we got back to Rio Dulce, I got a room and we found a minibus that would take us there. On this ride were a number of indigenous people (my favorite was the lady with the fat baby) and then four Mormon missionaries complete with the shirts and ties and nametags. The two up front got right to work on their seat partners but I got to chat with the one who sat in front of me. This is what I learned:
Each missionary works with a “comp” or companion. They get up at 6am, go to the gym for an hour, prayer for an hour, private bible study for an hour, comp bible study for an hour, language study for an hour, and then they go around the village and visit people or carry wood for them. They get Mondays off, they can email (he said “internet message” but I assume it’s the same?) their families once per week and they get two calls per year – Mother’s Day and Christmas. No visits. The guy I spoke to learned a rare Mayan dialect that is largely only spoken in the hills around here. I was proud of myself for not swearing in front of him. He is probably praying for me right now.
Finca el Paraiso!!! The bus dropped us off, we walked down a short path, and there it was! A beautiful waterfall!!! Guys – it gets so much better! This waterfall is really hot! Hot tub hot! It was so amazing! At one point I laid down on a rock and got a hot waterfall massage and almost fell asleep. There’s also a cool stream that mixes right at the waterfall so if you get too hot, you just have to swim out a little bit.
What I DIDN”T know about this place is that the pool is home to a larger version of those little fish that nibble on dead skin. I was under the waterfall when I heard one of my friends squeal. I swam over and the video below is what happened. The bites don’t hurt – they’re just so damn shocking you jump halfway out of the water and the anticipation is worse than the bite. After this bite, I got bit a couple more times – after one I started screaming so loud a Spaniard swam over to make sure I was okay. He gave me a dirty look when I said “you know those little fish?” That’s all I could put together in Spanish…
I survived with all ten toes.
Right now I’m at a super depressing hotel on the water. My room looks directly out at the bridge and the compression breaking of the trucks coming across sounds like a steady stream of 747’s landing right outside my door. There’s a sizable community of super depressing older white dudes in this town who live on sailboats and get drunk and high all the time. This hotel is owned by one of them. Most of the clients here fit the description as well. I’m on the back patio (only place with wifi) and the owner (drunk/high) has been going back and forth to a sailboat from which I’ve been hearing the muffled curses from a woman who has the same voice and volume as the “If any one of you fucking pricks move, I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you” speech from Pulp Fiction. He came out with a backpack ten minutes ago. The boat went quiet five minutes ago, and I just heard a bottle break in the dark/closed bar behind me. This town is depressing.
Tomorrow I’m off to Semuc Champay – the crazy limestone river. As it turns out, my cousin Tucker worked at a hostel there a little while ago. This is part of the message I got from him today after I confirmed that I’d be heading that direction, “Sent Thomas, the owner and Dieter, the bartender messages and they are apprised of your potential arrival. They are fucking crazy people who will definitely add color to your journey.”
I can’t wait.