Destination: Livingston, Guatemala
Date: June 2013
Journal Entry from June 19, 2013
Soon we left Teleman after attending church. It was a great way to say goodbye to our new friends especially the Barias family. I don’t think Bella and her new friend “S” will ever forget one another. Their goodbye was the most heartfelt. They hugged and hugged, and hugged once more.
We left the rest of the care packages for the branch president to deliver to the needy members of the congregation and bags full of clothing. The kids repacked their duffels so that they only have five more outfits for the rest of the trip. The rest of their clothes we brought are being donated to the locals. That alone has reduced our baggage considerably. We are still planning on donating all of the clothes except the ones we wear on the plane home, but we had to keep some just to get us through the rest of the trip.
When we said our goodbyes each of the boys also took off their ties and gave them to Presidente Barias for him to give to members of the congregation. It felt very symbolic for them to take them off and hand them over. The cutest part was when Clay found his friend Carlos to give his tie to him instead of President Barias. Carlos was a cutie because he has about ten English phrases memorized and if we could ask the questions exactly how he had learned them he could have a small conversation in English. It was darling.
Soon we were packed and ready for the two hour drive over to Rio Dulce. The drive was beautiful and not as windy as the one I took driving up to Senahu and Teleman on the day I arrived in Guatemala. This drive was full of open pastures filled with livestock and rolling mountains full of palm trees and exotic plants giving the feeling I was driving through Jurassic Park. Most of the trip was on paved roads but every once in awhile it would end and we’d arrive through a small town dodging people, bikes, dogs, and tuk tuks. The barbed wire fences were filled with clothes drying from the days laundry, and though the streets were still small and dusty they were charming because the people and their happy faces waving to the gringos as we drove through town.
Once we arrived in Rio Dulce we still had an hour and a half boat ride across Lake Isobel into Livingston. There are no roads that lead into Livingston so a boat is the only way to get there. Trent quickly found a peddler at the port and arranged a private boat shuttle into Livingston for 800 Quetzals about $100. Since Livingston is located on the Atlantic side of Guatemala there is quite a different feel to this city. Half of the town is filled with the black Garfunda population where as the other half is still the brown skinned Guatemalans.
Our hotel, Hotel Delphin, is located on the more authentic Guatemalan side of town. When we pulled up to the boat dock I think our kids thought we were joking when we said we had arrived. It definitely did not look like a resort. We quickly reminded them we were still in Guatemala and they all began to pray their room would have air conditioning and hot water. Lucky for them their room had both. Check and check!
Our hotel was clean and accomodated all of our needs. Compared to the previous two hotels we had stayed in Guatemala it felt like paradise. The decor however was a little hilarious. It looked like something my grandmother and Jimmy Buffet would have come up with had they conspired together in decorating a hotel. The most important thing for me was the cleanliness and in that case I was satisfied. However, the pool was green and I would never have gone swimming in it and the food at breakfast was only mediocre.
Our half day in Livingston was about exploration. We soon went on a walk through town and that’s when we discovered the Guatemalan/Caribbean population. We were starved by this time and stopped at the Happy Fish for a great seafood menu. I had a great ceviche and crab soup which was a great change from the food fare I’d been enjoying all week. What can I say I was glad not to be eating at the gas station anymore!
This town has a charming feel to it. It isn’t as nice as Antigua but there is definitely a more touristy feel. It still has the dirty streets, litter in the gutters but the people are friendly and they boast that there is no crime. One of our new found friends assured us that if anyone commits a crime they had better have a fast boat because they don’t tolerate it.
Livingston is located just at the right tip of Guatemala. To the left I could see the coast line of Belize, and to the right Honduras. It feels to me like a forgotten tropical paradise. The atmosphere is slow and methodic but after a week of hard work in the chicken coop business I am ready for a slow and steady pace.
Safe and Happy Travels!!!