Sunday, July 27, 2014


 Now that we are settled in the Rio Dulce I have lots to tell.  First off the river is beautiful and big but very, very hot and humid.  It is definitely the worse of the worse for humidity.  We sweat all day with water just dripping off of us.  I carry a sweat rag with me at all times.  We swim at least twice a day or more.  We love Mario’s Marina even with a small pool, I have learned to do laps at a diagonal and around in a square.  I do yoga every morning with Ellen, a new friend.  We are anchored right by the restaurant and that has been fun for socializing.  It’s a great place and are very sad to hear after 30 years of it being the hub of the cruising world in the Rio it is closing.  Not because they want to but the wealthy owners of the land are reclaiming it to do private building.  So very sad.  There are about 12 other marinas and we are good until the end of the year.  There are activities at all the marinas so we go to a lot of activities including trivia.  We had a team of 4 who played and the second week we won so besides winning a very little amount of money we got stuck with being the quiz masters, which means the 4 of us had to write all the questions for the next week.  We did well and it was fun.

This is Mario's Marina where we are keeping our boat.  I spend most of my time in the small pool but I do yoga every morning in the palapa  

Because it is so hot here and we are in a slip, we are taking advantaged and have planned several land trips.  The first one with a 5 hour bus trip to Guatemala City with Bruce and Jan on Celtic Rover.  Beautiful bus, air conditioned and comfortable.  We stayed at very cheap hotels but doing fine with the bare necessities.  We figure, we don’t travel to sit in hotels but just to sleep there.  The 4 of us hired Rodrigo, an English speaking taxi driver to give us a tour.  He was fantastic, giving us history and showing us all over the city, the historical sites etc.  We spent 5 hours with him and it cost us $10/person.  Life is cheap here.

Mapa Relief in Guatemala City build by an engineer in 1905 built as a topographical representation of Guatemala including all the mountain ranges, rivers and volcanoes.  It was amazing

A church in Guatemala city build by an individual family back in 1930's

The last night we splurged and went to a really nice Mayan restaurant to do a sendoff for Jan.  She flew back to the states for 2 months, Bruce is going back to the boat and we were traveling on.  The Mayan food is absolutely delicious, with the best sauces.

The next day we left for Antiqua by shuttle bus.  Antiqua is a very old Spanish city that was once the capital of Central American.  I have decided that you all need a little history lesson so I will give you a brief account of what occurred there starting in the 1500’s.  We found it quite interesting and it explains why everyone says we must visit Antiqua.
Spain came to Guatemala in the 1500’s with gold they had found in other areas and conquered the Mayan people, who up til that time had lived a very calm, peaceful existence.  But like in the US and the Indians, they beat and destroyed the many different tribes resulting in the Mayan’s becoming their slaves.  In 1543 Antiqua became the capital of Central American.  It became one of the most glamourous and sophisticated cities of Spanish America.  It was a place where priests, bishops, monks and nuns came to build their cathedrals and monasteries.  Nobility vied for social status and power, and the most ostentatious convents, churches and palaces were built.  Along with all this came schools, universities, hospitals, government centers as well.  All of this being built by the Mayan slaves who were very creative and artistically gifted.  The only problem was, the city is surrounded by 3 volcanoes and is also the center of a fault where 2 tectonic plates meet.  Through the 1600’s violent earthquakes continues which would destroy their building but in return they would build even bigger baroque churches and palaces with even better reinforcement.  By the end of the 17th century there were 3 convents, 12 very large churches, a university, and the grandest of all cathedrals in Central America, all for 5000 people.
In the 1700’s, the population had increased to 50,000 people living in great comfort of the “golden age”.  But in 1773 the biggest earthquake ever, destroyed all of that and did tremendous damage to all these beautiful structures.  20,000 people were killed and many others died of disease so the government decided to move the capital to Guatemala City.  That was the end of “Camelot”.  But Antiqua has continued to survive even though they had a volcano in the 1800’s which cover the city.
Today it is a major tourist attraction in Guatemala with 45,000 people living there.  The ruins of all these palaces and cathedrals are amazing.  There were at one time 16 different Catholic orders all vying for power but only their remains are subtle reminders of what a superior religious center it once was.
We found a wonderful Mayan guide, Julio, who took us for a 2 1/5 hour walking tour of all these structures, saturating our brains with history.  We easily understood why everyone says, Antiqua is a must.  If you get a chance to visit Guatemala, make sure Antiqua is included.  Below are pictures.

Hotel Santa Domingo which was once a monastery and now is a $200/night hotel.  Quite gorgeous

Hotel pool
Hotel gardens.  The place is fantastic

Recycling in the rich hotel

Very famous cathedral of Antiqua where the front remains but the back of the church was totally destroyed by 2 earthquakes.

This is what the church looked like before destruction

These are the floats they use every Easter for a hugh Festival of the Saints during Easter.  Each float is depicting the 14 stations of the cross.  I guess it is quite an event and goes on for 4 days

We just happen to be walking down the street when a parade suddently appeared.  We have no idea what it was about but these are supposedly VIP's in this swan

Also, VIP"S in the parade

Funeral home on one side and selling of pots and pans on the other.  Notice the cobble stone streets.  All of Antiqua is like that

Big arch in the middle of the city, overlooking the volcano.  There are 3 volcanoes surrounding the city

We took a tuctuc to the top of the mountain overlooking Antiqua.  These are motorcycles with cabs on them which we have found in every city.
At the top is the mountain was the Cerro de La Cruz

View of Antiqua and the Volcan de Agua

The corner where a young man ripped an earring out of my ear and stole it.  He only got one and it was a real cheap gold earring so he lost out and I had a sore ear for a couple of days

Merced Cathedral which is beautiful inside and out
We decided to travel on and took a bus to Lake Atitlan way up in the mountains.  Wow, first off the ride was a trip going up and down through the bumpy mountain roads and then all of a sudden there it was, the most beautiful mountain lake I have ever seen.  I was hanging out the window, trying to get camera shots as fast I could, as if it would disappear.  We came down into a little mountain town called San Pedro.  There are 12 villages along this lake, each called by one of the 12 apostles each starting with San.  Anyway, San Pedro is the mecca for Spanish language schools, having 13 in this small town.  Bus loads of backpackers and other tourist arrive every day to learn Spanish, go kayaking, mountain climbing, canoeing, etc.  There are tons of hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars, shops etc.  Well, I can’t believe I was so fortunate to pick the perfect hotel on the internet.  It is slightly more expensive then the hostels but absolutely beautiful with a breath taking view of the lake and mountains.  Our room facing the lake and all the gardens with hammocks and chairs all around to sit and view the lake.

views of the lake from our hotel room
Had to show you breakfast. Enough fruit for 5 people but there is such an abundance of fruit in Guatemala this is a typical serving.  I had it boxed up and ate it for 2 days.  No scurvy in this country

Another view of the lake as we were arriving down the mountain
We have found ourselves a slice of heaven so we got sucked right in and will be staying around week to take Spanish lessons.  They are 4 hours a day with a private tutor.  Thank heavens, I will be separated from Harry because he is really good at Spanish and I am horrible.  That way he can’t make fun of me and we can go at our own pace.   He is now being called Enrico because no one can pronounce Harry in Spanish so we gave it up.  Melinda is easy as it is a typical Spanish name.

Launche we took across the lake to the other towns.
 We took a canoe trip today with David, a local Mayan.  We had a great time going around the lake and Harry had a ball talking Spanish to him while I took pictures.

Harry talking Spanish to David, the local Mayan who took us in his canoe

When our canoe trip was over David took our pictures.  What a sight but we had fun
 We did 2 more adventures that I must tell about and send pictures.  Yesterday we took a launche to Santiago, a much bigger city in the mountains and did some shopping.  See the pictures of the people at the markets.  I ended up buying some beautiful material to recover the chairs on our boat and a new dress.

Checkout the basket on this ladies head.  It is huge and they are carry these baskets.  What a headache I would have

I wanted you to see the typical dress that all the women wear here in Lake Atitlan and all the villages
The Markets in Guatemala and especially here are so rich with fabric and bright colored materials, I just had to show them off a bit

Typical market with tons of stuff.  Problem is if you even stop to look at sometime, they are on top of you trying to get you to buy

Another picture of the typical dresses, so pretty

typical market

Saw this tip jar at a local restaurant and had to take the picture.
Today we did a hike up to the top of a mountain called Indian Nose. Our guide was terrific and wow what a view of the lake.

view from the top overlooking San Pedro where we are staying

Our guide, Salvador showing Harry the different towns around the lake

A view of the top of Indian Nose from a local restaurant after we hiked back down.  Salvador, our guide was wonderful.  He is 35 y/o but looks 18.  He has 5 children.  We treated him to a drink
3 meals a day for 2 of us comes to less then $40, room is cheap and nothing else to really spend money on, so we will study Spanish, read a lot and enjoy the tranquility for another week. Picture below shows you where we will be studying all week.  Not bad.
I had lots to tell and pictures to show.

1 comment:

  1. wonderful stories and pictures. I feel like I am there with you. keep them coming. We hope to meet sometime. Has been busy year for us, Kellys baby is due end of october. Will be traveling to Belgium for the baby and staying a few weeks. Look forward to seeing you sometime, maybe meet with your next adventure. Love, Marie