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   Trip to Rio Dulce and Livingston
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Hi Everybody Again!

It's good to be back in a new update. Now you're done reading our previous update you can sit down again to read this one. We just came back from our longest-vacation-trip-ever-together-while-married. It was wonderful.

Semana Santa was approaching, so we decided that was our chance to close the clinic without too much trouble, since all non-entertaining businesses close anyway. We closed a little earlier than most, and took off on Tuesday morning to Rio Dulce.

Rio Dulce is the name of a river on the pacific side of Guatemala. It is also a hurricane-avoiding harbor for a lot of boaters or cruisers. Which means there's lots of boats: sail boats, jet ski's and anything that will transport people or helps in catching fish. 

The climate there was quite different than in Antigua: warmer. Lots warmer. And with jungle, howler monkeys (apparently the second loudest animal on earth, after the whale), ducks that kwaak a lot a night and supposedly jaguars (with a close to 0% chance of seeing those). 

    

Luckily we had made reservations for all our hotels: Semana Santa means that everybody in the states has the week off. And lots of Guatemaltecos that went to the same place as us. (Also a good reason for all the hotels to double or quadruple the rates.) Our first two nights we spend at Hacienda Tijax, a jungle lodge in the town of Rio Dulce, only reachable by boat. A lot of the little bungalows were actually build over the water. It also has a marina so there was always cruisers hanging out. Which is good for us, especially me to pick the brain of some of these sailors, since Nathan's dream is to own a sailboat at some moment in life. And I had never been on one. Now I have!

From Rio Dulce we took a day trip out to Finca Paraiso (Paradise Farm) were they had hot water falls. Incredible. Swimming in a little swimming hole in a cold creek, then getting closer to the waterfall and spontaneously breaking out in a very sulfurous sweat from the hot sulfur springs. Never seen anything like it before. And even better: they had caves behind the waterfalls (you first had to swim underneath the waterfall to prevent yourself from getting hurt from the scalding water). Lots of fun, especially if you have a watertight flashlight that does not need batteries (Thank you, Sandy!!). 

Because of that o-so-fancy flashlight we also made some new Guatemalan friends (everybody wanted to see how it worked) and got invited to a weekend to Chiquimula, where they have a volcano with a lake in its crater. Would be a fun place to go for a swim!

From Rio Dulce we took a 1 hour launcha trip to Livingston. The boat trip itself was quite nice, especially because the captain stopped every once in a while to point things out. Like an abandoned boat full of pelicans, a small hot spring, and an island inhabited by all kinds of birds. And some smart local kids showing of their boating skills (in hollowed-out tree trunk canoes, the local transportation) and offering flowers to the tourist, of course in exchange for some quetzales (local currency). Unfortunately the flowers were waterlillies, which can not be good for the local environment to be plucked every day. 

 

Also, we stumbled into an iguana, in the middle of the water route to the dock. The captain did not think it was a smart idea to leave the iguana there to be overrun by a boat. So we took it to an island, back to its co-iguanas. Nathan volunteered to hold the iguana, and I moved a little away from the beast, which was about 5 feet long, including tail.

 

In Livingston, we had made reservations for two nights, but we had not brought the planner where we had written down in which hotel the reservations were. So after looking for those reservations, and not finding them, we were lucky enough to find another room for the night. When we decided Livingston was not nearly as much fun as Rio Dulce and returned one day earlier then planned and had to find ourselves a room for one night, the only thing we could find was a bunk bed in a 20-bed dormitory. Which was actually much more comfortable and quiet than you would have thought after seeing the picture:

In Rio Dulce, they also have the supposedly longest bridge of Central America, crossing the Rio Dulce. They had a bungee jump station set up on top, fun to see. The sophisticated system of using a car to pull the victim back up really impressed me.

From the bridge you could also see the Castle San Filipe, the only castle in Guatemala. Once a Spanish Fort build to protect inland Guatemala from pirates and other non-wanted entities, it is now entirely restored and very nice. And very small. When we went to visit it we did not have our camera on us (when you go swimming we don't like leaving our camera on shore), so you'll have to be happy with this picture from the bridge. It is at the end of the slip of land coming from the right in the picture below).

   

We spend our last night in the first hotel again, which has a beautiful pool, visited a cruising sail boat (they are actually quite roomy and comfortable!) and then returned back to our little house in Antigua. It was a great trip, but it's good to be home with our animal zoo. So I'll leave you now with one picture of Nathan getting comfortable in Ricardo's 37' cruiser sailboat and one of me typing this update with the fast growing River, our kitten, on my lap.

 

Lots of love,

Annette and Nathan