Friday, September 23, 2005

At $5 a night, I had to stay longer...

At the other end of the pier, "Bruno's Restaurant and Hotel". Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

10:00 p.m.

It's amazing how quickly one can adapt to even marginal conditions!

Still hanging with all the ex-patriot sailors at "Bruno's" in Rio Dulce. I was sitting on the dining patio a while ago, watching coverage of Hurricane Rita, about to make landfall on the Texas-Louisiana border.


It has been a rather aimless, lazy day. I was up earlier than usual, 6:00 a.m. (The "jake brakes" of trucks rolling over the bridge and into town a hundred yards away helped.) Showered in the semi-private community baths, then sat down for some breakfast out on the patio. Another day, the same cast of characters. Things slowly begin to stir around the marina.

Steve, the manager, is having coffee and buzzing about. He seems tireless as he helps arrange tours and boat repairs, takes care of the hotel, offers visitor information and discusses local politics and projects. His girlfriend, Monica, is Guatemalan and manages the kitchen and bar. She has a beautiful warm smile.

Out behind the main street, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

It feels like I should be "doing" something, but another part of me just says "relax and experience this unique place." Before the other guests arrive, I have a chance to talk to Steve about the local area.

He says this river mouth provides a remarkably safe port in the West Caribbean. Many sailors come here to wait out the hurricane season. Some are embarked on circumnavigation cruises lasting years. "It's every retiree's dream, to sail around the World."

For me, life on the water is a whole different world.

I ordered some breakfast, and about half an hour later it was served. (Last night after dinner here, I ordered a brownie for dessert. 45 minutes later, I asked if the server remembered. "Si!" It came out soon after. It was fresh and warm. I think it was baked to order!)

I've started taking the doxycycline (anti-malarial) on a once-a-day basis now (rather than twice, as the prescription states.) This should allow my 180-pill supply to last the entire time I'm in the high-risk areas.

Based on both Steve's and David's recommendations, I started out driving toward Agua Caliente in the afternoon, but the skies turned black, rapidly! And the pavement ended. I was not ready to contend with a dirt road in the rain, so I turned around. Coming back to the intersection at the main street marketplace, I saw Rory and Letty hurrying back through the crowded streets with concerned expressions. I waited for them to approach. Rory pointed to the sky and said they needed to get back.

Went over to "La Lancha", another restaurant on the water. "Jessica", the owner, came down here from Minnesota "a long time ago". Of Rio Dulce, she said "it's a nice place to spend eight years." The menu is interesting. I sampled the white bean soup and the strangest ravioli I've had: the pasta tasted like rice pasta (perhaps it was.) But both were excellent.

Americans off to the marketplace

While I dined, a thunderstorm came in over Rio Dulce, lightning striking not far away. Boats continued to ply the waters between marinas around the area. Many of the locals just donned plastic bags for protection against the rain (which made me think of all the specialty rain gear we Americans "need".)

Sat down to "Happy Hour" with a bunch of French-speaking boaters, from Belgium, Montreal and France. Belgians Roger and Lucie are on their catamaran "Catmini" (which means "to sneak out"). Jean-Paul Laverdière and Danyelle Paré of Laval, Canada (near Montreal) are sailing the boat Jean-Paul built. (He tells of encountering 40-foot seas off New Brunswick on their maiden voyage.) I met another fellow from Canada (whose name I forget). He bought a boat in Australia seven years ago and has been sailing ever since. Then there's "Ed", who is from Texas. He is one of those waiting out the hurricane season. He'll leave for Panama and perhaps Cartegena, Colombia in January. All of them admit of knowing little about sailing when they bought (or built) their boats.

While staying over here, it has been amusing to see older men living out their fantasies. You see them with women (locals and foreign) young enough to be daughters, or in some cases granddaughters! As soon as a new wave of travelers arrives at the bar, the old salts will corner any unescorted young lady and try to befriend them. As some readily admit, it gets lonely on a boat.

Passed on the party tonight downriver at "Marios". Live music and a "Tex-Mex" cook-out, but it was raining, and I was comfortable here.

Rio Dulce Website: Link

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