When people ask, why we live on boat we give two reasons:
First, of course, because we love sailing and life at sea.
Second- WE LOVE TRAVELING . AND A LOT!🌎
Both of the reasons have same importance to our lives, because without one of them we wouldn’t enjoy what we are doing now.
So when it comes to stay longer in one place, whether at anchor, marina or boatyard – after some time our feet ´ get burning¨ and we need to move. Usually that means lift the sails and sail to a new destination. But when the circumstances do not let us to move the boat, we move ourselves
This is exactly what happened after spending some time in Rio Dulce. When we discovered places around, made countless visits to the town of Fronteras and its surroundings, decided it time to see something more and explore the other part of the country. Apart from that Jura turned 2 years old , and we needed to make him a new passport. That meant we had to travel to the capital of Guatemala to embassy of Spain. Since we had to go to the city, which was 7 hours away by bus from Rio Dulce, ( the distance its aboutt 280km, but the trip by bus can take from 6 to 9 hours!)and wait for new passport to be done around one month, we decided we will use this opportunity to travel inland and see more of Guatemala country.
Apart from that Egoi parents were finally arriving to visit us by plain ,so it was perfect opportunity to do everything at one time.
Guatemala is a big country, which has so much to offer...
Caribbean and Pacific ocean coasts, mountain, rivers, waterfalls, jungles, volcanoes, lakes, ancient towns, Mayan culture, pyramids and other ruins, 22 Mayan languages and rich culinary and local fashion traditions. One can spend years and years discovering all what this country can offer.
So of course, when It comes to choose, what to see in limited quantity of time it can be quite tricky.
Traveling by boat we got to use to very slow rhythm. Apart from that we had JURA with us.
Since he was born JURA didn’t stop changing the places and transports, but all the time in our slow but intense way. We enjoyed exploring longer one area, rather than jumping from one place to another every day.
Capital of Guatemala is largest city of central America. it was founded in 1776 to replace the former capital, Antigua Guatemala, which was partially destroyed by earthquakes. Is modern and busy city , so travel with kids its not so easy there .(but we did enjoyed really nice Zoopark it has)
After doing official papers for JURA we left to ANTIGUA . There we visited Pascu, a Basque guy, who lives in Antigua more than 20 years and knows about Guatemala more than most of the locals.
La Antigua Guatemala was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. This incredibly beautiful colonial city has almost five hundred years of history, great cultural life and an exceptional view of the Fire and Acatenango volcanoes.
This colourful town is also rich in handicrafts such as traditional weavings, ceramics, silver and gold products, typical sweets and gastronomy. Definitely is a first place we recommend to visit after landing in Guatemala. That’s what we did when Egoi parents arrived- directly came here to enjoy this special place.
Another place we went to visit to was LAGO ATITLAN and little towns around.
The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes, which makes breath taking views from any part you are. There are many small villages located around the lake, each with its own vibe and characteristics. Some villages have great indigenous population that still lives according to ancient Mayan traditions and customs and if time allows all of them are worth to see.
We decided to stay in SAN PEDRO LA LAGUNA – it was a town where we found best choice for accommodation (and great owners) and installed ourselves in a nice small cosy place just in from of the lake. Used it as our base and spend days exploring surroundings and villages by public boat or tuc tuc.
We were lucky to enjoy this place just when covid restrictions were lifted and it was allowd to move between the districts. There were very few tourist still . And our blondy Jura was the only foreign child we saw around in most of the places. People were calling him Canchito and children wanted to play with him.
In all these places we were amazed by people hospitality and tranquillity. Earnestly we were surprised by the kindness, respect and peace they transmit …
The climate is the highland of Guatemala is much cooler than in Rio Dulce.
After spending months in flipflops and shorts, here we had to put long trousers, jacket and shoe . When some our friends were telling us the climate up there is colder we thought, ok, its enough some sweater and that’s it. Come, on, we are still in tropics! But no, the temperature drops evidently and particularly in the evenings it can be quite cold. ( For sure if you come from winter time in North Europe you will tell I’m crazy😉).
We had to buy some clothes on the road , but for that again, Guatemala is the right place. . There are many second hand shops ( called PACA) in most the towns where you can buy anything you need for 1 or 2 dollars and relax about getting cold if you did not bring clothes😊 Especially if you decided to climb one of the volcanoes, where on the top its so chilly. We went to see Volcano of Pacaya , which is still active nowadays.
Guatemala is still the largest home to Maya culture and many must-see ancient Mayan sites!
Most of them are situated in the jungles at lower part of the country and were discovered not so many years ago. All of them are amazing and worth to to see, but as our first time, we decided to visit probably most famous Mayan temple here- TIKAL and YAXHA.
And Wow! You know that feeling, when you see something so majestic and spectacular that time around stops and you have no words to say and express your feelings?
To be there , surrounded by deep jungle and impressive Mayan ruins built thousands years ago its something unique and unforgettable.
Any descriptions or words can express that. Sincerely if it happens you to be in Guatemala, do not leave it without visiting these two or any other of others Mayan ruins.
For us it was one of the top sites we saw in all our life.
You can travel there by bus from Rio Dulce, stay in Flores or in el Remate and from there plan your visit. Generally even if it takes more time, local transport in Guatemala are good, and that how most of the time we were ….and will keep moving.
There are still so many places to see….
When it comes to write about Rio Dulce and Guatemala I really don’t know where to start and how to summarize all our time spent there. Since arriving from Guanaja island we lived there whole 10 MONTHS! Longest time we’ve spent in a same place living on boat since we started our adventure on 2014. For us, nomads, believe, that’s A LONG TIME!
But here need to highlight, that it was a very special time spend there during which we made amazing friends, got to know amazing country and enjoyed their amazing people and local life. And after all it doesn’t surprise us anymore why Rio Dulce is called cruisers paradise and the best HURRICANE HOLE in whole Caribbean Sea.
Despite really hot and very humid climate, mosquitos, crazy noise from the tracks crossing the river by bridge near Fronteras town and lots of water during rainy months, this is a place where one can live on his boat for a long time.
Because of that in the area you can meet many cruisers (it is true that most of them are retired couples) who comes here every year for hurricane months or even lives in Rio for few years.
In our cases we did not plan to stay so long, but because of Covid our time in Guatemala got much longer.
And for making the story a bit shorter and more structured I will divide it to -life in the river of Rio Dulce and discovering Guatemala inland.
HOW IS THE LIFE ON THE RIVER OF RIO DULCE
After the long and hot quarantine weeks in Nana Juana marina finally we were ‘free’ and started exploring surroundings. In the first two months as the COVID restrictions followed being quite strict, we stayed by boat at the marina. The prices of keeping your boat in the marinas in Guatemala are low comparing to others in Caribbeans, so it was not so painful to our pocket.
Nana Juana marina & resort is really AMAZING place – it’s enough to see what a beautiful and big swimming pool it has to like this place immediately. Being able to swim every day in a big pool was the best salvation from the crazy heat of Rio Dulce during the summer month. At the same time it became a place where we got to know most of the cruisers and spend hours talking around. Jura loved it as well and because during those months he was the only boat baby around ( apart from his little friend Theo, son of our friends Ezequiel and Xenia) everybody got to know him very well and became his aunts and uncles.
In a short time, we made so many friends and turned the place our home again.
After spending more than three months in Guanaja it was time to leave. Our next destination was Guatemala, Rio Dulce. Why Guatemala?
First of all - because we wanted to visit central America mainland. Second, the Hurricane season had already started and although the last Hurricane Mitch hit Guanaja 22 years ago, the island was on Hurricane belt and we did not want to risk. And Third, it is very economic place, what for us was as important as the other reasons above.
Guatemala has a very well protected river Rio Dulce ( translated from spanish language , means- SWEET RIVER) , great Hurricane hole for spending tropical storms season when the nature can become very violent. We heard a lot about this place and were looking forward to see it ourselves and meet more cruisers from all over the world, who arrive there to spend hurricane months.
In the ¨normal¨ times we would have left Guanaja, visited Roatan and Utila and then sailed to Rio. But the sea borders of Guatemala were still closed. As well as Roatan and Utila. Probably more than a half of Caribbean Sea countries were closed at that time. But we WERE LUCKY again.
Guatemala made an exception and with special conditions allowed sailing boats to enter Rio Dulce for being safe in hurricane season.
Which were the requirements?
All boats had to send their boat/crew details and approximate date of arrival and wait for permission. After arrival to Guatemala everyone had to make 14 days of quarantine onboard in INGUAT approved marinas. Anchoring was prohibited and after the quarantine it was mandatory keep staying in marinas.
In the situation the world was living we were happy with that and so on 18 of June left Guanaja towards Livingston, the entrance of river Rio Dulce
It was important to plan the date very well in advance due to arrive to the entrance of river during the spring hide tide.
Rio Dulce is a deep river, but at the entrance there is a very shallow sand bank. Nautical charts show on high tide just 6 feet of depth. Our draft is 1.80m, which is little bit less them the limit
This is a story about our life journey or better said is a story about our life afloat a sailing boat. Our trips, our adventures, our challenges and problems found on the way. Our everyday life floating and our unforgettable moments of sailing and tasting the worldl!
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"Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters."
"The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use."
"There are more sharks on the land than in the sea"
If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.
Don't worry about the world ending today. It's already tomorrow in Fiji.
" Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit."
"A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway."
"A bad day at SEA is still better than a good day at work"
"The perfection of a yacht's beauty is that nothing should be there for only beauty's sake."
"Remember 'It was a professional who built the Titanic, It was an amateur who built Noah's Ark"
"Sailing - The art of slowly going nowhere at great expense. "
When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.