World Trip 2012-13: Day 103 – Río Dulce, Guatemala

Monday 7 January 2013
Highlights: Kayaking, Howler Monkeys, Boat Cruise, Hot Springs, Volunteer School.

For most of the night it rained with the occasional thunder and lighting which wasn’t a good omen for today’s events but for the most part didn’t have to great an impact.

I got up very early for kayaking with several members of our group and we set out at 5.40 am in light rain. James and Robin took one kayak, Rita and Andrew another one which meant I was by myself with our kayak guide also by himself.

We headed to some waterways across the lake. At this point I realised just how hard kayaking by yourself is especially if you have no place to anchor your feet against. We kayaked for around 2 hours and managed to find a large number of howler monkeys who sound like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (there is a good reason they used howler monkey recordings in that movie).

At one point we witness a monkey pull around branch closer and then held it so her baby could walk against without jumping. Monkey are extremely smart using tools and the like to achieve their goals.
I took an extra 20 minutes to return back to the lodge then the others. I’m going to try very hard to not to do kayaking in a single again :). I was drenched from both the rain and the water in the kayak so a change of clothes was needed before breakfast. The breakfast pancakes felt really good and well deserved this morning.

At 9 am we set off on the second activity I had booked today a boat tour down to Livingstone. The kayakers from earlier all did this activity plus we were joined by Nomi and Yomi and our tour leader Andrea.

At first the rain was fierce and we got drenched in the boat despite the coverings but hey a few days ago I was walking in water up to me shoulders so this was an improvement. Our first point of interest was a Fort that was built in the 1600s to stop pirates from raiding the local area. It was later used as a prison and is in excellent condition to this day.

Next stop was at a natural hot spring. We purchased a few beers and sat in the hot waters. I did leave the hot spring after a crab made its point that I was unwelcome, Rita would later get the same message :).

Next up was a stop in Livingstone which is on the edge on the sea. From here we could see both Belize and Honduras, well just see due to the overcast conditions! The town has an outdoor communal washing area. Andrea did warn us to be a little careful with our belongings in this town. I had a fantastic lunch of garlic shrimps, very tasty so it must be bad for me :).

On our way back to the lodge we made one last stop at a volunteer school. This school was originally established by a Canadian and is now owned by a Guatemalan lady. It caters for 250 local children. So of the children stay on site during the school year due to the distance from their homes. The school year is over but it was still open and operating for 24 children who have unfortunately been abandoned.

The teachers are paid by donations and support from businesses. Food to feed the children is donated by an oil company. Other operating costs are covered by donations like from tourists like myself. There is no government support at all.

We were guided around the grounds by three girls who are staying here. Two of them seemed very happy but one was very shy. During our stay we meet a volunteer nurse from New Zealand who started working here 7 months ago. In life you always hear the bad news stories but places like this exist because people do care enough to help the less fortunate.

When we left the shy little girl came down to the dock with a couple of her toys, I’m guessing it was all she owns. It appeared to me that she just wanted to go home and doesn’t understand why her parents haven’t come back for her. It was heartbreaking to see someone so innocent facing such a difficult future, at least she is with people who care.

People from first world countries like to think we have major problems, today is a reminder just how fortunate we really are.

Back at the lodge after about an hour it rained heavily again spoiling the yoga activity that had already been postponed from earlier in the day. The weather certainly isn’t great but I’ve still be lucky, if it had rained like this when kayaking we probably won’t have been able to go or while out there i might have drowned. Sore and tired I looked forward to sleep.

Guatemala Photos (Facebook)

About Nathan

A World traveller who has so far experienced 71 countries (76 by June 2023) in this amazing world.
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