As I said, we’ve come to Guatemala to look for a place to hide during hurricane season. People do stay in the Caribbean through hurricane season, keeping an eye on the weather. But I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder all the time, especially when there’s new adventure to be had inland.
The mere idea of a commodious fresh water inland highway is plenty attractive and the reality doesn’t disappoint.
But of course, for this to be a good story, there must be some struggle or danger, so let me now mention the famous bar that runs across the mouth of the Rio Dulce. Its controlling depth is about five and a half feet, and there’s a tidal range of a foot and a half. So, pick the right time and our six feet,and beyond, can come in, if of course, we also pick the right place!
There is one sea buoy, which may or may not have been moved in the last decade. There are scraps of paper handed from boat to boat listing GPS waypoints that have worked for them. But the best advice we got was not to slow down too much or we’d find pushing through the mud more difficult. And it was nice to have a boat ahead of us, even if it was shallow draft, just for scale.
So we plowed on through, dodging fish trap floats made of soda and outboard oil bottles. Wood smoke, and the smell of drying fish, scented the air, and the binocular tour revealed a pleasantly ramshackle waterfront and a small town rising up the hill. There are cars here, but not many, since there isn’t a road to Livingston and all its business (mainly fishing and tourism by the looks of it) is done by lancha and cayuga.
Here, the customs, immigration, port captain, health, etc come aboard. There’s an agent, Raoul, who organizes it all, including the boat to bring them, so it’s quite expeditious. The health officer noted that we showed no signs of fever, vomiting or diarrhea. The customs officer was busy on his cell phone, and immigration wore high heels. The boatman noted that we did not have a courtesy flag, and undertook to provide us with one, for a fee, when we went ashore to pick up our papers. His English was good because he’d worked in a New York car wash, until he got deported.