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April 30, 2011
Dear Friends and Family,
I have so very much to write and catch you up on that there is no way I can put it all in one log so instead, I will do a daily log for awhile in sections to catch you up on things. I have also sent Craig a lot of pictures which you will also get doled out to you over time.
I have to talk about our leave taking in Belize on April 28. I ended up not going with Rob and Steve to check out as planned because that morning, with no wind and only small tide, our boat was wandering much too close to a small Catamaran neighbor and Rob thought it would be wise for me to stay in case we became even closer. That was fine as I had a self indulged morning alone. It was so very hot that day with haze in the sky and not a breathe of a breeze. The heat is quickly becoming an issue.
A few weeks ago when we had taken the Hokey Pokey Ferry across to do an extension on our visa, we met a woman doing the same. She and her husband are in Placencia with their two boys 8 and 10 doing a mission to help improve the hygiene conditions in the smaller communities while also spreading the good word. They have been in Placencia for a year and will spend the next year at the capitol city on the edge of the jungle in the mainland in Belmopan, population about 15,000. This is the smallest capitol city of any nation in the world and was moved there from Belize City because of the risk of hurricane flooding etc.
Anyway, they were leaving on a weeks vacation and we were heading out to the reef so we agreed to meet again after Easter when they would return. Tuesday was our last day in Belize and we agreed to meet that day. Unfortunately, the planned afternoon sail adventure didn’t pan out because of no wind, but we did meet them for a visit and dinner that night.
What a shame we didn’t have more time. They are still a young family and Roll still runs his own business, though he had planned to have it sold by now. That complicates things for them as he still has that responsibility in the states which pulls him away from this work and family here. Jennifer is home schooling, though it is not something she ever wanted to do. They will try a school for the boys with many of the diplomat kids in Belmopan next year but she is ready to supplement if needed. The family has really integrated in to the community and surrounding areas have benefited from their efforts and their friendship.
They are working on a near by village of Garifuna people which is very poor. 85% of the homes do not have a toilet and there are no public ones available so they just throw the waste anywhere. It is far from sanitary for sure. Sadly, it is built where the houses are pretty close together. Basic understanding of washing, food handling, dental care etc. are just not there and so teaching of ways to stay healthy is also part of the program. Roll and Jennifer work under the umbrella of an international mission but basically they are on their own for most things. They have to seek grants for the money and get the cooperation and support of the community they are working with. Unfortunately, Roll said that when they call for volunteers to help with the labor, many show up the first day and by about the third day, they get really good at watching him to the work. Still they find their efforts a great reward and the friends they have made and helped to give some guidance and emotional support to sustain their efforts and feeds their desire to be of service. They feel the boys are really gaining from this as well.
As I said, far to short a time to interact but we hope to keep in touch and if you have interest in following their effort, let me know and I can put you in touch with their news letter.
The next morning, it was again very calm and smoky and no hint of a breeze. It would be a motoring day to our next stop about 40 miles south. I have a picture taken of the front of the boat looking forward and it is difficult to see the difference between the sea and the sky.
We motored to Cabos Tres Puntas and anchored for the night. It left 12 miles the next day to get in to Livingston Guatemala where we would check in to the country.
Livingston is only accessible by water, no roads in or out. Before we even finished anchoring, a large launcha pulled up beside us. The officials on the boat had already visited the others who had arrived ahead of us. At least 6 people came aboard but really, no one did anything besides one woman who wrote down some information and the agent we were paying to help with the check in. I guess if they feel it necessary, they can ask questions or search the boat but that was not done. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture but got their launcha at Chat-Eau following our visit.
We waited a short while at anchor for our friends Chris and Kelli to come from up river. They came with Gringo friends of theirs who also live and have a business on the Rio in a borrowed launcha since Chris was having the bottom painted on his. They picked up the 4 of us and took us in to town. We walked around the city. It is actually quite a nice little town though it is considered not very safe, especially to leave your boat at the dock or be anchored there, especially at night. Chris brought us in to town so our dinghy’s would still be safe on the boat and it would seem as if someone were aboard. He also took his launcha to a private dock where he paid someone to watch it.
We went to finish the check in on the land part which our agent had taken care of for us. Then we had a late lunch at a restaurant which is a cooking school and a place to learn to be a waiter in the hospitality industry. Most of the indigenous people, about 60% of the population, are one of about 28 tribes of Mayan people and they are generally quite poor. Can’t say it was a great meal or great service, but hey, they are students and we were happy to support the effort.
Chris took us back to our boats and then picked up the others and they went home and we followed more slowly along the river.
That will be tomorrows story and pictures! I have to tell you, I wish I could share everything with you. We are finding out so much about this area and so much of it is because we have Chris and Kellie. This is new territory for us and so very interesting. River life is vastly different than cruising life!
I’ll be in touch tomorrow!