Dear Friends and Family,
It has been a week since I wrote and nothing of monumental portions has occurred for me to write about so I am going to share some observations with you. One thing that my broken arm prompted was more time in marinas. This is not our normal cruising style and we think we have now spent more time at a dock in these months than we have in all of our years traveling the Caribbean. If it was to happen though, this was the place because the daily rate was $15 per day at one place and RAM gave us a break at $10. If we had realized we were going to stay at a dock for so long, we would have done a monthly rate which would have been less.
Now I will say that on some level, the quality of the marina and the service might be better in the states but we have paid from $40 to $100 per night in our area. That would have really hurt!
People here seem to be loyal to particular marinas and each has it’s own unique recommendation. There are a lot of cruisers who return to leave their boat on the river year after year and not only the staff but the other regulars become like family. Our orientation is “have boat, will travel” so I guess I figured that it was that way for most others. We were told that this is the river that eats Gringos and I see why.
We saw a large number of seasonal people who come and stay on their boats for the winter much as many of our friends come to Florida to live in their homes for the winter. The boaters may leave the dock for a week to tour the lake or do a charity like last week with the school children, but some will never throw off the dock lines. Some will actually get to Belize or Honduras for a few months and return and a few actually manage to pass through. Sounds like a reasonable way to get away for the winter!
One expat who has a home here said that this area is like a nursing home for old boaters. In fact it is much less costly to live here and they can benefit the community as well as benefit from it. Going out to eat is cheap, medical, when you get to it, is excellent and inexpensive. There is a built in society and support system that is easily tapped in to. Often, as we age, we finally realize the unnecessary materialistic values we may have lived with and can appreciate a more simple life style. That is true of those expats living here on the river. One of the bigger challenges though is not letting the drinking culture take over your life.
I guess I have come to appreciate why it is so easy to be digested and learning more about the gringo culture here has been an eye opening side benefit to staying on this extra month.
Well before the river has us fully digested, we are again staged with Chris and Kelli and hope to be out of their hair by Wednesday or Thursday. We are at the end of our three month visa, so it is really time to move on. Taking that first trip out in to rougher waters is always a leap of faith but more so this time with my arm to consider. Over the years though, I have learned to put that fear aside and make that leap and so far, all has been well.
Unfortunately, because of violence along the mainland coast of Honduras for boaters, we bypass those stops which would allow two easy day trips to the Bay Islands and we are expecting about a 20 hour overnight passage. Rob said he could do it himself but my hope is that I will be able to take my shifts. He has already had to compensate for my one arm condition and I really appreciate his patience and improved skills in the kitchen. Besides staying in marinas, we have been eating out at least one meal a day. Back at anchor not so much, but even here we eat out. Frankly, I am ready for my own cooking again and the creativity I feel in the kitchen!
One other job I was unable to do was cut Rob’s hair. We were told about a local with clippers who does it and so we arranged for him to come to the boat today to cut Rob’s hair. He probably charged the gringo price of $2 but we added a 75 cent tip. It sounds terrible, I know, but it was generous for what he normally makes from locals. So now Rob won’t need another cut until I am back in business.
People who spend time here fall in love with Guatemala. There is a lot to dislike here with corruption, crime, poverty, etc., but when you feel the soul of the people, it is hard not to fall in love.
One last bit of good news. Our friends, Nancy and Steve Johnson, who we sailed with last year, added to the money that was collected for the scholarship fund and the $700 raised will pay for 8 kids to be able to have one more year of Jr. High. Four boys and four girls were chosen with great thought and with assurance from the parents that the kids will attend the entire year. I wish $700 could go that far in the U.S. We can’t claim the accomplishment except perhaps as the CATALYST! Another reason that the name of our boat fits, Thanks to those who gave to this school but also for those contributing in so many wonderful ways in your own areas of need. I am learning the value of being helped but the value of helping is huge.
Sue and Rob