From Panajachel we drove the better part of the day across Guatemala City and off the highland plateau down into the eastern lowlands toward the Caribbean. We were headed for the Rio Dulce, a spot we had both wanted to see for a long time, Dave since he saw a video his long deceased friend Jason had made thirty years ago or so. And we had heard stories of the river from sailing friends, particularly Reggie and Edna, our mentors when we first began sailing in the Med, who had taken their boat here and had even built a house on the river that they later abandoned to go off sailing again. It is recognized by all as the safest hurricane haven in the entire western Caribbean and thus a real focus for sailors. And sure enough, there were probably hundred of sailboats in the vicinity of the town and assorted spots along the river itself.
We were there to make the trip down the river to the town of Livingston where the river empties into the sea, a journey of about twenty miles. The river is wide and rather majestic,
passing lots of activity
and many residences along the way, some that we would call ‘primitive’ and others on a grander scale.
But have a look for yourself:
The trip downriver ended at Livingston, a rather fascinating town in its own right. It was founded and is still dominated by “Garifuna,” descendants of African slaves who were exiled to the island of Roatan in Honduras by the British after they rebelled on the island of St. Vincent in 1795. From there they spread along the coast of the western Caribbean and Livingston is something of a center for their culture.
There are no roads to Livingston in Guatemala, and it is at that spot where Belize, Guatemala and Honduras converge. Above all its people have a culture and an attitude independent of all–colorful, unaffected by very much of the outside world, vibrant with their music and heritage.
We had gone downriver with a full boat of backpackers who all departed to move on to Belize and Honduras, but the return was lots of fun as well. We were accompanied by three Basques from Spain here to do a documentary film and full of fun and song which seemed to erupt out of all three together for no reason but the joy of the journey.