Rio Dulce; Three Days
Along with these friends we took a 3-day road trip to the east. Our initial plan was to take a 6-hour gravel road, but a bridge washed out in the middle of it, so we took the 4 1/2 hour paved one.
On our way to Rio Dulce we stopped at the ruins in Quirigua. One of the stone carvings is portrayed on the 10 cent coin. The park is quite beautiful with a large field with massive stelas rising from the earth.
The ruins date back about 1200 years on average and they include a ball court and several ceiba (the national tree).
There is a jade museum at the entrance and this little idol reminded me of Donnie Darko's rabbit.
The ruins are just 6 km off the highway through a Dole banana plantation.
Our family stayed at the Tortugal marina and hotel right on the Rio Dulce which connects Lago Izabal and the Caribbean. It's a very inexpensive place to stay with a great restaurant. The only access is by boat taxi or on foot from town. We stayed in an isolated bungalow where the kids could run around naked.
The water is incredibly warm and there is some terrific swimming at the hotel, just not shallow water for the kids.
The Tortugal has a large library. This book was in our room (the title had me laughing all weekend) (the title has something to do with pupate state, but the book was on government). I stuck to 2006 issue of The New Yorker. Read a great article on Deep Springs College in California - very independent of thought where half the learning is on the ranch and the other half in the classroom (at the ranch).
We headed out to Puerto Barrios, one of the three major ports in Guatemala and the only one on the Atlantic side. We hired a boat (after some severe bargaining) to take us to Livingston and Punta de Palma.
Amber and I had been to Livingston before and there wasn't much desire to return; it's just tourist shops, drug pushers, and hair braiders. We had lunch there and hung out until the rest of our crew was ready to go to the beach.
Punta de Palma is just 10 minutes away by boat from Puerto Barrios (a gross port city), but it's a gorgeous beach with calm, warm, shallow water. The kids loved it and so did I. A real change from cold Tactic.
The Castillo de San Felipe was built in the 1500's to protect Spanish trading posts in Lago Izabal from English and Dutch pirates. We could see the castle from our hotel. We spent our last morning of the holiday walking around the site and then hanging out on the shore of the Lake. Along the walk to the castle, we passed a cinnamon tree and an allspice tree. The leaves smelled delicious. It is a beautiful place!