Thursday, November 22, 2007

Copan, Honduras

Sunday, November 18, we left the boat aroud 8:15 a.m. to meet Yen and Ron from Moonlight at one of the bus stations in Fronteras. The bus we planned to be on leaves at 9 a.m. and goes all the way to the Honduras border near Copan. After several hours of traveling through the countryside, a few of them with us standing, we were quickly checked into Honduras and whisked away in a "collectivo," a van that holds 12-15 people, and driven to the B&B where we had reservations.

Casa de Cafe, the B&B, is a breath of fresh air -- designed and built by an ex-pat New Yorker who has created a reasonably priced classy place. When we say classy, it means that the rooms are tastefully decorated and immaculate, the bed is comfortable, the windows are screened, and the bathroom has hot and cold running water with a large roomy shower. Plus linens include wash cloths and hand towels. Now folks, these things are taken for granted up north, but down here in the developing nations south of the border, these amenities are luxuries and not often found at all at any price.

So onto the reason for the trip. Copan is an important Mayan archaeological site. Most cruisers visit Tikal while in Guatemala. Tikal is noted for its grandeur; it has acres of huge, majestic pyramids and ruins. Copan, on the other hand, is known for its artistry, its sculpture, and most of all for having the most hierglyphics found in any ancient Mayan site. We spent two days there, the first roaming around the ruins in the Archaeological Park and the second visiting the two museums. The museum adjacent to the Park is built to international standards. The facility is gorgeous, the exhibits are beautifully designed and lit, and the written descriptions easy to read. The museum in the town is much smaller, howeve it houses an impressive collection of ceramics and other relics. The Peabody at Harvard and the Getty in LA have participated in the interpretation and conservation of some of the hierglyphics. If you have a chance, visit the Copan and the Peabody websites to get a small glimpse.

Our journey back to the Rio Dulce wasn't as efficient as the outbound. We took a collectivo to the border, another collectivo to Chiquimula, a town an hour away, however this collectivo crammed in 18 or more people. In Chiquimula we got on a bus that was supposedly going to the Rio Dulce (in fact the bus driver promised it would), but when we got to Morales, about 45 minutes short of the Rio, we got booted off and put in yet another collectivo. At one point the van had 23 people in it and the driver drove like a bat out of hell. After we arrived back in Fronteras, we agreed that we'd never again ride in one of those &*$#@! things.

November 22

We enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner tonight with Ron and Yen at one of the marinas here in the Rio. Turkey was delicious, pumpkin pie, as well, and all the fixings made for a grand meal. A few more days of boat projects -- and hopefully we'll be on our way by December 1.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rio Dulce, Guatemala, Fall 2007

We arrived in Guatemala City around 9:30 p.m. on October 15, and at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, were picked up by a private van driver and shared the van ride with another cruiser from Monkey Bay Marina. We were so glad to be back on Damiana about 6 hours later! She was in great shape, no mildew, outside had been washed by Efreim, the very capable helper at the marina.

A few days later we left the slip and took Damiana up to Abel's boatyard to have some bottom work done. Our rudders needed a minor repair, as did our keels which had been scraped by a submerged "whatever" in the ICW in May, causing the boat to do an "about face" in a split second. After the repairs, Abel and his crew put on 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of bottom paint. All the work took 8 days and we tried out 3 different hotels, the last one being the best. We ate breakfasts and dinners out at all the recommended eateries here in the Rio Dulce, and dinghied over to Monkey Bay at noon. Monkey Bay has a refrigerator where we kept bread and sandwich fixings along with yogurt and fruit. While there we played Mexican Train and Baja Rummy with several cruisers, helping to pass the time in a pleasant manner.

A few days after we were back in the water, Rob and Linda from Cat'n About came over to visit from Lake Atitlan where they had spent the summer volunteering at the hospital in Santiago. They were interested in checking out the Rio as a possible destination once they were back on their boat which was in El Salvador. We dinghied to all the marinas, ate out at a few places, played Baja Rummy (two 10,000 point games with each of the Joneses winning one -- we'll get 'em next time!).

The four of us traveled to Antigua for a few days, then to Santiago, Lake Atitlan. We really liked Antigua and hope one day to return for about a week to take Spanish lessons. Antigua is an ancient colonial city which served as the Spanish capitol of all of Central America. It is in a valley surrounded by volcanoes, one of which spewed plumes while we watched from the rooftop of our hotel -- very exciting! We were greatly impressed with the quality of the fabrics and artistic work found in the Mercado de Artisans and spent several hours admiring and shopping. The town is very walkable, all cobblestones though -- bring good walking shoes -- and there are numerous wonderful restaurants.

Lake Atitlan is breathtakingly beautiful, also surrounded by volcanoes, and not to be missed! A real high point was being able to visit with our good friend, Kathy, who has been volunteering at the hospital off and on for the past 2.5 years. Kathy took us on a walking tour of the village, and we were pleased to see how many locals warmly greeted her, running up and kissing and hugging her. As a nurse and nurse educator, she has made a valuable contribution to the well-being of many of the people living in Santiago. We spent only 2 nights there and then back to Antigua for another afternoon and night -- and then once again back to Damiana.

We've been back for just a few days and have had a chance to visit twice with Ron and Yen (Moonlight, Baja HaHa 2004) and are making plans to visit some of the Mayan ruins with them this coming week.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers --- gobble gobble