When we returned to Mar Marine life was back to normal. The parking lot was dry, the birds were singing, the sky was a brilliant blue. Winter seemed to be just about over, the wet season anyway. Within a couple of days the night time temperature dipped to 41 degrees, and everyone was cheering. What a relief from the heat, the rain, the humidity! We loved it, but we knew our time on the Rio was about to end.
We sent an email to Raul, our immigration agent, with all our departure information. When we entered Guatemala back in May, he made the entry process simple; when it came time to extend our visas, he made it go without a hitch. Others who tried things on their own seemed to have nothing but problems. Should you ever enter Guatemala by boat, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org . He will be a life saver.
So our departure date was set, determined by the wind and weather. We saw a 14 day window in what had been an unusual and very early northerly wind pattern. What did I expect? We were headed north, of course! We were leaving very early on November 4th, and our Angel was ready to cover some miles. Our friends, Scarlet and Tony, rose early to see us off, helping us cast off our lines and waving farewell. We missed them already, and we hadn’t even left the slip. We would miss all our friends.
In the photo above you see our friends’ Roy and Jane’s steel hulled trawler, Steel Magnolia. Roy and Jane have decided to make the Rio their home, and Roy is the editor of the local web based news hub, the “Chisme Vindicator”. There you can read all about what is happening in Rio Dulce. I read it weekly and stay in touch with Roy and Jane on a regular basis. They too have overcome obstacles to make the cruising life their own, a life-style change I doubt they will ever regret.
Joy is taking the helm as we head out across El Golfete. She had mixed emotions as we powered down-river towards Livingston for our 11 AM appointment with Raul. We didn’t want to be late for lots of reasons, not the least of which was high tide. Since we draw 6.5 feet, and high tide this day was only 1.7 feet above the 5.5 foot low tide, we tried to leave ourselves plenty of margin for error. What I did not factor in was a 3 knot current generated by the massive amounts of water still emptying out of the lake.
As we nearly flew down the river, we turned around at one point and motored back against the current to take a last look at the limestone cliffs walling the magnificent Rio Dulce gorge. We both struggled with this moment because so much had taken place in our lives this year. My Dad had passed away; my Mom moved back to New England to an uncertain future; our son Rory sailed on the big boat, USS George Washington to Japan; Trey, our 2nd grandson, a miracle baby was born; Rory’s wife Kim and our grandson Dylan flew over to live in Japan for the balance of his tour in the Navy, and in spite of it all, we undertook this adventure. Now it was rapidly disappearing behind us. We realized that in the blink of an eye this cruise would all be a memory. I think we resolved at that moment to enjoy each and every moment of our trip home, no matter what came our way.
We arrived at the downtown Livingston waterfront in plenty of time; the current made short work of what we thought would be a 4 hour trip. I wondered how the clearing out process would go. Raul’s office was on the top floor of the yellow building, the one with the red roof, directly behind the fueling station. He was sitting there waiting for me, just as he had promised. After handing him our passports, he said ” Just sit here a minute and relax. I’ll be right back with everything”. Not more than 5 minutes later he came back with our passports stamped, our paperwork all completed, and we were good to go. Amazing efficiency and straightforward procedures. No begging for a “tip”, no hassles, and for all his work including the departure fees, we paid a total of Q350 (about $50.00 US) . Money well spent.