When we finally received our ATM card from Bank of America, I withdrew Q1000 from the machine right outside the Radisson lobby, packed our final bags, and we were ready to roll. Not without some difficulty though, as Joy’s scooter, which up to that point had been rock solid, was acting mighty quirky. The day before we decided to do some wandering around town once life seemed back on track, and at the far end of our walk the scooter started groaning and moving very slowly. I tipped it up to see if anything had caught around the drive axles, and smoke started coming out of the motor. Not a good sign! I ended up pushing the scooter (with Joy on it) back to the hotel because it ran out of power in short order. We wondered what else could go wrong.
After breakfast the next morning we took a cab to the Linea Dorado bus station located in Zona 1, not a great part of town. Are bus or train stations ever in a good part of any town? In the city when you board the bus they examine your luggage and you have to pass through a metal detector. The guy in front of me had to check his long machete. He was a little miffed, but too bad for him. The LD bus is a Mercedes 50 passenger with lots of power. It was full that day, and we were the only gringos on board. Traffic coming into the city was heavy, but the eastbound highway was nearly empty. So we had smooth cruising.
Remember my telling you that municipal busses are often packed to maximum capacity? This one to the right was pretty well loaded down with not just standing room, but “hang-on” room only; not an uncommon sight. Frequently, when the guy or gal hanging out the door wants to exit, the bus merely slows down a little and off they jump running when they hit the ground. Riding the bus really gives you a chance to look around as you travel, and here in Guatemala you’ll find sights unlike anywhere else. It’s definitely a cultural experience that broadens your perspective. You think twice before complaining about how tough life can be, and you realize you don’t need all those luxuries to be happy.
Back on-board Ocean Angel we collapsed after all the excitement of the previous week. Thankfully, everything on the boat was perfect – the AC humming, the food frozen, the boat clean and tidy. The water level in the lake? Well, just a little high, about 3 feet above normal – the highest in many years. Of course, we were there! All the rains from the week before brought massive flooding off the mountains, and before the water reaches the sea, Lago Isabel and El Golfete capture it and use it for a while. A little flushing action is good for the lakes, and for all those who depend on it, as sanitation here is not what you find back at home. We were definitely glad for the flushing.
The Angel rests quietly here in the photo to the right, shielded from the intense sun with a couple of tarps. She is loved and well-cared for, but she is gazing wistfully out towards the Caribbean sea off to the east and beginning to wonder just how soon she will back where she belongs.
Our neighbor on our left keeps his brand new 58 foot Sea Ray Sedan Bridge under the metal canopy. He has a full time captain who washes and polishes the boat daily. No water spots or smudges accepted here. His is one of one of few motor vessels in the water, but we have well over 100 large power boats ranging in size from 20 to 36 feet, stored on trailers, ready to launch at our two big paved ramps.
A few days after returning, the marina asked if we would be willing to move to a different slip, one with a view and lots more afternoon breeze – this view to the left. We now look directly onto El Golfete with five marinas off to our right, a few anchored vessels, and gorgeous views of the lake. A little more wave action finds it way here, but the view and the breeze make it worth the slight rocking. Helps you sleep at night.
If we look off to the south, our right side, we gaze at two brand new marinas, “Ram Marine”, a full service boat yard with some slips, Puma Fuel, a beautiful restaurant, store, and gathering place, and Nana Juana Marina to the left with hotel, pool, swimming slides and lots of slips for big boats. In between is the Shell Fuel depot which I have yet to visit. Ram Marine is without a doubt the cleanest marine facility I have ever seen. There’s not a spot of trash to be seen anywhere despite all the yard work taking place. Plans are in the works at Ram for more slips, full service waste pump-out, and continued expansion. The last time I puttered past Nana Juana they were excavating for some sort of expansion, hard to tell just what. There’s never any lack for expansion in the Rio. Our own marina is planning to add a pool, a volleyball court, and expanding the restaurant with a dance floor for live bands on the week ends. They are all working hard to attract the boater’s dollars, and they are trying to keep more boats year round rather than just during hurricane season.
We travel to town, Fronteras that is, for most of our major shopping, groceries, and so on. Lots of times I’ll just zip over in the dinghy to pick up a few things we might need, and off to the right is a view of the municipal dock where all the lanchas serve the workers coming and going throughout the day and well into the evening. I land our dink right in front of Bruno’s restaurant below where most of the cruisers land as it’s not so busy here. Often I’ll find friends gathered under the red roof at Bruno’s watering hole for a snack, or more likely nursing a cool drink to take a break from the relentless heat of the day. There’s a great “tienda” (convenience store) aimed at cruisers just up the block from Bruno’s, and it’s become one of my favorite stops as they have a great variety of just about all the basic necessities like chocolate, beer, and wine. Oh yeah, bread, cereal, pasta, and all those things too.
It’s a quick ride in the dink, maybe five minutes, versus a 30 minute hike over the bridge, so about the only time I walk is if Joy plans to go with me for a little more extended shopping or a visit to a restaurant for a big lunch in lieu of dinner. About once a week we make that jaunt, and it’s always a fun trip. We can let you . . .