Wandering Around Rio Dulce

See what I mean? Joy took the tiller for a while to give me a chance to take a bunch of photos as we zipped along over the lakes. As long as you head out onto the lakes in the early morning, the winds are calm and you can cover a whole bunch of lake bottom in a hurry. By late morning or early afternoon, the winds start to pick up, and many days we’ll see afternoon winds of 25 to 30 knots with big waves on the lakes. Some time ago one of the ex pats (that’s what we call those who live here) headed home in the afternoon with a big load of supplies in her boat, and at some point the waves overcame her boat, it sank, and she drowned. She apparently became tangled in the lines securing her load. It’s a big lake and nothing to fool around with. But we know better; we left early and planned to be home before noon. There was lots of time to explore.

That girl can drive!
That girl can drive!

One of our regular shopping spots is “Tienda Reed” owned by Chiqui. You can get there by water or land, and I’ll go either way depending on how much I need to carry. Here you can buy fresh bread, cold beer, block ice, refill your propane, or find just about any marine item you might need. Chiqui is friendly, helpful, and always there to lend a hand. On our first time there he saw Joy on her Pride scooter. He stopped us to ask about it, because, as it turns out, his mother is in a wheelchair, and he wondered if it would work for her. After he saw how it worked, he said “I don’t think I could get my mother one of those. She would surely end up right in the river!” He’s a kind man and he remembers who you are after only one visit. Hard working, honest, and just the kind of person we like to know.

Tienda Reed
Tienda Reed

Just under the bridge downriver is the place that has become one of our favorite hangouts – “Backpackers” Hotel and Restaurant, in the photo to the left. We go here for happy hour, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or to have our laundry done. Once a week for laundry, a few other times to relax. Backpackers is a Hotel and Restaurant, and it is the launch off spot for many young people from all over the world who come here truly as “backpackers” to work, study, or to volunteer at “Casa Guatemala” the local orphanage about 250 children of all ages call home. You can learn all about the orphanage at www.casa-guatemala.org/ and discover the kind of good things that go on here. Many of the young people who come here volunteer their time to help the orphanage in exchange for room and board, and the smiling faces of those at the orphanage are worth all their effort. For many, volunteering at the orphanage is a life altering experience. << Read their stories. [caption id="attachment_706" align="aligncenter" width="300"]"Backpackers" “Backpackers”[/caption]

Private Home on El Golfete
Private Home on El Golfete

From Backpackers we zipped downriver into El Golfete and around the point into Monkey Bay, the anchorage where the big incident took place. Several large homes like these two in the photo to the right line the bay, and there is a beautiful marina aptly named “Monkey Bay Marina” (below) looking out on the anchorage. Just to put things in perspective, the motor vessel on the left under the big shed was a little over 60 feet, one of many just like it docked in front of private homes. The marina faces El Golfete and catches the afternoon breezes, and probably a fair amount of wave action also, although I’ve not been there when the wind is really howling so I can’t say for sure. I’m guessing based on the waves we see, and our marina is located in a pretty well-sheltered cove.

Monkey Bay Marina
Monkey Bay Marina

From Monkey Bay we wound our way back to our marina and tied the Achilles dinghy up to the stern of Ocean Angel for the night. As everyone knows, it’s good practice to lock your dinghy and motor to the mother ship to make it a little more difficult for the bad guys to steal it, so we dutifully cable and lock the inflatable close to the stern of the big boat every night. Well, that night a pretty good storm blew in, and apparently the spring-coil cable forced the dinghy to rub against the edge of the transom all night long. When I checked in the morning, I found the towing eye pad partly chafed off the bow of the inflatable. Looks like it hadn’t been glued properly and the constant rubbing exploited the weak spot. That spot is well glued now. Back to the drawing board for a better security system. I plan to use a stainless rigging cable in the future that would tend to not hold the dink so tightly to the stern.

Dinghy Damage
Dinghy Damage

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