Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mom Pitteroff Comes to Guatamala City and the Rio Dulce!

We were lucky enough to have Mom Pitteroff come to visit us for the month of October.  It was a long trip to get to Guatemala City so we decided to spend the night at a hotel before we headed back to the Rio Dulce.   Mike and I stayed here for a few days before Mom arrived to get some shopping done for items you just can't find in the town of Fronteres. 




We  stayed at Las Torres Hotel in Zone 10, Guatemala City.  It was a great old Hotel however, be sure to make your reservations via email so that you get a confirmation.  If you click on the link for Las Torres Hotel, you will find an article about the hotel.  It is an old article, because now no one speaks English and we never met anyone named Jorge. We arrived after a 5 hour bus ride, tired and thirsty, to find they didn't have our reservation. Arggghh!  We were told they were full but had a reservation for Maria Maria to arrive at 3:00 PM and if they didn't show we could have that room. Mike and I are thinking Maria Maria, really, don't you think that could be our room and a mistake in the name was made...LOL.  I made the reservations by phone and the girl I spoke with had a limited amount of English and I of Spanish.  We went across the street to the Holiday Inn to see if they had a room just in case, they did it was very expensive but at least we knew we wouldn't be on the streets that night.  Across the street from Las Torres is a bar called Cheers, the awning of the building looks exactly like the awning of the Television sitcom Cheers.  So off we went to Cheers to quench our thirst and await our fate.  It turns out Maria Maria didn't show up and we had ourselves a room.  Yippee!  Below is a picture of the main stairwell of the hotel.  I loved this chair, it was very comfortable.

While in Guatemala City we looked up some friends from Marathon.  Louis and Hiro worked with Mike for a few years. Louis works at a hospital in the City and it was just a few blocks from Las Torres Hotel.  After they finished work that day we all went for a late lunch at San Martin Bakery and Cafe, delicious food, and caught up with them.  They are great guys!
Louis, Hiro & Mike
While waiting for Mom we spent the days trying to find the stores we wanted to shop at.  We were looking for clothes, hardware, items for boat maintenance and food to eat while we were staying here.  The first store was Walmart's to find some food and maybe clothing.  There were 2 Malls within walking distance of the hotel but they were just like walking into a Mall in the USA with Spanish writing.  Everything was super expensive so we ditched the idea of buying clothes there and went to the Cinema. They do have some movies that play in English with Spanish subtitles. 

We had found out that when in the City try to take the yellow taxis because they are metered and much cheaper than the white taxis which are for tourists.  If you get a white taxi you have to negotiate a price before you get in because they will try to charge you as much as they can.  We took a yellow taxi to the Walmart and did our shopping.  When we were done it was pouring rain and we called the yellow taxi number to get a cab.  I thought I had managed to relay where we were and that we needed a Taxi to pick us up.  Feeling a bit proud of myself, we sat back and waited and waited and waited...uh oh...something might have gone wrong in the translation.  My head bowed in disappointment, Mike went in search of someone who spoke English to help us out.  He went into a travel agency and found two Spanish speaking women (no English) and managed to relay our problem.  They called a taxi for us. As it turns out we had contacted them and they had come, we were just waiting in the wrong place.  There was a taxi station at the other end of the parking lot.  We go to the other end of the parking lot and wait by the taxi stand.  Soon, an unmarked vehicle parks in the Taxi spot and a guy comes over to us and says Taxi? We said yes and got into an unmarked non metered car.  We tried to bargain the price but he said there was too much traffic and rain so we paid a higher amount.  We are not sure it was really a Taxi or someone the ladies knew who could make a couple extra bucks. Either way probable not our smartest decision to get in but we made it back to the hotel.  We were glad to get home. Our next shopping day would center around finding a Home Depot type store.  We found out that there is a chain of stores here similar to Home Depot called Cemaco.  I search the Internet for a close location and wrote the name and location of the store to show the taxi driver.  Well.....oops, I wrote the location of a store that was in another part of town, far away, it was called Pradera Concepcion. So we went for a ride, LOL, we were getting kind of nervous because it was taking so long.  On the map I saw on the Internet it was just a couple miles away.  Our taxi driver noticed our nervousness and tried to communicate it was okay we were going exactly where I had written down.  Finally we arrived and it was exactly where I had told him to go.  It cost a few extra dollars but it was a nice store and was attached to another Mall so we shopped and had a great lunch.  The taxi driver gave us his card to call him when we were ready and told us where to wait so we were confident we would get home and we did!  We had our fill of Malls and was ready to get Mom and go home. Finally, after 5 days of running around different parts of the City it was time for Mom to get here.  I had forgotten about Mom having to go through Customs when she arrived and had told her to just wait in baggage claim until I found her.  Oh my, when I realized my mistake she was already in flight and I couldn't reach her.  I left a message on her cell phone but wasn't sure if she would get it.  She didn't...she tried to wait in the baggage claim area but was told in Spanish that she had to leave.  Finally, someone who spoke English came out and explained she had to go through the Customs.  Poor Mom she just thought something was happening in the airport and they were evacuating everyone.  She was quite happy when she finally saw us and so were we!
  

Next morning we are up and having breakfast at that great restaurant San Martin Bakery and Cafe.   The food there is really delicious, especially the breakfast.  The had a lot of entrees Mom is having the breakfast burrito.
Back home on the Rio Dulce we take Mom out to find the Howler Monkeys that live in the Jungle.  We first had breakfast at Mar Marina.
Unfortunately, we did not get very good pictures of the Howler Monkeys that we did see.  If you look at the picture below it is the black blob in the middle of the picture.  We didn't see many but we could here them loud and clear.  It was a fun trip anyway.
We spent most of the day showing Mom the different waterways through the jungle looking for Howler Monkeys.
Admiral Mom has a special seat in the front of the dinghy.



We took mom on a trip to Castillo de San Felipe a fort dating back to 1644.   It's a great fort to explore, we have other pictures in previous posts.


It's very hard to see, but if you look in the picture below you will notice that Mom is standing in about a foot of water.  It is the rainy season here so the place was flooded. These were the dungeons where the prisoners were kept. It is very dark inside and you need a flashlight to see.  The one I brought didn't work, of course, so we flashed our way through with the camera. 
Thanks for coming to visit Mom we had a BLAST!  We love you!!!!
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Cheers Kim and Mike


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Trip to Livingston

In July we had to make a trip to Livingston to renew our visa's for another 3 months.  We took a Launcha and made the 20 mile trip in 2 hours.  We left at 9:00 AM and at this time the waters are usually calm, but of course the winds had picked up and the water was very choppy.  This made for a very uncomfortable ride through the El Golfete.  When the Launcha came to pick us up it was pretty full except the front seat.  Mike and I said 'Are these people crazy they left the best seats', so we grabbed them.  MISTAKE..LOL.  It was pretty bumpy and we were bouncing up and down all the way. When we got to Livingston we bought some beach towels to pad our behinds for the ride home!  Below is a picture of the beautiful lily pads on the river.


Children in Cayucos (wooden canoes) came out to the boat to sell trinkets.   

We also stopped at the hot sulfar springs.  
 Our Launcha.
In Livingston we spotted this dog taking a nap in a hotel lobby.

A street in Livingston.

A street in Livingston.

Livingston.

This is Livingston, they were drying fish out.  The fish were everywhere, on the tables on the ground, wouldn't even think about eating these.  Dogs, rain and whatever else you can imagine on that ground.

Livingston, a man enjoying his newspaper.

Raul's Office (our Agent)

A hotel in Livingston with a view of the Caribbean Sea.  

We are still at Tortugal, Mom Pitteroff is visiting and we are having a fabulous time!  

Cheers Kim and Mike

Monday, August 04, 2014

Exploring and Stuff on the River

There are so many things to do and see on the Rio Dulce.  Usually when we are at dock we have projects to do on the boat and this is the time to do it, however, we are having such a good time that we are slacking terribly on our duties.  Oh well, it will get done eventually.  One of our favorite restaurants is Hotel Kangaroo.  It is a place off the river run by an Australian ex-pat and his German wife.  It is a hostel and restaurant and the food is excellant.  There are 3 dogs to greet you, a huge black one, an old female who is a sweetheart and a tiny little thing that is scared of his shadow. 


There is always a great breeze through here, in fact twice we have had to catch the table umbrella as it flew away Mary Poppins style, fold it up and put it on the deck.


When we saw the sign below we asked the staff if it were true and they said yes!  She said there was a grande and pequeno crocodile, huge and small.  She said that they had fed a live chicken to them at the end of the dock.  So we are believing.  The next time we came we met a young backpacker who was about to go swimming and we said, did you see the sign?  We said it might not be true, check with the staff and the owner said is was safe for her to go out....  Okay! we said we would watch her back, holy cow.   She went out with a weary eye and was perfectly safe.....LOL



Some beautiful Guatemala foilage, that you can buy at Home Depot and plant in your own yard!  Ha ha ha 







This is the end of a small inlet that takes you to Hotel Kangaroo.




We took a little tour of the marinas located here on the Rio and we are so glad we are at El Tortugal Marina we think it is the best. Below is Tijax, it was nice but not as much breeze as we get here at Tortugal.  They have a rubber tree plantation and a nature reserve with trails for hiking, learning about trees, medicinal plants and bird watching that we want to go on.




This is the suspended bridge at Tijax that takes you to the road and the nature reserve.




This is Mario's Marina, we were going to stay here until a spot became available at El Tortugal.  We understand that Mario's will be closing by Janurary 1, 2015.  The owner of the land is taking it back to build a private residence.




Mango Marina is in the next bay over from Mario's.  The owner of this property is also reclaiming the land, not sure what is going to happen here. There is one boat here our friends on s/v Sea Sister


Below is Vista Rio a restaurant, Marina, apartments and rooms.  Lunches are good and the beer is cheap and cold what more can you ask for.  It is for sale, by the way, you can have all of it for US $150,000.   They say you can get it cheaper though...hmmm.  I think any place on the Rio is for sale for the right price.



We took the dinghy down a inlet we saw, after we left Mario's.


It was very still and quiet, there were a few homes back in the jungle and over the water.





We found this hotel and restaurant at the end of the inlet.  It is Hotel Casa Perico.  It was a very quiet place with just a few people, we had a couple of beers then went back to exploring.





The owner of Tortugal, Daphne told us that the biggest fruit in the world is grown in Guatemala.  It is called a Jack fruit. She took us to a roadside nursery/fruit stand so we could sample one.  We ended up buying one.  Below are pictures of the countryside on the ride to the fruit stand.







Getting the fruit out of the shell was a trick.  Once Mike cut open the fruit you could see the little fruit pods, however when you tried to extract them a very sticky substance was under the skin.  It was so sticky that we had to use acetone to get it off our skin and knives.  The fruit was very delicious, we also sampled it frozen at the fruit stand and that was very refreshing.






This is Thelma, one of the dock cats who seems to have adopted us. We do not feed her, but she comes to our boat everyday to get loving.  Sometimes we have to walk her back to her food bowl at dinner time (actually carry her) so we know she is eating.




Here are Thelma and Louis another dock cat.




Bat girl is below, she is very beautiful. There is another one Gandalf that we don't have a picture of.  They are very happy and have the run of the place.




That's all for now.  Below is a video of our walk on the suspended bridge at Tijax.

Cheers Kim and Mike



video

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