Hot & Wet: Rio Dulce

Hot & Wet: Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce has a very high, very long bridge. Many large trucks go over this bridge, all day and all night. Most of these truck’s drivers gain great pleasure in using their engine retarder brakes while going over the bridge. They are LOUD. We, of course, were staying in a hostel located right under the bridge.

We didn’t sleep well in Rio Dulce.

Me with the infamous bridge

On the way to Rio Dulce Phil stopped to chat to two different heavily loaded bicyclists.

The ride from El Remate to Rio Dulce on April 29, 2013 was uneventful. The heat in Rio Dulce was almost unbearable. I couldn’t wait to get my riding gear off when we pulled in to the Backpackers hotel.

Our dorm room

We were given bunks in their 20 bed dorm for the bargain basement price of 30Q/night each. The dorm is built on a dock, floating over the river. Despite the less than ideal sleeping conditions, made worse in my case by someone insisting on sleeping on the bunk above me, despite there being other free bunks, the hostel uses it’s profits to run an orphanage, so at least we were supporting a good cause.

We were relieved to finally be somewhere with a wifi connection after the week without one in El Remate. We had a lot of blogging to catch up with! (A common issue – I am writing this update from El Salvador, over a month after it took place…)

We arranged for our new friend Cisco from Guatemala City who we hadn’t actually met in person yet, to ride over on his BMW 800GS and meet us in a couple of days and then set to exploring what there was to see.

I was very excited to be on top of the bridge!

That evening we walked over the bridge into town for dinner. On the way back we passed a group if guys at a tienda. One of them called out “Hey Taliban!” (referring of course to Phil’s unruly facial hair, which he is refusing to cut until the end of the trip).

This tienda turned out to be the hub of the local community, everyone came by!

We ended up chatting with them, they offered us beers, and then they pulled out a guitar. A completely unexpected evening of music and new friends ensued.

The guitar comes out

Our stickers are truly becoming world famous.

Despite the several beers he had consumed, this Guatemalan could still play! The sticker makes him play even better…

The main attractions around Rio Dulce are taking a boat to the coastal town of Livingstone through a narrow gorge, visiting the hot waterfalls and visiting the old Spanish fortress.

We were told that Livingstone was very similar to Belize, at 200Q each we decided to skip that trip and instead had a very friendly local boat captain, Caesar take us on a private tour of the local area for 150Q total. He was proud to show us the fortress, the houses of the rich and famous who dock their yachts there to protect them from hurricanes, an Amazon-like river with overhanging vines and his favourite swimming spots. He even jumped in with us at sunset in the middle of the river beside a mangrove island full of birds.

Pointing out our hostel from the boat

Captains Phil and Caesar at the helm

Some boats parked outside their owner’s home.

Approaching the fortress

Those Spaniards sure know how to build a pretty fortress!

There were a lot of birds on that island!

Jayne and Caesar swim at the island

Floating down the jungle river.

We spent quite a lot of time at the hostel hanging out on the dock, meeting other travellers and catching up with the blog.

I spoke to Christian a couple times, but he was very grumpy since the gassing episode and often was not much fun to talk with. Despite the grumpiness, I was still completely smitten with him, and was thinking of how I could make a trip back to Mexico to see him again before we got too much further South.

On Wednesday morning we were just thinking about breakfast when Cisco walked up to us in his riding gear. He’d made great time from the city.

Cisco on the road

At the same time we started talking to a Guatemalan guy called Guillermo and his son Alex. Guillermo was incredibly generous and insisted on buying us all lunch.

As the beers flowed Guillermo started to tell us about his life as one of Guatemala’s richest men… We have no idea if his stories were true, but he was a nice guy and it was fun to listen to his tales.

Phil with Guillermo and son Alex

Cisco then took us in a tuktuk across the river to a hotel/marina that we had to walk over a series of suspension bridges to get to. We sat on the dock and ate ice creams. As soon as we met him, Cisco was like an old friend and it just kept getting better.

Most interesting hotel entrance ever

 

Cricket and Jugs meet Cisco’s BMW

The next morning we packed up the bikes and headed to the hot waterfalls. We were there pretty early and had the whole place to ourselves. The water flowing off the cliff was too hot to stand under, but when it mixed with the water below it was lovely.

We made it!

Don’t let the peaceful beauty fool you, those waterfalls are scalding hot!!!!

Jayne and Cisco enjoy the warm pool

Phil finds himself in hot water.

The ride to Guatemala City consisted mostly of passing slow trucks on the highway. We stopped for groceries and then headed to Cisco’s sock factory, where he lives, just as it started to rain.

Our first taste of big city traffic in a while…

Everyone in Guatemala City has a gun. Including this parking lot attendant, and the security guard at Dominos…

Well dressed for the cheese and meat aisle.

Guatemala City welcomed us with some rain…