Surprise! You’re in Guatemala!
My dad knew, but my mom was still in the dark about the whole thing. The itinerary for my parents’ three week stay was closely guarded, but I felt obligated to fill my dad in on the next leg of the journey after my mom got in a fight with a Jaguar (or tripped over a step at a chocolate factory…whichever you want to believe) and injured herself a bit. The transport method to our next stop required getting in and out of an open-top skiff from a dock, which is no small feat for someone with both ankle and wrist injuries. But mom rested up and both injuries improved and by Friday night, mom — with the blessing of her personal physical therapist (i.e. Lori) — was ready to head on to the next adventure…whatever that may be.
As often happens in Belize, our 1pm departure turned into a 1:30p or 1:45p departure. Luckily for us, it was a particularly calm day on the seas, especially for June, and looked like smooth sailing. Mom made it down into the boat fine (along with the rest of us and our luggage) and we were off.
Mom was an awfully good sport about the whole thing, given that she really didn’t seem to have an idea of where we were headed. I’m not sure if too many moms would be so trusting to board a small skiff with multiple injuries and head out over open seas in the direction of a haze-filled horizon. The fact that the boatman was having issues with his motor (leaving us floating without power three separate times for minutes on end in the middle of the Gulf of Honduras) didn’t seem to affect her mood either. I’d like to think it was unflinching trust, but the painkillers probably helped a bit too.
The boat ride from Punta Gorda to Livingston took an unprecedented (for us) one hour, which was especially insane given that the seas were quite favorable and the journey generally takes 30-45 minutes. Alas, for the first half of the journey, the captain couldn’t get the motor to propel the boat more than only a few knots. The slow motion of the skiff, coupled with a slight keel to the port side left my parents (especially my dad) drenched, but they didn’t seem to mind too much. There are a lot worse things in this world than getting sprayed with the Caribbean on a hot day in the tropics.
Finally, after the captain’s third attempt at repairing the motor (as we bobbed and rocked halfway between PG and Guatemala) something fell into place, the motor revved to life, and we were off at full speed towards our destination at last.
Sadly, this would not be the end of our boatman’s engine troubles, as we would later find out on the return trip…
Eventually we arrived into port and were able to say ‘Welcome to Guatemala! Surprise!’ I wouldn’t think it would be comforting for the average person to hear ‘Surprise! You’re in Guatemala!’ especially if it’s whispered in your ear in Spanish by somebody you’ve never met before…but nonetheless, mom was very excited.
After performing the requisite trudge up the hill to get our passports stamped in, we grabbed some lunch and headed to Casa Rosada, where Lori and I had stayed in October.
The plan was to stay in Livingston for two nights before heading on to the next mystery location. But not before taking a day trip to the beach!
Playa Blanca (White Beach)
Lori and I enjoyed our visit to Playa Blanca so much in October that we thought it warranted one more visit. It was a gorgeous day in the Livingston area (though it looked like it was storming all day over in PG…typical), the water was warm and the sand was just as soft as I remembered it. Being a Sunday, there was a smattering of locals and other visitors, but not overwhelming by any means. Any time there are a limited number of hammocks and no waiting time, I’m happy, regardless of the size of the crowd.
In addition to hammocks and an abundance of shade palms, Playa Blanca also had the Coco Locos Lori and I remembered. Mmm…cocoloco.
One improvement over our visit in October was these shaded dining areas, which added a nice touch. We did the same day package through Casa Rosada as we had done in October, which included a stop at Siete Altares (the Seven Pools) and a brown bag lunch. The boat left Casa Rosada around 9:30am and got back around 3p. We were compelled to leave the beach a bit early due to the seas kicking up, which made for a somewhat harrowing skiff ride back.
That evening, we watched the fishing boats head out into rough seas while enjoying icy cold beers on a perch at Hotel Gil (seriously, if you want freakin’ cold Gallo, go to Hotel Gil), before heading up to a stormy dinner at Happy Fish for some Garifuna Tapado (seafood and plantains in a spicy coconut milk soup) and fried shrimp.