In this episode CB and Tawn take a panga down the Rio Dulce to Livingston…I’ll let the pictures do all the rambling.

DSC_0795
The Rio Dulce goes way up into Guatemala and serves as transport to numerous villages. The lower portion where we stayed is a one hour launcha ride out to the Caribbean.

DSC_0818
The river goes through straight up jungla…the sides go straight up into the jungle canopy. There are numerous rustic villages along the way that are accessible only by launcha.

DSC_0811?Numerous resorts and floating homes are found along the flatter areas of the river. Some are on posts up above the water. The birds are thick in here and roost in all the trees.

DSC_0801
This little guy was captured with my new telephoto lens that CB got me on his last trip to the States!

DSC_0807

DSC_0804
It’s kinda sad to see the deforestation along the way…the hard woods are cut down for housing and cooking sticks forcing people to go higher and higher up into the jungle every year.

DSC_0808
Some local flora that reminds me of back home in Michigan…this is for you Mom

DSC_0814
As we got closer to Livingston (which is only accessible by boat) we saw more launchas transporting people and more stuff around….what? How else you gonna get your motor cycle to town?

DSC_0824
As you come around the last bend of the jungle you are welcomed by the sights of Livingston, a rough and tumble little frontera town…from here you can take launchas into Belize, Honduras or back to Guatemala.

IMGP0499
We stayed at Hostel de La Iguana this cool little hostel with a small bar and great happy hour and amazing owners from England and Ireland…they also can hook you up with all kinds of tours and tickets for the launch a ride to Belize.

IMGP0498
This is a cool little wash center for the locals providing clean water to hand scrub your clothes…as it was hot as an armpit, I kinda wanted to jump in, but figured that would be frowned upon…

DSC_0821
This is the staging area where boats wait to go over the sandbar and up into the river Dulce. A pilot boat will attach a line to the boats halyard which is raised to the top of the mast. The pilot boat pulls his boat to the side to heel the boat so the keel passes over the bar. I tried to get a photo of the actual event but it was too far away.

Our next post will be about our time in Belize…you’ll have to wait for it Papa Miller:-)

Contrary to how it may seem, I actually do like to update this blog. But most the time, I don’t really know what to write about.

So, I thought I would put up a request to anyone that reads this blog, send me some ideas on what you would want to hear about our trip that we have not covered already.

Add it to the comments or send an email or lemme know on Facebook.

Palarran BHM

Yeah, that is us. Bad Ass right? :)

One of our main reasons for staying in El Salvador for so long was so we could provide Palarran with a safe home while we traveled around Central America. We have never been here before and wanted to really have time to check it out. On May 22 CB and I took off from the marina and jumped on a chicken bus to San Salvador where we would catch a First Class bus to Guatemala City (King Quality Premium bus line). These buses are as nice as first class on a plane. When we got to Guat City we took a less than a first class bus (damn near chicken quality) an unexpected 8 Hours (uffdah) to Northeastern Guatemala to a place called Rio Dulce. Rio Dulce is where all the boats on the Caribbean side hole up for Hurricane season. We met several cruisers from “that side” and enjoyed comparing notes. The area itself is beautiful. All the hostels and hotels are outside of a small, but really loud town. Most are only accessible by launch (panga) or if you had a vehicle to travel the little jungle roads. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

IMGP0416
Rio Dulce is a river that comes off Lago Izabal and makes it’s way through to the Caribbean side of Guatemala. Due to this fact, a lot of sailboats make this their hurricane hole against the Atlantic hurricane season. Most transport on the lake is via launcha (pangas) to various marinas and hotels around the river and lake area.

DSC_0788
We stayed across the river at the Tortugal Inn and Marina. This place was quite nice with a tree-house like setting.

IMGP0419
We had the room on the right with the open bamboo window…

IMGP0424
The Hotel had kayaks that were free to use to check out the lake and the nearby Spanish Fort…this place was awesome.

DSC_0789
This is Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, a fort the Spanish built in 1644 to keep out the pirates from the Caribbean.

IMGP0435
The fort was restored in 1955 and later became a World Heritage Site. For a very small fee you can go and explore every nook and cranny of this place….including pitch black tunnels where ammunition boys ran cannon balls up to the gunners to fight off pirate ships.

IMGP0442
The obligatory brig selfie…help!

The next day we took a panga over to another lodge called Hacienda Tijax. This place was amazing. A local guy had bought about 600 acres of land along the river for conservation and ecotourism in mind. When he bought it there was a working rubber tree plantation. Over the years he has built a resort and restaurant and built numerous nature trails. You can only hike the trail with their guide, Lucy. She is a kick in the pants and very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna. Along the hike you stop at a jungle pool fed by fresh spring water….it was cold and refreshing after the jungle hike.

IMGP0462
Spring fed pool perfect for skinny dippin’. Usually the pool is crystal clear, but due to the heavy rains it was cloudy.

IMGP0460
This double suspension bridge crossed over a deep ravine with giant ferns growing up 50 feet or more. Straight up King Kong territory!

IMGP0463
The hike peaked at this observatory. From the top you can see all the surrounding mountain ranges, river valley and volcanoes…we tried to get a panorama of it, but it was too hazy to turn out

IMGP0472
This is the rubber tree plantation. It is still in operation, but since rubber is no longer in as great of demand due to synthetics, only a small portion of the land is still worked.

IMGP0473
A special tool is used to slice and peel a small area of bark where the rubber seeps out into this tiny cup. After a few hours the rubber hardens and stops flowing. Apparently this does not harm the tree and this scar can continuously be reopened to get more rubber. That little white ball is pure rubber and smells like absolute shit!

Stay tuned for parte dos, where we travel down the Rio Dulce by launch a to Livingston, Guatemala.


Me, Santos and Josh at one of the many palapa stops..CB too (he’s taking the photo)

The best part about traveling is meeting local people. However, this is often difficult due to language barriers. When we arrived in El Salvador, Santos (owner of Santo’s Marina, who speaks very good English) came out to our boat while anchored in the estuary to see if we needed anything…at the time, we did not. When our friend Josh (s/v La Gitana) arrived Santos offered him the same assistance. Josh ended up taking his dinghy up into the jungle (jungla) with Santos to see parts often untraveled by cruisers. Santos is starting up a Jungla tour where he takes tourists up into the estuaries of the Rio Lempa on his sailboat. Josh got to see the route. At one of the stops there was a tree that hung over the river and Santos told Josh that was where people climbed up and jumped from the tree. This looked like a perfect place for a rope swing. So a few days later we took two dinghys up into the jungle to construct the rope swing.

DSC_0683
The rope swing injection team…boat #1: Sachi (on the bow), Santos and Josh (el capitan)…we are in boat #2

It is currently Semana Santa, the week before Easter when the Latin Americans head to the beach for the week. This means rural little beach towns like Bahia Sur are swamped with city folks, jet skis and boats. Lots of celebrations are going on and the jungle estuaries and its little palapa restaurants are packed. We first stopped at a floating palapa at the head of the river…this was pretty cool.

DSC_0688
This bar was just built…and packed to the gills

We didn’t stay long…just long enough to get some coldies to go. The next stop was a palapa bar on a fairly large island. There was a small village here. The lots here are long and skinny. If you have waterfront property often there is a palapa bar on the water and the family owning it lives further back on the land. The bars become gathering places for family, friends and during this week tourists. They have some of the coldest beer I have ever tasted.

DSC_0689
Seriously COLD beers await us!!!

The next stop was where we would incorporate rope swinging into El Salvadorian life style. The palapa bar here was very rustic with wood burning stoves and board walks everywhere. It was built over the mangrove roots and I’m pretty sure an Ewok or two were hiding out somewhere nearby.

IMGP0353
Look closely…I think you can see the Ewok…this was, by the way, the best damn grilled fish I have ever had. Served to you whole (but gutted) with salad, rice and homemade tortillas.

We got more coldies and chose our fish that they would grill for us. In the mean time the rope swing was tied up on the overhanging tree. Everyone got into it and we had locals and tourists helping and giving much advice. Josh had some extra poly-pro line and Santos had an old water skiing handle.


This dude was trying to help untangle the mess of poly-pro while muttering under his breath about what a waste it was to tie it to a tree…here, this stuff is like gold for fishing.


Propper knot tying etiquette was practiced…as for the stability of the tree…eeeeaaahhhh

The initial idea was to make it so you could swing out from the dock on the rope. The problem was, the tree was a farther distance away from the dock than the height where the rope was tied….

Many plans were hatched, but in the end, you simply had to climb the tree and roll out over the water.

We continued on from there to a hostel in a small river village. They had a bar and kitchen and served the most amazing crab soup. We continued on up the river letting Josh push through branches and estuary muck….then CB and I realized we were running out of gas. So instead of making it to the mouth of Rio Lempa to check out the surfing situation….we took a shortcut back that would hopefully get us back to the boat without having to row :-) I should say without CB having to row.

In the end we made it back just past dark with lightening striking in the distance. It was a great day with amazing sights and fun times!


Free range horse having a gallop on one of the side tributary islets


River Lempa sunset on the way back….you really can’t capture the beauty of this place….but I gave it a try:-)


While we were at the restaurant several of the local kids attempted the rope swing but always chickened out in the end. On our way back we were rewarded by this little dude hootin’ and hollerin’ at us as we past giving us a big thumbs up as he swung back and forth over the water…we later heard that the rope was stolen…probably the guy mumbling about how good a fishing line it would make…oh well, hope he catches a lot of fish:-)