Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Rio Dulce
To one side of the river’s mouth was the town of Livingston. We made it over the notoriously shallow sandbank that guards the entrance to the river, and cleared in with officials of the town.

peanut butter & banana smoothieAt a backpacker’s café where we went for a late breakfast and I was introduced to the peanut butter and banana smoothie. Anything with peanut butter has a special place in my heart…this was so amazing that I had two. And then I drew the recipe into a letter to a friend (though I don’t know whether she likes peanut butter).

Rio Dulce, GuatemalaBy late afternoon the paperwork was done, and we continued up the river.

Rio Dulce, GuatemalaAt the second bend in the steep gorge, the wind died. A strong current started to push us back, the sun was setting, and it was too deep to anchor. We tied Kehaar to a couple of trees growing out of the limestone walls of the gorge (to the scandalised rubbernecking of the herons) her mast grazing the branches overhead, and hunkered down for the night.
Rio Dulce, Guatemala
No people live around the gorge, and a spell settled over the river as darkness fell. The jungle came alive around us: the movements of animals rustled and crashed in the treetops. Unseen river creatures surfaced, splashing and glub-glub-glubbing around our boat. Big shadowy birds crossed overhead, silhouetted by the narrow strip of moonlit sky visible between the limestone walls, their wingbeats smacking the air. Something buzzed a few inches over my head that I will always think of as “the 2 lb. bumblebee.”

Rio Dulce, GuatemalaAt midnight a torrential rain came down, blotting out the last of the moon’s light. The rain pattered onto deck from the trees overhead, and an army of ants began to cross over onto our boat from the branches, intent on moving into our dry home.

It was a long, long night.
Rio Dulce, GuatemalaMorning was glorious, though, and with our moods improved we went for a row around the banks of the river, getting in close to admire strange flowers and disturb the many snowy herons that favour this bend for fishing.
Rio Dulce, GuatemalaRio Dulce, Guatemala

We waited most of the day, hoping that the wind would rise and we could sail out of that tight spot, but it never came. By late afternoon Kris decided that we would have to move upriver some other way.

“Warping, or kedging, is a method of moving a sailing vessel, typically against the wind or out from a dead calm, by hauling on a line attached to an anchor or a fixed object.”

Kris went for an exploratory row further up the river and came back with the news that yes, there was plenty of wind ahead, and it was coming from the right direction. We just needed to reach that point. So we tied several lengths of rope together and attached one end to the boat. Kris got in the dinghy with the bundle, rowed as far ahead as the rope could go, tied an anchor to the other end and dropped in the water. Standing at the front of the boat, I pulled Kehaar along this length of rope, arm over arm until my arms ached.

We had to do this three, maybe four times, to get out of the dead spot. Then it was dark, so we anchored, had dinner, and went to bed.

The next day the wind came, at mid-morning, and we sailed for a stretch. We came to a second hairpin bend, with the wind blowing from the very direction we wanted to go. This time, however, we knew better than to hope for better sailing conditions. We warped the boat right away, five times, and made it to where we could pull up the sail once again. Fishermen and passing water taxis cheered us on. By this time the word had gotten around that we had no engine and were trying to get up the river.

That same night found us anchored in Lake El Golfete, a wide open expanse of water with plenty of good sailing wind. From there the rest of the voyage upriver was beautiful, and we made it all the way to our final destination, a small marina on Lake Izabal, in one day.

Río Dulce is where we will be based for the next 4-5 months.

Rio Dulce to El Golfete


17 thoughts on “Rio Dulce, Guatemala

  1. Nat, love, so nice to have you back! Looking forward to your new adventures on the lakes! Look for my emails…Mike’s birthday is tomorrow (21st). Summer solstice! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With each story I’m urged to move, go, do something out of the ordinary. I feel like a stalker but there’s not a post I haven’t devoured and loved!


    1. Ah, Thank you, Kathy! I often wish I could put more of myself on here, to do justice to the time and involvement that visitors like you ‘invest’ in my posts. There is always room for improvement, no one is more aware of that than I. So glad that you enjoy it, already, that’s very encouraging!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hola, Hilda! It was not my intention to put anyone on tenterhooks! Life is peaceful (just the fact that I have time to sit and write blog posts means life is relatively comfortable). Maybe it’s the way I write, everything is open-ended, that leaves you hanging?


  3. I’m having a peanut butter and banana smoothie tomorrow morning and pretending that my life is as adventurous as yours. This entry had me gasping with suspense. Brava!! and glad your found your wind!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just beautiful!!! What a trip. I feel like I was with you on the river at night. Take care and may God bless. (From Gail, in Athens, Georgia, USA)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Gail! In retrospect, we were glad we spent so much time in the river, as we probably won’t be leaving by the same route, and that was our one chance to really experience it.


    2. Thank you, Gail! In retrospect, we were glad we spent so much time in the river, as we probably won’t be leaving by the same route, and that was our one chance to really experience it.


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