Carrie wrestling a crocodile located near our hotel in Livingston.
This installment begins with us in Livingston, then crossing over to Punta Gorda, Belize by lancha (small /fast powerboat). We then caught a ‘chicken bus’ to Placencia. A chicken bus is a converted US Blue Bird school bus used for public transportation. Although a very inexpensive and efficient mode of transportation you never know what you will find on board. From Placencia we headed for San Ignacio, again by chicken bus, near the border of Guatemala.
After three wonderful days at Finca Tatin we finally had to say goodbye. But, instead of taking the lancha down the Rio Dulce to Livingston we opted to kayak down. The folks at Finca Tatin brought our backpacks down with their lancha and took the kayaks back. This part of the river narrows and is lined by tall, jungle covered cliffs. Where possible thatched roofed homes were built near the water. We were joined by another couple we met at Finca Tatin from Switzerland and Japan.
After settling into our room at the Casa Rosada Hotel, we were ready for lunch. This picture is of the dining area near our room. The food was great. We ordered the delicious local specialty, Tapado, which consists of : coconut, curry, fish, shrimp, shellfish, coconut milk, plantain and spiced with coriander.
View from our room at Casa Rosada overlooking the bar of the Rio Dulce, out into the Caribbean. Don’t miss the rainbow!
Finally, tummies full, we went exploring downtown Livingston. The mix of cultures in Livingston is amazing. But, the majority are Garifuna, descendants of African slaves brought to the new world. They revolted in 1795 and spread to Belize and Nicaragua from Honduras.
One of the highlights to a visit to Livingston is the hike to Seven Alters. We decided to join a group to do the hike with a guide, pictured to the left, cooling off in a waterfall at The Seven Alters. The hike was approximately 8 miles round trip. The hike began in Livingston proper. From there, we hiked through a Garifuna village, were taken by canoe down a short stretch of river, then walked along the beach, where we finally turned up into the jungle to reach The Seven Alters.
Pineapple plants were growing wild along the trail.
Crossing a river on the way to Seven Alters.
After crossing the bridge we walked along the beach for a few miles. Along the way we saw many locals fishing for shrimp, fish, and other goodies. The results of one man’s labor are pictured at right!
Finally after walking through the jungle we saw our reward, The Seven Alters. Here we could cool off in the water and enjoy the jungle environment. The event took all day and we were happy but exhausted when we got back to Livingston. We also had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people from around the world including, Australia, Canada, and Europe.
It was time to leave Livingston and Guatemala for Belize. Belize is a short 1.5 hour trip by lancha. We entered Belize in Punta Gorda. A small, very laid back village, much like Livingston, but with many more American ex-pats. Big Jer is one such expat. Originally from Texas, came down for a visit with his wife and saw a bar for sale. As the story goes, he looked over at his wife and said: “Wouldn’t it be great to buy this thing and move on down here?”. His wife said: “Yeah, go ahead”. So they did. Then they sold their construction business in Texas and setup shop in Belize. And so go the ex-pat stories! We only spent three days in Belize. We found it expensive and the water wasn’t what we expected.
After one day/night in Punta Gorda we, once again, hopped a chicken bus bound for Placencia. Placencia is a tourist destination, billed as having white sand beaches, clear blue Carribean water, and a fun nightlife. We found none of the above and only stayed one night. After getting used to spending $7.00 to $20.00 per night for accommodations, we were shocked that in Placencia it was difficult to find anything under $30.00. Luckily, a kind woman, offered an attic room with private (hot water!) bath for $20.00. We readily accepted! We were in the attic of the white house above.
The view from our room.
Yucky beach in Placencia with seaweed fields as soon as you get knee deep in the water.
Empty cabins that the proprietor would not rent for $20/night.
Our last stop in Belize was San Ignacio, where we splurged and stayed at the HYATT. Well, maybe not the real thing, in fact it was spelled differently, but comfortable. A cool little border town where travelers hang out for a day awaiting a crossing into Guatemala. Stay tuned next installment; Tikal!