In Flores, we had booked what we thought was a first-class tourist shuttle for the 5-hour trek to Río Dulce, the connecting point for a boat-ride into Lívingston. That was our first mistake. Our second mistake was taking said ride at night. “Miserable” would be the word that comes to mind if I were to describe that bus ride. It was only a step up from those chicken buses that they tell you never to take. It was packed, it was smelly, it was terrible. The invasion of my personal space makes me incredibly anxious and I was anxious – for five whole hours. Arriving in Río Dulce at 10PM also made me anxious but we made it to a hotel safe and sound. The next morning we were able to see that Río Dulce wasn’t as sketchy as its night-life made it seem but still nothing too special.
The only way of getting to Lívingston is by a two-hour boat ride. It wasn’t terrible and it was a semi-tour of the river with one stop included. The weather didn’t help the ambience as several storm clouds could be seen in the distance.
The castle above was one of the first things on the boat-tour, it’s the fortress El Castillo de San Felipe, built to keep pirates from looting the local villages. Later on, it served as a prison and is now part of a protected park.
The people who live off the river really have to survive off what the river provides them. From afar it looked like these two little girls were fishing or just hanging out on their boat, but as soon as our boat got closer, they came up to us and started trying to sell us jewelry and trinkets made out of shells and other materials.
We decided that after the past 24-hours, we deserved a nice hotel and so we got one (although it didn’t have laundry, internet or at times, working water). But the view was spectacular and it had strategically placed hammocks to enjoy the breezes.
We decided to explore the town of Lívingston and decided to have lunch at a hole-in-the-wall place all the way at the end of the main street (there’s only one) called Tiling Lingo. The owner, Maria, is a riot – she’s enthusiastic about the food, culture and everything about life. Her chai teas were also the best I’ve ever had.
Chris was really adamant about ordering a tapado, a traditional Garífuna meal. (Garífuna is the name of the Afro-Caribbean culture that thrives in Lívingston). The meal consists of seafood (whole crab, shrimp, fish, scallops) with coconut milk (yum), some veggies and plaintains – and it’s all stewed together. What we didn’t realize was that all the seafood would come intact and you’d have to work for your meal. Now that I think about it, the meal was pretty paleo!
Shortly after taking that last photo, I was hit by traveler’s sickness – I literally ran out of the restaurant to our hotel. I don’t think it was the food we were just eating but rather a combination of dehydration and other factors. Needless to say, I was out of commission for the rest of the day. It’s quite unfortunate because we didn’t enjoy Lívingston as much as we should have but it happens. The next morning we headed back to Río Dulce to catch a ride into Lanquín so we could explore Semuc Champey.