Snate's Six-Month Sojourn travel blog

Sam at the Hotel Del Norte

Yesterday morning, Samantha, Charley and I finally decided to leave Chiquimula (I say "finally", though I was the only one who spent any significant time there). Great town with quite a few amenities, low prices and many, many opportunities to work on Spanish. Plus, the local grocery store had some kick ass sandwiches - we ate dinner there two nights in a row.

So, back to the story: we boarded a bus to Puerto Barrios at 8:30 or so . . . then sat on the bus until it left at 9:20 or so. The bus was incredibly warm, and was at various stages of packed to the gills throughout the journey, but eventually ended up in the seaside city of Puerto Barrios at about 1:00. At this point, Charley, with his impeccable lack of Spanish, map or directions, decided to head to Honduras, while Sam and I progressed to an OLD hotel on the water for some lunch. This place was recommended in our book because it's 100 years old, completely made of wood, and back in the day, it was quite an elegant place. Lunch in the empty restaurant looking out at the beautiful (empty) pool reminded us both of The Shining. Puerto Barrios is no longer as hoppin' as it used to be, unless by hoppin' we're talking about crabs.

Any which way, after lunch we wandered in the somewhat WARM afternoon to the pier and boarded a super fast lancha for Livingston. Livingston is the only Garifuna town in Guatemala where the only Guatemalans of African descent live. The town can only be reached by boat, so it's necessary to head to Puerto Barrios first and then take a half hour boat ride. So, we hopped in the lancha, then waited 45 minutes or so for it to actually leave the pier. There was a lot of play-pretend-we're-at-sea, but we actually moved nowhere for 45 minutes. The trip was actually awesome once it began (except for Sam's shooting gut pains) because we just cruised along the palm lined shores of the Caribbean and watched pelicans.

We arrived in Livingston around 6:00 last night, found a hotel run by a local Garifuna family, and then soon after ran into Hemp and Angie (we knew they'd be here, we just weren't sure how we'd meet). They had been here for several days and took us to an awesome restaurant right by the sea. Over dinner we discussed prospects of leaving Livingston the next day (this morning) upon the boat of a German guy they had met a few days earlier. He said he would take us up the Rio Dulce.

(Sam here) There was a crazy storm last night that lasted through mid-morning, so we're still here in Livingston. It ended up being nice staying because we met the brother of the owner of our hotel this morning. He was really nice and showed us a truly local, authentic Garifuna place to have lunch. He also offered to make us some CDs of traditional Garifuna music. His name is Nati and he also shared with us that the original name (and the name the Garifuna still use) for Livingston is La Buga. We haven't received our CDs yet, so perhaps he will just keep our money and we will never see him again, we will see.

It was great to sleep in today and not get up a 7:00 am for the trip to Rio Dulce. I have been running around non-stop for a week. I flew back to Portland last Tuesday and came back on an overnight flight on Saturday, so a little extra sleep was not only wanted, but quite needed. Being back in the states was nice. I'm a little homesick now. It was wonderful to drink tap water and not have to worry about the food. While back I received several comments about weightloss. Ladies, apparently the solution to dieting woes is the revolutionary new diarrhea diet. Just kidding, but seriously I have had diarrhea on and off since January. I miss certain foods, that is for sure. Today's lunch was a great example of good local food that had a less than appealing atmosphere. Now I could lie and say that I am so seasoned that it didn't phase me, but I lost my appetite slightly. I've realized that much of my dining experiences in the states have a lot to do with atmosphere. With that in mind picture the atmosphere that accompanied our lunch today:

We walked into this very little hut right on the beach. It stormed like mad last night so everything is a bit waterlogged and swampy right now. The menu was written on a poster on the wall and we were unsure of the origin of most of the ingredients. Nate and Angie ordered the coconut fish soup and the less adventurous Hemp and I ordered veggies and rice. So, while waiting for our food in the backyard of this little hut, our table faced the town's garbage dump. Also, to our left was a little stream where the restaurant disposed of its food scraps. We encountered six or seven feral cats, three scabby, sore-ridden dogs, several chickens and roosters, two families of pigs and a turtle. There is really nothing more appetizing than dogs and pigs eating smelly garbage right before your eyes. When Nate and Ang's food came out it smelled wonderful, however, the shrimp, fish and crabs were completely intact, eyes, teeth and all. The food was actually really good and I'm glad we went, but man can you imagine most people eating with those surrounds? It's almost absurd.

People haven't been as friendly here, so I'm looking forward to heading out. But, on a really exciting note, Nate has heard from OSU and . . . drum roll please . . .

He got into his graduate program in geography (as if there were doubt, I didn't marry no dummy!)and they are going to pay him! He was offered an assistantship with the department! I'm very proud of him and he's excited. Now let's hope I get into my counseling program.

More later, Adios.

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