Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Tonight, this year comes to an end.   We took the evening to thank God and celebrate the coming new year.  Through many smiles and trials, we are blessed.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ice Skating

We went ice skating.  It was cold, but fun!

Hotelito Perdido

We stayed at a secluded, eco-friendly place called Hotelito Perdido.  It was lovely.  We met people from all over the world even though there was all of 12 people staying at the hotel.  Dinner was family style and offered up entertaining conversation by candlelight.  It was a memorable experience and John and I would go back in a heartbeat for another unplugged, romantic, stress-free, inexpensive get away.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Livingston, Guatemala

For a couple of bucks, John and I took a lancha down the Rio Dulce to Livingston which is on the Caribbean coast.
There are quite a few anchored, deserted boats where the river feeds into the sea.

The town of Livingston was nice.  We exchanged money at the bank, got some ice-cream, and strolled through a park.   There were quite a few vendors selling fresh cut fruit in clear plastic bags.  The fruit was swarming with some type of insect that resembled bees, and the vendors seemed oblivious.  Needless to say, we did not buy any.
Near the water it is a bit touristy so we had to walk away from it to find an inexpensive place to eat.  We saw many starving, mangy dogs, and they broke our hearts.  We took all of our leftovers and gave them to one of the dogs.  He ate very slowly.  It was a heartbreaking sight, but understandable when many of the locals struggle to feed themselves and their children. 
This statue is facing the Caribbean Sea.
We walked down another street to where it meets the sea.  I walked a few feet ahead, excited to put my feet in the water.  When I stepped on what I thought was dirty sand, I fell and landed on my tailbone.  More embarrassed than anything, I was very careful getting up as to not slip and fall again. I balanced myself successfully only to realize that the seat of my pants was covered in greenish brown slime.   Thankfully it all washed off in the sea.

On our stroll back to the dock we saw these swings.  Interesting.
And check out this slide.  You wouldn't want your kids to fall back and hit their heads.  Maybe that is why their weren't any kids playing in the park.
I was fascinated by this "laundry mat" and so very appreciative of my washer and dryer back home. 
John and I saw this bike and both immediately thought of our son William.  He would love to ride something like this!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Rio Lampara Waterfall

It is breathtakingly beautiful here. To be able to explore and experience God's beauty with my best friend is such a blessing.  So many things I got to see for the first time on this trip.  First fireflies, and now hundred of lily pads.
This swing was on the porch of our little private bungalow.
John and I rented a kayak, and set off to explore a waterfall.  We took a "guide" dog "Rasta"who was supposed to show us the way.  I guess his direction was off that day because we ended up getting lost until a nice native pointed us in the right direction.  

The Rio Dulce is such a tranquil and private place.  It is a true gem of Guatemala.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Jungle Medic

When I was researching different countries to go and visit, the main draw was to connect with people who are serving in that country. It didn't take me long to find Bryan Buchanan, the Jungle Medic in Guatemala. Though he is no longer doing a documentary, you can check out some of the trailers to get the gist of what he along with his wife Mar and teams from the U.S. do to help.   I contacted him and we became friends.  It was a huge blessing when we got together for lunch.

Mar taught us how to cut the top of a coconut and even notch a little flap that keeps the coconut water in when not drinking. 

They not only opened up their home and cooked us lunch, but they shared their hearts with some amazing stories. 
(They raise rabbits.)
Bryan and his wife Mar continue to serve the Lord and do medical work in the remote villages of the surrounding Rio Dulce area.  Here is what Bryan's best friend had to say.

"Trip of a Lifetime! We are talking about an adventure like no other you will ever experience and it’s all inclusive. Included; is housing, food, transportation... from and to the airport, for only $75.00 a day.
My best friend Bryan has been a missionary for 2 decades in Central America. mostly helping the remote villages in Guatemala… He needs teams of 10 to 15 people (minimum) to help now! As you can see your daily fee ($75) barely covers your costs and you will be staying in a safe comfortable environment (with air conditioning) in Rio Dulce Guatemala (see pictures on the link below)…with a cook to prepare daily meals for you. Bryan’s only goal is to help the people of Guatemala!
Besides the villages you help (no experience needed…Bryan will teach) you will have the opportunity to visit some wonders of the world (this is the only way I know how to explain it) example, swim in a volcano heated waterfall was my favorite.
Please check out this link…
I have been down to Guatemala and Honduras many times and if you are unsure, scared, or would feel more comfortable having someone along who could travel with your group. I am willing to join your team, travel with you, and answer any of your questions. This is a safe adventure with lasting memories!
This can be a large family trip, church group, or even a bunch of friends. Helping hands is what is needed. I have no medical knowledge, but I was able to help fix things, pass out vitamins, lug supplies, and take direction…basically whatever is needed, it’s that easy!
Please share this with others, we all take vacations…I think this could be one of your most memorable trips ever. "

If you are looking for a mission trip opportunity, Bryan and Mar would be happy to talk to you, I'm sure.
Thanks Bryan and Mar for your wonderful hospitatlity.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

For our 22nd Anniversary

 In celebration of our 22nd wedding anniversary, John and I went to Rio Dulce, Guatemala.  It's a lovely area of Guatemala-- the perfect place to unplug.

On the drive, we stopped at little place to get something to eat.  When we asked for a menu, this is what we got.  John and I both smiled, and truly fell in love with the simplicity of it.
 This is what we ordered.  The food was pretty good.  The atmoshere was awesome.  Spending time together-- just the two of us-- was  amazing!
 Once our driver got us to the right dock, we were able to call for a lancha which is a water taxi motorboat.
 We happened to come during a busy time for Guatemala tourism-- just look at all the cars on the bridge.

We stayed at a place called Tortugal Hotel.  It was nice.  I accidentally booked a room with a shared bathroom which turned out to be okay, but they moved us to this little cabin the next day anyway.
It's funny how we have heard how dangerous Guatemala is because the one and only time we felt unsafe while there was at night when a drunk foreigner became belligerent after being told he would no longer be served drinks.

This is where we enjoyed fresh, free coffee in the morning and ate breakfast.
The hotel has this walkway that goes for about a half mile over the swampy area of their property.  Once you get to the end of the walkway you are in the jungle and there is a trail that leads to the main road into town.  When we were walking that trail one night, we saw our first firefly.  And then another.  And another.  It was so cool!
Here I am on the front dock admiring the beautiful scenery.  The evening before, John and I had swam to the floating dock you see on the right.  

We got to see Castillo de San Felipe de Lara.  It is a Spanish colonial fort at the entrance to Lake Izabal.
     After a couple of days at Tortugal, we headed down the Rio Dulce to our next stop Hotelito Perdido.  We really enjoyed our lancha ride there.
Instead of going straight to our destination, the driver of boat took us to different areas along the way.
There were so many lily pads along the banks of the smaller rivers that fed into the Rio Dulce.
It was very eye opening to see people living in the mangroves in their little houses built on stilts.
What a trip so far!