Saturday, October 30, 2021

Back on the Rio After All This Time

Scott finishes up our lunch on the porch of Tortugal Marina

In many ways, it feels like I've never been away. Scott and I are sitting at a table on the deck of the Tortugal Marina having our morning coffee and checking our emails. The sun is coming up over the river through hazy clouds and it's about 70 degrees. We stayed last night at one of the lovely rooms here, a treat we allow ourselves the first night we arrive. Today we'll move into the boat.

Scott Free looking well-taken care of at her berth at Tortugal.

But let's back up a bit and cover our happily generally uneventful trip from Vermont to here. On Wednesday we drove down to Boston, did a few errands, and stayed with our son Sean and his husband Will. Our first flight was at 6 AM so we were up at 3:30 and off to the airport before 4 AM. We flew American and were pleased by the well-organized departure procedures (compared to Spirit!). The flight was on time and totally full. Our days of the cheapest fare are ended: we paid for better seats on every segment. There was just enough time to get to our next flight to Guatemala and again, it was totally full. But we departed just one-half hour late!   It is always stressful waiting for our luggage as there wasn't a lot of time between flights, but our 2 huge checked bags finally arrived. Our baggage this trip consisted of these two, two carry-ons, and 2 personal items. In the past, we often brought 4 huge checked bags and used duffle bags (all at the maximum weight allowed) - no more, Scott can't haul those around anymore. Now, despite there taking up more room onboard, our bags have wheels. 

Jerry and Debarah ahead of us on the launcha as we head to Tortugal from the town of Fronteras on the Rio Dulce.

We landed in Guatemala City at 12 Noon, their time. This is two hours earlier than EST and it's going to take us days to reorient - definitely harder as we've gotten older. We stayed our one night at a new hotel, the Suites Terraza Imperial, at the suggestion of our friend Daphne. If you were staying for many days this would be perfect as it had a well-equipped kitchen but for one night, not necessary. Next time we'll go back to one of our favorites, Las Americanas or La Immaculada. Our cruiser friends from Oklahoma were there already as they had dentist appointments. Many cruisers get their dental and medical work done here. We visited with them briefly before having a very early dinner at 4:30 their time (still felt like 6:30 to us) and collapsing in bed even earlier.

The Tortugal Marina spreads out ahead of us on the river.

Our prearranged driver Otilio came at 6:45 AM to pick all four of us up for the trip to the Rio in a mini-bus. We all wore masks, removing them only briefly to eat or drink. Our driver had his window open and later we cracked ours open as well. We were very impressed with the precautions in Guatemala City for COVID. Almost everyone we saw wore masks, and temperatures were taken of the employees as they arrived at the hotels as well as of customers entering the large stores or malls. We sat in the middle row with Jerry & Debarah (that's the way she spells it) behind us. I'm going into all this because when we arrived at Tortugal our friends learned that their son, who they had been with before coming, had just tested positive for COVID. Of course, they were very worried. They, like ourselves, have had their booster shots, as had their son. After consulting with several people they are getting tested on Sunday and are keeping distant from everyone. We really are not too worried for ourselves as our precautions seemed to highly reduce the chance of being exposed, even if they do test positive. But these are the realities of our life now!

Looking down the dock towards Scott Free - as you can see, a beautiful day!

The trip down took 6 and one-half hours, a little over average time. Happily, the predicted rain never happened and we've enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant temperatures. Now it's all about getting the boat ready for the survey next week, followed by hauling at RAM. This month we want to know what needs to be done, and either fix it or arrange for the repairs. Then we fly home on November 30th for a month with our family celebrating the holidays. When we return the first of January, we'll have two weeks to finish up the work. We need to exit Guatemala oo the high tides mid-month or risk hefty fees. We're not sure whether we'll head to the Bay Islands of Honduras or Belize at that point. We'll decide in January when we know the current situation in both countries. 

All for now...

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