Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Feliz Navidad

Those Christmas hats from the last post continue to embarrass me about my lack of blogging this year.
It's time to replace them with something new.

2013 started with us leaving in a rush from the USA on expiring visas. We made it to Bimini in the Bahamas in time to celebrate Stu's 50th there and chill out, to recover from the stress of it all.  We struggled against the trade winds through the Bahamas and re-repaired the engine in Nassau -  thanks to the incompetence of one of the mechanics in the USA, we nearly lost it for good - it's a long story!
After fighting more upwind we made our way down to Cuba and spent 2 months sailing and biking around the north and west coast. The blog will appear eventually, I promise.
To recover from that exertion we spent 6 weeks in Belize sailing and snorkeling the magnificent reefs.

Completely worn out from the constant travel from Turkey over 2 years, and quite fed up of watching weather and worrying about hurricanes, we decided to spend hurricane season in Guatemala, up the Rio Dulce. There are about 15 small marinas up here, and the country was highly recommended to us by other cruisers. We have been moored at Tijax marina (check it out at www.tijax.com) for 6 months, working on the boat, doing some land travels  and loving the simplicity of being able to step ashore. It has been as hot as hell at times, and we've made good use of the swimming pool to stay sane.
Moored in the jungle

It's hot in the rain too!

Jungle walks

Leaf cutter ants busy, busy, busy

View over the Rio Dulce 

It was time for us to leave on a high water to cross the sandbar on 12th December, but we'd ordered a new anchor chain a few months back, which should have arrived in November. Well, it is Christmas eve and we are still waiting for it to be released from customs. Customs thought they would try and get a nice big bribe for the shipment to be released in time for Christmas, but the importers are refusing to play that game, so a huge container of West Marie stock continues to sit in customs, and we continue to wait until they get bored of the sight of it.  Since the old chain has turned into a sad pile of rust, we feel we have to hang on for it and enjoy Guatemala for Christmas.

Yesterday our friendly marinero, Oscar-Abel, took 10 of us gringos to his home to 'help' make traditional tamales, which is what the locals eat instead of turkey and brussel sprouts. They cooked us breakfast, lunch and gave us take home tamales too. What fantastic generosity!!!! Can you imagine us inviting 10 Guatemalans to our house to teach them how to make British Christmas dinner, and feeding them 3 meals too???  I hope one day we do......
Banana leaves from the garden are softened over a fire.

Gladys (mum) stirs the cornmeal dough over another fire

Jerie finds out how hard it is to stir with a canoe paddle

Judy helps to chop 15 pounds of chicken

Everyone has their fingers in the pie

Production line, the pile grows 

Nicole makes her first tamale

With secret ingredients!

We made 2 pots like this. They are steamed over the fire for 2 hours.
Stu samples the product.

Here's some more pictures of Guatemala to keep you going until the next post.
Simple living on the river

River shops

Public transport

Funky pants

Lovely fresh fruit and veg

Lake Atitlan

Lake of flowers

Subsistence fishing

Howler monkeys

Hot springs

Cold springs
Luggage being rearranged underway on a collectivo bus

Chicken buses

With a real Chicken on top

She's 76 , kneels there all day to sell a few wares

Baby on board
Beautiful Antigua

Boys and their toys....the work goes on
Its a hard life for dinks too, Guat is not kind to glue


Mike Hampson said...

Looks like we missed a great day with Oscar Abel. Claire and Mike

Mike Hampson said...

Looks like we missed a great day with Oscar Abel. Claire and Mike

Nivasprasana said...

Oh my God! I want to explore this place, thanks for shared such a great place to visit.

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