Glimpses of the Real Guatemala

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Shaun precariously hid in an ongoing dance with the ever-changing shade spots of the catamaran as we made our way down the Rio Dulce. Life on a boat is unkind to those with fair skin. Freckles started dotting their way along his pale landscape but they did little to protect him from the harsh Guatemalan sun. I was soaking it in. It felt perfect.

I think I was a sailor in a past life or something; I connect with the water. The sun on my now brown Latina skin felt right. I nimbly made my way to the front of the boat and started furiously scribbling in my personal diary. It had been a while since I had felt so inspired.

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We had fallen in love with Guatemala when we took our Spanish lessons in Xela, two years prior. This was a side of Guate we hadn’t familiarized ourselves with and I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience.

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Small huts and palapas dotted the shore as we made our way to the mouth of the river. We were getting tiny glimpses of the real Guatemala as we sailed and my eyes were glued to the shoreline. These places were only accessible by water and I immediately felt as though I was part of some exclusive club – and in a way I was. Not everyone gets the opportunity to slowly float their way to Livingston.

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I almost felt like a voyeur as I watched locals swimming and bathing on the side of the river. Everyone was smiling and waving at us happily, I couldn’t help myself as my camera joyfully clicked away.

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Sparrows playfully flew through the air, taking a brief moment to find their personal spot on the catamaran to rest up a bit before quickly taking off.

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The occasional manatee made themselves known by waving hello with a quick tail whip.

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L and D started fumbling around in the galley.

“Where is it?”

“Where is what?”

“The iPod?”

…and after a quick hookup, it started.

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As we approached the high canyon walls on the Rio Dulce, a familiar song that reminded me so much of my youth slowly made its way into a crescendo…

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Jurassic Park.

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It couldn’t have been more perfect. My friends are nerds and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect soundtrack to our sail.

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Pelicans and other various birds gracefully glided along the green, placid water.

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The grandeur of the canyon walls were made even more epic.

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The local fisherman were dwarfed by the sharp drop of canyon wall. Can you spot them?

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I sat there in awe. These places exist.

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This is why I travel. I love to be a child again, being in a world of wonder.

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I hope it never stops. I can’t stop wanting to discover.

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What drives you to travel?

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25 Responses to “Glimpses of the Real Guatemala”

  1. Naomi May 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    Beautifully written post. I enjoyed Guatemala but I was never truly enamoured by the place but seeing these pictures have made me have second thoughts! What drives me to travel? As much as I love seeing pastures new, the thing that I strive to find when I travel are meeting locals and through them, finding out about their culture. Lest we not forget, eating and drinking lots of new concoctions isn’t too bad either!

    • Erica May 13, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      Where did you go in Guatemala? Each place has its own distinct personality.

      (And YES I love eating my way through locations. It is the best way to learn about a culture!)

      • Naomi May 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

        Guatemala is so naturally beautiful! We did pretty much the gringo trail so it was Lake Atitlan, Semuc Champey (those 2 were definitely the highlights of my trip in Central America) Tikal and Livingston. Unfortunately, we had a few bad experiences which I think unfortunately tainted the country for me. We were very briefly in Rio Dulce but it was only an overnight stayover before going to Livingston. Looks like travelling your way slowly up Rio Dulce is the way to go!

        • Erica May 30, 2013 at 11:23 am #

          The experience you are describing is what some people refer to as “Guate-malo”. We were so lucky to have had fab experiences while we were there. I have heard my fair share of horror stories as well. What happened?

          • Naomi June 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

            Nothing horrendous happened really but we just ran foul of a few tourist agents who liked to take advantage of unknowing tourists. It unforunately left a bad taste in our mouths which is such a shame as Guatemala is such a visually stunning country. Luck really comes into it and it can make or break your experience!

            • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

              Oh yeah. The “gringo tax”. Luckily I spoke Spanish! I’m so sorry that it sucked like that!

  2. Casey - A Cruising Couple May 6, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    Beautiful. I couldn’t agree with you more-being in a state of discovery and awe is a wonderful thing, and definitely a driving force behind our travels. Great pictures, and what an amazing way to connect with nature!

    • Erica May 13, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      Thanks Casey! I used to giggle at nature photographers (I didn’t get it) but now, I could sit there for HOURS to get the right picture!

  3. Sam @ Travellingking.com May 7, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Incredible Scenery!
    So green and “wild”
    thanks for sharing

  4. Jennifer May 7, 2013 at 2:15 am #

    Thanks for sharing your photos. I visited guatemala about 5 years ago now. Its such a beautiful place

    • Erica May 13, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Of course! I can’t believe we have been TWICE now.

  5. Maria May 7, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Can easily see why you’re falling in love with it.

  6. Sofie May 7, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    One word: wow!

    What drives me to travel? I think the need for new experiences.

  7. Carmel May 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    That post was just so…satisfying. I was not expecting Jurassic Park, though.

    What drives me to travel? Food, experience, people, having time to just get lost and let my body and mind wander a bit.

    • Erica May 13, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Thank you Carmel! I’m trying hard to work on my writing skills.

      I do love letting my body and mind wander. Some of my best thinking is done that way.

  8. Tom @ Waegook Tom May 13, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    Great, now I’m going to have the Jurassic Park theme song in my head all day, to accompany the never-ending cycle of Game of Thrones and RuPaul’s Drag Race theme tunes. It’s an interesting mix.

    Also I feel for Shaun. I burn easily too. If you’re ever too busy relaxing in the sun and he needs somebody to rub suncream on him, I’d be more than happy to oblige. You know, in the interests of blogger comradeship and all.

    • Erica May 13, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      MY HUSBAND BRINGS ALL THE BOYS TO THE YARD….

      wait.

      Seriously though. We would have no problem “making money” if it every came down to it lol!

  9. Emma @ GottaKeepMovin May 15, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    This is definitely a Jurassic park moment, love it guys! It’s inspiration like this that drives me to travel, and I can’t wait to get to Guatemala some day. Sounds like you had a really authentic experience and I say the same thing to myself when I see similar things – ‘These places EXIST?!’ Sweet post!

    • Erica May 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      I thrive for authentic experiences. 😀 It is just getting to locations like this that can be difficult on a search.

  10. Justin @ True Nomads May 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    I loved my time in Guatemala. Cant wait to get back for more!

    • Erica June 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      We have been there THREE times now!

  11. Adam May 25, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Enjoyed this very much! Guatemala is the only country south of Mexico I’ve visited and even that was a short visit. Founds this convincing that I need to return to explore more than just Antigua.

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      O.o That just boggles my mind! You lived in this hemisphere, man! 😛

  12. Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans June 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Such a great post and great pics! I agree with you – the feeling of childlike wonder is definitely what motivates me to travel. It’s completely addicting!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      It really does. I love having my mind blown.

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