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Rio Dulce

The world's only hot water waterfall and the murder village

semi-overcast 20 °C

Another early rise had us packed and ready to take a bus to Rio Dulce which is by the only Caribbean beach that Guatemala has. We decided we would skip the beach but head to the river that looked as if it could be a lot of fun. The bus journey left at about 5am and we made it there by midday. We had to take a boat over to our hostel; Kangaroo. The hostel was set right on the water, complete with rope swing and crocodile – if you dare! We spend a couple of days lazing around, tanning, swimming (we never saw the crocodile), and just enjoying the location.
The best part of our time in Rio Dulce was when we headed out on an adventure – complete with bottles of rum, to the worlds one and only hot water waterfall! We had to go quite a way in local transport, which provided ample rum and bachata time with the locals who sipped on my rum despite them protesting 10am was far too early to drink. We were dropped off at a tiny farm in the middle of nowhere, handed over a small entrance fee, and stumbled our way through a short forest hike to where we found the waterfall!
We were so amazed to see the steam coming off the water, and quickly got into our swimsuits so we could get right into that water.
We swam underneath the waterfall and into the cavern where we drank our rum in the natural sauna that it had created.
We climbed up to the source of the hot water and were covered in healing mud by the local guy Francisco who led the way for us.
We jumped off the boulders, climbed into the little caverns, saved a local boy from drowning, and just enjoyed our 5 hours of swimming and rum time before we went back to the hostel – for what shall ever be known as, Katy’s 14 hour nap…
Oh and we alsogot to hold the cutest kitten both of us had ever seen on our hike back, a kitten that had the strangest meow we had ever heard too – that we were then told was a baby lynx and not just an ordinary domestic kitten!
A couple of days later we felt the urge to head on our way. We packed up and bid farewell to all of our new friends at the Kangaroo and returned by boat to the main town where we caught our shuttle to Lanquin. I would love to say that the long drive to Lanquin was event free and we had no troubles. However, I have now been in this part of the world to know that such things are never quite so straightforward.

The drive itself was windy and rough, as we wound up and over huge mountains.
When we were about as high as we could ever possibly go, when there was not a single person around, when there was no cellphone coverage or a shop nearby…we hit a roadblock. Not just a normal one either, I am talking about an entire mountainside village blocking the road. There were children, babies in slings, grandparents, and adults, all blocking the road. The trucks moved in behind us, the people had branches of trees across the road, and the men of the cities held tightly to their machetes. At first I tried to laugh it off with Erie who was starting to panic. “Oh this is just latin america Erie” I said, without mentioning it wasn’t the Latin America I had yet discovered. Everyone in the van with us turned to me as I was put into the position of translator. I tried desperately to understand what was being said between the driver and the spokesperson of the town, but could only understand the odd Spanish word as the conversation was in one of the many Mayan languages spoken throughout the country. However, the words I did understand were integral to what was going on; money, roads damaged, daily driving, big company, and lawyers. I explained to the others the few words I had understood, and began to feel relieved that what was going on possibly had nothing to do with our venturing over the hills. Until the driver of the car was told to get out of the vehicle…We closed all of the windows as children were reaching their hands inside and trying to climb up onto the roof where we already had two hitchhikers sitting. We locked the doors and began to suffocate in the heat. There was a man circling the back of the van as he held his machete with one hand and stroked our van with the other. Of all my time in this continent I had never felt so scared as I began to feel in that minute. Visions of the driver being sliced up in front of us passed through my head, alongside the thoughts of having literally nowhere to run to for help.

We were all feeling the heat, the fear, and tension, and we were calculating how much money we all had to use as bribery when the driver got into the car with a wife and small child. He drove us off, laughing as he did so. He explained that the town we were passing through was his, that the child and woman was his wife. An international company is driving huge trucks through the roads and damaging them without paying, as they steal from the local water supply. The town is now fundraising money to pay for a lawyer so they can fight the bastards. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief as we drove away from what Erie now calls ‘The Murder Village.”
My sneaky photos just don’t do the ordeal any justice… I couldn’t take many as I had hidden my phone in my underwear in case they stripped us of everything.
And as scary as the ordeal was, I was very impressed to see an entire town out fighting their own revolution to make their lives better. How I will always love and appreciate that side of Latin America.

Posted by chasingsummer 12:02 Archived in Guatemala

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