I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, as we were leaving the Rio Dulce, but I didn't have a chance to complete it until this morning. And since we are again in a marina this morning, it seems appropriate to post now......... (But the pics are from the Rio.)
The pattern is basically always the same, but we seem to always forget it. Every once in a while, we decide to or have to go to a marina. At first, there is an initial thrill. Oh my, we think, we will have unlimited access to garbage, fresh water, laundry and electricity! The kids will be able to run around on shore without the need for a dinghy ride and, if we are really lucky, they will get to swim in a swimming pool. (Swimming pools offer several benefits, including that we don't have to use precious fresh water to rinse off the salt water after swimming. And on our lazy days, a chlorinated pool doubles as bathing. Oh dear, did I just admit that on the web?!?)
So as we headed to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, we were not disappointed to hear that that the general advice is to always stay in a marina (mostly to prevent theft from your boat). And because prices in Guatemala are so reasonable, we could even do it without too much pressure on the budget. (We ended up paying about $20/night for a 47 foot catamaran. For comparison, we typically would have to pay more than $100 a night, not including the cost of water and electricity, in most areas in the Caribbean.) So we headed into the Rio looking forward to a bit of a vacation, if you will, from the typical rhythms of living on the hook (anchor).
And, at first, it was nice. We stayed at Mario's, a central hangout in the Rio (or the "River" as we the regulars call it) and the kids got to swim and we got to walk to Happy Hour and we had tons of water and even a free launcha ride into the nearby town of Frontera.
But then, not long after we arrived, the typical pattern continued and claustrophobia started to set in.
The marinas on the Rio are well-known as good hurricane holes because it's pretty far inland - about 15 NM from the mouth of the river. But that also means that the trade winds don't reach that far. So while we often had a daytime breeze, but it was basically windless at night. On top of that, when you are at a marina, you are, by definition, close to land. Land, the home to mosquitos and no-see-ums. And last but not least, most marinas on the Rio, including ours, are down stream of the town of Fronteras. Meaning you shouldn't swim off of your boat.
It's hard to describe how much we have grown used to living in the wind and on and IN the sea. After more than 15 months out here, we haven't tired a bit of jumping off of the boat into the cool, clear sea. Without the cooling of the wind, or a refreshing jump off of the boat, I find that it's hard to think. Or think of DOING anything. The kids get whiny. To Do lists are ignored. Stuff piles up. Meals become random and thrown together quickly just to satiate hunger. And pile on top of all that a healthy dose of mosquitos and no-see-ums, and life onboard can quickly become miserable.
The thing is, we were really looking forward to the Rio Dulce and really enjoyed our time in Guatemala, which included visits to Tikal and Antigua. But when we're not comfortable on the boat, it's hard to feel content. The only thing we start to want is to LEAVE.
So, right now as I write, we are motoring out of the Rio Dulce. It is very hot and hazy, which seems like a fitting culmination to our time here. We are traveling by beautiful cliffs (see below) and enjoying the jungle flora and fauna. But what is really making our pulses quicken is the hint of a breeze we can now feel and the increasing number of sea birds. We are getting closer and closer by the minute to the sea......