Wow! What an amazing day! We spent the day working with an organization (Clubhouse Guatemala), that we have had the privilege to be with before in Guatemala. This morning started with making rebar ladders for the foundation of a new bathroom, for a single mom. She lives in a village between Antigua,and Guatemala City called San Miguel.
Then the fun began! This afternoon was feeding about 80 kids, VBS, and plain outright horse playing. The kids warmed up to us quickly. I think the horseback rides and “slaps” games won them over.
Bernard and I were flat worn out after giving countless rides on our backs, galloping around the room,while the other kids hung on us, waiting their turn.Then was time for the singing, with full body motion,further wearing us out! After that? Football! (Soccer) Angela immediately made a new friend, and they were inseparable. Lucy made presents of all of her art projects at at the end of the week gave Angela a full page decorated letter!
It was an exhausting day, but so much fun Interacting with the kids,and seeing them being exposed to a Christian atmosphere.This is such a loving organization, that truly cares for the villages and people they work with. We decided to take a day off and then went back for more!
The addition on a house that is being built for a family in San Miguel Guatemala is making great progress. A team from Canada was at the Clubhouse Guatemala Mission House for a week, working on it. We happily joined in. We were able to work along side one of the local Mason’s, chipping concrete, building metal ladders for the wall, and laying cinder block walls. I really enjoyed the hands on experience learning to mix the mortar and concrete, level each layer, and lay the blocks. Using what felt like antiquated tools, we experienced what daily life as a mason is like in Guatemala. Other interesting tools were a plumb line, that consisted of string and two wooden dowl-like pieces.I did add my “power tool” to the mix, a Ryobi reciprocating saw, to cut the metal.
The most fun tool was a thick machete that was used to score blocks, and ultimately cut them to size.
I feel more every day, that the world is made up of good people, only tainted by a minority of the bad. Everyone, regardless of where they were born, should have the ability to be happy, live life, and have basic shelter and food. I love that the Clubhouse Guatemala, offers these exact things to so many local villagers, all the while sharing the love of Christ with each one, so they can be eternally happy and saved.
When you know you are in the right place at the right time, it is so peaceful and exciting! So much world to cover, I can’t wait to see the rest!
One thing I love about traveling, is spontaneity. If you allow yourself to veer off course and explore the unknown, it is common to be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Yesterday, was another one of those incidences. We had heard about a Castillo (castle) near where we were staying, overlooking the water in Rio Dulce. We drove through some narrow streets, past curious locals, until we found a place to park the trucks.
We walked the grounds, admiring the beauty of the trees, flowers, and views of the water. Fisherman slowly trolled by with their nets loaded down.
Castillo de San Felipe is located on Lake Izabel and was built in 1644 and was still used well into the 18th century! It is a Spanish Colonial Fort with direct access to the Caribbean Sea & was used by the Spanish for several centuries, during which time it was destroyed and looted several times by pirates. was built to protect the port of San Antonio de las Bodegas on the south shore of Lake Izabal from frequent pirate attacks, mostly by English pirates. After nightfall, passage along the river into the lake was blocked by a large chain that crossed from the fort to the far bank.
The first appearance of the castle, didn’t seem overly impressive. It was a massive Stone walled complex. As we approached, though, it was surprising to see the draw bridge and mote leading into the wall.
The architecture was intriguing. I loved the arched doorways,and maze like floor plan. Each room led to another series of rooms, until we reached some stairs that led to the terrace.
From there the views were stunning, with the breeze blowing, sunshine beaming. What a place this must have been in it’s heyday (1600s).
We spent an hour or 2 exploring, glad that we ventured off our route to see what was around us.
We had an amazing experience our first full day in Guatemala. Up with the sun, at about 5:30,we got around and headed out for a mountain jungle hike. The humidity picked up, but the canopy of the jungle protected us from the sun. It was some of the best exercising we have done in a while. It was beautiful to capture the ray’s coming through the trees, see ornate, damp spider webs hanging in the trees, a spectacular view of the neighboring island of Flores, and breathing the fresh air! All said and done, we were back by 8:30, ready to start the day right after showers! It was so humid in the jungle! Gotta love living Life All Out!
There are 3.5 sq miles of dense jungle to explore with 6 suspension bridges over the jungle canopy! Although we did not see any animals on our hike we did see some bugs & spiders! During the night we did hear the infamous holler monkeys calling out high above our camp!
On the park grounds is also a finca (farm). Horses and donkey are allowed to roam the grounds & camp area. We were treated to the alpha donkey wrangling the horses! He was making all kinds of noise as he chased them thru our camp into the woods and back out then across the creek to where they finally came to a stop!
This is one of our favorite places to camp near Flores! Our 3rd time here and I’m sure we will be back!
The day finally came when we could re-enter Guatemala! After being turned away in March because it was to soon for us to enter again with our truck papers (having just been there in January) we waited out our 3 months in Belize, a U.S. visit and Mexico. We were told in Februay when we tried to leave Belize that we were only gone one month of the required 3 months on our importation. If we wouldnt have turned it in when leaving Guatemala, all would have been fine. Slight delay in travel!
We stopped in Belmopan to fuel up first and met this adorable Mayan man who loved our truck & story. He wished us the best on our travels and welcomed us back in the future!
Once we were in Guatemala it was time to make a quick stop at the Sareta for ice cream! We were in a little hurry because we could see black storm clouds coming in. We made it back to the trucks just as the storm began. It was the worst storm we have driven in to this point! Tons of downed trees and water washing across the roads!
We always love the over night stop at Agua Caliente (hot water falls) just a short drive from Rio Dulce. The kids from the neighboring village always come to our campers to see what we’re up to, to sell us coconuts,banana pancakes, and play.
This time, they were treated to the antics of Bernard Barbour🤔, who imitated every kind of animals you can think of, chasing them around the campsite. They are such fun loving kids. Despite the communication barriers, every child just wants to know someone loves them, and will pay attention to them. Before it was over, we all got involved in acting out some type of animal, chasing them around.
The young girls, were infatuated with Angela’s bright toe nails, and sat on the camper steps, “petting” her nails and asking for theirs to be done.
Our favorite resident caretaker, and security guard is Our favorite resident caretaker & security guard is Frederico. He is 75 years old, and as spry as a 40 year old. He has lived on the river, at the waterfalls his whole life. He attributes his fantastic health to God, hiking, and swimming in the falls. He was thrilled to receive a special VIP tour of our campers as we shared bananas. He has the most Infectious smile, and laugh. He truly enjoys life. I’m pleased to call him a friend, and enjoy seeing him each time.
The waterfalls are absolutely magical! On this visit the water was down a bit and we could see the rock formation & caves we usually swim around. The river is very crisp, and powerful, while the waterfalls are hot and beautiful. The temperatures are fueled by the sulpheric gases from the volcanoes in the area. Some areas, will actually burn your skin, as it is so hot.
I managed to talk Bernard into braving the climb to the top of the waterfalls with me, where I introduced him to the mud bath that locals claim to rejuvenate your skin. The girls opted to forgo the mud and relax in the waters below.
There is a place so amazing, that you can swim in the Caribbean sea, along side turtles, colorful fish, sting rays, and even Sharks! This place is located about 20 miles off the shores of Belize, along the barrier reef. This reef is the 2nd largest reef in the world, and offers the most spectacular views, and experiences imaginable. This is not a staged secured area where caged animals swim. This is the real sea, with real live sea creatures, in their natural habitat. You can imagine the initial apprehension, diving from the boat, into the middle of the unknown, knowing there are sharks and sting rays below. But, I am so glad we took the plunge!
We started the day off leaving Placencia pier with smooth waters in the bay, but as we rounded the point the water started getting rough. We were hitting swells that would make you come off your seat as we went airborne for what felt like minutes!
We managed to slide into the wake of a much larger boat taking out a group to dive. It was smoother in the wake, but still eventful!
We were all glad to see the island come into view after an hour of riding! Once we arrived on the island we took off to snorkel around the island while the crew prepared our lunch of BBQ chicken, potatoes, and slaw! The snorkeling was smooth and easy and we seen lots of small colorful fish and coral the water.
The lobster fisherman will go out to sea for as long as a week at a time and live on the boat or small islands. Two fisherman go in the water at a time. One will swim down to about 90 ft and grab up the lobsters. The second guy is there to pull him up in case he runs out of breathe. Once they have the catch for the day they sit and clean the lobsters on the boats discarding the remains into the ocean. Other sea life come in to feast! We were also told to be careful to leave our flippers on because the turtles will nip at your feet thinking they are conch!
We spent 2 weeks in Placencia visiting friends, eating at our favorite restaurants and relaxing! Here is a glimpse!
The last couple days have been fairly eventful. We crossed the border Into Belize,visited friends over night in Progresso (Northern Belize), drove 13 miles of pot hole laden gravel roads for an hour and a half, at 5 mph, picked & dropped a friend at the Belize City airport, camped in a Mennonite community in Central Belize, for free at the park, got some welding and maintenance done at a muffler shop, ate a banana split from the Mennonite dairy, drove to Southern Belize to our home for the next two weeks, a house on the Caribbean sea! I’m tired just writing all that! All in all it has been productive and lots of fun. The sea breeze is incredible tonight as we settle in for a welcome nights sleep.
Phew! What a day! After a 2nd great night’s sleep camping on the way to the Mexico/Belize border, we ran some errands and then attempted to cross into Belize.
Lo and behold, a Mexico aduana agent waved me down and asked for my vehicle permit. Since we had only driven to Cancun for a flight, it was not necessary, and I explained it to the agent. She wouldn’t allow it, and told us we had to park the truck and walk to customs office to buy a permit. In the office, I told them the situation, and they said, “you do not need a permit”. We were caught in the middle! Luckily, the agent went to bat for us, and called the other agent to give an ok. The first agent didn’t look too happy, but waved us through. Across the river to Belize!
The rest of the day went smooth. Although we did drive a bumpy dirt road to a hand crank ferry leading to Progresso. Here we met our friends, and long time On the road in Belize contributors, Eric and Cherie. They were waiting for us on the other side, where we followed them to their wonderful home on the shores of the lagoon, for a feast of grilled BBQ chicken, corn, fresh bread, salad and beans! It was a spectacular meal! And even better company! They invited us to stay the night and we obliged! So much to see and do! It’s great to be back in Belize!