Monday, February 12, 2007

Rio Dulce

From Chicacnab, we hiked down the mountain in time to catch a 7 AM truck carrying workers into the nearest town, caught a microbus back to Coban, then hopped on a microbus and then a chicken bus for an extremely bumpy 5+ hour ride to the town of El Estor. The scenery was almost worth the spine-jarring ride: transitioning from highlands back to the lowland jungle, via lots of banana plantations. From El Estor we made a day of a couple of out-of the way attractions:

The Boqueron Canyon, which consists of a really lovely 15-minute canoe into a refreshingly cool canyon...

...and the hot spring waterfall at Finca Paraiso. The steamy hot water was a special treat for Elizabeth, who had picked up a sinus infection in the cold nights of Chicacnab.

Traffic was extremely sparse along this road, so we were grateful to discover that the other two people at the waterfall with us had a truck and were headed our way. They had driven down from Montana, and were among a handful of older travellers we met who travel every winter for 3 or 4 months at a time. Something to aspire to!

The next day we took a boat down the Rio Dulce to a place called Finca Tatin. Ah, Finca Tatin. We could have stayed a lot longer if we'd had the time. In fact, one of the guys managing the place had come to spend one night and was still there two months later. We kayaked over to a nature preserve, explored little tributaries lined with mangroves, watched the birds (toucans, woodpeckers, kingfishers, hummingbirds) and the butterflies (including a couple of blue morphos), and the fiddler crabs (all over the place) and still had plenty of time for sitting in hammocks and jumping off the rope swing into the river. Each day we watched the kids go by in their dugout canoes on their way to and from school, and watched guys fishing with nets in the river. To top it all off, the food was really, really good, and the other travellers were good company.