The River first: Rio Dulce.
We docked in Guatemala and promptly boarded (ok, more or less promptly. At least they offered the birders a separate group or two) smaller vessels called Pangas
in which to go up the river. As we first traveled along the coast then up the river, there was a significant contrast between the trash
and the very expensive houses.
Then of course there are house boats masquerading as sailboats from a variety of European, North American and MidEast origins some of which appear to have been at anchor for a significant number of years.
[this is an aside – skip if you are so inclined. A couple of years ago there was a serious discussion on the ISTM TravelMed server list about a family asking for “advise” before they set out. Family currently of seven – 2 adults and five children ages 11 and below, two of whom were still in diapers. Their plan was to get on their sail boat and go around the world. Obviously they wanted advice. But, as it turned out, they were not really interested – no need for immunizations they said – better our children are exposed to real disease an not to artificial compounds. etc, etc). The nurse practitioner finally got them to agree that setting out with one of the two adults at 28+ week pregnant was not their smartest move. Reading on someone’s blog about their wonderful birth experience in the South Pacific with a local midwife was not the same as having it work out for you. Etc Etc.
This morning, looking at these boats I finally figured out, other than the child endangerment, what was bothering me. I am a physician. I seriously believe that all of us owe a couple of things back to the world. The first is simple: if you have had training and a profession that has been contributed to by the public- you owe something back to that same public. i.e. – don’t train and then not practice. The second is that everyone should contribute to some extent. Taking off around the world with five – six children in tow means that, other than spending some money in foreign ports – you are not contributing anything to the world. You are not demonstrating responsibility to your children and you are tasking advantage of your privileged status to use assets that others might need. This is all part of the “western world has little of the population but uses most of the resources” argument.
If those I had seen on the boats were retired, no complaints – done their share. But most of those whom I saw were of the age of avoidance and escape.]
contrast that to those who are native to the area and live along the river with large families, little money and even less education as every member of the family is contributing (fishing to transporting water, wood, accosting tourists).
And then there were the birds: yes many of the common birds:
egrets, herons, gulls….
About 1130 we docked, had lunch at a “local restaurant” (only tourists) we headed to Quirigua. (queue bus ride) After finding out that I didn’t have to stay with one of the guides, I took off on my own to take a couple of pictures and just enjoy bird sounds, peace and quiet. This site is a Mayan archeologic site and not on the direct tourist runs which meant that it was only our ship overrunning the site.
The bus ride back was a version of “Mr Toad’s Wild Ride.”
All of us were relieved to be back on the ship; the roads were full of holes, the speed was high and passing large lorries around curves and up hills was just routine. All of the buses made it back without incident, but sleeping through those two hours was really a challenge.
I skipped diner in favor of peace and quiet. Seems like every gathering is viewed as an opportunity for a lecture. Thinking seriously, this is not the venue for me. At this point in my life I enjoy the quiet, discovering/learning on my own and not being continuously interrupted with unasked for voices in my ears.
Plus – the food is just meh.