I had to work last Sunday. I was up by 7.30 a.m. But don’t feel bad for me just yet.
Once out of bed, I slipped into my swimsuit, cover-up and flip-flops and checked out of my room at a hotel I was staying in at the mouth of the Rio Dulce in Livingston, Guatemala.
I met Chris and Hugo at a little cafe—they would be my boat captain and guide. We sat out on the veranda overlooking the Bay of Honduras and savored a leisurely breakfast of cheese omelets, black beans and freshly squeezed juices.
Then, we boarded a canopied Mexican skiff—our transportation for the day.
We boated up the Rio Dulce alongside fishermen in wooden dugout canoes…past thatched-roof huts displaying colorful flags of freshly washed laundry on clotheslines…and through majestic limestone canyons topped with lush vegetation.
Lily pads covered the water at one point and we slowed to absorb the serenity of the scene. Pretty young Guatemalan girls in wooden canoes paddled up to the side of the skiff to offer us their handicrafts. I purchased a coconut shell purse for my young granddaughter and took a snapshot of the girls to give her a glimpse of another culture.
From there we continued into Lake Izabal, where we watched as a flock of black-bellied whistling ducks take flight as they hooted their cheerful namesake tune.
We passed San Felipe – a Spanish fort built around 1604 under the order of King Philip II of Spain in an effort reduce pirate activity along the waterway. Lake Izabal is the largest lake in Guatemala. It was a key route for transporting goods during the colonial era but today, it’s used as a hurricane-safe waterway. As a result, it’s dotted with rare, treasured vessels from all over the world.
The first part of my work day ended with a visit to Finca El Paraiso—translation, “Paradise.” We tied the skiff to a dock and climbed onboard a tractor which took us on an entertaining, if bumpy, ride to a hot waterfall.
Surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, the thermally-heated water cascades over rocks into a cool river creating springs both hot and cold. I slipped off my cover-up, left my flip-flops on a rock and plunged in the cooler waters. The water temperature increased gradually until I reached the falls. Then, I stood under a powerful hot shower.
On the short hike back to the tractor I was joined by several Guatemalan children selling fresh banana bread baked with fruit harvested from trees in the surrounding rainforest.
We rounded off the day with a lunch of carne asana, refried beans and corn tortillas washed down with a bottle of Guatemalan pale ale back in our boat.
I realize it does not seem like work, but as a travel writer, boating…hiking…swimming…tractor rides…cultural exchanges…lunches in open air restaurants overlooking the water—it’s all just part of my work day.
This is my job—I get paid for these experiences. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than seeking out new places, cultures and adventures, and sharing those experiences with others. And I even get paid to do it. Travel writing is the perfect job—even when I have to work on a Sunday.
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