Sailing trip, Agua Caliente, Lago de Izabal
14. April (Saturday): Finding the toilet at the front end of the boat in near-total darkness during the first night needed some getting used to! The toilet rules were that no paper was allowed to be placed into the bowl and you had to pump by hand to flush out the waste.
As soon as it started getting light (or perhaps slightly before), there was movement on the boat as one by one we awoke to the new day. The soft murmur of voices and the captain pulling up the anchor chain suggested it was time to be slowly getting up.
Breakfast was served and it was beautiful to experience dawn on the boat.
We set sail and our first stop would be at a place called Agua Caliente, having hot springs.
We anchored at a small wooden platform. Since there were quite a number of Guatemalans around, I assumed the place was well-known locally.
Cap gave us some hours to go and explore and bathe in 'Agua Caliente' (hot spring waterfall). He made rough indications where we could go but wasn't very clear. The group did have some difficulties finding the path but managed after asking.
It was a half-hours' walk on a dusty path on which we entered a small forest. Near the end of the walk we were alongside a small river and eventually we reached the lagoon and then saw the falls themselves at the end. Many Guatemalans (mostly families) were clustered around the water, many having large picnic bags. The women mostly went into the water wearing T-shirts out of modesty. By the way, Guatemalan women didn't like to have their pictures taken most everywhere, and would hide their faces or look away if they noticed a camera pointing towards them.
We quickly changed into our swimming gear and were all in the water in no time! More than one of us had a waterproof one-way camera and lots of pictures were being taken. I hadn't taken along my camera so I have no pictures of this wonderful highlight of our trip.
The great part of it was that one of the water cascades was very hot, the other, just behind it and coming down some rocks, cold! In the whole waterfall area, therefore, you could adjust the water temperature by just moving your position slightly. The hot water was just bearable (after some getting used to) and standing under it while it thundered on our heads was a unique experience! The force of the falling water added to the great sensation. Only a few people could bear the intense heat directly under the main hot falls.
After a period of being under the heat, the very cold water was so refreshing! And after a cold spell, it was nice to go back to the again. I couldn't get enough of it!
There was a little cavelet just next to the main waterfall where you can stand or sit in. The hot water inside causes steam to accumulate, making it an intimate, natural sauna for two! What an experience!
Eventually it was time to walk back to our boat (I could have stayed there much longer!) and we return the same way we had come.
We have lunch on the boat and we continue on our journey.
Sometime in the afternoon we have the choice of visiting another hot spring directly in the water or a manatee museum. None of us seems to be in the museum mood, so it's the spring.
We're taken by the captain's dingy near the banks of the river where there already is a group of people wading in the water. Suddenly we notice that parts of the water are really hot and I see that the stone on the river bank has some steam floating off it.
It turns out that water is hot only on a thin top layer, but it's too hot to touch! With a technique of slowly but constantly mixing the water with my hands, it turns out to be quite enjoyable.
Boats driving past at high speed would produce high waves, disturbing everyone's bathing. Once even a dead fish was washed up from the water below, which I quickly grabbed and threw onto the shore.
We boarded ship again and set course for the fort of San Filipe. The fort is on a grassy outcrop with a beautiful park around it and a really nice place to visit. We just strolled around, enjoying the park, the evening sun and some ice-cold beers. We buy some additional ones to take along on the boat with us.
Dinner is great once again and everyone loves the cook!
Watching the stars in the night sky after dinner is sensational. It is such a nice setting that I don't feel like wasting my time talking and I can't quite understand how the others can just ignore this all and small talk endlessly about all sorts of superficial issues. I much rather be silent in order to be able to soak up a maximum of the experience. I feel so on most of the trip and don't communicate much, just soak.
Annewien isn't feeling too good tonight so we retire early. Sometime during the night she goes and sleeps on deck.