We arrived in Livingston at about 5pm. It is a place that is totally different to everywhere we have been so far, but apparently very similar to where we go next. The journey to get there was almost as long as our road trip from Antigua to Semuc Champey, but was much more enjoyable, despite the fact that we had no money and nothing to eat but crumbs. Literally. For a start we had slept properly. Also, the mind blowing scenery softened the blow of sitting on a minibus for six hours with a budgies lunch. Our new friends from the ‘big smoke’ were traveling with us as far as Rio Dulce. They would be staying there for a couple of nights whilst we were to head to our final destination in Guatemala, a two hour boat ride away through the jungle.
The boat ride was fun but didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I thought we’d see crocodiles, but it was pretty much just birds and fisherman on the river. Boring! On arriving in Livingston, we set about searching for a place to stay. It was the first time we had turned up somewhere without pre-booking accommodation. A couple of hawkers were onto us straight away with the promise of a nice, cheap place, but the first one he showed Dom wasn’t up to much, and so she shook him off and we went for some food and get some internet access to check out other vacancies. Food was amazing. It was always going to be after having nothing but nuts and crumbs all day, but it wasn’t just the hunger that made my judgement. Top notch cooking.
We ate and decided to stay at a place we had looked at earlier which was slightly out of budget. Unfortunately, when we rocked up, the last room in the ‘just out of budget’ range had gone and we couldn’t afford the other rooms. Not fancying walking round with the rucksacks all night, Dom went off in search of an inn, and I sat with all of our luggage. The gentlemanly thing would have been for me to run around looking for a place to stay but I don’t think Dom trusts me with that. We’d have ended up in either the place where the hawker showed Dom previously, or a barn. If it’s good enough for the Son of God, it’s good enough for me.
Dom did well. We ended up with a private room in a nice little hostel on the water front. It was getting late now so we had a quick beer and went to bed.
We awoke early for different reasons. Dom found the bed uncomfortable and a bloody cockerel woke me up at about 4am. I’m sure he’s blind and just guesses when it’s sunrise. Never mind, it was good to be up and about rather than lazing in bed. Our mission was to get breakfast, get our passports stamped, and to find somewhere for lunch, as our Brixton buddies, Mark and Esmy, had emailed to see if we fancied meeting up again. We only really managed breakfast. The passport woman wanted money and we thought we didn’t have to pay, so we put that on hold. As for lunch; everywhere looked ace so we’d just see what everyone fancied when lunchtime came about.
Mark and Esmy arrived at about 11am and we set off on a stroll. It wasn’t long before a local stopped us for a chat. He was a figurehead in the Garifuna community, and he gave us a bit of background and took us on a tour of his neighbourhood, which he claimed tourists didn’t ever go to. He also showed us a great place for lunch. It was too pricey for us as we are budgeting now, and so we ended up ordering two bowls of Topado to share between four. After two days of nuts, seeds and crumbs for lunch though, it felt like I was attending a banquet. Fair play to the chef though. She divided the soup up into four bowls and it seemed like she gave us a proper portion each. Better still though, Dom saw a bloke taking a dump with the door open, and not wanting to just be a mere spectator, she started a conversation with him. The food was great too, so all in all, great value for money.
Mark and Esmy had to catch a boat after lunch, and so after bidding them a fond farewell (for now, we’ll defo catch up with them on home soil) we went for a few cocktails. After a couple of pina coladas, we returned home for some food and beers. The food was pretty bad but the woman who runs the guest house invited us to her mates party the following day. It was on the other side of the river and was billed as a jungle party, so every cloud and all that. After food, we went to a hostel up the road for some happy hour action with a guy from the States that we met over dinner.
The hostel was pretty entertaining. We met a couple of lads from our home country who were doing a splendid job of flying the flag for us. They hadn’t set foot out of the hostel in the three days they had been there. They were told there was nothing to see or do in Livingston, so in true Welsh fashion they set about running up a steep bar tab. Nice one boyo’s. We also met a couple of people called Chad and Dav. Unfortunately Dav didn’t join us when we moved onto a nightclub, so I couldn’t get them to do any renditions of “Rabbit” or “Snooker Loopy.”
En route to the nightclub we stumbled across a bar that had loads of dudes singing and drumming. It was pretty spectacular so we stayed there for a while, in awe of the singing and dancing going on. There was even one woman who had left her wheelchair outside and was setting the dance floor on fire. The nightclub was lame in comparison, so we had a quick drink, attempted to dance, and headed back to the bar with the drums. Once that had finished we headed home, befriending a stray dog on the way. We christened him Homeless Simpson, and if we were living in Guatemala, we would have definitely taken him in.
The Jungle Party
Again we were up pretty early. Dom was quite hungover so couldn’t sleep and the cockerel who can’t tell the time woke me up again. We had another street food breakfast and went for a walk. The walk saw us have lunch, took us to a cemetery, walk in the wrong direction for ages, have dinner, and return home to await our boat for the party in the jungle.
We had been informed that there was a DJ and also a drummer who would play healing music, and so I had visions of the episode of Peep Show where they go to some hippy dance thing. I thought I’d have to dance whilst pretending to be a tree or a rainbow or something, but still we went to the party. It was awesome too. It was full of hippies, I guessed right about that, (There is nothing wrong with that. I am one at heart; I have tuned in but am yet to drop out.) but there were no healing drums. The food was great, the drinks were good, the company was ace, but the music wasn’t up to much. It may actually have been better to dance to the beat of the healing drum after all.
It was a sunset to sunrise party, but the people we came with left at about 11pm so we left too. The boat ride home took an hour longer than the boat there as there were no lights, so the driver drove with caution. Health and Safety gone mad is affecting people all over the globe. Once home we collapsed into bed. It was a great night out and a fitting way to bid ‘adios’ to Guatemala. Next stop Belize. The start of a different kind of adventure.