Rio Dulce and Livingston – swamp living and crocodiles

It’s a mix of four different cultures here, Caribbean, Mayan, Hindu and Chinese. We decide to mix it up even further and stay in a tree house like affair in the middle of a swamp owned by a British chap called Rusty

Downtown Livingston

We are on our way up to Belize. Our plan is to spend a week on Caye Caulker, a small Caribbean island. A week of fresh fish, fruit and a chance to give our Kindles a good work out. We are slowing down now and have big plans not to do too much in the four weeks we have left. Coming back to Guatemala after Belize our route will take us to Tikal and then up into Mexico and across to the Atlantic coast. In no rush, we stopped twice en route to Belize, first at the end of a long day on a bus in Rio Dulce and then for two days in Livingston whilst we wait for some rain to pass and for a boat over to mainland Belize.

Dead fish drying on the pavement
Dead fish drying on the pavement

Rio Dulce is a destination in its own right, although we have little interest in taking advantage of what it has to offer, our sights are firmly set on watching our budget and Belize. Our bus dumps us in a chaotic street just after dark and although we usually avoid touts, we take advice from a local and are swiftly led down a dark alley to a boat which whisks us off down the river to an Australian owned hostel called Kangaroo. It’s a great location, right in the middle of the mangroves, monkeys screech and wildlife is literally on our doorstep. The native Mexican wife of the owner cooks up some pretty good snacks here but unfortunately the hostel is probably the worst built we have come across. We learnt later that the Aussie chap built it himself. Our room had only two walls the other two were just chicken wire leading out onto a communal balcony. There were no ceilings and the shared bathroom was feet from our bed. Add to that a group of travellers who were intent on having a rather big night and we didn’t get much sleep. We are never going to moan about others making too much noise, it’s part of staying in hostels, you just have to live with. Some nights you want a quiet night others you’re the one making the noise.

Kangaroo Hostel
Kangaroo Hostel

The next day, bleary eyed, we caught a tour-cum-trip to Livingston. It’s a great journey down the Rio Dulce, cutting through thick mangrove until it opens into a wide river flanked by cliffs and dense jungle. Local kids paddle up to the boat in canoes and try to sell us dead starfish and crap made out of shells but nobody is buying.

Kids selling dead starfish
Kids selling dead starfish

Livingston is a nice enough place, the owner of the Kangaroo hostel told us not to go and that it’s a dump but it turns out he was just trying to keep business in-house. Nice tactic, but word will get out. People like me will let others know on the internet.

It’s a mix of four different cultures here, Caribbean, Mayan, Hindu and Chinese. We decide to mix it up even further and stay in a tree house like affair in the middle of a swamp owned by a British chap called Rusty – Casa de la Iguana. This is a party hostel, in the evening residents hang from the rafters whilst downing shots of sugary alcohol. We decide not to indulge but instead just sit back and watch the carnage – it’s just as much fun. A group of three mid 30s women who worked on the X Factor UK keep up the dodgy British reputation with some quite outrageous behaviour. As we said to the hostel owners, for those not drinking, they should sell popcorn.

Downtown Livingston
Downtown Livingston

It rained almost solidly for two days and we both had developed mild colds so we vegetated. I got a chance to watch Newcastle beat Manchester United on TV, a rare chance to watch some football. Leah has started to work on her CV.

Can’t leave without mentioning the local kids playground in Livingstone, not only are the swings and slides cast iron death-traps, there is a crocodile pit in the middle. The local kids love it. No children playground should be without one. No kidding.

Croc in the playground
Croc in the playground