January 18th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1

My turn to be up first – then we set off to perform a couple of tasks before catching the boat to Livingston.  First the Post Office, then the bank.  Puerto Barrios, for the town that’s meant to be the country’s major port, is a bit of a one-horse place, and especially some of the buildings down by the wharf looked very run-down.  Some chasing around with banks + bread, then we fought for our place on the boat.  Livingston is a small town we’d heard of, + decided to visit.  The boat was very crowded, a situation not helped by a large quantity of masonry blocks on board.  Lots of black people –  Livingston has a large black population, one of whom, sitting opposite, being exactly like a girl I’d taught at Highgate – the same petulance, the same big (loud) mouth, the same deceitfulness (this one claimed she’d paid when she hadn’t.)  Rather a bumpy ride, + then Livingston.

Again, it looked like a cowboy town, tho’ this time at a more advanced stage of development.  As we got off the boat, we were assailed by a swarm of black kids, offering to act as guides to the hotels.  Very nice of them… tho’ they made it clear they expected a tip for services rendered.  Still, with their help we found quite a decent place – it looks just like a Western bordello.

The rest of the day we explored the surroundings, ate some lunch, siestaed.  We met a French guy, Roland, + chatted for a while.  He also got me stoned on some excellent grass, so that Val, who’d missed out on that pleasure, had to look after me in my babbling incoherence.  In the evening we went to the local gringo café, drank one cup of lemon tea, + played cards.  Roland was there, + he introduced us to William, a French guy who conducted 3-day tours into the jungle, so we all arranged to go with him the next day.

One of the problems of relying on the diary is that it records what has just happened rather than dealing with future plans, so probably you have not yet heard of Livingston, which despite being a Guatemalan town, is very much more like Belize, a little further up the coast – just one of the accidents of colonialism, leaving two very similar places in two different countries.

As tends to be our way, we look for opportunities as they arrive, so a guided trip into the jungle sounded very attractive.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    All so interesting–I’ve never been to Guatemala or Belize. I think of those chance encounters, with Roland’s friend, as “serendipity,” and I’ve always preferred being open to those serendipitous happenings than to going by the book or, horrors, in a tour. Although I did take two tours to Cuba, both cycling, in the early 2000s.

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