Thursday, March 19, 2009

Caribbean Cruise: Santo Tomas Des Castillos, Guatemala

Santo Tomas rises abruptly from the sea, and the trek inland is immediately steep. No doubt about being in a rain forest! Rain was threatening as we left the ship, bound for a bus ride and uphill hike to Las Escobas waterfall.

My father worked in Guatemala for Texaco many years ago, so I was eager to share a small bit of the country he experienced. As the bus took us through the port city to the waterfall, I saw scenes of abject poverty which he described decades earlier. This country survived a brutal civil war, which was raging even as my father worked here. Now they are governed by election, but many of Guatemala's people remain poor. Our tour guide, Georges, explained that very few people attain professional status. Most are laborers. Hopefully, an influx of cruise ship visitors will bolster the economy at least in this port city.

Once at the waterfall, we donned rain gear for the hike.

Thankfully, the trails were groomed and not too steep, so we could enjoy the spectacular rain forest scenery:

Some brave souls opted to swim beneath the waterfalls, but I kept my rain gear on.

The falls were so beautiful, even when viewed from dry land. But the longer we hiked, the more raindrops accumulated on my camera. It was raining so hard that I had nothing dry to clean the lens, hence the spots which spoil the following photos:

We left Las Escobas, thoroughly drenched but refreshed and happy. Even in a tropical downpour, a hike through a rain forest is a treat for the senses and a gift for the soul.

Next stop -- Belize City, Belize! Maybe we will leave the rain behind??

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