Somehow, Rio Dulce reminds me of Fort Lauderdale, Florida which is known as ‘Yachting Capital of the World’. We saw a great many powerboats and sailboats moored to docks or inside sheds providing shade complete with roll down curtains.
Work first and play later… John got “Christmas in March”. He has been enjoying the accomplishment of lots of boat projects in Rio Dulce. We were able to buy a new outboard motor for the dinghy from a Yamaha dealer here. The local hardware store ‘W and L’ carries all kind of first world supplies. A “West Marine” is in RAM marina. They carry the same items as we can buy in the USA but with a much higher price. Local labor is available at a very low cost. Ironically, we found a handful of stainless nuts, bolts, and washers cost about same as a day of labor. Since labor is cheap, we hired local labor to wash/wax the hull and sand/varnish teak wood. (Daily Labor: 100-150 GTQ = US$ 13-20/person) We gave work to a stainless welding guy to fix our ladder (425 GTQ = US$57) and straightening stainless hand rail (750 GTQ =US$100). A local carpenter did lots of work for us including making a new teak cockpit table (1600 GTQ = US$213) and new cockpit teak grate (6000 GTQ = US$800). If you were to do this in the US, the cockpit grate alone would cost over US$4000.
It is said that “The Rio Dulce River swallows Americans”.
Many retired Americans live here on boats or houses. There are ongoing events for the boaters and the expats: movie nights (Wednesdays and Saturdays), international trivia night (Thursdays), flea markets (twice/three times a month), and book club (Books/Breakfast/Boos and Movies: Saturdays). A charity organization ‘Casa Guatemala’ sells groceries by delivering them to boats. A group ‘Pass It On’ helps local people by setting up ‘Solar Panels’ in remote villages. Home-made special food (25GTQ = US$3.50/meal) is announced daily on the net (VHF Radio Channel 69 at 7:30am Monday to Saturday). In the street market, tropical fruits and fresh vegetables are very cheap. Once visiting here, it is tempting to live here permanently as the people are friendly, the food is good, the security is fair (Our marina owner was kidnapped several years ago), and it is just a nice place to be. (Unless you get kidnapped). According to the CIA World Factbook, “Guatemala is the top remittance recipient in central America as a result of Guatemala’s large expatriate community in the United States. These inflows are a primary source of foreign income, equivalent to one-half of the country’s exports or one-tenth of its GDP. (Data Source Date: March 2016)”