We said goodbye to Tuk and Henry Thursday night. They leave on Saturday, Tuk back to Thailand and Henry to Australia. We met up at Sundogs for a goodbye dinner with them and Shirley and Neal. After dinner, we dinghied Tuk and Henry back to ParPar and Lily gave Tuk one of those clinging, I-hate-to-say-Goodbye hugs that make watchers a little wistful. Finally, I said “Lily, we have to go. Please release Tuk.” I gave Tuk our boat card and said, “Email me when you get back home so we can keep in touch.” Tuk said, “Ok I email when I need money or maybe say I need a catamaran or something.” Yes, some things Tuk says makes you say, “Hmm, joke or no? I can’t tell but her English is really coming along.”
We, too, have made our reservation for flights home. But before leaving the Rio, we had to get our boat permit extended to allow it to sit here through hurricane season while we go home to visit family. Once upon a time, the agent would come up the river and get you all processed. However, he had emailed us a couple of times saying we need to come to his office in Livingston to pay the extension fee. So we decided Thursday to take a trip to Livingston the next morning, go see customs, anchor out in the river near Livingston and them come back Saturday. To make things a little more interesting, we invited Jun-Jun, Avi, Izzy and Vladgie, AKA the sound healers.
We are always saying how we meet so many people through Lily. However, Jake has introduced us to so many interesting people, too. He went with the sound healers this week to Agua Caliente since he missed the trip with us. He came back and mentioned they were about to leave for Guat City but sort of wanted to see Livingston first. So, they accepted our invite to take a quick trip up there on the boat – us for boat business and them for sightseeing. We didn’t bother to check the weather because it pretty much says “100 percent chance of rain” every day. However, I am wondering if there was the deluge of the century forecasted for Friday.
We got everyone on board early on Friday and it had already started raining. Ok. It rains most mornings, clears off during the day and starts again in the evening. So we take off in the rain, not too concerned, and have some light rain on and off during the four hour trip. As we are approaching the anchorage in Livingston, it starts pouring. Jake and Izzy brave the elements and untie the anchor. Then we get anchored and start wringing out clothes and opening up the cockpit curtains for some air. The sound healers and Randall head to shore. They have about five hours to take in the sights before we are set to depart and head up the river to a protected anchorage. Randall makes it back in an hour, which is nice because I spent most of my time watching the clouds build and worrying about dragging. The sound healers show up on time which is good because the clouds are just about ready to burst, again. Jake dinghied to shore to pick them up but they encourage him to head up to town and just take a quick look around. Everyone is back on board at 5 and we head up the river in a downpour.
We get anchored at Roundhouse, a small hostel on the river. We had thought that if our passengers wanted a little more sleeping room, they could stay there or pitch the tent on the grounds. We get a little break in the rain and they dinghy over to make inquiries. The hostel is completely full and even the hammocks in the palapa are rented for the night. By the time they get back, the rain is coming down steadily and the last light pretty much disappeared in clouds, rain and lightening. We gather to discuss options. The hostel was ok with the tent but the rain seems relentless. The options are a little broader knowing that Jun-Jun, Vlad, Avi and Izzy sleep most of their nights in a van. To propose that we can all fit in the boat is not actually inconceivable. We start considering all available surfaces and floor space. Yes, our boat sleeps eight if you use both table and floor. Not comfortably, mind you. Plus, as my friend Lauren says, “The boat sleeps eight but the problem is what to do with them when they are awake.” We decide to make it cozy and all stay aboard. All the evening, the rain builds, ebbs a little and builds up again. We can’t really move around in the boat but we have the perfect company for this situation.
Izzy takes to the kitchen to make fruit shakes. Vladgie and Avi get out the guitar and drum. The beautiful music begins. They play many songs. Most of the songs are in Hebrew or Spanish so Vladgie often explains the words or meaning of the song after playing it. Jun-Jun’s lovely voice chimes in on some vocals as she plays with Lily and teaches her some hand massage technique. Izzy joins in the music-making, too, after sending up a couple of rounds of shakes.
After many songs, we decide to call it a night. Everyone is getting ready for bed, trying to figure how to get to their stuff from one end of the boat, get their teeth brushed and then get to their bed through the room full of bodies. The rain and lightening are intense and the wind picks up a little. Then we hear the anchor chain creaking. Then the anchor alarm goes off. Randall goes up to check and we can almost reach out and touch the leaves on the bank. We have drifted extremely close to the bank and the palapa is somewhere in the dark behind us. Randall got the motor going and Jake and Izzy went forward in the deluge to try and see what is going on with the anchor. I am handed the spot light to shine through the sheets of rain. “It’s a log,” Jake calls back to us from the front of the boat. “Big Log tangled up on the anchor.” “Can you get it off,” Randall calls back. “I don’t know. I’ll try,” he says.
Jake starts hacking at the anchor with the boat pole and easily frees it but it is now under the boat, headed for the propeller. We wait a minute, listening for the sounds of a fouled prop, but the log pops out behind us and floats away. Randall then motors into the wind in order to work our way back to deeper water to re-anchor. Finally, we get all set again but sit in the cockpit for twenty minutes watching rain pour around, lightening light up the river and waiting for another log to ram us. We both expected to be up all night anchoring and reanchoring. However, we go to bed and have no more problems.
The next morning, we motored about thirty minutes up river to Aqua Caliente (different Aqua Caliente than the one we have all been to by Rio Dulce). There are some hot springs and caves there to explore. We weren’t sure if we could dock there but the man on the dock waves us closer and helps us tie up. We got off and he says he is “muy feliz (happy)” that we are there. He points the way to a section of the river where the hot springs seep into the river water. We get in. The river water is a bit cold but we swim up to the springs area and the water there is warmer. We swim awhile and then get out to follow the trails up to the caves. There were three caves. Two were bigger and fun to explore. The guide pointed out the black frog, a huge water spider and the bats which lived inside. The third cave, the “sauna” was small but had a hot spring feeding into it. The trapped air inside was warm and thick so we sat awhile and breathed in the warm, watery air.
The hot springs also had a restaurant with several outdoor tables right on the river. By the time we were done looking around, another boat was there with several tourists. Vladgie asked the guide if they could play a few songs in exchange for the tour and the guide was agreeable. So the Vladgie and Avi got the guitar and drum off the boat and played several songs. The crowd circled up around them. The rain had settled down but once they got playing, it started up again. However, it was a bit of background percussion and sort of gave the impromptu concert a relaxed atmosphere. Lily brought her paper and colors and colored with a shy, smiling new friend. Once the music started, she abandoned drawing to play the shaker for the musicians.
It is actually sort of hard to call a free impromptu concert to a close. However, we had to get back up the river so we said goodbye and jumped back on the boat. The trip back was actually pretty dry. We pulled into our spot at Mar and the entire parking lot was flooded. The sound healers van was surrounded by water and the bucket we left on dock had about twelve inches of water in it. So, indeed, it was a rainy weekend.