The Great Inland Travel Excursion begins today! Toni arrived yesterday in Guat City and we immediately hopped on the bus for the Rio, topping off her four hours of flying with six and a half hours of grinding bus travel. Today we will catch the bus for the four-hour ride to Flores so we can tour Tikal tomorrow. Toni is going to think we have planned the Great Guatemalan Sit On Your A** and Stare Out A Window Excursion.
Before I start posting pics of the GITE, I want to post a few of the hundreds of pictures I have from Thursday’s visit at Pam and Al’s farm on the San Marcos River. Pam and I are Texans who have lived here for about five years and have lead a novel-worthy Central American life during that time. They once kept a 92-foot yacht here at Mar Marina and they still attend movie night here. Pam so kindly invited us to come horseback riding and tubing at her farm. She wanted Lily to get to see some of her many exotic cats, assorted native critters and her sweet, loving horses. Pam started and spearheads a animal rescue called “Freddie’s Friends.” Many cruisers help her with her mobile animal clinics which provides many free services to the Guatemalans and their grateful pets. Below are some pictures of their very, very unique ranch which is currently up for sale so they can return to the states and be closer to family. As the pictures confirm, we had an incredible time but added to all the fun was Pam’s unending good humor and zest for life. She fascinated and horrified us with her stories of their boat’s slow death on a Belizean reef and the legal rounds with the Belizean Government. Their boating nightmare was followed by their years of hard work establishing the ranch and animal rescue only to have that experience sullied by a traumatizing armed robbery on their ranch. But Pam has withstood the slings and arrows of outlandish fortune with unquenchable good humor. She is, however, ready to settle back to stateside ranch life and watch her grandchildren ride her beloved ponies. As she summed up her many thoughts on how to spend the next few years she explained so succinctly, “I’ve just never been disappointed by a horse ride and a campout.”
Friday, Michelle, Jake and Lily stayed on Foxtrot while Randall and I went to meet Toni. Michelle and Lily helped Pam with a clinic. Apparently, they pulled up to an empty parking lot in a small town. Pam told Michelle that as soon as they started setting up the table, they would be noticed. Even here, word travels quickly by cell phone and a free animal clinic is too rare for anyone to miss. Pam predicted that there would be a full parking lot within minutes and Michelle said it took about five minutes for people and pets to start crowding around them. The kittens and puppies got a dose of worm medicine. Pam gave instructions on how to set up appointments for free spaying/neutering. They also had a free kittens which had been nursed to health by Pam and were ready for adoptions. Pam has a careful eye for potential adopters and they must be able to assure her that the pet will be well fed. Most Guatemalans do not feed their cats out of concern that they won’t be good mousers. Unfortunately, Pam has seen too many starved cats to go along with this plan and provides ongoing education of animal nutrition. A local cowboy came up to her with a picture of an infected horse hoof which she was also able to help out with. Michelle said there was so much gratitude in the faces of people they met.
Toni and Randall should be back from their visit to see the Howling Monkeys. Then we pack and get started for the jungle terrain of the Peten and the Mayan ruins of Tikal. Probably will not post anything until we are back on board the boat since we are traveling pretty light up there.