After much deliberation, we decided our next stop after Tikal was Rio Dulce. We made our way in the morning to the place in Flores where the guidebook says is a bus stop, but in actuality it is just a travel agency that buys a ticket for you for the bus station in Santa Elena.
The only reason we decided to go along with this route is because the lady helping us said the bus was coming now. How convenient. We paid the guy in the office our money and the lady took off on her bike. Meanwhile, the guy in the office, who was obviously wasted at 9:30 am and still drinking, said we would wait at the office for the bus to come. I made it my job to wait outside with our stuff while Brian dealt with the drunken ramblings of the owner. The really crazy part happened when the guy opened his desk drawer and there was a gun sitting there. After he saw the look on Brian’s face, he responded with, “This is Guatemala. You gotta have a gun.”
Just then, the lady on the bike came back and said we needed to go the bus station to get the bus. Uhmm… ok. They did just tell us that we could wait here for the bus, but not today? They at least paid for the tuk-tuk there. We hopped on our bus, and there we were, on our way to Rio Dulce for something that tops all adventures had thus far.
Rio Dulce makes it difficult to scout out a hotel because the best ones, supposedly, are on the waterfront and require a boat to take you there. We made our way to Bruno’s to see if we could start there when we ran into a strange hippie guy from the states who was more than happy to help us find a hotel. Next thing we knew, we had a place to stay and a boat taxi all set up for us. If it hadn’t had happened so quickly, I can say I probably wouldn’t have gone for it because on the boat ride over to Casa Perico, I just heard the hippie guy’s words playing over and over in my head, “You’re gonna love it. It’s right in the freaking jungle.”
Casa Perico has a very interesting setup. It is run by some Swiss guys and has its own restaurant there (since its so remote) with a rockin’ buffet option (do it! People boat over from the town just for this!). Brian and I literally made ourselves sick by indulging both nights in the buffet! Since it was Friday, we had to settle for a hostel dorm. The dorm bungalow has many beds in the bottom and an upper level with two beds and more privacy. We opted for the upper level, but the catch was it was open-air, meaning there was only an A-Frame roof with two sides open to the jungle outside. Even though we had bug nets, I couldn’t sleep that night. We had already encountered giant cockroaches, heard stories of botfly infections, and the sounds coming in from outside, and right next to my bed, were a bit too much for me to handle. And it was only made worse by the absolute pitch-black darkness that engulfed us out there.
The next day, we made it clear to the owners that we preferred a private bungalow, and luckily we got it. Oh yes! The building has its own bathroom, which meant that when I had to get up late at night to use it, I wouldn’t have to walk a mile of dock with the creepy sounds of things jumping into the water right next to me. Even better was the fact that the private room had 4 walls! The first thing we did was check out the bathrooms in the back to see what we were now working with for an extra $3/night. Brian went to open the shower door and immediately started ducking. Then something came flying out and swooping around. Brian thought it was a bat, but I thought it looked like a bird. I decided to use the toilet at that moment, being careful when opening the door at first. When inside, I took a look around at the ceiling to make sure no bird was hanging around only to find the biggest spider I think I’ve ever seen in my life straight above. There was no way I could use the bathroom there in good conscience! I showed it to Brian and even he was a little taken aback by the size. We started to leave the bathroom area in search of the public ones when we heard a high-pitched screeching noise behind us. We turned around to see a bat hanging out right there by the sink. Brian was right!
It was a very long two days, full of many close encounters. I would have probably slept better the second night had it not been raining so hard! I would definitely recommend Casa Perico to any traveler to Rio Dulce looking for an interesting place to hang out. For us, two days in the jungle bungalows were more than enough, but as hippie guy put it, “You’ll never forget it!”
Here’s a little video of me ranting about surviving the jungle. I claim being delirious from stress, heat, and lack of sleep because its clearly not me at my best. Enjoy!
Will Brooke Survive? from Brooke Schoenman on Vimeo.