El Estor

The weather cleared for a few days and paved the way for another road trip.  Bob & Trish (Barnacle) invited us along for a drive around Lake Izabal's "other" coast, after a great breakfast on the Rio.  Traveling the coast along the northern shore is a newly paved road past scenic farmlands, leading to El Estor at the northwest end of the lake. 

We first made a stop to visit the canyon at El Boqueron.  This mini-park was decorated playfully with recycled cans and well worth the minimal parking  and boat ride fees.  These boys were playing an interesting game outlined in stones with small sticks that they'd move after a roll of the dice.

The waters in the Rio Sauce were muddy and running strong due to recent rains.  

This did not detract from the brilliant views, reflections, rock formations and canopy effect, reminiscent of an open cave.  

There are Mayan caves deeper in the canyon to explore, but we couldn't reach them in the currents that day.  

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Next stop was at the remote but fair-sized town of El Estor, again with newly paved cement roads, driveways and gutters.  For context, there is big industry here in agricultural exports keeping employment levels high and likely responsible for this impressive infrastructure, including a nickel mine, controversial as most strip mines are.  Visually, the strip mining is hidden behind the hills and it doesn't appear to have active smelting on-sight so at least slag shouldn't be polluting the region.

El Estor is quite scenic and home to the the world's coolest church!  Yes, that is a fish and an anchor as a cross on top.

There was even a nursery school across the street, impressive since education is often a challenge in remote areas.  

Colorful government buildings and a small park faced the lake, where people gathered.

This is not an area frequented by tourists and people were friendly and curious, happy to wave me down or pose for the camera.   

A man gave shoe shines in-between crafting his hand-woven fishing net.   Traffic was sufficient to warrant a traffic cop at intersections.


We entered a market geared for the Mayan clothing worn in this region.  Their huipiles are made of very colorful lace with embroidery around the neckline.  A young woman had a beautiful white blouse and allowed me to take her photo, after which all of the ladies around were fawning over her and the picture on my LCD screen.  Another woman sewing posed for her photo and then asked me to take one of her two children.  

As an aside, in this market we purchased some dried hot chilli peppers and used them in a stir-fry the other night.  Turns out they are quite spicy and must have been dried over a fire, giving a smoky but tingly flavor to the dish!  Lunch was my kind of affair at a local place on the lake called Don Yulo that specialized in chicharrones and lots of other pork products again with smoky flavors.

As in most towns in Guatemala, there were trucks full of families leaving the market, presumably heading home to the rural areas.  

The farmlands that we passed along the lake contained sugar cane, palm oil trees, rubber trees, corn and bananas growing.  As we drove back towards the Rio Dulce, our last stop was at the Finca Paraíso property, a place where you can observe the pushing of cattle and see and hear ladies doing laundry in the stream, beating their clothes on the rocks.


Here we took a walk to the geothermal waterfalls for a most refreshing swim!  The pools below were cool while the falls were at an elevated temperature perfect for a back massage.  The water steamed as it hit the cooler waters in the pool.

Mark thought it was too hot to stand under the flow.  For me it was like a hot shower temperature.  There were also some hot-spots at our feet in the red sands.  

There were overhangs in the rocks where you could dive under and stand behind the waterfall ~ it was steaming in there like a sauna. 

 Some brave souls took a leap into the deeper section of the pool ~ eek.   Lovely spot & great day with friends!

© M&M 2016