Livingston is on the mouth of the Caribbean sea and Lago Izabel is only accessible by water, so it feels vastly different to the rest of Guatemala. It’s so strange to see Guatemalan ladies in their traditional clothing strolling next to large Garifuna ladies shouting in Creole. The Garifuna and Spanish quarters are completely separate so as you stroll between the two the whole atmosphere changes.
Livingston’s ‘beach’ is just a patch of grass by the sea, mostly home to pigs and chickens, but we took a day trip out to Playa Blanca. The picture-perfect white sand beach is, again, only accessible by boat and it was beautifully quiet and remote.
When we got back, we took part in a Garifuna cooking class, and learnt to make Topado – a fish soup with coconut milk and bananas which is infinitely more delicious than it sounds. I still can’t get over the fact that when you boil bananas, they end up tasting like potatoes and have a completely different flavour. Who knew!
The guy who runs the course is running a campaign to promote Garifuna culture called Rasta Mesa and, as part of it, he has formed a drum ensemble and teaches local kids how to take part. After the class, we were treated to a performance and learnt some new moves!
We left Livingston on the boat for Honduras last Sunday and then were taken by bus to La Ceiba to get the ferry across to Utila. The bus was a tourist shuttle, which meant the border crossing was lovely and easy and the driver even helped us exchange our quetzals for lempiras. We now feel like millionaires – £1 is 30 lempiras and there are no coins, so yesterday I paid with 35 notes for one beer!
We spent a week in Utila and completed our Padi open water scuba diving courses yesterday. The island is described as a ‘diving university, which is absolutely spot on. There are hundreds of dive schools across the island and all accommodation is shared with others from your school. It feels like being back in Cardiff halls!
Next stop, La Ceiba to meet Annie’s mom and indulge in a spot of luxury at the rainforest lodge.