Santo Tomas, Guatemala
Welcome to Country 68; it has been a busy week as we sail the coast of Central America northbound for Miami with Oceania Cruises on our 110-day voyage. Only six months ago, this part of the world was unknown to us, and six months later, we can safely say we are now quite familiar!
Today, we arrived in Santo Tomas, Guatemala, one of the busiest ports in Central America, so we were prepared for the view this morning. Those who cruise will only be too familiar with the active working port views and sounds.
This small country is not only the birthplace of the Mayan culture but also the geographic centre of the area they inhabited, which is why it is known as the Heart of the Mayan World. Guatemala was called "Iximulew", or Land of Corn, by the Maya, but its main agricultural export today is bananas.
We took the opportunity to walk off and get our steps up as, again, the hot and humid heat was to accompany us; we set our sights on the local beach. As we passed all the locals, they were very respectful and greeted us warmly, and little pressure from the taxi drivers, which didn’t go unnoticed.
It was interesting to see lots of busy workers sweeping the roads and paths of all the jungle debris but neglecting to collect all the plastic waste that was scattered alongside the paths. We, of course, played our part and picked up as we went.
Upon arriving at the beach, we noticed two young lads about 12 years old wading through the water beneath a beach bar carrying large crates full of empty beer bottles, the water was far from crystal clear, but this didn’t stop them from duck diving into the water and collecting the bottles, clearly being thrown over from the bar above. Watching these young lads filled our hearts with joy. We wanted to show our appreciation for their hard work and reward them for making the world a better place, so we waited for them to pop out with an entire crate and donated funds to their savings, watching his eyes widen, and a smile that melted our hearts when he received the $50 was heartwarming. We shared our encouragement and congratulations via hand signals due to the language barrier, but we know he understood! Legends they were, leading by example. The average monthly salary is about USD 550 in Guatemala City, and there is a substantial gap between the city and other parts of the country.
This small act of kindness made our day in Guatemala special. One day we can return to explore the beautiful tropical jungles, wildlife, and villages and experience more of the Mayan culture.
Our final adventures are coming soon as we inch closer to Miami and complete our 110-day journey with Oceania Cruises.