Fronteras, Rio Dulce is not the best of places to pass time in Guatemala. It’s essentially a place to pass through, maybe travelling from one place to another. Frankly it’s dirty, smelly, suffocating and plain old noisy. There is a constant drone of “Morales Morales Morales” or “Finca Paraiso”, I even know the exact point in the road where I will hear the deep nasal cry of “Queso y Crema”!
However, despite all this it’s become somewhat of a sanctuary, where one morning a week and one night a week we volunteers at Casa Guatemala can venture from the depths of the jungle to rest from our wonderful children and buy what we need for the week. We may not be able to rest our weary ears but we do have the opportunity to sample wonderful delicacies such as pizza, greasy gringas and cheap beer! Even though Fronteras does have a terrible rep in guidebooks for being a dirty truck stop, I have managed to see through its hazy smog and find the local charm it offers.
I may certainly be biased as my connection with Fronteras is formed only as a result from my experiences at Casa Guatemala, which of course has embedded itself deeply in my heart! However for those that don’t have an urge to experience the more gritty dirty side of Guatemalan life in Fronteras there are actually plenty of other things to do in the surrounding areas.
One of the nearby attractions is a little place called Finca El Paraiso, hence the cries of shuttlebus drivers urging people to visit. It’s a popular destination, particularly on the weekends, for the local people in the area however it is actually a cute little spot to visit for tourists as well. The combination of boiling hot water from hot springs upriver cascading into the cold water below makes for quite a sensational swimming hole! If you can manage to hold it up standing under the waterfall itself then kudos to you because I certainly couldn’t; the water was so ridiculously hot and pair that with the already hot humid climate there was no way I wanted to be any warmer! I resigned myself to sitting in the shallows of the cool water and enjoying the occasional warm draft of air wafting from the waterfall. You can also duck into one of the overhangs where the internals are akin to sauna! There were also plenty of people jumping the 12m from the top of the waterfall, however I decided I didn’t want to make a complete fool of myself by attempting to climb up there and inevitably changing my mind when it comes down to jumping!
Around Rio Dulce there is also Lago de Izabel including Castillo de San Felipe which I haven’t visited myself as most of my time has been absorbed by Casa Guatemala and the children there. Of course if you do find yourself in this part of the world the one thing I would urge you to visit is Casa Guatemala itself! Make your way to Hotel Backpackers which is directly linked and supports Casa and you can request a visit across to the school! We have visitors all of the time and the kids love to see new faces and have a new person to chat to! Also of course you will also be directly helping to finance Casa in some small way which makes a difference!
I haven’t written a complete blog about my experiences at Casa Guatemala just yet because I’m still wrapped up in my time here, when the (painful) time comes for me to leave I will reflect on all of the happy memories I have here and hopefully write a blog post that does this amazing place the justice that it deserves!