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Gus-livingston itinerary


starfamily

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I have read a lot about the tours with Gus, but can't seem to get a real itinerary. Does it go to the falls? Also on these boards I saw the price was 45.00 and 55.00 but the quote I got from him was 75.00 per person, is it worth it?

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Hi

 

DW and I did the Gus tour in March when we were on the Veendam. The price was confusing, it's posted at $75 at he kisok but he only charged $45. I asked his assistant and got a shrug.

 

Gus lives in NYC for several months a year, his kids live there full time, so his English is better than many passengers. The assistant that lead part of our tour grew up in Livingston but lived for 18+ in Houston - again no language problems.

 

I had asked about going to the falls, but was told that they were not going there at that time. I thought it may have been the number of passengers and just let it drop , since my DW didn't really care about it.

 

We had about 30 minutes to kill until the tour was leaving so walked around the metal dock building looking at the crafts and hearing about all the deals that I could get from the locals.

 

We finally loaded on a boat - a 30 footer with 2 - 200 hp engines - right at the dock behind the Veendam. We traveled along the shore about 30 minutes to Livingston.

 

Got off and made a bathroom visit and ordered our lunch at the hotel there. ( Gus and his wife own it ) . We then got back in the boat and traveled up the Rio Dulce. Very pretty - tons of beautiful birds.

 

We stopped and spoke to a native fishing in a dug out canoe, heard from the guide about the history of Livingston and the surrounding area. As the river got narrower we traveled slower looking at shore homes made of straw roofs with a series of sticks tied together to make a wall.

 

We stopped at a Mayan school. It is in the middle of no where. There were two large straw roof buildings that became the class rooms.

The children were leaning English, Math, Sciences, and customer social skills. The teacher ( an English woman) said that they realize that the best way to economic improvement was to perform tourist related work and learn how to meet the needs of the cruise customers.

 

These kids were very nice and very happy to meet us and speak to us. About every 4 word was English and I understood every 10 word in Spanish. I regretted not learning better when I was in school. They were dressed much better than most middle school kids in the US - especially when you realize they are in a jungle and it's a 90 degrees.

 

This school had no running water nor electric. The kids came to school by dug out canoe or walking in the trails. It was lunch time when we were there, and we meet several groups of two carring the buckets of water up from the river to the school.

 

We got back in the boat and went down river to the hotel. Had a really nice lunch and then sat in the shade of the hotel and listened to some local musicians do traditional Livingston music and dances - a mixture of raggae and African. Gus then gave us a walking tour of the town. After that we got in the boat and headed back to the ship.

 

Overall it was a great day. I learned alot - I will never forget that school. The river was beautiful and seeing a guy fishing in a dug out canoe - I thought I was living a National Geographic picture.

 

There were trips at the dock offering to go to the Falls but not pushing it and Gus said he does do that trip but it is farther up river than he normally goes and I think it would mean he may miss the lunch trade.

 

If you really want to go - try and get a larger group together and tell Gus that the Falls is where you want to go to ( providing that they have water ) - you will leave earlier its a very nice trip via the river - otherwise you may need to take land travel and then a boat. It's a trade off.

 

The postings here have indicated that the falls are very seasonal. In some months they have lots of flowing water but in the dry season they do not.

 

We were there in mid-March and while there was no bugs it was also the end of the dry season, which is the reason the trips were not pushing the falls.

 

I hope this helps.

J

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This is a posting from Flashdog -

We were on the same cruise and compared notes about our trips as we crossed and ran into each other at the school.

 

Her's is a slightly different trip but still very interesting.

 

Santo Tomas, Puerto Barrios, Livingston REVIEW

 

SANTO TOMAS

Prior to the cruise I could not find a HAL excursion that I wanted, so had contacted various hotels in Livingston to see if one could be arranged. As it turned out, by sailing day, there was a very similar shore excursion offered, but I'd already made my arrangements independently for a ride down the Rio Dulce and lunch in Livingston, with a little walk around town.

 

Our group met, disembarked together at 8 a.m., and met a couple of English speaking guides on the dock, one who had lived in the states when he was 8 years old, and the other had spent 20 years in NY (GUS). They both knew our Livingston contact (told us to tell him "hi" for them), so they were not trying to sell us tours but were helpful in any way they could be. The young one wanted to practice speaking English. His was perfect but said it was difficult pulling it out of his memory.

 

There was a large "warehouse" type building filled with vendors. Apparently the custom is to ask a high price and for the buyer to refuse, offering a lower price etc. until an agreement could be made. I'd taught my group to say, "demasiado" (too much) or to exclaim, "tanto!" (so much!) to get the bargaining going. Our dinner mates said they said nothing, and were just trying to decide on a color, when the vendor dropped the price by 50%. So that's a word to the wise. Don't pay the asking price.

 

There was a steel drum group playing. We were given little 2" Guatemalan dolls. We did not tarry since we wanted to make the most of our one day in port.

 

There were some interesting and unusual "facts" I will now offer. There were six of us but we could not get a van unless we booked one of the shore excursions there at the pier. So we booked two taxis. The asking price was $130 per person round trip. I spoke up that we'd been told we could do it for $10 per person!! So that's what we paid. Off we went.

 

When I say, "we booked" what I mean is that inside the pier facilities you will get a licensed driver as opposed to walking outside the pier where someone may offer you a ride for a set fee. You will also be able to negotiate in English inside the facilities.

 

I was going to walk outside, but I could not see how far away it was, or if in fact there were any cabs there, so it just seemed simpler to do it there, be safe with a licensed driver, and not have to walk to search for a lower price outside the gates. Security was very good at the pier, and I saw that we'd have had to walk a distance to leave the pier to find a cheaper rate.

 

Our Livingston guide had told us what other people he had taken on tours had paid ($10 each) and that it might be even cheaper outside the pier gates. He also had told me that the previous tourists had paid AFTER the round trip, but we paid before. We set a time to meet, and he was there at 3:30 p.m. as promised. So we were back on the ship before 4 p.m.

 

Our taxi driver spoke very little English and was relieved that I spoke Spanish, so we went back and forth if we could not understand each other. Romeo was going to school 2 hours every week night and said it was slow learning. He showed us his school, the hospital etc, and at my request took us by the 400 year old mission church in town so we could take photos, and then to the port in Puerto Barrios where we met our Livingston guide. We had occasion to ask if the missionaries had actually destroyed the Mayan religion. The answer everywhere we went was that it had not been destroyed, even if everyone had become Christian.

 

He drove very slowly so we saw some of the "life" in town. Streets were very wide, but very few cars were on the road. No one seemed to know there should be "lanes" for driving. In other words, all the cars were simply where they wanted to be, whether the middle or to the right side of the road. Or perhaps they were avoiding pot holes.

 

It was very tropical, humid, and poor by US standards, but no beggars. We did see one juggler (on our return trip) at an intersection who stopped by each car to collect his tariff. I'd spent every single dollar I had, so told him, "no tengo dinero" at which point he gave me a large coin. I'd read that this was a custom! I gave it to Romeo.

 

It was pouring rain, (but no thunder and lightning) and one of our members did not have a poncho. He asked me to ask the attendant at the dock if she had them to sell. She did not, and said the store across the street had them, but that store was closed. She did come out with a thin black garbage bag for him (price $1!) and helped him fit into it. Several of the women went across the street to find "servicios" (don't say banos because a bano is where you bathe). There was a charge there, as well. Originally they wanted a dollar per person but the women convinced her to take a dollar for 3.

 

The municipal pier was tiny, accommodating perhaps half a dozen private boats and the ferry. No one approached us to try to sell us anything.

 

PUERTO BARRIOS TO LIVINGSTON, GUATEMALA.

Our guide for the day was Javier Putul, a native Mayan who owns the Hotel Casa Rosada with his Belgian wife. We waited until there was a break in the weather before heading out for a half hour bumpy trip across Amatique Bay to Livingston. There were no sissies in our group of 6 which ranged in age from 29 to 65. This was a real expedition! I suppose we could have canceled and paid the 33% penalty for doing so, but we hoped the weather would improve (it did). We laughed as we held up the tarps Javier had provided. Even Javier was laughing. Imagine, laughing tourists instead of complaining ones! Thank goodness we had cushioned seats which helped with the jarring of the boat meeting the sea at high speed.

 

Even in the rain the scenery was nice. 90% of the trip we were close to land, but it always felt as if we were on the open seas. There was a canopy on the launcha but it could not protect all passengers equally.

 

We stopped at the waterfront hotel to place our lunch orders (1 lobster & 5 tapados. Tapado is a local dish made from coconut milk, plantains, fish and shell fish. My bowl contained a whole crab, 6 shrimp, 2 mussels and half a fried local fish. It was delicious and messy! It was served with coconut bread, a first course of salad with their own salad dressing, and key lime pie for dessert. I had made sure that purified water was used to clean the vegetables and to make ice. We all tried the local beer) and look around a bit, waiting for the weather to clear. And clear it did. It was beautiful weather the entire time on the Rio Dulce. We drank Guatemalan coffee, as well.

 

The dining room was open air, overlooking the Caribbean, with exotic birds chirping. There were lovely gardens, Mayan designed, hand painted chairs and tables. I chose this particular hotel to deal with because it seemed so authentic and because i felt I had a personal contact with javier rather than another hotel trying to sell me something. javier wanted to give us what we wanted. We could have gone to a more Americanized resort for our tour and lunch, but we wanted something Guatemalan, and we got it. Javier was born in Livingston and was totally familiar with the area, and gave us what we were looking for. For those of you who may not know, Livingston is accessible only by boat. No roads lead there.

 

We went thru the canyons, up close to the limestone walls with hanging vines, to the hot spring with clear water to see the bottom, which was rocks (it is not a volcanic hot spring, but one created from moving plates?), bird island where there were a gazillion birds in flocks, to El Golfete, stopping at a school, Ak Tenamet and lagoons with lilies. We saw tiny frogs (smaller than a woman's pinky nail), termite nests, many herons and cormorants. No alligators, jaguars or Quetzales (the state bird after whom the currency is named) who reside in the mountains.

 

The area is pristine. I thought I'd found paradise. The water appears green because of the reflection off the vegetation on the walls of the canyon. There were people getting about in dugout canoes, some just crossing the river to visit friends, and others fishing for dinner or to sell.

 

After lunch Javier walked us to town on the main street. It was very Caribbean in feeling. The street was paved, with a concrete storm drain on both sides of the street. Flowers in every doorway. Every other house was a store or bar of some kind, with the family's living place behind it. Most people were of Mayan descent. I saw no negroid Garifunas except one beautiful woman waiting for the ferry in Puerto Barrios. Other cruise people did see many Garifunas, however in the restaurants and bars where they went. We saw only a handful of visitors, mostly Europeans and "capitalistas" meaning people from the capital, Guatemala City.

__________________

Phyllis

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  • 1 month later...

I have been trying to reach Gus in Guatemala for the Livingston Tour. I have emailed him twice at the posted email address. The first email was about 6 weeks ago and again about a week ago. He has not responded. Does anyone know if he has a new email address or if he is no longer doing this tour? Thanks for any info.

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Ontario, I originally emailed him on 8/23 and received a response on 8/24, but the attachment of his cruise brochure didn't come through too well so I had to ask him to send it again (which then worked). When I heard from him yesterday, it was unsolicited, and he was following up to send it in another format to be sure I received it. Our cruise is December 29-January 5, so it is not like it is right around the corner. I hope you have some luck. If you want me to try reaching him for you or you want me to forward you the brochure, just email me and I will be happy to.

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Thanks Bermuder,

How do I email you? I would very much appreciate you emailing him and asking him to email me. I must go into his spam or something weird. I first emailed him end of July or first of August and then again first of September. Thanks for your help.

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  • 2 months later...
I see his email address everywhere on the boards but does he have a website?

I tried posadaelfin but it didn't work.

 

Thanks

 

Try posadaeldefin.com that will reach his hotel and hopefully he can respond lfrom there! karen

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