Livingston

On the mouth of the Río Dulce, at the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea), is Livingston — a Garífuna town founded by ex-slaves — with a culture perhaps more fitting for Belize than Guatemala. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 15.8048, -88.7648 

Livingston and Puerto Barrios are the only two Guatemalan towns on the Caribbean coast. Puerto Barrios is a busy port town See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 15.72692, -88.59454 , while Livingston is a sleepy village cut off from the rest of the country. There is no road access to Livingston — there is only boat passage from either Puerto Barrios or Río Dulce. This physical isolation allows Livingston to retain its unique culture, and the slow pace of a small town practically devoid of cars.

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We tried the famous local tapado — a coconut-based seafood soup — and also some intensely sweet homemade toasted coconut candy. The soup's flavor was unique to this coastal area — very different from the one we tried in Panajachel, but it still required a similar amount of work to eat!

Livingston - Restaurant - Lunch - Tapado (coconut-based seafood soup)Livingston - Restaurant - Lunch - ShrimpLivingston - Restaurant - LunchLivingston - Coconut Candy - Laura

Many buildings had murals painted on them, including this curious yellow baby chicken-man eating money.

Livingston - Painting on Building - Chicken Man Eating MoneyLivingston - Painting on Building - MuralLivingston - Painting on Building

A three-wheeled car (taxi).

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We enjoyed a long afternoon beachside chat with Karim, who lives in Livingston, and Charly, our backpacker friend from Río Dulce.

Livingston - Geoff - Karim - Laura - Charly

You don't visit Livingston for its beaches, but snorkeling is available after a (long) boat trip to Belize. We were excited to touch the water, breathe in the sea air, and watch the pelicans and royal terns fly around.

Livingston - Snorkeling in Belize - PosterLivingston - Beach - Caribbean SeaLivingston - Beach - Caribbean SeaLivingston - Beach - Caribbean SeaLivingston - PalmLivingston - Río Dulce - Birds - Royal Terns

We found this burned-down night club on the beach. We later learned that this club was recently burned by angry residents in response to a shooting. We had read about some crime/safety issues before visiting Livingston, and so it was difficult to not always be our guard there — but we really don't like being overly cautious travelers.

Livingston - Burned Down Nightclub

At our hotel in Livingston, we encountered an electric shower inline hot water heater. (It wouldn't be our last.) If you remember to check the fuse (it's likely blown), this device actually does work to make hot water. After some mildly shocking experiences, however, we do not recommend touching the metal shower faucet while standing barefoot in the shower.

Livingston - Hotel - Shower - Electric Hot Water Heater