06
Feb-2013

Livingston

Guatemala   /  
  • Une des rues de Livingston

  • Les nombreux pélicans à Livingston

  • Le cimetière coloré de Livingston

  • La Playa Blanca

  • Les chutes d'eau Seven Altars, près de Livingston

  • Soirée au Ubafu

  • Les rues de Livingston

  • Le lavoir

  • Le séchage des poissons

  • L'auberge de jeunesse Casa de la Iguana

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You do not come to Livingston to visit but to enjoy the culture and the warm atmosphere of the city and its communities, which are mostly former slaves called Garifuna. Livingston is very different from the other cities of Guatemala, the atmosphere is Caribbean, and therefore very relaxed. What is nice is that there is no security problem. But there are many stray dogs that seem to carry many diseases. This city is best known for the drugs, and actually people try to sell it to you regularly on the street.

How to get to Livingston?

Livingston, located on the Caribbean coast, is accessible only by lancha from Puerto Barrios (if coming from Guatemala City). It is not worth stopping there and has a bad reputation, or from Rio Dulce, tiny town that has only one street (if you come from the north, for example Tikal). From Puerto Barrios, you have to go to the pier with lanchas, you can take a taxi, especially if the night is dark, but it did not look very far (although taxis will tell you otherwise). Note that lanchas also run when the night has fallen. There is no fixed schedule, they set off when there is enough people on board. The journey takes 30 minutes and is quite stirring. Since Rio Dulce, we must count between 1:30 and 2 hours, but the scenery is beautiful.

Arrived at the pier of Livingston, if you look like a backpacker, you will undoubtedly be welcomed by a local who will ask you if you go to the hostel “Casa Iguana“, virtually the only hostel in the city, and may wish to take you there for free. In fact, he receives a commission for every customer he brings to the hostel. So you can follow him without worry and you will really not pay anything. You have to walk a bit to reach the hostel and it is not easy to find because you have to go in a small unlit driveway which is not very visible from the road.

To do list: What you shouldn’t miss in Livingston

The beaches are few and unimpressive in Guatemala but you can still find some nice ones like Playa Blanca. This beach is accessible only by boat and is almost deserted. The water is not very clear but it’s very nice to swim though. You can book the tour with an agency (Happy Fish) and it will be combined with a visit to some waterfalls. It takes 100Q for the boat, 10Q for entry to the beach and 20Q for entry to the waterfalls. Take with you good shoes that go in the water for the waterfalls, which are well worth the trip. You stay about 3-4h at the beach and 1h at the waterfalls. You can enjoy local specialties at the beach, the Coco Loco. This is a fresh coconut cut with rum in it. There is a small restaurant if you’re hungry, otherwise the tour provides a small sandwich but it is not terrible. Allow 30 minutes for the return in lancha. Departure is at 9:30 am and you will be back around 15:30.

An original activity to do: the local cooking classes. Rasta Mesa offers to help you to discover the Garifuna culture that people are trying to preserve through this little “cultural center.” You will help a family to prepare a typical dish directly in their home. The course costs 100Q per person. You will prepare the food while chatting with various family members. It is very slow (the course began at 2pm and ended at dusk) but you learn a lot about the Garifuna traditions and customs. We had fish cooked in coconut milk made by us and boiled banana (we do not remember the name unfortunately). While we were eating, a live band played on their djembes, maracasses and a funny instrument made of turtle shells etc.. Young girls from the neighborhood  also came to dance and we were invited to join. Great time, very authentic! Only bad point: one of the three of us could not stand the food and spent a bad night.

Where to eat in livingston?

A delicious restaurant: Gaby! It is essential to test the garlic shrimp … a pure delight! If you want to test a typical dish, take a Topado, a soup of different fish and shellfish, a delight for only 60Q. The burgers are also apparently very good and cheap. If you come to Casa Iguana, tell Gaby and you may be offered, as for us, a free drink.

Tilingo Lingo is a small restaurant not far from the sea, it is recommended for its curries but not as good as in Gaby!
We tested the devil shrimps, which was not bad. There is a small terrace at the front of the restaurant overlooking the sea. It was about 60Q/person.

Nightlife in Livingston

Many places close at dusk, even on weekends. The Ubafu is well known in the city, this is the place where young local bands play typical music. If there is no light and the place looks closed, knock on the door and the waitress can open you. They save electricity (which is quite expensive) and close the lights when there are not enough customers. After 15 minutes, the musicians arrived and began to play songs, we had a kind of private concert because we were the only people in the bar. The waitress improvised herself as a music singer and also attracted other groups of tourists looking for a place to spend the Friday evening ! This is a total immersion in the Garifuna music! The drinks are not very expensive.

A question ? Other tips to add ?

Share your experience with other backpackers to enrich this article! Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below, we will answer with pleasure!

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