Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Written 2/1 - Livingston

We are so happy to be back in the Caribbean for a few days.  After leaving our hotel on Lake Izabel near Rio Dulce, we took a boat ride down the Rio Dulce river to Livingston.  It was everything that we'd heard it would be.  A nice long ride on a boat.  The first leg was through  a very, very wide part of the lake.  We saw boats of all sizes, from wooden dugout canoes to huge motor yachts.  We stopped at a sulpherous hot spring for a little break.  After the hot spring, the river closes in with lush, green canyon walls...this part was truly beautiful.  Then, the canyons opened up and we could see the Caribbean and Livinston town.

We walked the town, checking out a few hotels...on our comfort/price scale, we were looking for a little more comfort than we've been having.  The caribbean always feels like a vacation and we want to really enjoy our time here with a comfortable, quiet room.

Livingston is a quiet town that is only accessible by boat.  It has the wonderful Garifuna culture and Guatemalan refugees from the civil war.  Rob and I love the friendly, laid back Garifuna - Caribbean vibe.  We love the reggae music, the way they talk, the outgoing friendliness.  Livingston is surrounded by water...not really a beach town but it has the feeling of the Caribbean.

I've been looking forward to eating some Garifuna food so last night we went for Tapado, which the guidebooks claims is the real Garifuna food.  Dinner was amazing.  Its been a long time since a meal has given me the kind of happiness that last night's had.  Before I get into the Tapado, I will mention that we also ordered some fish ceviche which was some of the best that either of us had ever had.  Then, they brought out a huge bowl of seafood stew.  Oh man, just thinking about it makes me happy...a whole fish, crab, shrimp, plantain, coconut milk and coriander.  It was amazing.  They served it with some coco bread.  The bread has such a subtle coconut flavor until we dipped it in the broth from the Tapado and BAM it took the flavors to another level.

After dinner, we were walking the street and found 4 new friends from our boat ride into Livington.  They invited us for a drink so we joined them.  The other thing that I've been wanting to try here was a Coco Loco and it was everything I'd dreamed of...they take a coconut, chop off a hole in the top...pour in some run and put in a straw.  It was beautiful and tasty.  We enjoyed each other's company until the restaurant closed (which really wasnt too late) and walked around a little more before heading to bed.

This morning, as we were eating our breakfast, Paulo, a local Garifuna guy, joined us and we shot the breeze for awhile.  I asked him, where in town I could find the best Tapado and he immediately educated me.  He pointed out how the main street of the town, all of the shops and restaurants are run by Latins.  He said that they serve "Garifuna" food but it is not real Garifuna.  As a matter of fact, what they call Tapado, is actually called Tapa-o (or something like that).  He took us for a walk around the Garifuna neighborhoods and took us to meet Marie who will be cooking us a real Tapao tonight.  He told us to also order something else...maybe Fatillo?  Which he described as a green banana, grated and then fried.  We will definately take his advice and our camera so that we can show this to you.  I'd love to get a recipe for Tapado when we get home, I've never eaten that combination of flavors and I just cant get enough of it.

For those of you who are meeting us in Honduras...the Garifuna people here, originally came from Roatan.  One night, we need to hunt down a real Garifuna is a little pricy with all the fresh seafood but it will blow your mind.  We will also be buying a bottle of rum and a pile of coconuts to make our own Coco Locos.  Please dont let me forget.