Santo Tomas, Guatemala wasn’t the most picturesque of stops (stop number 3 of our 8-day cruise on the Norwegian Jade). The water wasn’t crystal blue like Cozumel and the port is mostly a shipping yard full of hundreds of shipping containers. But, it was still a beautiful experience highlighted by the friendliness of the people and lushness of the countryside. We didn’t get an excursion booked soon enough through NCL as the ones we wanted were sold out. So we just got off the boat and checked out the local tour companies that had stands at the port.
We opted for one where we had a private driver for just the 3 of us and drove through the countryside toward Castillo de San Felipe and got a look at the Rio Dulce. It may not have been the ideal tour, but was a nice way to have a personalized tour through the country and see a lot of the local flavor. Not to mention, it provided a great opportunity to converse with our driver in Spanish (I took 4 years of it in high school) since his English wasn’t much better than my Spanish. The drive was a long, almost 2 hour, drive that included dodging giant potholes for a long stretch that forced us to drive very slowly.
Along the way we saw an unfortunate number of stray dogs wandering around or just sleeping in the middle of the road. We also came across a downed tree that we had to drive under. After arriving at the fort, our driver had to pay because they only accepted the local currency. From the entry point, it was a short walk to the fort through a cemetery.
The fort itself was beautiful, providing plenty of photo ops and well preserved. It’s fairly small and we spent less than an hour walking around.
Back on the pier of Santo Tomas, there’s a building with plenty of local vendors selling jewelry, arts and crafts, and more.