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Results of Chili Cook-off Fundraiser 2015 E-mail
The News - Latest News

Willyserves his Chili
Willy Serves His First-prize Winning Chili!

by Jody Aston, Editor, and additional photos from Lori Shea
September 14, 2015

Thanks to generous contributions of donations, personal time and energy, and the great Rio Dulce Community spirit, our Chili Cook-off Fundraiser was a big success! Attendees won numerous raffle prizes and silent auction items, filled their bellies with chili and hotdogs, laughed with their friends and new acquaintances, while amassing a hefty sum in the fundraising pot.

Organizer Kathi Wright by Lori Shea
This year's donation will be split between the Centro de Salud health clinic and the recovery fund for our neighbors in the recently flooded village of Sumach. Organizers are still waiting for a few receipts, but estimate the profit available for donation is Q10,873.

Former fire chief, Rita Rabre, is negotiating prices for items on the "wish list" and will be in charge of distribution of funds. Organizers Willy Ditzler, of SV Lorelei, and Kathi Wright are grateful to the many supporters of the event and will provide a list of donors and volunteers for a future story. Our thanks go to the two of them and the other committee members for skillful planning and organization, and to Lori Shea for her outstanding bi-lingual presentation of the raffle prizes.

Willy's chili came out on top, winning first place over other entrants, such as "Varmit" and "Texas Outlaw." Two of the cheeky judges, Tom Allen and Emy Bartula, posted this entry as their choice for winner:

Cheeky Judges Voted This Chili Entry as the Winner
It was all part of the fun in our crazy, caring Rio Dulce community! Enjoy more photos below.

Roy Field, of SV Avion, Passes Away E-mail
Births, Deaths, Anniversaries, Graduations, Life Changes - Deaths
Death of Roy Field
Roy Field, of SV Avion Passed Away Sept. 7th
We are sad to report that a member of the Rio Dulce and Caribbean sailing community, Roy Leon Field, passed away Monday morning, September 7, 2015.

We do not have details of Roy's death, other than his wish was to be cremated, with his ashes spread at sea. Mike and Lilo, of Brooksy Point Yacht Club in Roatan, said they will fulfill that wish and sail Roy’s boat, SV Avion, out to sea for a final cruise.

Roy was a quiet, friendly man. He was often found engaged in interesting conversation at Bruno’s, and a few times, he even participated in our International Pub Trivia Quiz nights. He will be missed by many Rio Dulce friends.

If anyone has information to share regarding Roy’s death, please contact the editor at: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . We will be happy to provide an update.

Guatemala President Resigned and In Jail E-mail
The News - Latest News

Pres. Maldonado
Interim President Maldonado_AP Photo-Moises Castillo

by Jody Aston, Editor
September 5, 2015 

The Rio Dulce Chisme-Vindicator is not the type publication to cover ‘hard’ news in Guatemala, and political coverage is best left to the people of Guatemala. Recent events, however, are historic in nature and, we would be remiss if we failed to mention the unprecedented news of the past week. As we stated in our Links to Information on Current Events  on May 19, 2015, this is not a statement of support nor opposition by the Rio Dulce Chisme-Vindicator, but merely a passing on of information.

Guatemalan President Otto Peréz Molina resigned at midnight Wednesday, September 2, 2015, amid a corruption scandal and after months of peaceful protests calling for his resignation. Here are links to English-language coverage from various sources:

Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina resigns - 3 September 2015 – from BBC:


Guatemala Swears In New Leader As Ex-President Is Ordered to Jail – 3 September 2015 – from Wall Street Journal:



Rio Dulce Chili Cook-off Fundraiser 2015 E-mail
The News - Latest News

TODAY's the DAY!!! Come join the fun and support a great cause!!


August 28, 2015

Come join the fun at the Rio Dulce Community Fundraiser. This year we are having a Chili Cook-off Competition! It will be held at Bruno's Marina on September 7, 2015. More information to follow soon!

As promised, more information. Update: Sunday August 30, 2015

Monday, August 31st is the last day for contestant cooks to sign up for the chili competition. Peggy is handling the sign-up and Q100 entry fee collections. Call Kathi Wright 5321-9197 if you need help finding Peggy. At this time, there are 8 competitors entered. 

The chili judges will start at 12 Noon with their tasting and voting.  The award of judges trophies should be done by 1 PM.  Tickets go on sale to the public at 1 PM [for chili, hot dogs & raffle]. Guests pay Q5 per sample and there will be a 5 ticket minimum. The portions are one ladle in a 10 oz. cup. Tickets are submitted to each competitor for each sample. Once the sampling is winding down or completed, tickets will be tallied for the award of the Blue Ribbon for the “People’s Choice” to the competitor who has the most tickets.

Fiesta for Children of the Sumach Flood E-mail
The News - Latest News

Children of Sumach Line up for Food
Children of Sumach Eagerly Line up for Food

by Jody Aston, Editor
August 19, 2015

Over one hundred victims of the recent flooding in Sumach, on Lake Izabal, were sheltered in the vacant new mercado building on the Fronteras side of Rio Dulce. Many community members rallied round to help them adjust to their temporary living quarters. For instance, Oscar Lopez and Kim Neilson, local and temporary residents, respectively, from the other side of the bridge, organized the entire El Relleno community to cook a hot meal for everyone in the shelter. It was a huge success and apparently, the food was delicious. You can see Julia Bartlett's photos of the occasion on the Rio Dulce Net Facebook page here.

Karen Lopez
Karen de Lopez of Ram Marina Provided Lunch

In addition to the relief provided by Guatemala government agencies, such as CONRED, numerous loads of supplies were purchased and delivered from Rio Dulce. Thanks to many generous donations from the Rio Dulce community, we have been able to offer a great deal of support to the affected communities. Heather Graham, of Casa Guatemala, and Karen de Lopez of Ram Marina, have been instrumental in getting deliveries organized, and Julia Bartlett, and Rita Rabre, among many others, have devoted considerable time to collecting donations and acquiring needed items for the displaced.

There was concern for the children being away from school and stuck in a big concrete building surrounded by a barren parking lot. Karen de Lopez planned a temporary school while they were in the shelter, and I arranged games and fun activities for them.

Much to our surprise, and delight, on Monday, the day we were to begin, we discovered that all but 13 of the people in the shelter had returned to their homes in Sumach. So, Karen, with her 100 sandwiches and other goodies, and I, with my piñatas and other playthings, along with my friend, Yveth Orellano and her daughter, Dailyn, switched gears and headed to Sumach.

The new shelter in Sumach
Letter of Gratitude from Annie Richey E-mail
Features - Places and Faces
August 15, 2015
By Jody Aston, Editor, and Annie Shambo Richey

Annie Richey
Many of you know Annie Richey, who lived in Cayo Quemado with Tom Gensemer, of Cayo Quemado Sails and Rigging. While she was on the rio, Annie established a wonderful foundation called GirlsEmpo, or in Spanish, ASOEMPO (Asociación Empoderamiento), to empower young girls in the Livingston area to improve their lives. She and a young local woman, Sonia Lemus, founded a secondary school, attended by more than 100 children from ten rural indigenous communities – half of them girls. They even provide schoolboats, which serve as ‘bus’ transportation so all children can get to the school. They also created and continue to operate a community-based girls club, where over 50 girls can learn, play and develop self-confidence. Rio Dulce Chisme Vindicator carried a story about this work that you can read here.

Students at Work on their Computers
Annie no longer lives on the Rio Dulce but is still on the Executive Board and very involved in the operation and development of GirlsEmpo. She wrote a letter, recently, thanking the many generous supporters and donors from Rio Dulce and from abroad, for the donation of computers and equipment, and the construction of a new building to house a computer classroom at the school in Livingston.

We are sharing Annie’s letter here, interspersed with photographs of the opening day celebration, and students hard at work on their new computers.


Muchísimas gracias for the generous support of all those who helped bring to reality the new computer classroom in our middle school INEB Barra de Lámpara, Improving the lives of and opening opportunities for more than 120 adolescent girls and boys and their families from 10 rural communities!

For your generous donation of funds for the computers, the generator and improvement of the building, thank you Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation of Rochester, NY (the primary funder), Michele Richey (my mom),  and The municipality of Livingston.

For donation of funds to pay the computer teacher, thank you Luis Xol (who is running for alcalde de Livingston, and is from Lagunitas Salvador, one of the 10 villages), and Barbara Jenks (Tom’s mom).

To the local businesses who donated services, we give special recognition for their help in improving the lives of children and families here on the Rio Dulce. Thanks toTom Gensemer at Cayo Quemado Sails & Rigging – for coordinating the shipment and safe delivery of the computers to the school; Karen de Lopez, and RAM Marina for the safe storage of the computers until we had a good weather window to get them downriver, and Jose Guzman of Transcargo Shipping for the safe shipment and the super discount on the shipping charges to get the computers from Miami to Rio Dulce, and Jody Aston of Rio Dulce Chisme Vindicator.

Flood Damage Fundraiser and How You Can Help E-mail
The News - Latest News
Rio Sumach
Helping Hands in the Rio Sumach Flood
August 10, 2015
by Jody Aston, Editor

This is a follow-up on our recent article, Serious Flood Damage on Lake Izabal. We will provide an update on the situation later, but first, we would like to announce a FUNDRAISING EVENT that was already being planned for a local charity when the flooding in the Lake Izabal area occurred. Willy Ditzler, on SV Lorelei, and Kathi Wright, along with a team of committee members, had committed to providing donations from the event to the Centro de Salud (Health Center) which offers 10 free clinics locally. The focus has shifted to the new emergency, however, and will now split the proceeds between that worthy cause and the flood disaster relief. From organizer Kathi Wright:

Planning Phase Started for the 2015 Rio Dulce Community Fundraiser

This year’s event will be raising money for the local free clinics under the Centro de Salud. These ten free clinics support our community and are in desperate need of our help. The committee has met with the doctor in charge and has obtained a list of what will most benefit these various facilities.

2015 Chili Cook-Off and Raffle/Silent Auction

Monday, September 7th

At Bruno’s Marina

 We hope to experience the same support from our community that we received last year and are now looking for:

·               ~donations of new or gently used items from individuals for our raffle/silent auction,

·               ~donations of products or services from local businesses for our raffle/silent auction,

·               ~competitors in our Chili Cook-Off to make their favorite brand of chili,

·               ~volunteers who can work this year’s event, and

·               ~lots and lots of people to come out and enjoy the day and raise money for our community!

If you want to participate or have any questions, please contact Kathi Wright at 5321-9197.

As usual, the Rio Dulce community, both resident and transient, has been kind-hearted and generous in donating supplies and cash donations for relief efforts. More is needed, and there have been inquiries from many asking how they can donate money from afar.

We attempted to set up a PayPal method, but it is too difficult (impossible) to withdraw the funds while in Guatemala. Withdrawals can only be made from a USA bank account. Then, to make wire transfers from the bank account, it would cost US$45 to send any amount from $1 to $5,000. This is in addition to the percentage charged by PayPal for the transaction. In short, it’s not viable.

To transfer money from personal accounts in the United States to Guatemala, many expats use XOOM (pronounced zoom), a reliable money transfer service. It is, by far, the cheapest method available. They charge a flat rate of US$4.99 for any amount up to $2,999. It is simple to sign on, and the funds are easily obtained as cash pickups or bank deposits to Guatemala accounts. If anyone is interested in using this method, contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and I will give you the bank account number to use to receive the transfer. We will provide complete information on how your money is used, and if possible, will even provide photographs. https://www.xoom.com/money-transfer Note: Xoom only accepts transfers from US-based bank accounts and credit/debit cards.

Serious Flood Damage on Lake Izabal E-mail
The News - Latest News

Flood Debris in Punta Caimán

 August 7, 2015
By Jody Aston, Editor

Torrential rain in the early morning hours of August 6 resulted in extensive damage to Rio Dulce’s neighboring town of El Estor and several small villages along the shores of Lago Izabal. The Rio Sumach overflowed and caused major flooding, especially in the villages of Sumach and Punta Caimán. The Tunico Bridge also collapsed under the strain of floodwaters and debris from the deforested areas along Rio Sumach.

Guatemala’s governing office for such disasters, CONRED (translated as the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala), responded to the emergency and evacuated over 600 people from Sumach. Their latest Twitter feed, (roughly translated) states that over 1000 people have been affected by the flooding, with moderate damage to 58 homes, although evaluations and assessments are still being conducted. It appears that 3 people have disappeared, and another 5 people from one family are also missing.


Aerial view of Sumach

The Rio Dulce community quickly joined together in relief efforts and obtained donations and supplies that were delivered to the displaced persons in the affected areas. More supplies still are desperately needed. Several Rio Dulce businesses are spearheading the operation and accepting cash donations, bagged or bottled water, dried non-perishable food, canned goods, bedding, pots and pans for cooking, first aid supplies, and adult and children’s clothing. If you can help with any of these items, deliver them to the following drop-off points: Tijax Marina, Backpackers Hotel, Ram Marina, Pass It On organization on sv Haleiva, Mar Marine, Bruno’s Marina, or the Mayor’s office at the Municipal Building. A big round of applause and gratitude goes out to them for their generous efforts thus far.

If there are additional drop-off centers, new information or corrections, please contact the Chisme staff, so we can update this notice. We were without power until 4:00 p.m. yesterday, but hopefully, we will not be hampered today.

The following photographs were provided courtesy of CONRED, except where noted.

President Pérez Molina Visiting the Disaster Area

Toucans, Collared Aracaris and the Kellogg Company E-mail
Features - Flora and Fauna of Guatemala
Collared Aracari
Collared Aracari on the Rio Dulce
 by Jody Aston, Editor
July 29, 2015

Many people are familiar with the colorful Toucan – especially if they have seen advertisements featuring Kellogg Company’s Froot Loop cereal-loving mascot, Toucan Sam. Well, we have the real thing right here on the Rio Dulce! In fact, we have at least two species of the family (Ramphastidae), and a third can be seen to the north of us, in the Peten district.

Our banner, above, is a (captive) Keel-billed Toucan. This brightly colored species is arguably one of the most beautiful of all tropical birds. Almost comical in flight, it seems their giant beak would weigh them down, and one expects to see them do a nose-dive to the ground. Looks are deceiving, though, because the beaks are honey-combed and mostly hollow. The structure enables them to pick and manipulate fruits, their favorite food, although they occasionally eat insects and small lizards or snakes.

Lesser known, but just as interesting, is the somewhat smaller, Collared Aracari, pronounced “ara sorry.” Whereas the Toucan is more solitary in breeding habits, Aracaris have communal breeding. The mother and father, both, incubate and feed the young, as well as receiving help from up to six aunts and uncles and other family members. They live together, year-round, in holes in trees, usually old residences of woodpeckers. They can be rather naughty neighbors, as they have also been known to kick out a poor woodpecker from its home, after it has done all the work of boring a hole.

Two Aracaris
Two Aracaris Feeding on Cecropia Fruits

As you ride along the Rio Dulce, watch for the type tree in the photo, as it is a favorite of Aracaris and Toucans. You may be lucky enough to spot these magnificent birds. The trees are called Cecropias and are distinguished by large leaves and few branches, which aids in sighting the brilliant birds eating the fruits of the Cecropia. The leaves are usually riddled with holes, as you can see in our photos.

ImageWhen researching for this article, I stumbled upon a surprising thing that happened, concerning Toucan Sam and Guatemala. In 2011, the world’s largest cereal maker, Kellogg Company, brought a Cease and Desist legal order against a small non-profit organization in Guatemala, called the Maya Archeological Initiative (MAI).


ImageKellogg felt they had sole rights to the use of a toucan’s image, because they own the copyright to Toucan Sam. Although their logo/mascot is a fictional character, with colors that only match the food-color in their sugary cereal and are unlike any real toucan, they attempted to prevent MAI from using a toucan image in their logo. Even more absurd, Kellogg objected to the image of the Maya temple behind the toucan in MAI’s image.

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