Trip Start Jan 29, 2010
Trip End Sep 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Eco Hostel

Flag of Guatemala  , Alta Verapaz,
Sunday, March 28, 2010

My time in Xela flew by and I didn't really want to leave I was enjoying myself so much. By the end of 7 weeks of Spanish school I have a certificate saying I am an 'intermediate' level and should hopefully stay that way provided I practice my speaking during my travels. I was also loving the salsa classes so much I was going every night doing all sorts of crazy moves like getting flipped upside down! It helped my teacher had nice arms and could move incredibly well ;-) I may have even had a little crush on him, but judging by the queue of girls lining up to dance with him, so did a lot of people!

But all good things must come to an end and it was time to start my travels! Not a bad consolation. I was very excited to have my mate Michelle coming to Guatemala to join me for 9 days. I met her back in Antigua and we planned our whirlwind trip around Guatemala. We had only 6 days to take in as much as we could. This meant we would be spending a lot of time on public transport - after a 10 hour uncomfortable shuttle bus ride, another 8 hour uncomfortable shuttle bus ride, a 4.5 hour ride on a bus just slightly better quality than a chicken bus, a 6 hour luxurious bus ride complete with aircon and movie, I had had enough of buses and vowed to travel slowly from now on.

After wandering around Antigua in the morning we got on a shuttle headed for Semuc Champey which we were told was a 6 hour drive and ended up being 10. We eventually arrived into Lanquin around midnight and changed cars to drive the last bumpy 9km to Semuc in a 4WD, past drunkards crashed out on the side of the road. There was a feeling of relieft when we eventually arrived at our ecolodge (read 'no electricity'). It wasn't until the morning that we appreciated the beauty of where we were staying. Our dorm room was in the roof of a bungalow up on a hill overlooking the river. Semuc Champey was a 10min walk down the road. We set off in the morning and took the steep hike up to 'el mirador' (the viewpoint) to a beautiful vista of a natural limestone bridge, on top of which is a stepped series of pools of flowing river water. Then it was back down for a swim in the natural pools - lush.

Next on the list were some 'cueves' - not really sure where we were headed I was suprised when we started to walk down into some caves, plodding through some freezing water with a candle. I was even more suprised when the ground gave way and we had to swim in the pitch black whilst holding the candle above your head. I felt like we were on some kind of Harry Potter adventure. With lots of rocks to climb up and down, some precarious ladders and slippery waterfalls all in candle light, it was a little scary but really cool. Apparently the area around Semuc and Lanquin is full of caves like this, a lot of which are off the map and unchartered. We finished off the day with some tubing down the fast flowing river and I managed to entertain the crowd with a bit of a salsa with the barman!
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