Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Monday, November 24, 2008

Right, once more we have left you with a lot of reading to do im afraid, so get the wine ready!

We got on our 6am (supposedly) minibus to Coban, where they performed the usual acts - charging us a little too much, and cramming as many people in as humanly impossible! However, there was one slight part of excitement to our journey, when, approaching a town whereby the flooding had been so severe that a large part of it was underwater, we had to put our ┤bus┤onto what was essentially a concrete slab cum makeshift ferry, in order to get us across to the other side!

Anyway once we arrived in Coban and found our (crap) hostel, we realised that Coban was a nice little town (supposedly the third biggest city here!), but our activities were actually a good hour away. In Coban we visited a coffee plantation which was really interesting, and we had also planned on doing a project with a traditional K`┤Echi family, wherby you visit them, take part in their daily routine, and go for a hike in a cloudforest. In the book and online it sounded perfect.but once we finally found their office (with much help from the everfriendly Guatemalans - no sarcasm!) the project had changed form 3days to 2, and there was no way with that amount of time that it was p˛ssible to have a ┤real┤experience.

The next day, after a recommendation, we took ourselves to the town of Lanquin. Here we were to do a tour of the Kan-Ba caves, and to visit the national park of Semuc Champey. The caves on Lanquin were really fun, they were water caves, and we had to go climbing, swimming, and generally scavenging about in these caves. Was really good, except i whacked my chin on a rock, which dampened the day a little but! Afterwards we went inner-tubing (to us Brits - rubber ringing!) down a big lake. After this we proceeded to the national park of Semuc Champey, which has to be one of the highlights of the trip thus far. It was a series of waterfalls and natural bathing pools, in an outrageously beautiful setting, and sadly our pictures do not really serve justice to how good it really was. Anyways, we had a really good day out, but we thought it was time to move on to Antigua the following morning, as we had done everythng that there was to do! We decided to pay for an overpriced tourist shuttle to save an enormous amount of hassle..and on those 7-8hour bus journeys patience is a virtue, and so having a seat is paramount! We have discovered some little treasures on our recent bus journeys, as it is typical for hawkers to run on the bus at every opportunity selling various drinks and refreshments for a pittance...the best of which is fried bananas as crisps!!!

Antigua was a nice place to relax. We both needed to recharge our batteries, becca needed her bites from semuc champey to subside, and my bottom needed to stop weeing!! We were in a hostel with a kitchen (very rare for guatemala sadly for us!) and cableTV, so for the first 3 days we did absolutely nothing other than look round the market and as the lonely Planet like to say...┤daudle┤. The following afternoon we went on a sunset hike up Volcan Pacaya...an active volcano! Was really good fun, albeit it a strenuous walk in freezing conditions (3000m high!), but it was cool to see real lava in the dark. We decided we had outstayed our welcome in Antigua, and needed to head down to the coast before heading up to Xela, so just had one more day of chilling out and going to the cinema-cum-bars.
The following morning we started our descendency down towards Monterrico, Guatemalas nicest beach on the pacific coast. We went for public transport (as it is at minimum half the price), and after 4 or 5 buses we arrived. A black sandy beach awaited us, and it was really nice to get out of the cold and into the sweltering heat for the day! We chilled out on the pool and in the beach, and come 5pm were watching very small baby sea turtles make a beeline for the sea!!!  We had a swamp tour planned for 5am the following morning, and as that was really all there was to do in Monterrico, we decided to go to Xela (so as to acclimatise for our Spanish classes) the following morning after the tour. The tour was another highlight (we┤ve had many!), our guide Edgar was really nice, and it was great to see the sunrise, and watch local fisherman fish early in the morning. Saw turmites, kingfishers, and things that can only be described as flying fish, to name but a few! we went straight from the tour to Xela, about 8hours travelling and another half-a-dozen buses or so. Wound up in a dirt cheap hostel...although that really was all that it was good for, and tried to get settled for a couple of days, and get to know the city. The down side is that Bex had her travel towel stolen, and her penknife, and i had my watercarrier stolen, all from our bags in the hostel....so we are not to happy about that! I suppose it was law of averages that something would disappear at some juncture. The plus side is that Xela is a really nice city, and seems to be cheap to live in, and we hope we have a nice family and house for the next 3weeks!

More to report after the first (daunting) week!

Love from us both

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