The travels thus far have not disappointed. After a hellacious 9 hour ride in a minivan with 14 other gringos (after I missed my bus and was extended another day in Antigua), we found ourselves about midway up the country at a place called Lanquin, home to these absolutely incredible natural crystal-clear pools by name of Semuc Champey. Coupled with that given trip, where we were able to swim in these gorgeous pools, we also were taken to some caves outside the national park whereby about 15-20 of us traversed caves upwards of 1 mile with nothing other than a candle to light the way. Absolutely gorgeous, with flowing water waist deep at some points, waterfalls that were climbed with rope ladders, natural slides which could be ridden down into deeper pools… The thing I love about travelling, is seeing places and doing things that have not yet been experienced in my life. Both Semuc Champey and the caves did not disappoint…
From Lanquin, another horrendous 7 hour bus (and by bus, I mean mini-van) ride further north to the town of Flores in Guatemala. Flores is a cool little island town, set upon a gorgeous lake with bridge the only means to cross such into the town. The reason for heading to Flores, other than to make my way over to Belize, was to visit the ancient city of Tikal
. Tikal was a center of civilization begun around 600 BC, with a myriad of pseudo-pyramid structures built for ceremonial purposes (in addition to housing for upwards of several hundred thousand Mayans for well over 1,000 years. The complex is enormous, on par with such sights as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the sights do not disappoint. Tikal was only discovered in the mid 1800s as local resin collectors (for gum) discovered a rock city in the middle of nowhere. A group from the local hostel departed at 4:30 in the morning to the sight, with hopes to climb the structures, watch the sunrise, all the while hearing the spider and howler monkeys in the distance. Again, very impressive and well worth a visit if you are into ancient civilizations that continue to exist today (although Tikal itself has not been inhabited for a long while).
With my third week come and gone in Antigua, I was somewhat relieved to have finished my Spanish immersion courses. While Spanish continues to appear somewhat problematic, I found myself speaking with greater ease than 3 weeks in the past, and hence it was time to roll and actually visit a couple key sights in Guatemala. This past given week I opted for an interesting excursion with my Spanish school, whereby my teacher and I went to a small Mayan village outside of Antigua by the name of San Antonio. Within this small town was a woman's cooperative that specializes in hand-made textile production. The visit was well worth while, not only for the textiles on display, but also to learn a bit about the culture and numerous traditions within such. While many of you may be in disbelief, I participated in a pseudo/mock wedding, and am now hitched to a Danish girl whose name I cannot seemingly recall. With a marriage under my belt, I was then ready to get on my way for some travels and exploring of sights elsewhere in Guatemala