The middle of nowhere...

Trip Start Dec 30, 2013
Trip End Mar 25, 2014

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Flag of Guatemala  , Alta Verapaz,
Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 19, Friday 17 January

And so began a memorable journey in Guatemala! Our bus to Lanquin was booked for 8am but there is no such thing as a schedule in Guatemala! The bus arrived about 9.15ish and there was only one spare seat...or so we thought! There's always room for one or two more in Guatemala!! Jenny took the seat to the front, Michele became the fourth person to share 3 seats at the back and Kathy got a very well crafted stool (refer to the picture!). All nicely squeezed in we rounded the corner and believe it or not there is apparently always room for 3 more in Guatemala. Enter a very annoying, loud French guy. Needless to say he was not happy about the fact he also had a lovely stool for the 8 hour journey and so the argument continued with the driver, bus owner, travel agent and anyone else who would listen! Its Guatemala dude-  get on & suck it up!! 10am we are on the road. He turned out to to be the loudest most annoying person we have met on the trip...I don't think anyone will beat him! After a few small pitstops along the way, five hours later we arrived in Coban. Kathy could no longer feel her coccyx but on the positive she now has guns of steel!! Thankfully, 4 people got off in Coban so the last few hours were a little less painful...having said that the dirt track from Coban to Lanquin was quite the bumpy experience.

We arrived in Lanquin are were met by a dozen young Guatemalan lads who were only dying to be complete gentlemen and carry our bags! We had booked into Zephyr Lodge Hostel so two of the said gentlemen brought us over to a waiting Toyota Hilux...up on the back girls! Michele's face was a pretty funny moment!! Little did we know what was coming the morning after?!

Zephyr seemed really nice when we arrived so we dumped the bags in the dorm and headed down for some dinner, there was a BBQ buffet. We were chatting to a few English lads over dinner who are doing pretty much the same trip as us. But after being squashed like sardines all day it was early to bed!

Day 20, Saturday 18 January

We had booked a tour to Semuc Champey and Kan'Ba Caves. Semuc Champey is a natural 300m limestone bridge, under which passes the Cahabón River. Over the bridge is a series of stepped, turquoise pools, a popular swimming attraction.

The Hilux the night before was rolls royce transport compared to cage in the back of a truck that we had to stand on for the 45 minute trek to Semuc! It was pretty funny watching us hold on for dear life as we were thrown from side to side on the rock path. The odd local sometimes hopped on the back for a ride!

Our first stop was the caves. Candles in-hand we made our way into was a little bit of a challenge swimming through water with one hand in the air keeping the candle lit. It was really good fun though, climbing up the side of a water fall, crawling though small gaps in the cave. At the end there was an option to jump into a black hole but none of us brave soles attempted it!

After the caves next up was the swing over the river and the bridge jump. OH&S was non existent and after the stories from the night before we declined to risk our lives!

The climb up to the viewing platform for Semuc Champey was pretty tough but the view was definitely worth it. When we made it back down to the bottom we went for a nice swim in the pools on the top of the bridge.

We chilled out for the evening in Zephyr, taking in the amazing views from the hostel. The hostel is built on the side of a cliff in the middle of a river valley.

Day 21, Sunday 19 January

We were up bright and early to get breakfast before taking the bus to Antigua. Zephyr operates a tab system so we got the bills and took a quick look through them. Dinner the night before had not been included so with bad karma and all that, Kathy mentioned it to the girl on reception and also that the shuttle to Antigua needed to be added to the bill...oh yes the facial reaction of the girl was not good! She was probably still high from last night! We had asked to book the shuttle on the Friday when we arrived but were told...'oh no tomorrow is plenty of time to do that'. Okay so! Saturday came and Jen again asked to book the shuttle, 'yeah sure no problem'!

What followed was being us being told two hours of lies. We had been booked on the bus...oh no actually we hadn't, the bus company made a mess of the booking...etc etc. Kathy was growing increasingly frustrated with the string of lies and by 8.30 it looked as though we were staying in Lanquin for another day and we were told that we 'might' get a discount on no! I don't think they realised the fight that would have ensued if that had happened.

All the other passengers were called for the shuttle to Antigua, and we were left sitting. After many discussions and adding 2&2 from conversations basically the girl knew the night before that the bus was over booked by 3 but rather than do anything about it, she just hoped the problem would go away....that is until 7am the next morning.

At about 8.35 we were called for the shuttle...miraculously there were 3 seats available, that was until we got our bags outside and guess what the name of the booking didn't correspond so the driver said no! Back inside!! Next the owner of Zephyr arrives up from bed (we had previously been told he was away for the night...miracles eh) and said he was going to sort it.
Ten minutes later we were off again to walk the 1km path from Zephyr up to the bus...miracles do happen and we were on the shuttle to Antigua! What a bloody morning...

Needless to say, last on worst seats! Another 8 hour bumpy trip on fold down seats! There were a few nice Aussie and Kiwi girls on the bus so we chatted through the journey with them. Michele started to feel sick half way through the journey so it wasn't exactly pleasant for her. By the time the bus rolled into Antigua we were all glad to be off the bus...'never want to see the inside of a bus again' were the words uttered!!
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