Cool Pools and Bat Cave: Lanquin, Guatemala

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jul 29, 2008

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

After a glorious week and a half of homestaying in Coban, we headed off to Lanquin and then to Semuc Champey. 

Lanquin is only about 50km form Coban and is a beautiful windy road that lets you look out onto neverending green mountains and also down into valley bottoms usually filled with puffy white clouds - really beautiful!! We passed through one election rally before decending 1000m on a narrow windy soft-shouldered dirt road to Lanquin...skeeeetch!! But Lanquin was amazing, one of my favourite places so far! 

We were bombarded with tour guides as we got out of our microbus all stuffing flyers into our hands for cheap hotels etc, but one of the kids who was helping out ended up showing us to this amazing little posada nearby that was beautiful, clean and friendly. The room we had was incredible - it had big shutter windows that opened to an amazing view of mountains and green jungle all around us. 

We headed down to the Lanquin Caves that we came to see - a fairly short walk down a dirt road through the forest.  It was the cleanest air we've breathed since we got here I'm sure!!  There are wild chickens, pigs, horses, kids, birds and noises everywhere, it's beautiful!  A driver stopped to let us hop into the bed of his truck and drove us to the caves for free - super nice. 

These caves seemed like they were built by man, not naturally formed - they were just too amazing!!  They were absolutely unreal in size and contents! Our jaws dropped as we entered - the ceilings are cathedral height and the stalactite and stalagmite formations were huge and intricate.  It blew our minds - it was damp and sticky and slippery on the inside.  We ventured in about 300m, up and down a make-shift trail, as far as the guide lights went.  Our guide-book cautioned us that these lights have been know to go off mysteriously and then you're stuck until they decide to turn them back on!! Anyways, we were fine!  Lots of bats to be seen too!!

Lanquin was also full of election propoganda.  One group set up shop across from our hostel and blasted their 30 second jingle on repeat for a good 2 hours (maybe more, we left after this point!!).  All the campaining seems to have some dance-party element to fact, so do the grocery stores,'s awesome!

We hopped another microbus to Semuc Champey which is 9km from Lanquin.  We got in our bus with capacity for 20 and once it was filled, we started driving...but we just did loops around Lanquin looking for more people to cram into and on top of the bus - after 30 or 45 minutes of loops, we had crammed about 40 people into this little van...standing, sitting on each other, clinging to the ladder, sitting on our bags on the roof...And the road to Semuc was no less freaky than that to Lanquin...the 9km took us about an hour!! Just hairpin turns and steep hills up and down and big drop offs etc.  Nuts!

There are two places to stay in the area of Semuc - it's not a town at all, just a natural area with pools and waterfalls and hiking trails.  We stayed at a place about 600m from the pools and it was pretty sweet despite the cockroach in our room and the couple hanging around outside of it...!!

The pools were turqoise and cool and refreshing, especially after our sweaty bus ride! There are about 10 different pools that you can swim in, all at a different level.  It was so nice to be in clean water and clean jungly air! 

We went back to our hostel and ended up having an unexpectedly fun night there - we met 4 other travelers at our place, 2 girls from Isreal, 1 German guy who was hilarious, and 1 lady from England who's been traveling, well, forever it seems..!! We drank delicious Gallo beer by the litre with them and laughed all night, it was great!

Took off to Flores the next day, determined to see Tikal after being delayed once by Hurricane Dean.  Halfway there one of the other travelers grabs a paper and we learn about Hurricane Felix..we are so bad at staying up to date with news!!!  Luckily it was heading south as we were heading north - a good stroke of luck for us!

Hope everyone is well - Nik and I are having so much fun.  I'm so happy we have 11 more months to go!  Sarita y Nikolas
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