Smash It, Mate!

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Zephyr Lodge

Flag of Guatemala  , Alta Verapaz,
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

After a stopover night in Antigua the 5 of us continued on to Lanquin, this time in a shuttle. There was Adi and Daniel from Israel, Manuela from Austria and the Lees whom you know all too well! It was a painful 8 hour journey, especially since it was the second day of travel in a row. The last hour was all downhill on an extremely bumpy road into the jungle, so bumpy we had a tire burst on the final stretch! But it was so worth it...

Zephyr Lodge was every inch as breathtaking as Dieter described (remember him? the cool Guatemalan guy with the London accent that we met in Xela). This hostel is set on one of the many hills in the jungle and is surrounded by lush green vegetation that feeds the mooing cows. To quench their thirst there is a fast-moving river at the foot of the hill that also provides tubing entertainment for the hostel dwellers from Zephyr Lodge and their only real competitor, El Retero.

Zephyr Lodge is perfectly set up for chilling by day and partying by night. Strategically positioned hammocks mean you can watch the sunrise as the fog clears and take in the awesome sunset after a hard day's rest. The hills in the distance are mesmerising as are the array of cloud formations. After some delicious food you can doze off for a well-deserved nap. The menu is extensive, offering lots of Western favourites. They do most things really well, except the lasagne. As dusk arrives, so does happy hour which means cocktails and shots are downed like water. Add to that drinking games (like Giant Jenga using your feet!) plus Dieter's antics and a very sociable international bunch (Amanda from Aus, Andolie from the U.S., Paul aka Johan from the Netherlands, Paula and Kate from Ireland, and Dominique from South Africa!), and before long, the party is in full gear! And when you return to lucidity, you realise that a few days have passed...

So yes, this little piece of paradise has a way of drawing you in and trapping you. It's easy to see why everyone we met throughout Guatemala recommended staying here. It's also easy to see how you can end up spending loads of money here. They operate a tab system so you can keep ordering your meals and drinks without keeping track until... BAM! It hits you! A bill much larger than you anticipated. You can only settle your debt with cash and until you do, your passport is held for ransom. What happens when people can't settle the bill? Well, then they have to pay for a shuttle to take them into Coban (1.5 hr journey) where the nearest ATM is. Only then can they get their passport back. Fair enough? The owners of Zephyr definitely have found the perfect formula for success!

All too soon our time at Zephyr Lodge came to an end. It was sad bidding farewell to Dieter. We shall remember you fondly, Dieter, especially when we SMASH IT, MATE!
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