Semuc Champey

Published: February 13th 2011
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Our AgendaOur AgendaOur Agenda

For the next few days of fun!
In the middle of the night last night was our first semi-scary experience. We had our ear plugs in because 80's fest lasted really late. I woke up because I thought I heard something. As I woke up I heard what sounded like the end of a knock on our door. I just sat there, scared! Then I saw a guy walk by our window (thank goodness there was a porch light on) & I'm not sure if he went into the loft above our room or away entirely. At this point, I wake Geoff up & we have a whisper fest. He sits there for a minute, doesn't hear anything, & falls back asleep. I, on the other hand, was completely paranoid & remembering every terrible story I've ever heard about things that go bad for travellers abroad.... My mind was going nuts. Of course, nothing came of it & who the heck knows what that guy was doing. Was he drunk & lost? Checking to see if we were in our room to decide whether or not to rob us? Who knows. But I stayed awake for hours listening to every sound. It was great! But, at least we
The whole gangThe whole gangThe whole gang

inside the Kan'Ba Cave.
were ok & mr. middle of the night scary guy didn't do anything bad to us. Whew!

So, when Geoff woke up & went to sit on the porch to read in the hammock, I slept a little more. Finally. I got up with enough time to have some breakfast & I braved it with coffee even though I know we're spending the day away. I'm just too addicted. After a good breakfast we headed up to wait by the road with our tour group. There were about 15 of us & from all over the world. Even 2 guys from Seattle, who took a week off work & came to Guatemala! Our guide, Elvis (yes, that's his name), came up & greeted us & then a bit later (he said everyone in Guatemala is on Guatemala time) a small pickup truck pulled up in front of us. We all kind of just stood there & stared like deer in headlights. Finally, he gestures to the back of the truck & tells us all to get in. We did. And we were crammed like sardines, standing up, holding onto the metal utility-like rack that covered the back. We were

along the walls of the cave.
all immediately good friends as we bumped into one another at every pebble, dip, rock, hole, along the 10km dirt road to the park. It was a good time & there were a lot of laughs. Not only from us, but every local we passed seemed to think it was pretty funny too.

Finally we arrived at the entrance to the caves of Kan'Ba. Here we were told to lock up all our belongings & get down to our bathing suits because we were going to get wet in the caves. Ok. The entrance to the caves was right at the top of a small waterfall, so beautiful. We are each given a candle to carry & we lit it at the entrance. It was kinda scary because he kept asking us if we could all swim, if we were claustrophobic, had asthma, afraid of heights, etc. A little nervous!! Once inside it got dark very quickly & you could hear the bats starting to chirp. We are all walking in either flips flops (that Elvis tied to our feet with string so we wouldn't lose them) or sneakers. We walk in & immediately enter into waist deep water
Geoff Geoff Geoff

Jumping into the river from the rope swing.
in the pitch black, except for our candles. The cave reminded me of Barton Creek. Lot's of stalagtites & mites & at parts the ceiling was very high. The only difference was that we were walking in the water in the dark, instead of sitting in a canoe. At times we were swimming in water deep enough that we couldn't touch the bottom while trying to keep our candles from burning out. Then there were times where we were walking on slippery rocks through the middle of a flowing stream. We climbed a waterfall with a rope attached to the top. It took me two tries. 😊 I watched these 3 guys climb it, then Geoff climbed it. Not that I'm totally competitive or anything (yes I am) but I thought well if Geoff can do it then I can too. So I get halfway up (it's only about 8 feet tall) & the water starts rushing a little harder, gets in my eyes, I kinda choke, slip & end up on the ground still holding the rope, after I whack my head on a rock. Before I know what's happened, Elvis grabs me from under the waterfall, turns me
The hikeThe hikeThe hike

to the viewpoint above Semuc Champey.
around toward the waterfall, says something along the lines of "you can do it" (think Adam Sandler) & points to where I should put my feet & pushes me back to the rope. All the while I'm thinking, I don't want to try again, I'll use the ladder thanks! But I did just fall in front of 10 people (and they all saw my ass because the waterfall pulled my bottoms half way down) & because I think I'm some kind of waterfall climbing girl, I thought what the hell, I already hit my head once, I'll give it another go. I made it to the top! Woohoo! At the top Geoff gave me a big high five. He didn't see me fall, so I had to explain my time on the waterfall. Yikes. I was scared. And, I think I sprained my finger on the rope during the fall. It's currently swollen, black & blue, & hurts. Great! But worth it. I felt super powerful! Who climbs mini-waterfalls? I do! he he he. After that we continued on in the dark. The funniest part was that during different parts where the water was deep candles would get dunked under
We made it to the topWe made it to the topWe made it to the top

and look at that view!
water & we were all laughing about helping one another re-light candles. There were areas we would just hang onto the cave wall & move along it rather than swim. It was fun & became like this survival group attitude. Everyone was helping everyone. Watch out for the rock here, I just hit it. Here let me hold your candle. Grab this rock here to support you. It was like the telephone game of comraderie. Super fun. Lot's of laughs. The last part we went through was this little hole in the rocks with a bit of rushing water going through it. Geoff went first & there were tons of instructions from Elvis: put your foot here, knee here, turn left when you get to the water, don't go right. We're all in line behind him wondering what the heck we were getting into. Geoff was gone & then yelled up he was ok. A few other people went, then me. I would never have gone first. But it was kinda scary because there was this tiny hole that looked like it would barely fit me through it & all this rushing water & it was noisy, therefore making it
The poolsThe poolsThe pools

which were full of cichlids.
scarier. Elvis positioned me & told me to let go. Then in a second I was dunked in a pool of water that was at the bottom. It was really only a few feet down, but the unknown & a vivid imagination make the buildup crazy. It was so fun though. It put us all in this little rock room that was all pool with one big rock to stand on. Needless to say, the cave trek was super exciting & unlike anything we'd ever done. Oh, & the Goonies references were endless! I mean you could echo everywhere & honestly the waterfall part looked just like the waterfall in Goonies. I wish we had gotten to slide down a long slide like they did, but oh well, can't have it all! We made our way out of the cave & into the sunshine. We were all a little cold at this point. The water was warm enough but the dark cave & being wet for 1.5 hours can make you a bit chilly.

Outside it was warm & sunny. We then grabbed some inner tubes & hiked up the hill a bit & jumped in the river &
A few of the guysA few of the guysA few of the guys

kickin' it in the pools.
tubed down to the starting point. There were mini rapids, super mini, but they were fun & filled with lots of laughs. This Australian girl kept falling out of her tube & we were all laughing hysterically because she could not get back in it. She was cracking up too.

Once out of the water, Elvis walked us over to this rope swing that threw you out over the river. I watched everyone do it once, some people do it twice, sat on the swing, got off the swing, & didn't do it. Tooooo scary! The people were being thrown off the swing, into the river at about 15ft in the air. Yikes!!! I also watched one girl land flat on her belly & she had a tough time breathing after. Geoff said he landed on his ear & it has hurt him the rest of the day. He also kind of landed on his back after flipping off the swing backwards. This caused a big red welt on his entire low back. Leo, an Israeli girl, did the jump after watching everyone else with me. I asked her how it was & she said "SCARY!" because it was hard to jump off the swing with the forward momentum. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to let go when Elvis said Jump! Happy to be a spectator. Some of the guys were swinging around in circles. It was fun to watch but I was still having palapatations.

Then we hiked for about 30 minutes up to a lookout over the water. The hike was straight uphill & because we are in the mountains & not at sea level anymore, it was a workout. My legs are still sore from hiking around Tikal. Shesh. The hike up was worth it. The overlook was amazing & the limestone springs that flow above the actual river were stunning. The water is fluorescent blue & the brown/yellow color of the limestone is such a stark contrast that it makes it appear to be glowing. We snapped some photos & ate our first PB&J since home. We added banana & yummmmy!! Back down & we swam in the water for a bit. The sun decided to hide behind clouds so it wasn't super warm but it was fun. There are beautiful cichlids in this part of the world in all the fresh water areas we've visited. The handful we saw here were bright yellow, with black stripes, bright pink sides & some dashes of blue. May have to find some for our fish tanks at home... We also saw some tetras that were more than happy to sample the wounds and bites on my legs, wierd!

We walked back down to meet up with our truck. The ride back wasn't nearly as fun as the ride there because all of us were tired & my arms were seriously sore from my climbing workout. But there were still a lot of laughs & a good end to a good day.

The Mayans make these delicious cookies that are made out of the cocao. They have a little more texture & are a bit less sweet than a candy bar but they are soooo good! I think we paid 10 cents for one.
Back at home we rested in the hammock & read up on the next part of our journey. It's a constant conversation & educational experience to plan the next step of our trip. We enjoy it & have so far been very happy that we both are usually ready to move along at the same pace. We haven't had to do much in the way of compromising since we seem to travel at about the same speed. We've been good little travel partners & other than a couple of frustrated scuffles we haven't had any major blowouts. Which we were patting ourselves on the back about today. Things can be high stress at times & it doesn't help to get upset with one another that is for sure. And thankfully we haven't experienced any 8 day stretches of not talking to one another, like Geoff predicted on New Years. tee hee hee. 8 days. Really?

We decided to have a couple of rum drinks & swing in the hammock. We listened to Honcho, the rooster, talk & fight with all the other roosters around us. He has quite the harem, but he is incredibly good looking so it's not super surprising. And he's got some lungs on him for sure.

After one too many rum drinks we headed down to El Retiro's restaurant & had Italian buffet dinner. It was pretty good, but spendy $13 for both of us when we've been spending $5 for both of us at dinner. Oh well. Gotta try everything once. Tonight they played a movie instead of another dance party. We watched the beginning of Slumdog Millionaire & ate some popcorn then headed to bed.
No scary knocks on the door tonight, whew! We both slept like babies.


13th February 2011
I'm loving your blogs..!! Makes me feel that I'm actually traveling with you... And what a great way to document you trip for your Memories, after you return. Happy Valentines Day... Tip one for me as if I was there... Like I wish I was.!! WOW great to see all your adventures. -- Mike

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