Day 780 (19.05.09)
Bus day ... not something you ever really look forward to! However in Guatemala you have two choices of transport, first the chicken buses (cheap local option which requires a strong grip on the hand rail of the seat in front and normally a few changes) or secondly the tourist minibus (bit more expensive but a plusher minibus that delivers you door to door).
Not fancying the former of the two choices today as it would involve about 5 buses and a taxi to get us to our destination, we opted for travel in the slightly cramped comfort of a minibus. Climbing in at 8.30 as scheduled we did the crawl round town to pick up our fellow minibussers before seemingly leaving town on the highway destined for cities new. I say seemingly because an hour later we found ourselves driving back into Antigua where we had left an hour earlier. We were confused as to what had happened but not as worried as the guy who was just on the bus as far as the airport for a flight!
No new passengers or packages were loaded but after another 15 min wait we hit
the road again with a slight de ja vous feeling (and the obvious thought that we could have spent another hour in bed!). 8 hours later and we pulled into the little village of Lanquin where we changed to another truck which was to take us the final stretch of the journey.
With the end of our trip looming in a few weeks time we-re still having a fantastic time but are more ready than we ever thought we would be to get back home. However, as we clambered into the back of the truck for the short trip to Semuc Champey, our final destination of the day, we knew that one of the many things we-ll miss is standing in the back of a truck gaping at spectacular scenery with the wind in our hair. There-s just not enough truck riding in England!
Arriving at El Portal recommended to us by Kate and Henry and perched on the riverbank in the middle of a steep green valley we were pleased with our choice of accomodation. Secluded and peaceful and with just 4 hours of generated electricity a day we knew it would be the perfect place to
El Portal, view from our room
kick back and relax. We settled in and had a quiet night chatting to our fellow guests.
Day 781 (20.05.09)
Touted as little slice of paradise by all who visit, Semuc Champey hits most travellers to-do lists in Guatemala. Just up the road from El Portal are the gates to the pools that make Semuc famous. An incredible limestone bridge has formed over the brown river which rushes beneath. Clear green water pours over the bridge creating a series of sparkling pools. All combined it makes for an amazing sight.
We walked first up the steep and muddy path to the viewpoint to get a birds eye view of the pools. From this height the pools glowed like jewels at the bottom of the valley and the climb had made us hot enough to want to head straight down for a swim in them.
Down at the bottom we went to the top of the bridge to get the full effect of the river thundering under the limestone formation before we stripped down to our swimmies and jumped in. The water was cool, clear and fresh and we knew it would make the perfect place for
a day-s relaxation.
Several hours later, after exploring every one of the pools we dragged ourselves out of the water and made our way back for another chilled out evening of dinner and chatting.
Day 782 (21.05.09)
Around the area of Semuc Champey and Lanquin there are also plenty of caves to explore and after a day of reading in El Portal we made our way to the Cuevas las Marias just across the river from our hostel for our caving tour. Joining us were three other from the hostel, Leah and Devin who-d been on our bus from Antigua and Daniel who-d just arrived.
The caving tour had been highly recommened to us from Kate and Henry and it was reallt cheap so we jumped at it. Of course one of the reason-s it-s so cheap is that they don-t give you a headlamp. No...for light they give you a candle!
Feeling like old school miners we made our way into the caves for what turned out to be a couple of superb hours of fun and excitement. Trying to climb slippy ladders and rocks, jump into deep pools and most of all swim
through caves whilst keeping your candle alight was absolutely hilarious. The cave formations and limestone stalagmites and stalagtites were pretty cool as well!
We emerged from our cave adventure with huge grins on our faces. So much fun!
Day 783 (22.05.09)
It was time to continue on our way so we took the shuttle to Lanquin where we picked up our bus to Flores. We arrived in the mid afternoon had a bit of a walk around the town which is situated on an island in a lake. We walked over the causeway joining the island to the mianland and opicked up some fruit and veg for dinner from the excellent stalls along the main road in Santa Elena and then headed back for our meal.
Later in the evening we met up for a beer with Leah and Devin who-d travelled up to Flores with us and with Hilary and Jim who we-d also met in El Portal.
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