Semuc Champey

The next day I got up early, packed my things and had tea and a biscuit for breakfast at reception while waiting for my shuttle. It arrived 15 minutes early at 7.45 am and I had to say goodbye to my friend as well as to Antigua. For the latter I had plenty of time as we were picking up people from all over town for at least an hour. Around lunchtime we had a toilet and coffee break and it proofed quite difficult to get a cup of tea. In the end I got one but it was disgusting. When we reached Cobán, we stopped again at a shopping centre and after I’d been to the loo, a young and slightly lost looking Dutch guy from my shuttle approached me in search for a healthier option to McDonald’s. Well, I must have looked as if I knew where I was going… We went to the supermarket and I got some cream cheese and blueberries to go with my tostadas. For the last two hours the roads were really bad but overall we had a quick journey and arrived in Lanquin just after 5 pm.

We got picked up by our hostel’s 4×4 and arrived in Semuc Champey about an hour later after a bumpy ride with stunning views over the rainforest.

I moved into my semi detached hut and could hear everything from next door. As it was happy hour, I had two Cuba libres with my dinner and an interesting conversation with the Dutch guy. We decided to book the tour for the next day and exchanged travel stories. He’d just met a beautiful Columbian girl and had promised to ring her that night. Due to the remote location there was no wifi at the hostel but I had reception with my tigo simcard and still some minutes left so he could call her with my phone.

The next morning I woke up to rain and thought the tour might not happen. By the time I had breakfast, it had stopped raining and a bunch of people were waiting for the tour to start sometime between 9 and 10, depending on what time the 4×4 from Lanquin would be here. That’s when I met a Spanish (Catalan), a Chinese and an Austrian girl. We got joined by a Brasilian and an English girl, two German girls and a few more people. The walk to the view point was quite slippery, but the amazing view was worth the effort.

Back down we had a swim in the pools and then went back to the hostel for lunch.

That was when we all started to get nervous about the cave. Some of us knew people who’d already done it and they’d told them it wasn’t safe.

We entered the cave only wearing swimwear and shoes and got a candle each. We explored the cave by walking, climbing, wading and swimming through water, climbing ladders, all while holding a burning candle in one hand. The Austrian girl was claustrophobic and had a little melt down, but managed to go through with the whole experience. That was when we found out that the Dutch guy had just finished university studying psychology. At the end we had to jump into a little waterfall tube but I couldn’t do it. The second I looked at it I knew I wouldn’t do it. During my travels I’ve been pushing myself a lot but sometimes I’m like a horse that refuses to jump or like a stubborn donkey and there’s no way I’m doing something. It wasn’t a problem I just had to climb another ladder and I was in the same pool as everyone else. Then we went back out to tube down the river which was very relaxing but a little bit chilly as well.

Unfortunately there was only cold water at the hostel but at least I could blow dry my hair once it was 6 pm, as they had electricity only between 6 and 11 pm. I met the others for dinner and we had a fun evening enjoying happy hour, talking, and playing jenga in a more challenging and entertaining way.

At some point I ended up translating, as some had hardly any Spanish and others spoke only very little English (like the Spanish girl who spoke Spanish, Catalan, French, and Italian). As most of the group would be leaving the next day, we all wrote in the Dutch guy’s book. At 11 pm we were kindly asked to leave and they waited until we were in our huts before turning off the electricity.

On Tuesday 8th May, only the Austrian girl and I were left and we decided to have a quiet day.

Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling too well and really needed a rest. We walked into the national park again for a little swim and went back to the hostel for lunch.

The rest of the day I spent reading about and planning my upcoming travels. After dinner we talked to one of the waiters. He’s 23 and the youngest of 7. One of her sisters has 6 kids herself but her husband probably has more with another woman or even several other women. Our waiter speaks Spanish, two different Mayan languages, and English and has an excercie book in which he writes expressions in different languages so he can say a few things to most if the visiting travelers. He’s an amazing autodidact and it’s a real shame he can’t afford going to university.