19.12.2015 - 19.12.2015
With hangovers that rivalled being hit by a small car, we decided it was a perfect time to take a tour to the main attraction of Lanquin; Semuc Champey, a series of natural terrace pools, waterfalls, caves and lookout. Polish Michael and English David were in no shape to get out of bed, let alone leave the hostel, so, dragging Irish Lisa out of bed, we climbed onto the back a small truck, picked up two Scottish from town and were on our merry way motoring around the Guatemalan highlands in the rain.
Upon arriving we met Carlos, Maria and Dennis, locals kids aged between 4 and 7, selling raw chocolate their mothers made. "My name is Carlos, Carlos primero, you buy from me." The three followed us around for a while and we learned that Maria and Dennis were siblings, while Carlos seemed to be the leader of their little gang. All was going well with our little shadows until Timmy bought chocolate from Dennis. Carlos was not impressed. "I thought you were me amigo." He whimpered with puppy dog eyes and pouty lip. Knowing exactly how to pull the naïve heart strings of us sucker tourists, these kids were some serious hustlers.
Our first activity of the morning was exploring the extensive caves. So, on goes the swimmers, our guide gives us each a candle and in we go. Swimming in water over our heads while trying to keep the candle dry, trusting our guide as we blindly jumped off of the cave walls into pools and climbing up waterfalls was all part of this illegal-any-where-else-in-the-world cave tour. Emerging from the cave, we were then shown a huge swing! You would swing only when the guide said it was ok, and you let go only when he yelled to. Everything was going swimmingly until somehow Lisa managed to dismount the swing horribly wrong and face plant the water from a 15 metre drop. Being the trooper she is, semi-concussed after some choice words only the Irish can conjure, Lisa still jumped into one of the tubes and we floated down the river being harassed by the creative beer venders who carried a small cooler in the tube and throw beers to the tubers with their names on the bottom to be paid later.
Next up was a 10 metre bridge jump followed by a desperate swim to the side so as not to be swept down the rushing river. With only a few of our group jumping from the bridge, we were soon put to shame as a few of the local kids, no older than 9, gave their spiel from the top of the bridge railing, "My name is Roberto, you buy beers from me, I give you good price!" before launching off the side in a backflip before racing up the side of the river bank to re-commence business.
Following a delicious, spicy lunch, we made it into the Semuc Champey national park, due to tension between the locals and tour companies, our guide did not enter the park with us, instead he left us with directions to the Mirador and promised to meet us later with our ride home.
Going straight up the side of the mountain we made good getting their in half the time advised. "What are you a mountain goat?" the Canadian puffed. "The trick is not to stop." I replied as we climbed yet another set of steep stairs to one of the best lookouts there is.
Semuc Champey is one of the most stunning attractions in Guatemala, and for good reason. The crystal clear waters flow from one pool to another, making up huge natural infinity pools. Although it was raining and we were all freezing cold, we still couldn't leave without jumping in and being eaten by the tiny little Doctor Fish before shivering our way back to Zephyr Lodge and the hot tub.