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Peregrinations Mexico and Central America on Motorcycle: Open road, open heart, open mind.

Week 14-ish: Mirador, Semuc Champey and San Pedro

GUATEMALA | Tuesday, 21 June 2011 | Views [1648] | Comments [1]

The town of Lanquin is the base for accessing the amazing natural pools of Semuc Champey.

The town of Lanquin is the base for accessing the amazing natural pools of Semuc Champey.

First of all, I have officially been on the road for longer than 100 days! Wow! And I have just over 6,000 miles of travel behind me. Recently I've been overwhelmed with how lovely and beautiful this trip has been. I'm absolutely in love with riding the bike, I've been meeting the most wonderful and fun people along the way, and I'm excited that there's more ahead of me on the road south. There are trying moments, as there always are during long-term travel, but the juice is worth the squeeze. 

As for what I've been up to, I simply can't cover it all. This is my fault for not updating this blog thingy more often, but what can I say, I've had compelling reasons to not be spending my time in internet cafes these days. So I'll summarize week 13, which consisted of a five-day, 65km jungle trek to the remote Mayan ruins of El Mirador in a mere five points and a picture:

1. Awesome group of six people who clicked perfectly and kept each other laughing endlessly for the whole trip.

2. Crazy Mayan jungle guide Alex kept us on our toes with his sarcasm, fittness, playfulness and his strong desire (and ability!) to find all sorts of jungle creatures.

3. Sunsets on top of ancient temples every night, and one sunset/lightning storm that thrilled us all.

4. Taking a long, chilly, joyous shower in a jungle rainstorm at the end of 30 km of hot and sweaty jungle trekking.

5. Playing a game of Chaboo where we got to yell horrible and hilarious things at each other at the tops of our lungs.

And, the picture: 

Okay, moving on! After the trek I lazed around the island of Flores for another day, spending most of my time either in a hammock or in the perfectly cool water of the lake. The next morning I left for central Guatemala, with the goal of arriving in Lanquin by mid-afternoon. I was successful, but the ride was more complicated and exhilerating than usual. This was caused by a) getting mildly lost twice (and I'd thought Mexican road signs were bad!), b) crossing a river on a ferry, c) tackling 40 km of rough dirt roads to get to Lanquin, and d) getting held up by road construction for one and a half hours (admittedly, it was a scenic place with good Guatemalan company!). But I made it through. The rough dirt roads were particularly rewarding. It was the first time I'd really ridden dirt since my crash back in the Sierra Madre, and I suprised myself with how well I did. Of course, had I been traveling with other motorcyclists, they would have dusted me right away considering how slowly I was going! Sure was pretty, though:

The hostel at Lanquin, a sweet spot called the Zephyr Lodge, was packed with my friends when I arrived. In addition to friends, it had cheap and comfy acommodation, amazing views, and, best of all, kittens! Ah, kittens...

The next day, the Mirador crew (minus Sam but plus another Pete) went on this really sweet tour organized by the hostel. It starts out with a candlelight tour through some really spiffy caves. Now, by candlelight tour, I don't mean walking thru a cave lit with candles...I mean swimming through a cave system, climbing up and over rocks, climbing waterfalls, descending ladders, and dropping thru holes all while holding a candle. Ha. Pretty cool. Pics to come soon.

The next stop was the gorgeous paradise of Semuc Champey, which according to one guy meant "Where did it go?" in the local lingo, which is an apt name considering a small river disappears beneath the ground through a hole too small to really see where it goes... What's left on the surface is a limestone bridge formed by a) large boulders that have fallen from the surrounding cliffs (according to the informational signs at the sight) or b) by the errosive actions of massive amounts of water flowing through the ground, forming the tunnel where the water disappears(according to science and logic). Hm. On top of the limestone bridge are a series of pools of brilliant depth, color and coolness, all perfectly poised for people like me to jump into and swim around in. It's heaven on earth. I could have spent the rest of my life swimming in those pools.

After a couple nights at Lanquin, I continued onward to Antigua, but the ride sucked and so did Antigua, so I left the next morning for the town of San Pedro la Laguna on the shores of Lago Atitlan. The ride was the first of the trip that was consistently rainy and cold, not to mention steep and potholed. But I ended up at Lago Atitlan right before all hell broke loose, and found my friends (yet again) at a prearranged hostel. And guess who else was there? Tom and Alex. They seemed to be doing well, although the town of San Pedro is full of parties and alcohol, and by the time they left town, it looked like they were feeling the side effects! 

My first day in San Pedro was spent climbing the local Volcan San Pedro. We chose a lousy day for a view, but the exercise felt great! Nothing like getting on a stairmaster for five hours...

Day two was spent swimming with new friends, including a local Guatemalan, at the town of San Marcos on the opposite shore. The water was unbelievably clear and beautiful, and the perfect temperature to feel refreshed. We jumped and splashed around for some time, before hitting the tiny town center for food and fresh kombucha! 

Today I negotiated a trade with a guy at the hostel: he's a masseuse, and I have a motorcycle. He can ride my motorcycle around if I get a massage. Lovely. I also sunbathed for a few hours on the rooftop of a hostel, surrounded by the magnificent view of the lake without clouds and rain. It's truly a beautiful place here, and it will be sad to leave, although the party scene and the amount of tourists can be a little overwhelming at times. 

Tomorrow I make tracks for the highland town of Xela (Quetzaltenango) for some more hiking of volcanoes. Then it will be south along to coast to El Salvador for a short while before heading into Honduras for diving and more. Fun times ahead! I'll try to be better about keeping this thing updated!

Until next time,

Sarah

Comments

1

Your pic and postcard are posted in the office :) Made or some interesting conversations about people smuggling liquid heroin in their breast implants....so thank you for the excitement.

Glad you are safe and enjoying the beauty around you!

  Bobbie Jun 23, 2011 12:46 AM

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