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Erica's Travel Adventures

Lake Atitlan, Semuc Champey, Guate

GUATEMALA | Monday, 25 March 2013 | Views [877]

I have gotten lazy with writing so I have way too much to catch up on!  I’m going to do one blog entry to write about the rest of the trips I have taken and I separate one to write about the last few weeks of my time in Antigua and at my orphanage.


  After Tikal the next trip I took was another weekend at Lake Atitlan.  This time, we went with my roommate Emily’s friend Jorge to his family’s home on the Lake in a town called Cerro del Oro.  It was a beautiful house!  I went with Emily, Dave, Desi, Josey, Keaira, Jorge, Noah, Erick, Marvin, and Andy.  It was a really fun weekend!  We got there Friday night and hung out and played some card games.  Saturday morning we woke up and cooked breakfast (it was nice to make our own food, even though it has been incredible to have 3 delicious meals a day cooked for me!). We spent the day laying out, reading, playing cards, and relaxing at the house.  We went in to the lake for a little bit but the water was freezing!  Some of us played 3 against 3 soccer, which was also really fun!  The Guatemalans are very good at soccer, and I’m not, but it was great. 


Sunday Jorge had to be back in Antigua early for church so he took Emily and Dave back with him.  The rest of us went to Santiago and San Pedro to spend the day at the lake but in another city.  We went to a hostel in San Pedro called the Zoolah (Israeli owned) and went swimming, had a few really good strawberry daquiris, and ate lunch.  We left in the evening and Marvin and Erick drove us all back to Antigua before going back to the city.


The next weekend I went to Semuc Champey, which is about an 8-hour drive to really gorgeous fresh water pools.  I went with a fairly large group; Emily, Desi, Keaira, MJ, two other girls and a guy Michelle, Nikita, and Isaac (Michelle spent two weeks at the orphanage with me), and then two other women who happened to also be students at Maximo Nivel came too.  We left Friday morning at 8:00.  Our driver was really nice and he brought is young son and wife on the drive. We stopped every couple of hours.  We stopped for lunch at a mall and Desi and I went to find food other than McDonalds.  The best we could come up with was Domino’s pizza, but it was much better than McDonald’s.  Once we got to Coban (the area near Semuc) we had to get out of the shuttle van and get into the back of a pick up truck (sorry, Mom).  We drove 45 minutes on a dirt road to get to our hostel, which is the only one located directly in Semuc Champey.  After the drive we were all very grateful to be out of a moving vehicle.  We ordered dinner and relaxed for the evening.  The hostel was a really fun little place.  Dinner is served family style so everybody orders and gets served at the same time.  While we waited, one of the tour guides who works there set up a gigantic game of jenga.  Desi and MJ and Isaac all played for a little while.  After dinner we all went to bed relatively early because the next day was supposed to be exhausting.  We also went to bed early because the hostel only has electricity from 6pm-10pm so at 10pm all of the lights go out and the music stops.


We woke up early the next morning and had breakfast.  The rest of the people at the hostel had their guide through them, but our group had our shuttle drive as our guide.  Rather than doing the hike up to the lookout point to see the view of the pools and then go down to swim in the pools in the morning, we did the cave hike and tubing in the morning.  It was nice that rather than one massive group we split off to do our own thing. 


Our first activity was the cave.  Inside the cave are pools of water from a nearby lake.  You hike through with a guide who has a headlamp while the rest of us have candles.  Those of us who didn’t have good water shoes were going to wear tennis shoes, but the guides told us to go barefoot (biggest issue of my day, meanwhile).  The cave was really cool.  Some parts we had to swim through with our candles out of the water and other parts we could walk through easily.  At one point we used a rope to climb up the side of the cave to get to the next point.  At the end of the tour, you are supposed to jump into a hole into a part of the cave that is dark but the water is deep enough to jump.  Our guide stopped us before that to sit down.  There was a part of the cave that had some indents in the sides that looked like seats, and our guide asked me if I wanted to sit in there.  I figured since the guide was suggesting it, why not.  It would be a cool experience.  As I was climbing up I realized that I was barefoot climbing a slippery, wet wall with rocks below me.  I tried to take another step up and slipped and fell the 5 feet or so down.  At first I thought that I escaped with just a couple of bruises, but then I realized that my leg felt like it was on fire.  I looked down and saw a huge chunk missing out of my right leg just under my knee.  It hurt so badly.  I was bleeding a lot and could see the tissue because it was so deep.  One of the women with us was a nurse and she swam over to look at it.  Isaac was so sweet and held my hand the whole time.  Our guide ripped a piece of his shorts to make a makeshift bandage for me.  It was really awful, and I was wondering how the hell I was going to get out of the cave.  After they wrapped my leg and I calmed down, we headed back out of the cave (unfortunately, nobody in our group was allowed to do the jump into the water because my guide was nervous that someone else would get hurt).  Everybody was so nice and helped me swim through and get out of the cave.  Our guide took me to a ladder so that I wouldn’t have to do one of the jumps (I was terrified).  Once we were out of the cave I relaxed a little bit.  We still had the tubing left before I could get back to the hostel so I went with everyone into the river on the tubes (this is the difference between Guatemala and the U.S….).  Then they took us to a swing where you jump off into the water.  Only MJ and Desi and our guide did it, but it looked really cool.  When we got back to the hostel, the nurse and another guy from the hostel looked at my leg, cleaned it, and decided that I needed stitches.  After lunch a few guys from the hostel drove me to town with Desi (she is amazing and went with me!) to a clinic.  It was a government clinic, so it was free besides the medicine that I paid for.  The doctor and nurses were very nice.  The only information they asked me for was my name, age, and country of origin.  They numbed my leg and put 8 stitches in (I thought it looked good, but apparently I needed more on the outside and some on the inside too).  Then they put antiseptic stuff on all of my other cuts and gave me a shot for the pain for after the numbing stuff wore off.  I also got an antibiotic to take.  Our guide was so kind and offered to let us stay longer the next morning so that Desi and I could go see the pools, but we decided just to go when we got back to the hostel.


Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hike up to the lookout point to see all of the pools because it was a hard, 45-minute hike up hill.  MJ and Isaac were so nice and took me down to the pool to see them up close though.  They walked slowly with me and helped me up and down all of the stairs and took some pictures for me.  It was totally worth it because I have never seen anything as stunning as the pools.  The water was so clear and beautiful!  After the pools we walked back and ordered our dinner and waited for what felt like forever to eat.  I was so exhausted from the day that I went to bed early again even though everyone else stayed up to dance and hang out.   


The shuttle ride back seemed to take forever.  I was uncomfortable because I fell hard on my butt and couldn’t sit in certain positions and my leg hurt.  We got pulled over by highway patrol twice and the second time we had to pay a fine because none of us had our passports on us (we are told not to travel with our passports so that they don’t get stolen; these police were corrupt and just wanted money).    We got back to Antigua way earlier than I thought we would, I think by 5:00 PM at the very latest.  It was good to get back early because usually after a weekend away we get back fairly late. 


The next and final trip that I took out of Antigua was to Guatemala City to visit the Farchis one last time.  I left Saturday morning and David and Dani picked me up at Oakland Mall.  Then they took me to a store (we had time to kill) that is sort of like Ikea, but the whole thing is a massive maze!  It had some really cool stuff for the house.  Then we met Oshi and Ari and looked at an apartment that they are looking at to either sell or possibly move in to.  It was really gorgeous!  Their house now is outside of the actual city so the apartment would be much more convenient for them.  After, we went to lunch at David’s mom’s house.  She was very nice and the food was delicious (it always is when I’m with the Farchis).  The girls took me to their youth group for the afternoon at the Jewish Community Center.  I went with Dani and her age group, and they were learning about how to become counselors for the program next year.  Then Oshi, David, and I dropped Dani and her friend off at a party and we went to dinner and to a bar afterwards to have a couple of drinks.  We picked the girls up and spent a little bit of time at their friends’ house.  Sunday, they had a wedding to go to right outside of Antigua so Dani and I went to Antigua to watch the processions for Semana Santa while everybody else went to the wedding.  We were able to watch from the terrace on my house, which was really nice because the streets were SO crowded!  I met my new roommate Trish and she and my other roommate Heather all watched the parade together.  Then I took Dani back to the hotel that the wedding was at, and I had to say goodbye to the Farchis! 


I have had the most incredible time taking weekend trips, seeing new things and having adventures and I’m so sad that my time in Guatemala is coming to an end! 

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