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LoznLou´s adventures

the begining of the Guatemala adventure.............

GUATEMALA | Wednesday, 24 February 2010 | Views [635]

So the mission to Guatemala started in the bus station in Chetumal at about 6am where we met some other backpackers on the same mission. So we now had an Irish, a kiwi, a german, a dutch and an english couple. So we left the land of comfortable buses and head for the land of small pokie buses with all our luggage piled on top and us hoping with every pot hole we hit that it wouldn´t fall off!! The roads had definitely taken a turn for the worst and the rope bumbs on the roads that we experienced in mexico turned into lots of stone ones that the bus driver never cared to slow down to cross over!!!

So 1st we had to cross the border into belize and then into Guatemala which turned out to be a very expensive exercise taking into account charges for crossing boarders and being ripped off by the money exchange guys at the borders, but hey its all part of being a tourist! At one stage I (louise) asked the immigration officer at the belize border (which i might add was out in the middle of nowhere) if it was ok to take fruit into the country and he suggested i´d ask customs which was comical as customs who was a rather plump older lady fast asleep at the desk behind him so I took it that they didn´t have very strict rules on the subject. We stopped for lunch in belize and had our 1st street food experience of the mission which did not disappoint. Along the way we came across trucks full of sugar cane and the people took better care of their gardens than their houses. There were heaps of churches and men with machetes on the sides of the roads making clearings which would have taken them weeks! Lauren hit up the locals at lunch time about local produce and we came across some cashew and banana trees.

We eventually made it to Flores at about 5pm and we booked into this awesome hostel called Los Amigos for our 1st night of sleeping in a hammock. This wasn´t by choice it was because it was cheaper and all the beds were taken, but its always good to try new things. We met a Swiss/Asian family we were traveling round the world playing music for food and board. The mother was an amazing violinist and she got pretty excited when she heard that I paled Irish music so a few of us got together and had a jam. There was an ozzie guy who was carrying around an electric drum kit on his mission which was pretty crazy but great for the jam session. The hammock idea turned out to be not the best considering we were a few bambo twigs away from the bar and the lights didn´t go out and we had to get up at 4.45am for out trip to Tikal.

Tikal is a massive mayan ruin site nesstled deep in the jungle, it took about 5 hours to explore which was cool and we saw monkeys and other different wildlife along the way. So far the most exciting thing about Guatemala for me (Lauren) is the tuk tuks. They are the cutest thing ever, ripping around carelessly competing for road space with the scooters makes crossing the road an interesting challenge. The town we stayed in Flores was a gorgeous wee island town, with colourfully painted houses and smiling locals (apart from the army dudes with machine guns).

Bus rides in between villages give such a great insight into poor country life.. we squeezed way too many ppl into a wee mini van for 8 hours but seeing the sights made the rather uncomfortable trip worthwhile.. tiny locals carrying goods and alsorts on their heads, trapsing seemingly miles along the road heading for rivers to wash their clothes or other villages (which by the way are miles away over big hills). Its mindblowing to realise the extent of effort it takes out here just for daily activities. It makes ya feel guilty that we can just jump in a van and drive by. Especially when its scorchingly hot. As the van started making wierd noises (we were constantly looking behind to see what had fallen off the roof hoping that it wasnt our bags..) we can only have faith in the driver, and i had to laugh looking around at the crew asleep as their heads flailed around widly as we avoided the massive pot holes in the road.

Our destination Lanquin is the definition of the middle of nowhere.. 11km down a valley in the jungle its amazing that there is a wee village all the way out here. We are staying in cabins on stilts, with straw roofs in the most beautiful setting on the river. I had the idea to teach a yoga class, and got offered a job here doin that which I might come back to do towards the end of the trip. For now its good to get us some free food and I am giving the owners wife a massage maybe in exchange for free accomodation. Semuc Champey is a series of waterfalls in the jungle.. so beautiful as we are piled on the back of a truck, heading down another dodgy road it was smiles all round when a wee 4 or 5 year old girl tries to get us to buy chocolate they have made straight from the cocoa plant. We went caving which was amazing.. especially cos we were given candles instead of torches, and several times had to swim holding the candles out of the water. Challenging. There was time for a couple of rope swings into the river and tubing down before we hiked up a bloody massive hill which nearly killed us but for the most amazing view of the torquoise waterways and thick jungle. The afternoon was spent swimming in the clear blue natural pools, and jumping off rocks and waterfalls. I did my first back flip yay! Its so primo here we love it and will remember it, but the mission must go on, in the morning we are headed for Antigua. Until next time hasta luego! whoop whoop

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