Semuc Champey and Chichicastenango
Trip Start Jan 15, 2005
19Trip End May 09, 2005
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After a night in Chichi I parted from my Swiss companion and headed for Coban to see Semuc Champey while she headed for Xela. I was irritated that I had to go through Guatemala City as I was hoping to avoid the place altogether
Arriving in the evening in Coban I figured I'd just find a place to stay there for the night and figure out how to get to Lanquin tomorrow. I had some trouble finding a hotel as quite a few were either full or asking for more than I was willing to pay. I finally was directed to what would be the worst hotel of my trip and was too tired to look anywhere else. I was showed to a room with a bare light bulb, holes in the wall, a barely there, worn down pad for a mattress laid on top of a piece of plywood. The shared bathrooms were disgusting and looked as if they hadn't been cleaned in months. Just outside my room window was a bird cage full of pigeons, and I heard them all night. As I wanted to limit my exposure to this place I took a walk through Coban and got some food from a street vendor. While I was sitting on a curb eating my dinner I local boy approached me about a shuttle bus to Lanquin and a hotel there. Great, I didn't even have to ask around, the info I needed just came right to me. We talked about music a little and he showed me some pictures of the hotel and Semuc Champey, he was a big rock fan and let me listen to some Guatemalan rock on his headphones. I agreed to the shuttle and we set a time to pick me up the next morning.
I was immensely relieved to escape my hotel and after gathering some other tourists including more Swiss we set off. I had fun using my newly learned Spanish with the driver and the scenery was incredible. We came to Lanquin and dropped off a few people at El Retiro and headed out towards Semuc Champey to Posada Las Marias where I would be staying. After a while we turned off the highway onto a logging road and bounced over dirt roads for 11 kilometers according to the sign. By the time we reached Las Marias there was nothing remotely close except Guatemalan homes. The place was right next to the river, had its own restaurant and the dorm was real cheap. Altogether a cozy place to stay with covered areas with tables and chairs and hammocks. While staying there I met 7 Swiss people, 2 Danish girls (whose English was so perfect I thought they were American), an Irish guy, an English guy, and a Belgian guy. We played lots of cards and drank lots of Guatemalan beer, relaxed in the hammocks and talked. Las Marias was one of the best relaxing place I stayed in.
The owners of the hotel owned some surrounding land as well, including a nearby cave. They arranged tours of the cave whenever anyone wanted to go. So not long after I arrived I went to the cave with just the guide which was fortunate as I think it was much better without lots of people
The next day I went up to Semuc Champey, a set of several perfectly clear pools carved out of limestone rock. One pool slowly spills over into the next and the surrounding are lush and green. Its a very beautiful area, I spent the day swimming in the pools, laying in the sun and later I hiked up the hillside to the viewpoint overlooking all the pools. The big downer of this day was that I dropped my bag in a few inches of water, which was enough to get my camera wet and a few hours later it died for good. Thankfully my camera survived long enough to take pics at Semuc Champey and although I tried to dry it out back at the hotel it was done for. The next day I spent relaxing at Las Marias, and reading in the hammocks. I would definitely go back and stay as Las Marias. Most of the staff were very cool and were patient with my sub standard Spanish abilities. It was calm and quiet, I could hear birds and saw quite a few lizards around the hotel. After all the moving around I had done since I left Atitlan, it was just what I needed to sit around lounging in a hammock and playing cards and drinking beers with interesting travelers.