Little did we know how handy the one pair of long pants we each had would come in Guatemala. In ten minutes from the Belizean town of San Ignacio we arrived at the Guatemalan border where we were warned to get ready for unhelpful and grumpy border guards. Brett’s usual border jitters seemed to have infected me as well for no logical reason as we have yet to encounter any real trouble at any border crossing. We arrived to the smiling, helpful border guards and the most organized border crossing yet. While waiting to get the car permits sorted we once again bumped into Prayash who was looking to hop on a bus, but instead jumped back in with us.
This time we headed to the couchsurfing gig that Brett and I scoped out and Prayash was the guest of honour. We were excited to meet our host Maria who lived just outside Santa Elena. Maria being involved in the communities’ social and political aspects was a great source of information about the community’s issues including the local pre elections gossip.
The following day the three of us headed to Semuc Champey. But first we needed money, phone data and car insurance. In three hours we were on our way but with the river ferry crossing and the winding mountainous roads the journey could not be completed in a day.
For the first time the driving extended into the night, something we have avoided so far, but considering it got dark at 6 this was hardly avoidable. We proceeded on in the dark following trucks rather then relying on our pathetic lights to spot the potholes. The highway or road was beautiful, scenic and packed with people walking back from work or school and carrying all sorts of things. We had to settle in Coban for a night as we were still a ways away from our final destination. For some reason Coban seemed to have been booked and we could not find anywhere to sleep. Finally Prayash skillfully negotiated our stay in a fenced parking lot with access to the bathroom in the hotel across. He himself slept on a bed in the hallway of the hotel. with our stay sorted we strolled the streets tasting various foods from the street stalls before retiring to our sleeping quarters.
Semuc Champay was as the guidebooks described: deep, blue crystal clear pools of water surrounded by jungle. Ella as usual entertained the crowds with her rock huntig obsessions as she skillfully navigated around the pools.
Just before Semuc Champey was a small town, nestled between the hills and quite isolated from the next place over. We loved it and decided to spend some time there.
Ella got in her first chicken fight and left looking more like a street dog with a cut over her eye. We hoped this would stop people from asking us she could breed as her offspring’s seemed to be in high demand. The following day we packed up… well folded up the bed back to a seat and headed west. Through Brett’s discretion we opted out for the dirt road that would take two hours before becoming paved again. As Brett dodged the holes and crevices in the road the van bobbed and we with it. So much that I blame both of our backackes which lasted about 2-3 days on that drive. But it was a beautiful scenic route through rural Guatemala, passing through hills, meadows, villages and towns. As we drove on, the local folks worked on the road filling in pot holes in exchange for some money, food and water. The following are some pictures from this long and winding drive through rural and urban centers.
After a few overnight stops in various places we were on route to Lake Atitlan. The lake lies in an old volcanic crater, surrounded by three volcanos and numerous towns along its shores. This short drive would truly test our brakes but would be well worth it. We now rest at the shores of San Pedro La Laguna before making our way around the lake.