Meanwhile in Guatemala… I have moaned a lot (lot) about my twisted ankle (update: the recovery has been surprisingly quick. So quick that I have signed up for the two-day hike on the Acatenango volcano. Let’s hope this lousy bugger can handle it), complained about a bad cold that took us down (update: chest, nose and throat are back to normal) and I have whined about the allergic reaction to the Guatemalan mosquitos bites (but hey good news, our bodies ONLY need 4 to 6 weeks to get used to those mosquito bites. Only 1 to 3 weeks until my body says: “oh I have got bitten, big deal!”). This was, I believe, the perfect definition of a challenging week. I am extremely grateful that M was by my side and kept me going (he was close to having a heart attack though when he realized that French people take complaining to a whole new level. Bless him!). I’m also grateful that I have been given the chance to be on this adventure a bit longer (an allergic reaction to mosquito bites, a cold and a twisted ankle surely don’t qualify as good reasons to throw in the towel and go home, right?!). And I’m grateful that we found a wonderful place to recover: Semuc Champey.
The drive between Flores and Semuc Champey was epic: long, very long, our ‘pilot’ driving like a maniac while playing with his phone. The last 20 kilometers happened to be on dirt roads, high up in the mountain, wonderfully scenic with breathtaking landscapes. We (unfortunately) had to stop at Lanqin to be picked up by our hostel and this was for us a real shock. Along the way we had met so many warm and welcoming locals, we had a hard time with a bunch of teenage assholes (excuse my French but there was no poetic way to describe those individuals, only crude words can reflect our disappointment) who were hanging out at the bus stop. Their inappropriate behavior towards some female travelers was outrageous. They could have done with a good slap. Luckily, our shuttle to our hostel took us away and we literally reached heaven. Utopia was nested on the shores of the river Cahabón, “lost” in the lush jungle and surrounded by cocoa trees. It immediately felt right to us to stay longer than the recommended day and night in the area as the hostel was cute and the staff super friendly.
Utopia was ideally located 3 kilometers from Semuc Champey. They can be easily walked along the river and on the dirt road. We absolutely loved the walk, meeting smiling and chatty locals (though some of them looked stoned. Am I the only one who doesn’t know that Guatemala is known for drugs?!). The park itself was absolutely worth the money: we hiked up to the mirador, treated ourselves to fresh fruits, swam in the refreshing natural pools, got a free fish spa session, came across a majestic green snake and chatted happily with some lovely Guatemalan families (long life to my broken Spanish!). Such a wonderful way to spend a (Satur)day. The other days were filled with chilling, some more (easy) hiking, reading, swimming and mingling. I even joined a yoga class (my best friend would have been proud). Pura vida, I think they call this in Costa Rica and this was a wonderful feeling.
We were very happy that we rested before embarking on our 9-hour journey to Antigua. If we thought that our drive to Semuc was insane, imagine our faces when the drive to Antigua turned being even crazier. Our driver spent his time defying death, overtaking trucks and buses before a dangerous curve, barely making it to our lane, avoiding the vehicles on the other lane at the (very) last minute. This was entertaining, to say the least. I could have kissed him when we reached Antigua safe and sound. We for sure hadn’t taken this for granted! But hey, we are alive and in Antigua so let’s we what this town and surroundings have to offer.