Monday, May 27, 2013

What was I thinking? Semuc Champey Guatemala

Well we did it!  Holy smokes!  I still can't believe they were advertising for this tour at a cruisers swap meet in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala.  Did they really think these Gente del mar people could actually survive a trip to semuc Champey !  The trip is not for the faint of heart.  It starts with the bus trip there.  Our shuttle bus was 2 hours late... They bought us a beer while we waited. So no problemo.
The road to Linquin was crazy!  At one point we had to get out of the shuttle bus and walk because the road was flooded.  We walked about 100 yards in knee deep water.  The road there is mostly dirt/rock/ruts.  When the driver came upon another washed out section he just floored it and we were almost swept away into a fence.  I was in the front seat so it was very exciting.  With all our delays we arrived in Linquin after dark and was met by yet another driver this time in a truck with only one open seat inside the cab.  Doug got the short straw and had to climb in the back and ride for 45 min up/down a rocky, rutted road while trying to sit on a 2x6.  We arrived at the hostel and they turned on the generator just so we could get to our room.  We stayed at El Portal right at the park entrance.

Our room was nice enough and we were certainly tired enough that I did not notice the termites eating our headboard until the second night!  Nice place, they had good food and nice wine in a bottle for sale.  No ice!

We had a hearty breakfast of pancakes and yoghurt with fruit then headed out on the first part of the tour.  This was billed as a 40 min hike.  What they did not mention is that it was literally straight up!  It took me an hour to get to the "mirador" and I was drenched!  The view was very pretty indeed, but ug!
Next we hiked straight down, I had to go down some of the stairs like a ladder it was that steep and slippery.

One of the points in the brochure says "12:30 - Viewing the largest waterfall where the river leaves the tunnel". What they don't say it first you walk across the river on the limestone bridge then descend down the waterfall on a rope ladder and enter the cave that has ragging water coming from all directions!  I was so scared I could hardly move.  The guide says come here Linda and look at this... I did not move, I was still trying to figure out how I was going to get back up the rope ladder without falling to my death.  I managed but I was terrified.

As we walked back down to the park entrance a snake crossed our path.  It went right over the guides foot.  I got a good picture of it. Yes it was poisonous.

After lunch we ventured up to the k' an-ba caves.  Again the brochure says visit the cave, no details.
Enter at your own risk, do not enter without a guide.  The brochure shows people walking wearing swim suits and holding a candle.  What the don't tell you is that this is full on spelunking in your swim suit while holding a candle in one hand and trying to swim with the other.  We ventured 1.6 km back into the abyss.  At least half of the cave time was spent swimming.  The water was also ragging in several areas.  It was way more then I bargained for.  There was also a cave waterfall we had to either climb a rope or take a ladder up and over.  The ladder was of course on the opposite side from the rope. It was so dangerous it makes me shake just thinking about it.  When the guide offered to help me cross under the waterfall I guess I imagined more of a bear hug approach of helping me, instead he grabbed my boobs and held on as we swung through the water fall. Well it did take my mind off of how petrified I was.  I just took on a little water as I gasped.   At the top I did not even consider jumping into the deep pool from a great height.  The guide jumped into the pool, disappeared for a long time and then I noticed he was standing behind the group who were gazing into the deep pool all wondering what the fuck we were going to do now.  Yes, it was funny but that was the second time he had pulled our chain, so to speak. The first time he took all our candles and disappear ahead of us to light the way to the waterfall.  he was gone just a little bit too long.  Doug took the water slide near the exit and I took the ladder.  I was pretty happy to see day light sense my candle was down to 1/4 inch.

We opted out on the tubing down the ragging river.  Instead we went back and put on dry clothes and watched the rest of the group fly by on their tubes.  It started to rain as they got to the end of the tube ride and they had to walk back up the road to the hostel carrying their tubes in a downpour.  It was fun and terrifying and extremely dangerous.  Doug and I are too old for these extreme adventures.  There is NO safety backup anywhere.  It was one guide to 8 people.  No life jackets, no climbing ropes or harnesses.