Semuc Champay

We decided to go ahead with the do idea today and we did that to the truest, fullest sense of the word. After breakfast – homemade breads, farm fresh eggs, local fruits and the best Guatemalan coffee – we packed some water and hit the road with the company of Zoey.

Being that we are on a budget we opted to walk the 3 kms to Semuc Champay, saving us about 120 Quetzales (kit-sals) which is almost $20.00 CDN. The walk was described as a leisurely river side stroll, however this it was not. We walked along the river true, but for only ten minutes and then it was up steep, massively steep, rocky jungle roads, and down again and back up, repeat. In total the walk took us a solid hour and cost us about 1500+ calories. This walk was indescribable really, unless you’ve been here or somewhere similar, but here in the mountains they follow a path true to the landscape.

Fortunately for us, the pools at Semuc were equally as refreshing as they were stunning. The park consists of a series of turquoise and emerald fresh water pools that stager like steps down a river, ending in a waterfall. After swimming around for a bit we stopped to rest our legs on a rock, only to find that the fish in this pool bite! Similar to the luxury spa treatments available around the world, these fish sneak up and bite at dead skin or in my case, the blister on my ankle. It doesn’t hurt but it’s damn shocking.

Now thoroughly cooled and refreshed, we decided to hike the El Mirador to a lookout point where you can view all of the pools. Sparing the gory details, we made it up 1200 feet, give or take, and down within an hour. The view was, simply put, stunning – as most of Guatemala is. Oh and I should mention the entire hike we had an unsuspected guide. One of the hotels dogs, Chewy, had followed us to the park and stuck with us for the entire hike.

Now our legs were shaking and tired, my blister was raging and we still had an hour long hike home, up hill. But with some stroke of luck we were approached by a local man offering to drive us to the crossroads just down the river from our hostel for 5Q each. Along with a few other travelers and some locals we hoped in the back of his pickup truck. We thrashed around in the back for about 10 minutes and in 10 minutes more we were up the river path and home. Quickly, we each inhaled a peanut butter sandwich, some much needed water and hit the hammocks – where we spent most of the rest of the day. Our entire journey totaled just over five hours.

The rest of the night was very low key, we had an enormous dinner of pasta, garlic bread and cabbage salad. The hotel was nice enough to make the meal entirely dairy free because the previous nights scalloped potatoes and creamy cucumber salad did not sit well with me. Oh and with every dinner is dessert, tonight was hot banana bread cake with a sweet carmel glaze to top it off. We ended the night with Stranger than Fiction and some beetle dodging. The beetles here are about the size of a prune and drop unexpectedly onto your head or face. They don’t bite and it’s become more of a game to see who the next victim will be and how they will handle it. At that we rigged up a new mosquito net system, climbed into bed and we were out like the lights!

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