Usually Im stubborn as f*ck when it comes to joining the tourist circuit. I want to see the world famous sights without the tourists and without paying the jacked up tourist price... An almost impossible task in most places now, mainly due to people writing about everything on the internet. (those pesky bloggers...)
Semuc Champey in Guatemala was an exception. The price for solo travellers vs. full day guided tour groups was exactly the same, making life easier and putting my mind at ease knowing I wasn't being ripped off completely. Its also nice to chill out for a day and let someone else be in control of my schedule every once in a while too, being a solo backpacker can get tiring if your always on the go.
Holy moly! What a marvellous day.
From 9am until 5.30pm we adventured; through caves by candlelight, climbing up waterfalls via rope, hiking mountains to view points, swimming in warm lagoons of aquamarine water, basking in the sunshine and exploring behind picturesque waterfalls, cliff jumping into blue holes and floating peacefully in inflatables down a river. An itinerary made in heaven for me!
In between activities, for the equivalent of £5 I ate a wide variety of delicious freshly prepared veggie dishes at a wonderful locally owned side of the road buffet (which is actually quite expensive for Guatemala - but the quality of food and selection made it well worth the splurge!).
The ride to and from Semuc took 1 hour, along dirt road standing in the back of a jeep pick up truck holding onto only a metal bar. Stopping on bloody steep gradients to offer rides to locals with piles of logs and a woman carrying a chicken was (i felt) a wonderful addition to the day. The driver showcased his expert driving skills only skidding backwards to our death once - he saved the day calmly and all in his stride - very impressive especially as he had beer in hand, from morning through to afternoon.
Our group was small, I had managed to find 3 other people to join me and we left later than all the other groups as one of the guys got a little carried away smoking the green stuff - whilst we waited outside by the van. For encountering less tourists - Our timing for the activities couldn't have been better. We were the last group to venture around all the locations making every spot lovely and deserted within 20minutes of us arriving. Perfection.
If that wasn't good enough, as we were swimming in the blue lagoons it began to rain. Every remaining tourist took shelter except myself and my two new tour group friends. We continued making our way through the connected lagoons, sliding down rocks and diving into new pools of warm turquoise water drifting slowly onwards toward the main waterfall.
Floating through the beautiful clear water, I looked around at my surroundings, trying to observe, remember and capture every beautiful bit of this place.
I open my mouth to catch the rain on my tongue.
My only thoughts are what a beautiful place. What a wonderful fun day.