Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Reunion and the kindness of strangers

On returning to Antigua I discovered a group of people from Cusuco were there for the week so I managed to join them for a night out, which ended with spending an hour in the Parque Central waiting for news of a party that never materialised. The next day they had disappeared, I saw two of them in the street and they said they'd moved to another hostel and we should meet up again but it never happened.

I spent the day wandering the city and found the view over Antigua and the volcanoes from Cero de La Cruz and a large museum stroke art gallery that was also a luxury hotel so I sat for a while listening to their string quartet and wandering if I could afford to eat there. When I realised I couldn't I finally wandered out

The day after that I had a shuttle booked from Antigua to Coban, which turned out to be a man who picks you up in his car, takes you to the bus station in Guatemala City and buys you a ticket on the regular direct bus.  The "Imperial city of Coban" was a spawls of ugly breeze block buildings and adverts so even though it had been six hours I decided to push on. I found a minibus to Lanquin but it was already full, so they put some small stools in the space by the door and I sat on one of those. Then two men selling tickets decided to board and stood in the footwell by the door leaning on me, after five minutes we picked up another passenger who somehow fitted in front of them and I spent a happy hour wondering what kind of medical assistance I might need to restore circulation and how many vital organs had been crushed.  On the plus side a man on the bus revealed that he worked in a hostel right by Semuc Champey and could arrange to take me straight there.

Semuc Champey has a river running through caves undeneath and a series of pools you can swim in above and it looks like I may have to extend my list of most amazing places in the world again.

In the morning I did a tour going through the pools and climbing down a rope through a waterfall to the caves, in the afternoon we went tubing in another part of the river.  Then I discovered I was down to my last 14 quetzales, which I spent on a final lunch. I expected to do very little that night but instead the other guests took care of me and we wound up with a bottle of rum and a pack of cards till la
In the moring I had an eight hour minibus ride to Flores, not as bad, but pretty foul, especially when the driver refused to stop at a service station when asked then pulled over to the side of a busy road and announced that anyone who wanted to stretch their legs must do so where there were no people around. I got to Flores and decided to protect myself in future by taking out 1000Q and booking the cheapest accomodation I could, a 20Q a night hammock.

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