Oh boy. I really don't know where to begin for this blog post. This weekend was full of surprises, both good and bad, but I'm going to remember this weekend for the rest of my life. Let's start with the "bus" ride.
The reason "bus" is in quotations is because the vehicle that we took over to Semuc Champey was more a van rather than bus. With 12 people and our luggage, it was a bit of a tight fit. I luckily ended up with a seat that made it relatively easy to fall asleep in but others weren't so lucky. Giulia and Dory took turns sleeping on the floor in the aisle, Kurun passed out in the corner opposite of me, and everyone else just generally struggled to get some meaningful rest. Elaine wasn't having any luck at all because she got car sick and was having trouble making it through the ride. To be fair, the first part of the ride to Guatemala City wasn't that bad. We stopped at this really nice mall for 45 minutes for food and bathroom breaks. Going to the mall was so weird because it felt for a moment that we were all suddenly back in the United States. We had grown so accustomed to Xela and our lives there that being in such a modern shopping center was so surreal to many of us. After our break for food, we thought we only had another 8 hours. But we thought wrong. Construction, the driver needing to take a 2 hour break, and getting lost in the middle of nowhere for 3 hours tacked on an additional 6 hours to our trip. We had originally planned to arrive around 2-3am but turned into arriving around 8:30am. We weren't exactly the happiest bunch of campers by that point. But after getting situated, the trip slowly started becoming worth it.
After we took a brief nap, we all went down to the river to go tubing. The water was kind of chilly but it was pretty nice once you got used to it. There was a point where we were supposed to stop along the left but Lois, Kurun, and Dory got carried away by the current. So one of our tour guides had to go rescue them which was pretty funny. After tubing, we went back and changed to do a tour of a bat cave. It was really slippery pretty much everywhere we went which made it kind of treacherous but it was really spooky because we all had candles as our light sources. We also saw quite a lot of bats too which was pretty cool.
On Saturday, we did a full day tour that included the underwater caves, rope swinging, a hike up to a gorgeous viewpoint, and swimming in the natural pools. The underwater caves is probably the coolest thing that I've done in my life. Not many people can say that they swam inside a cave. But we didn't only swim around in the cave, we also climbed up a waterfall and did cliffjumping INSIDE a cave. That is actually insane. The waterfall part totally felt like something out of Indiana Jones. After the underwater caves, we got to go on a rope swing for a bit which was also really fun. Kurun went first and after seeing his spectacular backwards flip straight into a belly flop, I couldn't stop laughing for a good five minutes. After rope swinging, we stopped for lunch and took the chance to reapply bug spray and sunscreen before starting our hike. This hike was definitely strenuous, and I'd say it was harder than our hike at Laguna de Chicabal. The sheer elevation was a killer and I constantly found myself out of breath with each step up the hike. However, the view was definitely worth it.
Going up was the hard part of the hike, fortunately the way down wasn't too bad. And finally swimming in the pools after sweating the whole way up and down was like bliss. After swimming, we all piled back into the back of a pickup truck but it actually broke down on the way back. Me and this other girl from our hostel ended walking along and we hitched a ride back to our hostel. We actually got back with enough time before everyone else that I was able to shower and wash off from the day's activities.
We left the following morning around 5am and the drive back to Xela was fortunately only 11 hours this time. If I had to sit through another 18 hours of construction, being lost, etc. I actually might have lost my mind. However, I'm back in my room in Xela, I'm alive, and I'm still completely amazed at how adventurous our weekend was. But spending a long time cooped up in a van somehow makes you more exhausted than I expected. So I'm off to sleep. Time for our last week in Guatemala :( -Scott