Monday, April 7, 2014

Semuc Champey

From Guate (the nickname for the capital city) we were headed to Semuc Champey. Getting there was an adventure in itself; starting by boarding a bus that took us to the small city of Cobán. From there we hopped aboard a "camioneta" (think a less cool looking VW bus) and rode along the winding mountain passes of Guatemala's countryside. Our comfortably full camioneta brought us to the Q'eqchi' mayan pueblo of Lanquín. Once here, we grabbed some cabbage, mangoes, limes, queso fresco, bread, canned black beans, cucumber, papaya, tomatoes and onions. We didn't yet know this was just about the only food we'd have for the next couple days, as there's no markets or restaurants offering more food once in Semuc Champey. We hopped in the back of a local's pickup to bring us the final 9 miles into the very small "aldea" (community) known as Semuc Champey.

We had had a long day and were eager to grab some food in Lanquín. The indigenous Q'eqchi' men and women filled the town's central plaza with food and artesian goods galore. We grabbed some homemade tamales wrapped in fresh banana leaves. They were filled with meat and a deliciously spicy sauce for the price of Q1, or about $0.13. 

The indigenous dress in their beautiful & colorful traditional garb, with each group having patterns and designs that set them apart from the others. 

The roads to Semuc Champey were steep and winding. We arrived as the sun illuminated the fields that draped over the mountainsides with golden rows of corn stretching on as far as you could see.

We stayed at a hostel that wasn't quite complete but they had just finished the first cabana on the lot. We stayed here for Q15 a night (just under $2) and more or less camped alongside the beautiful Río Cahabón. 

We grabbed some warm beers (no refrigerators or ice in these parts) and enjoyed a night swim. 

We hiked to El Mirador the next day, a lookout point overlooking the beautiful cascading pools of Semuc Champey. 

Below the mantles of turquoise waters runs the Cahabón River. The pools form a 300m limestone bridge over the river, which runs through a cave. Above is where the river enters the cave and is called El Sumidero. El Sumidero is "where the river hides below the earth" - which is what Semuc Champey means in Q'eqchi'. 

Mern Bird very happy to finally swim in las pozas
¡Hola Raquelita y Josue!

Nature's infinity pool 


Some local boys came to the pools and began to climb some overhanging trees. On the left I'm barely visible but I joined in the fun and scaled one of the trees. It was about 30-40 ft. above the water. Sorry Mom, don't freak when you see these :) 
The pools had some very tiny fish that would come nibble at your feet. 
Hey, I hear people in Asia pay a lot of money for this kind of pedicure action. 

We then rested back "home", in our cabin, down by the river. Semuc remains relatively untouched and unchanged, allowing us to experience a culture so different from our own. Women with baskets strolled past, often times with children in tow or slung on their backs in homemade carriers. 


We had to get creative with our remaining food: a cabbage, cucumber, mango and a couple limes. We used part of the cabbage to make a slaw of sorts and ate them in the remaining cabbage leaves. It was simple but surprisingly satisfying. 

 Our friend Panda who helped us find our hostel. 

1 comment:

  1. That water. Ahhhhhh.... a feast for the eyes. Gorgeous.