Tag Archives: Guatemala

Semuc Champey: A Guatemalan Gem

Hola Amigos! I know this post is ridiculously overdue! I was on top of Belize in an impressive way but have been in Guatemala for two months now and haven’t uttered a word about it! I promise it’s because I have been busy exploring every corner, learning Spanish ( have spent four of my eight weeks on this activity ) and generally having a great time. Well, now that March has nearly passed without a peep from me, I thought it was time I shared some photos of one of Guatemala’s greatest hits: Semuc Champey.

This spot is NOT easy to get to- the roads into Lanquin, the ‘big’ town outside Semuc where many travellers base themselves, are rough and slow going. From Lanquin you must pile into the back of a small but powerful truck that takes ¬†you just under 7 miles in an hour up and then down and then up, through the jungle. I stayed at a hostel just outside the entrance to Semuc Champey where I could relax and take these amazing photos:

El Portal







Once you arrive you can hike to a lookout point, swim in the pools, which I did right after taking photos, tube down the river that flows away from the pools and explore a cave system right next door. This place is amazing!

Side note: I may have swallowed a bit of water in these pools that resulted in a parasite that left me sick every Friday night-Saturday for three weeks before I gave in and took antibiotics to get rid of it, but maybe not. It’s just a theory and anyway I’ll never know the truth. But no matter anyway because you won’t swallow any water when you visit!


Initiate REAL Countdown

So, today is October 11, 2013. It has been 3 whole months since I last posted and I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed! Distracted by this summer’s happenings and interim travel plans, I slowly stopped stalking my countdowns and eventually lost track of the number of days left to go altogether. The result; without realizing it, I breezed past the 150 day mark, then the 100 day mark, and find myself, today, with 88 days left until I depart. 88!


88 days are bound to fly by, so it is time for me to get serious about getting my ducks in order!

Money: I am ahead of schedule with my savings and am going to beat my goal! Now, the only question is by how much. But no matter how much I end up saving, I don’t plan to spend more on my travels, instead paying down a little more student debt and saving a little more for later. Of course, I say that now…

Gear: Since my last post I have purchased, among other things, a new daypack that will double as a front pack during periods of travel and transportation. I also purchased a rain coat and an around the waist money belt. I have recently become obsessed with packing cubes and have stocked up on the sizes and shapes I think will be optimal for my big travel backpack. I got a Swiss Army Knife for my birthday, which may or may not come in handy for things other than wine bottle opening in Italy. Left to acquire: a travel clothesline, hostel bed sheet, headlamp/flashlight, and hiking shoes. I may decide I don’t need all of these things in the end, but for now, they are still on my wish list.

Gregory Miwok 22

Volunteering: Things appear to be all set-up for Belize. In the next few weeks I will pay the fee to hold a spot in Spanish school and will in tandem secure the ability to volunteer in Guatemala. Now that September is over, I will purchase an annual membership to WWOOF Italy so I can start investigating farms I might want to volunteer with there. I don’t want to commit to volunteering in any additional places in advance, but will remain open to other opportunities while I am on the road.

Entry/Exit Requirements: I need to renew my passport before I depart. I filled out the application and wrote the check but haven’t yet put it in the mail. Thank goodness because at this moment no passports are being processed and I can just picture piles of passports building up in some dark room, underground, never to be seen again by their owners. Once the government decides to function normally again, I will get that done. But not before I get a set of passport/visa sized photos to use for my renewal and any other visas I may have to apply for along the way.

At some point it also came to my attention that I might not be allowed to board my flight to Belize or make it past Belizean immigration without proof of departure from the country. Given my plans to leave by local ferry or bus, and the impossibility of acquiring proof of those plans from here, I had to make a decision about whether I wanted to take my chances or play it safe. After some thought, I decided that I would rather start my trip off drama free and eliminate the chance of being turned away by having proof of departure. So, I purchased a refundable plane ticket from Belize to Miami which I plan to cancel after I make it smoothly into the country.

pile of passports

Health: I have zeroed in on the travel insurance I will buy for my trip and will purchase it a little closer to my departure date. I also went to my Doc and got a Tetanus booster and a Hep A titer to see if I have immunity or need the shots again. Turns out I’m immune! It was kind of pathetic how excited I was when I found out simply because it will save me $60 in vaccination costs that insurance won’t cover. I still plan to get Typhoid Fever and Yellow Fever vaccines just to be safe and will probably do so in early November.

Communication: I am the proud owner of  Google Nexus 7 tablet that I have loaded up with e-book copies of all of the travel guides I have purchased over the last year. It is also loaded up with travel apps, Skype, Facebook, WordPress, etc. I plan to use the tablet for lots of my communication needs but will also buy an international SIM card for an old flip phone that I will carry with me. It will make local calls more affordable, receiving texts free or 10 cents each and sent texts between 25 cents and 75 cents each depending on my location.

Despite having lost track of the official countdown, I have still stayed pretty well on top of everything I need to do to prepare. At this moment, there is only one more thing that I HAVE to do before I can go. One thing I am not looking forward to at all. I don’t want to jinx things, so I won’t talk about it just yet, but I will let you know once it is done and how it went…

Almost there!