Living the good life in Guatemala – part I

Ok. I think I have to apologize to you, my dearest readers, for not having posted a single word about my stay in Guatemala yet. Simply because I was having too much fun.

Arriving in Guatemala was a little bit…bumpy. When I booked my bus, they told me the whole trip was going to take me 10 hours. Little did I know that those ten hours involved a bus to the border – the border which existed mainly out of water and ten, maybe twenty, wooden boats –, a boatride all byyyyy myyyyselllf, two hours Guatemalan time waiting for my next bus and five hours shaking like a polaroid picture. Of those five, only two where needed to cross the actual distance, the other three to avoid holes in the road. To be honest, I loved every single second of that ‘busride’, the views were s t u n n i n g. Imagine green hills and cornfields with the occasional palmtree sticking out, making you feel like a Columbus seeing land for the first time because you see no living soul except the people in your van until the road becomes a little bit less horrible.

And then you arrive on the tiny island called Flores, with exactly 51 inhabitants, a church, an overpriced supermarket, a dozen of colourfull restaurants, one million souvenirshops and a postoffice that’s never open. Maybe mañana. – I might be exagerating numbers a little bit – My basecamp for a trip to Tikal, which scored high on my ‘to do’-list. One day of exploring the island – an hour would’ve been enough – and the next day off to Tikal. At 4 o’clock in the morning.

Ruins in daytime are impressive. Ruins in the morning, when the sun just rose up, half-awake and some remnants of fog give the whole scene a mystical atmosphere, are a gazillion times much more impressive – I’m exagerating again, but whatever –. Extra plus is the temperature is still below ‘I can’t bare this anymore-level’. Anyway, I was, again, overwhelmed by the Maya’s and their ability to build giant cities. So far, Tikal is the biggest one I’ve seen, while most of the complex stays hidden by the forrest, just like Palenque. Trees and other greenery makes it hard to uncover new temples, with treeroots dug in deeply into the soft stones of another building. Passing by a little hill, you suddenly are aware that nothing is what it seems. While you may think you ran into a pile of earth and grass, you probably are standing on what was once a heavily painted temple. What wasn’t covered by trees and green, was in one word: majestic. While staring at steep stairs rising up in front of you, another temple becomes visible behind the treetops. Colossal staircases and temples accompagnied by half perished building blocks. Monkeys and nosebears in the trees make the whole picture complete. Tikal scored high points on my ‘best picnic spot ever’-list: eating sandwiches on top of temple number four with a panoramic view of three other ruins the distance beats every other place.

After being stung by a million of mosquitos in Flores, I continued my trip in Guatemala to Lanquin. In the middle of the country, what used to be hard to reach ten years ago, lay the waterfalls of Semuc Champey. I decided to sleep in Zephyr Lodge because it was recommended to me by some fellow travellers and I have to say, I found myself a little paradise: surrounded by mountains, with butterflies fluttering around colourfull flowers, watching the sunset from the infinity pool, this place definitely felt like heaven to me. Besides the occasional tarantula or cockroach in the dorm – or the British couple keeping the whole dorm awake from 3 am to 4.30 am because they decided to have loud sex in the showers beneath the room – the place was impeccable to me.

My whole stay up there felt like a dream: from roaming through caves with just a candle in your hand to jumping into the water from a giant swing, to swiming in natural pools with dead skin-eating fish, to drip from sweating too much after climbing dozens of stairs to reach el mirador de Semuc Champey, to tubing down the river with cocktails in my tube, to playing yenga at night and singing a capella songs on the music of a single guitar played by an Irish traveller who called me ‘the girl from Scooby Doo’. I ended up staying a day longer than planned – the fourth night was free anyway – to relax with my new friends in the infinity pool the whole day.

Part II – Antigua & lago Atitlan is coming soon!


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Anke Roosendans

illustrator / travel addict / architecture lover / crazy about mid-century modern design

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