Lanquin and Semuk Champey, Guatemala

Getting up for our 6am departure from Flores was the easy part of our day when we travelled to Lanquin. The van was so full that any extra person would have had to sit on someone else’s knee as Tom was already sitting on a broken seat. The air-conditioning was only in the form of open windows and the seats all had low backs so nowhere to rest our heads for a nap. At least it was cheap (for us at least, some of the other passengers paid more than double our price).

The drive was quite scenic as we travelled south through the centre of Guatemala through forests, up mountains and along valleys passing through very few settlements. After a few hours of driving the shuttle driver pulled up on the banks of a river and turned the engine off. We had no idea where we were but were told that we would be crossing the river after a short wait. Hopping out to stretch our legs we investigated the scene: a muddy looking river with vehicles queuing up on both sides and a strange looking car ferry doing laps across. This would be a new experience. Eventually it was our turn and we drove onto the boat and laughed at the operators moving between two outboard motors which were steering and powering us across the river. Tom tells me that the motors were quite small to be doing this, especially with 6 to 10 cars on board.

Once this was accomplished we continued on our way stopping in Coban, which is the largest city we would be passing through. We were all recommended to withdraw cash here as Lanquin is tiny and has no facilities for this. As we were all non-Latin American tourists we were dropped at the McDonald’s for lunch before the van driver took off. A few people were quite concerned at this but we figured he was just off to find a cheaper local lunch or fill up with petrol during our break. Soon we were back in the uncomfortable van and on the last leg of our trip. On the map it didn’t seem like far but the roads eventually turned into dirt and the landscape was mountainous. We all spent this time staring out the windows as the view was beautiful.

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The view down the valleys towards Lanquin

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Adventures in San Ignacio, Belize

Once we arrived back in Belize City from our rainy and overcast few days on Caye Caulker we set off straight back to the bus station to continue our travels inland to San Ignacio. All we really knew about San Ignacio was that it was near a few archaeological sites and had some adventure style tourism available. With prices what they were in Belize we would have to evaluate what we could afford to do. The bus departed without much of a wait and we were soon on our way. It was an OK quality school style bus that flew along the road to the soundtrack of Caribbean dance and pop music pumping out the speakers.

San Ignacio turned out to be getting much the same sort of weather as what we had experienced in Caye Caulker: grey, overcast and threatening to rain. Stepping off the bus and collecting our bags we had no idea where in town we were and no great ideas about accommodation options. Our research had told us that it probably wasn’t going to be cheap here but as we wandered we were approached by a friendly guy affiliated with a tour company (after advising us on accommodation we were given a tour brochure). His advice was good and we set off to locate and check out a few guest house style places he had recommended to us. One was perfect; a few streets back from the shops, cheap, clean and run by a sweet older woman who spoke Spanish. We accepted a room and Tom started chatting away (in Spanish of course) getting to know our host. Continue reading