RO: Chicken buses peste tot, aventuri pe drumuri si soferi care mai de care mai profitori, pe toate le-au experimentat prietenii nostri Mihai si Emi in Guatemala. Insa ne vorbesc cu atata drag despre piscinele naturale, pesterile si cascadele de la Semuc Champey, unul dintre cele mai importante obiective turistice ale Guatemalei, ca parca ne fac pofta sa ne luam bilete de avion catre America Centrala 🙂
EN: Chicken buses all over the place, adventures on the way and questionable drives, our friends Mihai and Emi experienced them all in Guatemala. But they tell us so many nice things about the natural pools, caves and waterfalls from Semuc Champey, one of the most important touristic attractions in Guatemala, that we’re simply tempted to buy some airplane tickets to Central America 🙂
*** EPISODE 3 ***
RO: A doua zi ne-am pornit spre terminal-ul de bus-uri unde o data ajunsi am dat peste un haos general. Vreo 20 de chicken bus-uri toate indreptandu-se spre colturi diferite ale tarii. Am inceput sa tipam si noi si sa intrebam care merge spre Lanquin, urmatoarea destinatie fiind izvoarele naturale de la Semuc Champey. Un guatemalez, ne-a zis ca nu crede ca o sa ajungem azi, dar ne-a indreptat spre cel care o lua in directia Lanquin. Stiam ca trebuia sa schimbam vreo 3 autobuze, dar bagatorii in seama de pe forumuri ne-au pacalit zicandu-ne ca avem timp berechet. In primul autobuz am dat peste o familie cu care ne-am conversat aproape 2 ore, pana in Chichicastenango. Diego era fratele lui Jorge, si tatal micului Fernando (un pustiulica de vreo 9-10 ani). Am discutat despre prenumele/numele de la noi din tara si care e traducerea lor in spaniola, despre sistemul scolar de aici – la care Jorge mi-a zis foarte mandru ca Fernando e in clasa a 4 si face chiar si engleza. El nu a apucat sa faca decat 4 clase , dar va avea grija ca Fernando sa mearga mai departe. Jorge era cel istet dintre cei doi frati si Diego, desi era mai mare cu 4 ani (40) stia sa isi lase fratele sa vorbeasca. Ne-au facut drumul foarte placut, pana la prima oprire, si ne-a parut foarte rau ca ne-am despartit de ei. Apropo, am dat de articolul acesta dragut, care contine si poze frumoase din Semuc Champey si multe ponturi despre ce poate fi facut in zona.
EN: The next day we headed towards the bus terminal where we found a general chaos. Twenty chicken buses were going in different corners of the country. We started screaming and asking which of them goes to Lanquin, as our next destination were the natural springs from Semuc Champey. A Guatemalan guy told us that we will not get there today but guided us to the bus that was going in the Lanquin direction. We knew that we have to change several buses, and we realized that those guys on the forums just tricked us by telling us that we have plenty of time to get there. In the first bus we met a family that we discussed with for almost two hours, until we reached Chichicastenango. Diego was Jorge’s brother and the father of young Fernando (a 9-10 years old kid). We discussed about the first names/surnames from our country and what is their translation in Spanish, about their educational system – where Jorge proudly added that he is very proud that Fernando is 4th grade and studies English. Jorge only graduated 4 classes, but he wants his son to do more than that. Jorge was the clever one from the two brothers and Diego, even though 4 years older (40) knew when to let his brother do the talking. They really made our trip very pleasant, until the first stop, and we were really sorry to say good-bye. By the way, found this really nice article about Semuc Champey, really nice pictures and tips and tricks regarding to what to do in Semuc Champey.
RO: Pana in Ustapantan nu am mai avut parte de peripetii . Dar de acolo a inceput un drum de vis ca peisaje, de cosmar ca infrastructura. Peisajele erau absolut fabuloase, munti peste munti, vai largi care se terminau brusc intr-un versant, stejari langa pini langa palmieri, parauri tasnind din versanti si mici cascade la tot pasul. Am facut insa 30km intr-o ora jumate. Am ajuns in Coban prea tarziu ca sa mai existe un autobuz spre Lanquin, asa ca am intrat intr-un Internet Cafe si am cautat o cazare. Lasandu-ne lucrurile in camera pe care am gasit-o pe graba am fost indrumati de receptionera spre niste “food truck-uri” din centru, care erau de fapt niste tarabe de tabla cu roti. Am mancat insa foarte bine si foarte ieftin, conversandu-ne cu “bucatarul” si ajutoarele lui. Nici nu ne pasa ca turna afara de vreo ora. Orasul nu era cine stie ce dar avea un farmec aparte pe ploaia marunta. Fiind tarziu insa ne-am indreptat spre cazare ca sa prindem primul bus de dimineata.
EN: Luckily, until Ustapantan we had no adventure. But from there on, a gorgeous roadtrip began (in terms of scenery) but a completely nightmare in terms of infrastructure. The landscape was simply fabulous, mountains, large valleys that we’re abruptly ending in a mountain, oaks next to pines and palm trees, rivers bursting and tiny waterfalls all over the place. The only problem was the fact that we traveled 30 km in one and a half hour. We arrived in Coban way too late to get another bus to Lanquin so we got into an internet cafe and searched for accommodation. We left our stuff in the room and the receptionist guided us to some “food trucks” from the center, which were actually some sheet metal shacks with wheels. But we ate very well and very cheap, discussing with the “chef” and his helpers. We did not even care about the fact that it was pouring rain for more than one hour. The city itself was not so great but it had a special charm thanks to the rain. Being late, we headed to our accommodation so that we can catch the first bus in the morning.
RO: A doua zi am dat de prima incercare de a fi pacalti din toata excursia noastra prin Guatemala. In drum spre terminal ne-a acostat un tip care a zis ca ne duce el acolo (noi aveam gps si eram la 100m de terminal). Nu am inteles imediat ce vrea dar atunci cand agariciul soferului ne-a cerut 30 quetzali pe drum ne-am dat seama ca o parte era “propina” pentru gagiul care ne acostase. I-am zis ca nu are cum sa coste atat si ca ii voi da banii o data ce porneste microbuzul de pe loc, dar omul tot insista pe langa mine. In masina mai era un francez, il iau la intrebari in legatura cu cat a platit. Tipul mi-a zambit si a zis ca 20. Am ras, si i-am zis agariciului sa fuga de langa mine ca nu o sa primeasca un sfant pana nu vine si soferul autobuzului. In Guatemala, soferul e cel care detine masina si nu isi permite sa piarda clienti aiurea. Asa ca stiam ca el nu va fi de acord cu aranjamentele ajutorului. Intre timp mai intra si o asiatica in autobuz care a intrat razand, intreband cat ne-a cerut agariciul. Eu i-am zis 30 frantuzul 20.
– Si mie mi-a cerut la fel, tot 30. M-a vazut mai batrana pe mine si pe voi mai tineri si a zis ca ne poate fraieri.
Am zis sa facem intr-un fel sa avem bani ficsi. Ne-a data micuta filipineza (65 ani) 10 quetzali si noi mai aveam 50, ne socoteam noi mai tarziu. Cand a plecat autobuzul si a venit agariciul dupa bani a strambat din nas cand a vazut banii ficsi, dar fiind cu soferul de fata nu a zis nici pas. Am ras toti de situatie si a inceput clasica discutie de unde sunteti, unde ati fost si incotro va indreptati. Ne-au dat cateva ponturi despre Peru , i-am dat cateva ponturi despre Guatemala. Ne-am simtit bine cu mica filipineza care trecuse prin niste aventuri desprinse dintr-un film. Una indeosebi merita povestita mai departe. Ne-a zis ca nu in urma cu mult timp pe cand se afla in Columbia, a vrut sa treaca granita spre Venezuela si sa petreaca un timp acolo, insa la granita, vamezii i-au cerut spaga ca sa o lase sa intre in tara.
– Le-am zis ca nu am de gand sa le dau pentru ca i-as incuraja sa ceara si altora, si ceea ce fac ei aici, nu face decat sa dauneze populatiei, pentru ca banii mei vor ramane la mine in loc sa intre in tara. Ca nu ma intereseaza ce imi fac ca sunt batrana si mi-am trait viata. M-au lasat in pace dupa ce au mai comentat intre ei si m-am pornit inspre granita columbiana, unde a trebuit sa le zic de ce m-am intors. Au cam strambat din nas vamesii columbieni.
EN: The following day we had our first tourist trap experience from our trip to Guatemala. On our way to the terminal a guy stopped us and told us that he will take us there (we had our GPS with us and we were just 100 meters away from the terminal). We did not actually understand what he wanted but when the driver’s helper asked us 30 quetzals for the trip we realized that it was just part of the “proprina” for the guy that guided our way to the terminal. I told him that it is impossible to cost that much and that I will pay him once the bus will start but he kept insisting. In the car there was also a French guy, I asked him how much did he pay. The guy smiled and said 20. I laughed and asked the driver’s helper to leave as I did not intend to pay anything to him until the bus driver was there. In Guatemala, the drivers own the car and they cannot afford to lose money from the clients. So I knew that he will not agree with the helper’s “scheme”. Meanwhile, an Asian woman got on the bus laughing asking us how much the driver’s helper asked us. I said 30, the French guy 20.
– He also asked me 30. He saw me old and you guys young and thought that he can trick us.
We decided to have exact money. The tiny Filipino lady (65 years) gave us 10 quetzals, we also had 50. When the bus left the station the driver’s helper came to collect the money and wasn’t pleased to see exact money, but being there with the driver he could not say anything else. We all laughed by this situation and then the classical discussion began: where are you from and where are you heading to. They gave us some important tips about Peru, we gave them some information about Guatemala. We enjoyed listening to the Filipino woman that clearly had some pretty amazing adventures to tell. One of them really deserves to be told. She told us that not long ago, when she was in Colombia, she wanted to cross the border towards Venezuela and spend some time there, but at the border she was asked to pay some money so that she can enter the country.
– I told them that I will not pay them as I don’t want to encourage them to ask for money for this. And also told them that what they were doing is harmful for the people as my money will continue to be mine instead of going into the country. I was not interested in any repercussions as I am old enough and already lived my life. They argued quite a bit but then they allowed me to go to the Colombian border, where I had to explain why I returned. They were not pleased to hear why.
RO: In Lanquin trebuia sa ne petrecem 3 nopti, dar pierzand una in Coban am ramas doar doua. Cazarea noastra insa era de prima mana pentru Guatemala (El Retiro Lanquin– pozele de mai jos sunt de pe booking.com) . Am primit o camera intr-o cabanuta destul de mare, care era pe malul raului, intr-un mic resort cu aer de jungla. In prima zi am facut tubing, vreo 40 min, prin jungla, pe un rau al carui nume nici acum nu l-am aflat si seara am mers la o pestera unde ne-am aventurat inauntru cu lumanari. Cina am avut-o la o guatemaleza acasa pe terasa, care gatea pentru mai multi, si daca plateai mancai ce mancau si ei. Foarte gustos. Urmatoarea zi ne-am pornit spre parcul national Semuc. In drum am luat o nemtoaica care urma sa faca munca de voluntariat intr-un sat uitat de lume ca doctorita, un brazilian la vreo 63 de ani, Bruno (ramas celebru pentru faptul ca umbla intruna in Speedo), si un britanico-canadian, Mark (un malac la vreo 2m), care se balabanea si vomita din cand in cand din masina in care eram. Omul dupa ce bause toata noptea ce apucase, se gandise sa ia un Valium dimineata ca sa doarma mai bine. Era lesinat aproape.
EN: We should have spent three nights in Lanquin, but due to the fact that we lost one in Coban, we only remained with two. Our accommodation was really nice for Guatemala (El Retiro Lanquin – photos below are from booking.com). We got a room in a pretty large hut, on the river side, in a small resort with jungle vibes. In the first day we made some 40 mins tubing in the jungle, on a river whose name we couldn’t find and in the evening we’ve been to a cave that we dared to visit only with candles. We had dinner at a local on the terrace, who was cooking for more people and where you could eat exactly what they were eating. Very tasty. Next day we headed to national park Semuc. On our way we met a German girl who was planning to do some volunteering as a doctor in a forgotten by the world village, a 63 years old Brazilian guy – Bruno (famous for always wearing Speedos) and a British-Canadian – Mark (a 2 meters tall guy) who kept dangling and vomiting from the car where we were. The guy simply drank all night, anything he had at hand, and then thought about taking a Valium in the morning so that he can sleep better. He was basically passed out.
RO: In Semuc, am intrat mai intai intr-o pestera la capatul careia puteam sa sarim intr-un mic bazin de la vreo 3m inaltime, urcandu-ne pe un perete, indrumati de ghidul nostru, Alex, un pustan la vreo 18 ani. “Trebuie sa sari acolo in mijloc! nu pe langa ca sunt stanci sub apa si te tai”. Patratelul pe care il arata nu avea mai mult de 50x50cm. Am sarit cu putina retinere dar am nimerit zona si nu am avut probleme. Emi m-a urmat fara nicio strangere de inima. Dar parca cel mai bine i-a fost lui Mark , care dupa ce a sarit s-a trezit nitel. In pestera ajunsesem primii si am plecat inaintea celorlalti. Asta ne-a ajutat foarte mult, pentru ca in drum spre iesire de la ceilalti oameni aerul incepuse sa devina inecacios. Am uitat sa zic dar si aici eram cu lumarile ca mijloc de iluminat. Toata ziua am fost inaintea celorlalti, am avut practic parcul pentru noi. A urmat un leagan din care am sarit in raul destul de rapid, cam de la vreo 5-6m. Prima oara nu mi-a reusit prea bine si cu greu am putut sa imi feresc fata intorcandu-ma in ultima secunda si izbind apa cu umarul, dar urmatoarele au fost mult mai reusite. Bruno era expert, ne-a explicat ca pentru a pastra controlul in aer trebuie sarit cu picioarele inainte, nu drept. Dupa aceea ne-am saturat de leagan, o trecere printr-o cascada spre o mica pestera din spatele ei, saritura prin cascada in rau, si tubing in raul involburat. La iesire ne-am indreptat spre locul din care pornisem dar Alex a strigat la noi.
– Hai sa sarim de pe pod!
– De pe care pod?
– De pe asta! – Era un pod peste rau la vreo 10m inaltime. Raul era destul de rapid aici. Pana sa realizez ce se intampla Alex era deja cocotat pe margine.
– Daca asta micu’ sare sar si eu, spuse Bruno. Alex sari, Bruno era deja pe pod.
– Daca sare mosu’ sar si eu, am spus. Bruno sari. Nu prea aveam cum sa dau inapoi asa ca m-am cocotat si eu si am sarit. Drumul pana jos a fost destul de lung 🙂 dar apa era destul de adanca. Am iesit la suprafata si am inceput initial sa inot contra curentului, proasta idee, asa ca am luat-o in diagonala spre mal. Cand ridic ochii, ce sa vad. Era si Emi pe marginea podului 🙂 Ceva mai jos ca noi dar incerca sa isi faca curaj sa sara. Cateva momente mai tarziu si cu putine imbarbatari sari si ea.
– Na, ca am facut-o si p-asta , tipa ea la mine 🙂
EN: In Semuc we entered in a cave and at the end of it we could jump in a small basin of approximately 3 meters height, climbing on a wall and guided by our guide, Alex, an 18 years old guy. “You have to jump there in the middle, otherwise you fall in the rocks and injure yourself”. The tiny square he was showing me had no more than 50x50cm. I reluctantly jumped and luckily did not miss the spot. Emi followed me without any doubts. But for Mark this jump was the most beneficial as managed to wake up a bit. We were the first ones in the cave and left before others. This helped us a lot because on our way to the exit the air has become harder to breathe because of all those persons in the cave. Forgot to mention that here we also used the candles for light. All day we were ahead of the rest which basically meant that the entire park was just for us. Then there was a swing and I had to jump in the river from 5-6 meters height. First time wasn’t too great and I could barely hide my face turning around at the last moment and splashing the water with my shoulder, but the next ones were far better. Bruno was an expert, he explained us that if we want to have control in the air we should jump with our feet forward, not straight. We left the swing afterwards and passed through a small waterfall to get to a tiny cave behind it, we jumped in the river through the waterfall and then did some tubing in the churning waters of the river. At the exit we headed towards the place where we started but Alex called us.
– Let’s jump from the bridge!
– What bridge?
– This one! It was an over the river bridge at about 10 meters height. The river was quite fast here. Until I realized what was going on, Alex already climbed to the edge.
– If he jumps, I’ll jump, said Bruno. Alex jumped, Bruno was already on the bridge.
– If the old guy jumps, I’ll jump, I confirmed. And Bruno jumped. I could no longer step back so I had to climb the bridge and jump. It seemed longer than I imagined but the water was pretty deep. I got out at the surface and I started swimming against the current, such a bad idea, so I headed to the shore on the diagonal. When I looked up, I was surprised to see Emi on the edge of the bridge 🙂 Not as high as we’ve been but she was trying to jump. Few moments later and with some encouragements, she also jumped.
– I did it, she told me 🙂
RO: Sarah si Mark nu au mai sarit, au zis ca le-a fost destul sa se uite la noi. Alex ne-a condus mai departe spre celebrele cascade din Semuc Champey , care cam semanau cu Plitvice. Mai intai la o panorama a lor si dupa ne-a coborat pana la ele. Pe drum pustiul tot ramanea in urma aparand brusc in fata noastra foarte nonsalant cateva momente mai tarziu. Era clar ca stia carari ascunse prin jungla de pe dealul destul de abrupt si incerca sa ne impresioneze. Jos la cascade ne-a zis de unde putem sa sarim, ne-a aratat pesteri subacvatice ne-a si bagat in cateva si ne-a scos prin alte parti la vreo 20m mai departe. A fost un ghid mai mult decat strasnic, fiind una din putinele zile de relaxare maxima pe care le-am simtit. Din pacate nu mai tine minte numele agentiei, doar ca era in partea mai inalta a soselei din Lanquin, intr-o casa destul de lata doar cu parter, si fara lumina electrica. Ne-am despartit de ei seara, stiind ca noi urma sa plecam de dimineata spre ultima destinatie din Guatemala, orasul Flores, poarta catre taramul mayasilor. Mark a zis ca si el are acelasi traseu, pentru care si-a cumparat de altfel bilet si ca ne vedem a 2a zi. Nu s-a intamplat asa bineinteles. De dimineata degeaba l-a asteptat autobuzul pe Mark ca el nu a aparut.
EN: Sarah and Mark did not jump, as they said that it was enough for them to see us doing it. Alex took us to the famous Semuc Champey waterfalls, that somehow resembled with Plitvice. First to a viewing point and then we climbed down to reach them. On the way the kid was constantly behind us but then, out of a sudden, appeared in front of us. It was clear that he knew some hidden tracks in the jungle on the pretty steep hill and he was trying to impress us. When we got to the waterfalls he told us where can we jump from, showed us some under the water caves, he took us there and got us out 20 meters away. He was a really good guide and this one of the best relaxation days ever. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the agency, I just know that it was on the higher part of the road in Lanquin, in a one storey house without electricity. We separated at the end of the day, knowing that we have to leave in the morning to our next destination in Guatemala – Flores city, the gate to the Maya land. Mark told us that he has the same itinerary and that we will meet again in the morning. Of course, this did not happen. In the morning the bus waited for Mark but he wasn’t there.