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The BIG trip - part IV

Written on: Saturday April 19th, 2008

A journal entry from: Xela, Guatemala

9:00 AM we got onto our mini shuttle with one Brit, one Australian, and 6 other Americans and started off for our 7 hour drive.  One and a half hours into the trip, just after our shuttle got onto this little ferry and crossed a river, our bus driver  stopped the shuttle and announced that he had to go back to Flores and pick up two more passengers.  He told us that we could either ride with him or stay at the town and wait until he got back.  I asked some clarifying questions to make sure I understood and told the rest of the passengers what he said.  The consensus was that we were NOT going to have either of the options.  I angrily explained that our ticket said that we were to be picked up at Flores at 9 AM and dropped off at Semuc Champuy at 4:30 PM.  I began dialing the number I had for the agency when our driver changed his mind. 

We made our first stop in Coban, which is the city of the region, and ate lunch.  I got a traditional dish of that region called Kak-ik.  It was a wonderful turkey broth with rice, some sort of corn dough and a turkey leg.  The soup had a flavor beyond description - - on the good side.  We got back on board for the next stop at Lanquin.  Everyone but Cherry and I got off there.  That was enough for our shuttle driver to say that this was as far as he could take us.  I argued that our ticket said specifically that it would take us all the way to Semuc Champuy.  He claimed that his shuttle couldn?t climb the mountains to get there but he would get us on a truck for Q10 more.  I insisted that we had paid the full amount for the full trip.  Finally he said we wouldn?t have to pay extra, and we boarded the back of a truck.  When we arrived, the truck driver asked us to pay.  I said, ?I?m sorry but our shuttle driver told us he would pay you since we bought our ticket to come directly here.  I have the number of the travel agency if you?d like to contact them.?  He said no.  I felt terrible because I have serious doubts that the man ever got paid for the two passengers, but I figured they will work out the details and I wasn?t the one playing tricks.  I had my ticket to prove it.

Samuc Champuy (pronounced sam-OOK  chaum-POOY) is a very isolated National Park and getting there was a rough and windy road.  There are a lot of places that two cars going the opposite direction could not pass.  It resulted in one of the cars backing up until one could pass the other? and all this with sharp cliffs and no guard rails.

We said at a relatively nice place but the owner (or manager) was rather surly and we walked down the road to the only other place to stay in this remote place.  Unfortunately it was slim pickens.  Since the place we were staying at had a Catholic youth group from Guatemala city, the other hostel/ hotel had all the tourists (minus the two of us, Akira who met us there and reserved our beds, and this other couple that had been studying Spanish).  The couple asked us what the guide said about visiting the pools of Semuc the next day as well as the tour of a nearby cave.  That night the three of us went to sleep with ear-plugs in ? but soon learned that they just weren?t effective enough.  The couple we had met had a ?private room? but really needed to be informed that it was private in visibility ONLY.  After a long time of very loud sex, we were able to get back to sleep.  But then they decided that they weren?t done.  At 3am they started again.  We were REALLY really ready to leave after that.  But the next day the owner gave us a different building and promised us that everyone was leaving.  They didn?t lie.  We were much happier the next night.


From Carol on May 4th, 2008

our fellow travelers were fortunate to have you "onboard" and so fluent in the lnguage! I'm proud of you! Miss you!