The love of my life is currently lying next to me in our hotel room in Livingston, Guatemala. He really doesn’t look so good. About 4 AM, he woke up with stomach problems which got worse as the morning progressed, but I was fine. Then after breakfast, I wasn’t so fine anymore. And although we both managed to go on two great outings today, once we got back to the hotel mid-afternoon, we both crashed, with Andy feeling much worse than me.
Ugh, now he’s in the bathroom making a lot of coughing and retching noises. That’s probably not a good sign. I fear I’m next. I may have to put this yarn spinning on hold to pay my respects to Mrs. Porceline–but hopefully not.
In general, I’m fairly cautious about what I eat and drink when I travel, but lately, I’ve let my guard down. It’s very hard to be diligent when you are on the road for an extended period of time. Case in point…I love me some green apples. I eat them all the time in Mexico. But, in Mexico, I always wash them in blue drops. While we’re on the road, we don’t have the luxury of soaking everything for 15 minutes. And yeah, when possible I try to eat bananas and safe things, but I crave green apples, so Andy bought me three lovely green specimens just the other day. Yesterday I snacked on one sans washing. Well, maybe that wasn’t so smart. Or, maybe it was the the ice that accompanied my dinner drink last night. Or perhaps it was swimming in the bat infested water cave. Whatever the case, I’m pledging to be more cautious for the rest of our trip in Guatemala and Oaxoca. Right now my head is pounding, and I’m starting to feel not-so-good. And from the sounds of retching coming from behind door number 1 either is Andy.
Right now, we’re staying at one of the finest hotels in the Rio Dulce area of Guatemala. We’re currently on the Caribbean Coast. It’s quite nice, but it’s very much like a full-service resort that was built in the 1960’s and never updated. Everything is faded and crackly, but clean…except for the huge hairball in our shower that was leftover from the last guest. Our room is nice and large, it has decent (one setting) air-conditioning and it has a killer view of the Bay of Amatique. It’s where the Rio Dulce empties into the ocean. Simply beautiful.
Today marks the 1/2 way point through our 52 day Guatemala/Mexico adventure. Here’s what we’ve done.
- We left Morelia and spent 10 glorious days in Zihuatanejo.
- We flew to Guatemala from Mexico City and spent two weeks in Antigua. While in Antigua, Andy hiked up some volcanoes and I went to Spanish school. We toured coffee plantations, went to an organic farm, and drank a lot of amazing Guatemalan coffee. We also went to a really neat kite festival to celebrate Day of the Dead. And we went to the largest crafts market in Guatemala.
- We went to Lake Atitlan and toured the lake district. We stayed in a really posh airbnb, starred at the lake and visited a lot of Mayan lake towns.
- Then we went to Semuc Champey. It was a hellish journey. It took us 8 hours by van, and then we had to transfer to a big pick-up truck and travel another hour. Luckily I got a seat in the truck, and I didn’t have to stand-up in the back with eight other people. Now we are in the Rio Dulce area.
Next, we’ll visit the ruins of Tikal, visit another colonial city called Xela (AKA, Quetzaltenango) and then we will spend 17 days exploring Oaxaca, Mexico. Then it’s back to Zihuatanejo for four months.
Not allowed in the United States!
During our recent stay in Semuc Champey, our tour guide took us on a tour of an underwater bat cave. This is something I really wanted to do because I love to swim and I thought a swimming hike would be fun. I asked the tour guide if the hike was difficult since I had read on-line that it was scary and very challenging. He said “no problem”. But just to be sure, when we got to the hike location, I asked a bunch of people coming out of the cave if it was difficult, they all said “not really”. They all told me it was AWESOME and I should go for it. Note to self…don’t ask young 20 somethings if things are difficult. They were just plain wrong.
So the hike begins with ONE guide for 20 people. We all have lit candles and we approach the cave by hiking up a pretty steep path. Maybe 150 steps? Then we go down a steep set of steps and enter the water-filled cave. We’re traipsing through a very scary and dark bat cave, sometimes swimming, sometimes, holding onto a rope to guide us. Then all the sudden we’re climbing wall hugging ladders with rungs that barely have any place to place ones feet. We’re also inching along small ledges, and stepping on small and large stones in the freezing cold water that are either a) jagged or b) very slippery. And I’m having the time of my life! Really, I am. Me. The person who is scared of literally everything.
Of course, me being me, eventually I sort of crumple to my knees having just completed the top rung of a very difficult ladder: unfortunately I was right on the edge of a perilous cliff when this happened. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt, but had I been seriously hurt, I would have had to be driven 12 hours to the nearest hospital. The guide and Andy helped me get up…did I mention there was ONE guide for 20 people???? I’m not sure how I managed to get myself up, since I can barely get myself up when I’m on the mat at yoga, but I think my adrenal must have kicked in big-time. Onward I trudged with Andy holding onto me tightly. Sometimes another hiker gave me his hand in places where I had to hoist myself up. In a few other tight spots, the guide came to my rescue. That’s when we wasn’t helping the 19 other people!!!
After the hike, Andy told me that this was the most adventurous things he had ever seen me do in our entire relationship.
A dark cave hike would never, ever be allowed in the U.S. They had zero, I mean zero safety standards in place. We didn’t sign any release forms, we had no proper gear (but I was wearing water shoes thankfully). The entire thing was just so sketchy. I’m not even sure the guide had any special training although he did help me a lot. Also, there really needed to be at least 2 other guides accompanying our group. In hindsight, it’s a good thing we took out travel insurance. Other people who have done this hike came out with busted knees, broken ankles and tons of other maladies. I know this because I read about it on Tripadvisor, and we have a few friends who told us what happened to them after I posted about my hike adventure on Facebook.
Today we went on a much easier, short river hike to see seven river pools. I only saw two pools because the hike got to be too difficult for me. It was very rocky. It ended at a waterfall and Andy took a dip.
After the river hike, our boat took us to a private beach. It was really relaxing, but we didn’t go swimming because the water looked murky and gross. However, the beach itself was lovely. We listened to some music and just chilled. Instead of swimming Andy took a nice nap. Guatemala is not known for its fine beaches, although nearby Honduras and Belize have some very fine beaches.
Why 2 cockroaches, 2 ladders and 2 much fun?
2 cockroaches: I saw two giant cockroaches in our hostel in the jungle. Faithful readers of this blog know that I’m terrified of them. One bolted out of Andy’s boxer shorts which were hanging on a wall, and I saw another spooky one in our bathroom at the hostel.
2 ladders: I had to go up at least two ladders during our cave hike.
2 much fun: Needs no further explanation. It’s what this adventure is!!!