Derailed – A Travel Blog
Let’s be real with each other for a second. We have all at one time gotten excited about a trip, did some research, and develop a plan of what you want to do. To me, I guess it’s just a way to get some hype leading up to my trip. But the plan never really goes according to plan, and this is a story on how getting your “plan” derailed winds up leading to beautiful places and unexpected memories.
Caye Caulker, Belize
I had recently taken a trip to Central America with my business partner and his sister. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do. Tikal, Antigua, Lago Atitlan, and then back to Caye Caulker for some relaxation. We landed in Belize City and took our bus over to Flores. It was New Year’s Eve but we were all a little exhausted from our day of travel, but we caught the nearly panoramic view of fireworks from a hostel rooftop in the middle of the lake.
We took the day trip up to Tikal. The Mayan ruins were magnificent and its truly beautiful to see the restored temples and the architecture. Everything was going to plan until we got back to the hostel and realized that all of the bus tickets we wanted to take to Antigua were booked for the next few days. This is where our plan kind of went to shambles but, also led to one of my favorite memories of our trip.
After chatting with fellow travelers at the hostel, we had a good idea of what options we had to choose for new travel plans. We decided to go to a remote place called Semuc Champey that was supposed to be a 7-hour drive. We spent one last night in Flores and then caught the early bus out. We made it at a relatively good pace until we faced our first problem of the drive. When we came to cross a river, we realized that it was by barge. That shouldn’t have been a problem, however, a tanker truck was trying to cross and the barge was struggling to carry it. After multiple attempts, and about an hour’s time (and three Gallio) we finally were on our way again.
On our way to Coban, we ran into our second struggle. First, I was starting to feel sick. I’m still not sure if it was food poisoning, or motion sickness, or some combination of both, but needless to say, I wasn’t feeling too hot and I defiantly didn’t like being stuck in the back of a bus. This feeling was multiplied when we were stuck in a traffic jam with yet another truck, this time with his tire completely removed, blocking the center of a narrow mountain pass. I’m not sure how much time we spent there as I was just trying to keep it together, but we finally got moving and on our way.
After what felt like an eternity spent shoved in a sardine can, we finally got to stretch and grab some food at McDonald’s (I did not get to partake). A nice German woman offered up her seat by the window, which ended up paying off as I spent a good portion of the ride vomiting out the window. Did I mention that it was my 30th birthday? Happy birthday to me right?
It was dark by the time we ended up in Lanquin, Guatemala. We disembarked and sat at a café and waited for our bus. I was able to take some motion sickness medicine and drink water and finally started to turn my day around. The bus ride turned into getting in the back of a truck and having a great view of the jungle/mountains at dark. Its about 45 min drive to our hostel, El Portal De Champay. It was a solid 12-hour trip and it took almost everything out of me, but the struggle was worth it in the long run.
Our Hostel was located at the entrance of Semuc Champey entrance. We were blessed with a patio view of the river that cut through the mountains and an overall peaceful experience. We live in a very modern world, and you can usually find most luxuries anywhere in the world. However, Semuc Champey is not that kind of place. What you get in breathtaking views, and fun experiences, you totally trade for cold showers and limited access to electricity. I found this to be a breath of fresh air, however, it was not for everyone.
Don’t let anyone fool you, every adventure has its fair share of up and downs. But looking back on it, I’m so glad our “plan” didn’t go according to plan. I plan to go back to Guatemala next year to experience Antigua, however, I feel so grateful that I was able to experience Semuc Champay. If I can pass on any travel knowledge on to you it would be this. Do your research, make a plan. When you touch down, forget the plan and go with the flow. You might experience a memory that will be the highlight of your trip.
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