Hola amigos! It's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote. I feel like so much has happened!
My second week in Antigua was very similar to the first, Spanish lessons, cafe hopping and a general feeling of being overwhelmed by the language and feeling homesick.
So come Monday I was more than ready to hit the road and have some adventures. And adventures have been had!
First stop was Lanquin to visit Semuc Champey and the Kan'be caves.
Early Monday I bid farewell to my beautiful host family and hopped on the shuttle bus where I was also meeting new friends Amanda & Mark from Sydney (thanks Katie P for the intro!). It took us 1.5 hours to get out of Antigua but by the time we got on the road we were already besties with new amigos Andy and Evan and the 8 hour journey flew by.
Arriving in Lanquin we were herded onto the back of a ute and taken to El Retiro hostel where we were welcomed by the sound of the river and the early evening sounds of the jungle. Being in the jungle it was hot and humid and we were grateful to be able to dip our feet in the river.
However the icing on the cake was when we were told at check in that a yoga teacher had just arrived from London, and starting the next morning there would be free yoga on offer morning and night. Music to my ears!!
El Retiro also does the most amazing buffet dinner every evening and it was a delight to be able to overdose on veggies after living on rice and potatoes for the past 2 weeks. I cannot recommend this hostel enough. It's fantastic!
The next morning after a great power yoga session with the river and jungle as a backdrop (thanks Rishin!) we were again herded onto the back of a truck and taken to the Kan'be caves. I had very little expectations and the whole adventure totally exceeded any expectations I did have and then some!! First our guide gave us all a candle, walked us into the cave and then initiated us into the tribe, painting warrior stripes on our faces. We started our 1 km walk and soon we were up to our necks in water, climbing ladders, scaling up waterfalls, sliding down water slides and jumping into natural pools. All by candle light. It was the most fun I've had in ages and it felt like we were on the set of The Goonies or Indiana Jones!
But the fun didn't end there.... Next there was tubing down the river and then we hiked for approx 30 minutes up a very steep incline to view the pools of Semuc Champey.
Semuc Champey is a limestone bridge with a series of stepped turquoise pools and the Cahabón River runs under it. The view from the lookout was stunning and we then had the pleasure of declining back down and diving into the pools where we spent an hour or so cooling off and exploring. It was pure bliss!
What struck me the most about this day was the kindness of strangers and team work. Everyone helped each other, holding each other's candles while scaling rocks, sharing food and water with those in need and general support for those out of their comfort zone. We were no longer strangers by the end of the day.
The following day feeling a little battered from the previous days adventures, we enjoyed more yoga and then an afternoon of tubing. We were taken by truck upstream and then spent an hour floating down the river on our tubes. It was so peaceful and relaxing. Surrounded by jungle on both sides, mini rapids to mix things up a bit, and chatting to the locals also swimming as we glided on by. When we reached our hostel on the side of the river we were just in time for evening yoga. After months of mainly self practice, it was such a treat to be led and challenged by another teacher.
After 3 nights in Lanquin it was time to bid farewell to mi amigos, and move onto new adventures. I think it's fair to say we all said goodbye with big happy grins on our faces knowing out paths will cross again....
Until next time....adios!
Love Lili xx