Day 88 – Cemuc Champey, GU

Day 88 – Cemuc Champey, GU     11/17/10     Mileage: 0

It was a good nights sleep as everyone turned in before 11, me included. After breakfast it was off to Cemuc Champey which was a 2 minute walk from the hostel. Cemuc is essentially a unique geological feature where the Cahabon River goes underground beneath a natural limestone “bridge” and then emerges several hundred yards down stream. On top of the limestone bridge are a series of beautiful and inviting turquoise pools that cascade downwards and rejoin the river that emerges from underground. Our guide from the hostel led us up to the top of a cliff where we could see the whole of Cemuc Champey and the view was magnificent.

I also had my first toucan sighting which was really cool!

After that he led us to the point where the river disappears underground which was an awesome sight.

To give you an idea of scale, look at the people on the side of the river in the photo above.

The last part was the highlight for sure as our guide led us to the top pool and showed us where to jump in. We then spent the next hour diving, jumping and sliding from pool to pool down the length of the limestone bridge until the main river emerged from underground. It was a blast for sure!

Back at the hostel we all had some lunch and I chilled for the afternoon. At night dinner is served at 7pm for all the guests which is nice as you can meet and chat with the other travelers. After dinner I played poker for a while with 4 other Americans who are down here traveling around after attending a wedding. Without playing chips the bets were in beer and after that ran out it was shots of Agua Diente…a local fire water. I steered clear of the shots thankfully, and we all packed it in around 11.

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Day 87 – Finca El Naranjo, GU to Cemuc Champey, GU

Day 87 – Finca El Naranjo, GU to Cemuc Champey, GU     11/16/10     Mileage: 84

Breakfast at the Posada Montana was tasty and after an hour of studying I hit the road.

Breakfast….not bad for $3.

My destination for today was Cemuc Champey via Coban and Lanquin. The road from Coban to the turnoff for Lanquin was good fun and for the most part in good condition.

The 15 or so miles from the turn off of the highway to Cemuc Champey is another story all together! The road was steep and rutted in spots and was so narrow that two vehicles could not pass at the same time forcing one to backup or pull off into driveway if there was one. In the steepest sections they laid two concrete tracks, one for each set of wheels, or some vehicles would not make it up. It wasn’t bad on the KLR, but that is exactly why I brought that bike and not a more comfortable touring bike…for roads just like that.

Near the entrance to Semuc Champey I found the El Portal hostel which is situated in a great setting right on the river.

That afternoon I signed on for a underground river cave tour which was great fun, mostly because it violated nearly every safety precaution that would have been deemed necessary by some inspector in the U.S.! To start off with, the only light in the cave was from the candles they gave you. Oh, and I did mention that this was an underground river tour, so you had to swim through, and sometimes jump into the water…all wile not getting your candle wet.

Here are some with the camera flash on…

There were also several ladders to go up and down as well as one rope you had to climb up into the onrushing water! After that it was back to the hostel for some dinner, drinks and good conversation with the other travelers.

Day 86 – Antigua, GU to Finca El Naranjo, GU

Day 86 – Antigua, GU to Finca El Naranjo, GU     11/15/10     Mileage: 127

I’ve been in Antigua for almost 3 weeks all together now, and although it’s a great town, I can’t wait to get back on the road. My plan is to head north towards Coban, Semuc Champey, Flores, the ruins in Tikal and then on to Belize. After catching up on some email and packing up, I was off and it felt great to be back in the bike. The air was cool and dry and the road heading northeast out of Antigua is 20 miles of twisty goodness before hitting Guatemala city. The KLR was running good and I was grinning ear to ear in my helmet.

Once on the other side of Guatemala City the road descends out of the mountains into a picturesque valley to the town of El Rancho where I passed by a nice looking restaurant. About a mile down the road, I decided to turn around and head back to get a bite to eat. As I as walking towards the front door, I was greeted (in english) by a man wearing a “Harley” style leather motorcycle vest. Well, it turns out that he is in Guatemala with 20 or so other members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association donating motorcycles (Honda CR200 dual-sports) to local pastors so they can get around…how cool is that! I guess you can spread the word of God just a little faster on a motorcycle! They offered to bless me and my bike and I gladly accepted. It was a moving moment as they all gathered around me and the bike and said a nice prayer for me, the bike and my safe travels.

The members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association and my KLR

This bike was blessed

Whether it was a growling stomach or divine intervention, either way I can’t tell you how glad I am that I turned around and came back to the restaurant to meet all those wonderful people. It seems as if I made 20 new friends just like that. If they had bikes it would have been great to ride with them…maybe another day.

To all the members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association…Godspeed to you in your work and travels.

So after saying goodbye and having a quick bite, I was back on the bike hoping to make it to Coban before nightfall. The road was awesome as it twisted its way higher into the mountains and I was enjoying every mile of it.

But it soon became apparent that the night was going to catch me before I got to Coban, and I was starting to really get concerned as dusk gave way to darkness. “Never ride at night” is the golden rule of adventure motorcycling, and I don’t relish breaking it in the remote mountains of Guatemala. Just then I passed by a hotel with a brightly lit sign, so I turned the KLR around to have a look. They did in fact have a room available, it cost only $20 and was a really nice place. So OK, the fact that a hotel appeared on an empty stretch of road at exactly the time and place I needed it is well short of a miracle, but I did thank my new friends in the Christian Motorcyclists Association for it anyway.