Day 6 we travelled from Panachel to Chichi (long name, I´ll try to spell it in the revised edition). Panachel was lovely, beautiful nature and nice people, although very touristic, so we decide to move our transfer 4 hours earlier so we can be in Chici (biggest market in Guatemala). The driver from the transfer is not really nice, he didn´t stop complaining about our lack of owning a voucher (as we only got one voucher for 15 transfers) and he complained about practically everything (one of our passengers had a cat but wasn´t allowed to take it with her, so the cat had to stay). After a few hours drive we arrive in Chichi, which is not really a beautiful city. Every day there is a ´normal´ market, but on Thursdays and Sundays it is like super market day, where all the stalls have to be broken down and replaced by the more commercial edition (aka touristy).
The restaurant we were visiting was quite nice, San Juan, and had good food and drinks and a good view over the market. As we arrived a few hours earlier than planned we were able to attend the local market and celebrations, so we had fireworks (which scared Fleur a little bit) and some nice atmosphere. We did find out though that Guatemalans don´t dance… There was a band playing whilst the fireworks started, however the non moving crowd could only be the equivalent of a group of dead people, nobody moved or danced at all (except for the odd foreigners here and there.. being us).
The next day was super-tourist market with items ranging from local produce to tourist items… we tried a Guatemalan bagel that tasted like a cookie and costed me 0.10 cents, which most probably would have been the same price for a complete bag…
The next day we travel back to Antigua to the same hotel but room 11 this time… the bed was superb… lovely room and we got a good nights rest before heading back into the bus to drive to Coban. When arriving in the Park Hotel which seemed to be a local resort, where the locals come to have a nice rest, we decide to walk… Fleur read something about 1 km from the hotel, so we decide to start a walk… After 1 hour we ask whether this is still the route, ´yes´ is the answer and we continue to walk… after nearly 2 hours we ask how far it is till the center… we get the answer… about 7km…
After 2 1/2 hours we see the signs for Coban (yet again) and we hop on a bus… nearly 20 minutes later we are in the center of Coban. We book our tour for the next day and walk around a bit, but it seems a little bit a dodgy town, so we decide to take the taxi back (which costs too much because I forgot to challenge the price). After we return we read the paper again and it actually says ¨only 1 km from the highway to Coban¨ which sounds about right… We walked nearly 13 km in vain, but still a nice experience.
The next day we have an excursion, breakfast, go to Chamuk Champay and to the Caves. The companions on this excursions are loud Australians and a couple of Americans… happy happy joy joy. Well the Americans ended up being quite nice and pleasant to talk to, but the Australians… loud doesn´t describe them. Anyways we have a nice hike and we lie in the water of Chamuk Champay which looks very beautiful (natural waterfall etc). The caves were very nice as well, but like always, you seen one cave, you have seen them all…
After this we travel to Saxchyee by bus and later by boat. We arrive a Passade de Carribe, which is a small family run bunch of huts with only cold water and all the insects you don´t really want to meet. The huts are made of straw (the top) and is covered by nets/clam boo’s to prevent the major insects of biting you. In the night the nice grasshoppers/krekels will keep you awake together with the shouting monkey (brulaap), An experience on itself, no opportunity to buy any groceries drinks except from the hosts. The hosts are very friendly and nice, they arrange the excursions so we visited to Maya Sites already, that were very beautiful. The names are not in my head at the moment. They will appear in the revised edition 🙂 San Juan and his son were excellent guides and good at explaining things (in Spanish) and I think we understood nearly everything (for non-Spanish speakers quite an achievement).
The atmosphere was friendly and superb, the next day a group of Dutch arrived at the Casa as well, which was a little bit a shame as we liked being the only people there. After the 2nd Maya site, we got back by boat to Saxchyee and we got on the car (very nice car) to Flores were we are now. The hotel was quite ok, but this is like the Scheveningen of Guatemala, many tourist, but nice views and good food! Tomorrow we are visiting the Major Maya site called Tikal… hopefully we will get nice pictures and stories from there as well!
Kisses, Mike / Fleur