Day 229. Sunday, 15th March. From Laguna Las Pozas to Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

It was a misty dawn over the lake. Very still. The only thing to disturb the peace, the honking of 3 pigs who wandered past. Some locals were already up and performing their abolitions, or washing clothes in the water below us.

Dennis had one final electrical matter to sort out. The pump for our water tank. This was quickly fixed and after our usual porridge, we were on the road for Semuc Champey.

Semuc Champey is supposedly one of the prettiest places in Guatemala. It is famed for its 300m long natural limestone bridge. On top of this is a stepped series of pools for swimming. Cool, flowing water from the Cahabon River runs through the pools and underground beneath the bridge. The exquisite setting of turquoise and emerald green pools is meant to make the torturous journey worth it.

The first half of the journey on paved roads was fine. However, I soon realised the Sat-Nav was not taking us the way I thought we should be going, according to our paper map. She was taking us a “shorter” route via, what showed on the map, as a very basic track. I tell Dennis I think we should turn back, but he has faith in the Sat-Nav.

So, we set off through tiny villages in the mountains via a very steep, rocky track. Fortunately Poki can cope with most things. It is extremely slow going. Soon the Sat-Nav doesn’t know where we are and neither does the MapsMe App. It’s a bit reminiscent of being totally lost for a day in Mongolia. One minute the Sat-Nav says we are 28 kms from our destination and we turn a corner and it’s changed to 39 kms.

We stopped in the middle of nowhere for lunch. It isn’t in the middle of nowhere though as people appear. Up in the mountains on these seemingly impossible tracks, there are villages. As we pass through, people stare at us as if we have arrived from Mars. Some wave and smile, but most just look bemused. Where have these strangers come from and what are they doing driving through our village?

By about 3pm we emerge in Lanquin, the closest town to the Semuc Champey turn off. Amazingly we managed to stay on the right track. When we arrive at the turn off we are stopped. The road is closed. A young man comes up to us and says the road is closed because of the world event! Does he mean the Coronavirus? However, if we take him with us as a guide he can get us in, for a fee, of course. Then he says the road is closed for road works and we can see the machines. A workman says the road will reopen at 5pm.

We think we will try and find another way around and set the Sat-Nav. Off we go on a nice paved road and then turn off onto a track which appears to be taking us back in the right direction. It is very rough and slow going. After we have gone several miles and asked a couple of people and been told we can get to Semuc Champey this way, the track gets rougher and narrower and it’s obvious we can’t get through. We have to reverse back some distance before there is enough space to turn around. In situations like this I really admire Dennis’s driving skills.

By the time we get back to the turn off with the road works, it is 4.50pm and we wait until the road opens. They have been blasting rock and have all sorts of bulldozers and heavy equipment moving stone and rubble. It is a slow ride still as there is no room for traffic coming the other way to pass. We have to keep stopping to let oncoming traffic through.

It is still 20kms to Semuc Champey and we do start to get a move on. Arriving in a large village the road turns into a steep, narrow, rough track again. Really slow going. Unbelievable to think so many tourists come this tortuous route and that there are even hotels at the end of it.

By the time we arrive at the hotel where we can camp in their grounds it is dark. The gentleman at reception speaks good English and is very welcoming. We have cold (absolutely freezing) showers, dinner and then are soon in bed. Sleep isn’t possible for a while though, as there is very loud music playing. Fortunately it ends at 10 when the electricity is turned off.

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