guatemala | part five

after the longest night of my life, followed by what seemed to be the craziest journey of my life (if you know me, you have either heard this story or should ask me about it!), we finally arrived in livingston, which is on the caribbean coast of guatemala.  part of the journey to get there meant we needed to travel by boat down the rio dulce.  the ride actually started out pretty terrible, because we were caught in a downpour and hiding under tarps, but the rain eventually cleared, and we realized how gorgeous the river actually was.

we only spent one night in this lively little town, but we managed to have the most interesting dinner on the side of the street.  tapado – a soup typical of the garifuna culture in this part of guatemala – consists of everything under the sea, floating along with plantains in a coconut milk broth.  we were told we should try it at least once, but weren’t totally prepared for what arrived at our table…a whole fish, a whole crab, whole shrimps, conch shells (you slurp out the insides), random tentacles…i’ve been describing it to people as a bowl full of faces and eyes.  i stuck to the coconut milk + plantains, but braden says this was his favourite meal!  this was also our first time trying authentic ceviche on our trip, which quickly became a staple for our days on the coast :)

here, we were also introduced to the population of crabs on the caribbean coast (i think they were rainbow land crabs?).  they were so cute at first, all different sizes, waving to us from their little holes in the ground…until we caught an ENORMOUS one hiding in our dorm room, ready to fight.  my respect for those crazy little guys went up a lot more after that.

it was so good to finally reach the ocean. next post…honduras!

guatemala | part four

we spent a few days in lanquin as we were making our way to the coast.  lanquin is in the highlands of guatemala, and the sweeping valleys surrounded us completely.  the views at the lodge we stayed at were incredible (my fourth picture is what you would see while taking a shower!), and the tiny village of lanquin was bursting with colourful activity, even though it consisted of just a few streets.

one day a bunch of us from the lodge piled into the back of a truck and took a rollercoaster ride through the valleys to get to semuc champey, where we explored pitch-black caves by candlelight (at times we were treading water with only a stumpy candle held high above our heads!  we also climbed up a waterfall in the cave and plunged blindly through a tiny hole into rushing water…no joke), and went rope-swinging and bridge-jumping into the clear turquoise water.  sadly, my one picture of the natural pools from above turned out blurry, so you should definitely google semuc champey to see how beautiful it really is!

that night, we took a walk to some other caves closer to where we were staying, with some new friends we had met that day.  every night, once it starts to get dark,  thousands of bats fly out of the cave to feed.

it.  was.  insane.  i have never seen (or heard) anything like it!  total planet earth moment (one of many).