I have to write a whole seperate blog post about our last big day in Guatemala before traveling back to America. It was honestly the most adventurous and thrilling day I've ever had. After working all week to complete the stove project in Saqib, our team decided to take a day to explore another part of Guatemala about 3 hours north of Coban - Semuc Champey.
Semuc Champey is pretty much an all-natural extreme waterpark. Our day started with a trapeze rope swing that we all encouraged one another to try at least once. It was a great way to get our feet wet (no pun intended) for the day ahead of us. Next, our guide Carlos took us exploring through a cave where we could take nothing but a single wax candle. We walked into the dark cave not know what to expect (which was probably for the best) and here are the obstacles we encountered: climbing wet ladders, swimming with one arm while we held our candle up with the other arm, rappeling up a waterfall (I barely made it), jumping into a dark water hole, sliding down a rock while attempting to still keep our candle lit, then sliding down a shute where we were finally able to walk back out into the sun. It was intense!
And as if that wasn't enough, as we're walking away from the cave (thankful to be alive) Carlos says, "Now we're going tubing and then we'll jump off a bridge!" I guess our confidence was up and our adrenaline was still pumping, because without thinking twice we all yelled, "OK!" And that's exactly what we did. We floated down the Semuc Champey River, climbed out, hike up to a bridge and then jumped off a 30-ft bridge. I think that morning was enough adventure to last me a lifetime (or at least a few weeks).
This tour might not be for everyone, but it was an amazing experience for our team. We don't have many pictures to document it (although we each have our share of scrapes and bruises) which makes it a very special day that only we can really share together. This adventure was definitely one that would not be legal in the United States. We didn't have to go through a training or sign papers; there was simply a sign above the registration hut that said: "Enter at your own risk."
And it was a team-building activity to the max! Each of us had our strengths and weaknesses throughout the day. When one person needed help, someone was quickly there to hold their hand, give them a push, or talk them through it. It was incredible to see the encouragement that was passed around the group. We cheered one another through every obstacle. Congratulated each other when we made it through. And supported each other when we were hesitant or fearful. Just like a team should.
we were warned... and we did it anyway
if someone dared you to jump off a bridge in Guatemala, would you do it?
exhausted and happy to be alive
At mid-afternoon, we hopped back in the van and were looking forward to a nice relaxing ride back to Coban - maybe we could even take a little nap! Little did we know, we were about to experience the most intense part of the day. Semuc Champey is down in the valley and we were headed back up to the hills. We came upon a hugely steep and long uphill road (aka stretch of rocks winding beside a dropoff into the valley) right as a storm was rolling in. Our 15-passenger van rumbled up the hill then stopped about 2/3 of the way up. Completely caught of guard, we all stared out the back window as we slowly started descending backwards down the hill. The van just didn't have enough power to make it up. After a quick tutorial in Spanish by some men walking along the side of the road (aka climbing over some of those rocks), 3 people evacuated the van, the rest of us moved to the back, and our driver Pablo gunned the engine back up the steep hill. The wheels were rolling, the tires were spinning, and the rubber was burning. But again, we stopped 2/3 of the way up. Then slowly started rolling back down the hill. Greta and I begged to get out, but everyone was ushered back into the van and told to "bounce with it" to help keep up the momentum so we could get to the top. So that's what we did and we barely crested the hill before the van gave out again. We all gave a huge sigh of relief, burst in to cheers for Pablo and once again thanked God for our lives.
bouncing with it up one of the lesser hills after the initial life-threatening ascent...
this is pretty much what the first half of the 3 hr ride was like