Posts Tagged: ‘caving’

Into Guatemala

November 22, 2013 Posted by Deb

The high school and college counselors don’t tell you to drop everything and run off to the middle of Guatemala for a year or so. Apparently hundreds or even thousands of 20 somethings and younger figured that out on their own.

We buttoned up the boat, packed, and grabbed a 2:30 p.m. shuttle for Semuc Champey for the famous Guatemalan disappearing river, caves, pools, and general gorgeous jungle stuff. The main route was closed so we beat the van and ourselves through what they call roads for six or seven hours until we ran out of gas about 3 km short of our hostel.

We got there, checked in, upgraded our room, grabbed an appetizer and beer and noticed the next oldest person for several miles in any direction was 28 and he was a veteran traveler on his last run before getting married.

View from Zephyr Lodge after our long, long trip to Lanquin

View from Zephyr Lodge after Our Long Bumpy Trip to Lanquin

ZephyrLodge2

Toilet Bowl

The cave started out moderately and escalated. The toilet bowl was the highlight for us followed closely by a climb up a ladder in the middle of an underground waterfall. The toilet bowl was an act of faith. A bunch of water disappeared down a hole and we were supposed to allow it to suck us straight down. The guide, in Spanish, said to give him our right hand across our chest as we slid in butt first but that we were to rotate 180 as we got sucked through. It worked and we fell into another chamber below. Most got a bit bloody at some point on the trip and we did have one broken tooth in our group, a girl from England.

We’ve been in lots of non-U.S. caves and knew what to wear (really good water shoes) and how to protect ourselves.

Entrance to the Cave

Entrance to the Cave

"No Way, Chuck"

“No Way, Chuck”

We Go Down There? You First@!

We Go Down There? You First@!

Into the Mist

Into the Mist

ChuckRopeSwing

ViewBridgeSemucChampey

Straight Down to the Pools at Semuc Champey

Straight Down to the Pools at Semuc Champey

ChuckDebTopSemucChampeyRiverSemucChampey

Pandora

Pandora

DebSemucPools

ChuckJumpSemuc

A New Record

The river resurfaced below the pools and the jump was about 50 feet. Of course, it wasn’t just a jump because you had to swim quickly across to an eddy before being taken over the rapids below. Three in our group jumped. … Lopez, the guy who did the back flip off the bridge, is a snowboarder. Instead of using the launching area the locals used, he took a run at the cliff, did a flying backflip, and completed it perfectly 50 feet later. The guides said that was a first.

LopezJumpSemuc

Back in the Land of Plenty

July 24, 2012 Posted by Deb

For awhile the gods were conspiring to keep us in Curacao. The winds were howling and we were late in getting the headsail down. We tried to time a lull by reading the golf course flags so that we could quickly pull out the headsail and drop it before it turned into a wild beast on the deck. We would have succeeded but the headsail jammed about five feet down. The winds surged again, things began to get crazy, and we had to roll it up again.

We tried again at 1:00 a.m. when the winds were down even more with no luck either up or down.

At 6:00 a.m. Deb cranked me up the mast (electric winch) to check out the problem first hand. We resolved the problem and had the beast folded and stowed before the trades kicked up again. Neither of us had a lot of energy left for the final push to get to the plane but we sucked it up.

We flew home first class because on that particular day first class was the only thing available and it was cheaper than regular fare on any other day. That’s a nice way to travel, particularly the reclining room, free booze, great food, and the no waiting in lines anywhere. We got into the Twin Cities late and grabbed a $35/day SUV that blossomed into close to a $100/day vehicle when we got through with all the taxes, fees and their insurance. I’ve never agreed to rental car insurance before but we have learned that our Chase Visa credit card sucks at backing us up on rentals even though they claim they do and we have no auto insurance.

Upper Iowa Canoe

We brought the van back to life, got plates and insurance, loaded up the camping gear, and headed off to the Upper Iowa River for a relatively undiscovered canoe trip through limestone cliffs then a visit to the caves in Harmony, Minnesota. We logged our first dog on a campfire in 2012. Now for a BLT with home grown tomatoes.