Retiro at El Retiro

After a long week of mud and rain, the heat of Lanquin was a bit of a shock to the system. The sun was hot and shining everyday, prime time for laundry. I think that we all appreciate washing machines on a deeper level since arriving in Guatemala. I found the hostel to be a bit of culture shocking. We just came from a small community up in the mountains, to a touristy hostel. We partook in buffets, turned on lights with the flick of a switch and used toilets that had a flushing feature. All these luxuries took a couple of days to get used to again. I could not help but remember our humble experience with our Mayan host families.

Remembrance aside, this was a week for exploration. The main attraction in Lanquin is Semuc Champey, a collection of stunning blue and green pools formed by mineral deposits. The day was hot and water was refreshing to swim in. You could jump off the edge of one pool into the next continuously.

After swimming was the very exciting caving. The water in the cave was not as cold as I expected and the guides were true to their word when they said we would have to swim some parts. Using dirt from the walls they gave us all fierce face paint and candles that gave everything and ancient glow. The only danger was dunking your candle or getting it blown out by mischief-makers. The rest of the day we went river tubing, rope swinging and a stomach-dropping jump from a bridge. A fun time had by all, with the exception of a few bruises. The rest of our time at the hostel was spent swimming or just lazing about in hammocks.

For the weekend we headed off Denny’s Beach on Lake Izabel. This was a picturesque spot with waterside palm trees and a long dock. This was where some people encountered whole shrimp, head and all, for the first time, whole crab was also on the menu. Others chose the safe path with a burger and fries. In the morning we took a boat across the lake to visit Las Cascades Calientes(The Hot Waterfalls). A hot spring falls into a river, making the pool a lovely lukewarm temperature. Standing on the rocks under the falls was like standing under a very hot shower that smelled like sulfur. This little known natural wonder allowed us to appreciate just how beautiful God’s creation is. We left reluctantly and turned our minds back to San Juan and our host families.

It was a week for relaxation and rejuvenation. It was also really nice to be able to reconnect as a group and live in close community with each other.

-Raelene-

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