Pack my bag. Wake up around six am. Stumble to the side of the road. Wait for a minimum of thirty minutes. Get on bus. Ride bus for five hours. Switch buses. Ride bus for another four hours. Arrive at destination. Look for place to sleep.
This seems to be the general rule for traveling here in Central America. No complaints though it is all about the experience. So after the schedule you see above I arrive at one of my favorite spots in Guatemala, Semuc Champey. Upon arrival I did not know I would come to love this place. I had booked us in at Utopia Eco Lodge. A small hostel close to the all natural pools of Semuc.
It was close to eight o’clock and well after dark when I first walked into Utopia. The massive deck/living room/dining room is simply that, a deck with a roof. It is open to the world outside which is dark right now but I can hear the leaves rustle in the trees and the river rushing below. I make my way upstairs to the dorm room and find an empty bed. The bed I chose was nearest the edge and a top bunk as well. We stay up chatting for a bit and then dozed off to sleep.Waking up I could not believe the beauty surrounding me. My bunk faces out over the dining room and into the jungle. It is breathtaking.
There is a little stream of fog running through the valley and a wave of peace washes over me. Making my way downstairs I order a coffee and take a seat at the bar gazing out at the mountains and fog. It’s a friendly hostel and everyone is eager to help in any way they can. Most of the people working are travelers as well. They loved the area so much they decided to stick around and work in exchange for free lodging.
Utopia is exactly what it claims to be, a utopia for vacationers and travelers alike. All the meals are served family style. I like this approach for a few reasons; for one I don’t have to look at a menu and see all the different foods I crave at any given time and two I think it helps cut down on food waste. All the meals are vegetarian (which I am a little reluctant about). However, every meal they brought out was better than the last! I don’t like admitting it but if I could cook vegetarian food the way they did then it might not be so bad cutting out meat.
The hostel offers tours of the pools/caves as well as a comfortable place to relax and re-energize. Whether I was sitting back reading a book, playing “mafia” (a thrilling card game), eating, or chatting with other travelers Utopia never lost it’s inviting vibe. It seemed as if my Ipod was playing in the background and everyone around me was engaged in conversation. Utopia was a breath of fresh air and the people I met seemed to have been enlightened. It is a happy place and one I am sure to return to.