Tim was on a solo journey to the ruins of Tikal while I was wandering on the only street of El Remate. I was loving the simplicity of the Guatemalan lifestyle; the little food stalls at the side of the street, kids running around, three people riding together on one bike and dogs sleeping in the middle of the road. I had a strong feeling that these few days on my own would somehow turn into an adventure. Lost in thought I spotted an old school van at the side of the lake. I decided to check it out, as I’m very interested how backpackers would be able to put a car in their own name in a foreign country, a mission that turned out to be very impossible for us when we tried to do so in Mexico. At the van a happy girl with freckles and wild short hair welcomed me and invited me inside, to have look. She bought the van in Canada, where apparently you only need a Canadian address from an acquaintance to put the car in your name. Good to know.
I joined her to the dock over the lake where her Boyfriend, Mauro from Argentina and their friends Alex, a documentarian from Spain and Marc from France, who has been traveling the world for seven years, were starting lunch surrounded by hammocks and local kids jumping into the water. We shared experiences, philosophies and the values we founded along the way. I smiled, yes my feelings were right: I found my adventure.
When Tim got back from Tikal we were excited to share our stories and I was happy to introduce him to the Nomads I discovered who also invited us to join them on a road trip to Lake Atitlan with a few stops along the way.
Even though the chicken bus is a great way to travel in Guatemala, nothing is as good as the luxury of a van. Comfortable couches in the back, a kitchen and most importantly the option of stopping at any interesting roadside attraction along the way. The first one was Finca El Paraiso, and wow it was truly magical, definitely deserving its name. We parked the van and put up our tent in the garden of the restaurant at the beginning of the road leading to Aqua Caliente El Paraiso. After a bit of haggling we paid Q10 each instead of the Q25 they tried to make us pay at first.
It was around 5 pm when we started walking into the jungle along the river that was flowing towards the hot waterfall. This waterfall was coming from a natural sulphate hot spring source. You could climb to the top of the waterfall to bath in the hot spring but this was too hot, it felt more like stepping into boiling water. You could jump off the waterfall into the swimming hole at the bottom but this didn’t seem like the best idea with a broken foot. I climbed back down and swam around in the colder water while the hot water fell onto my head, a great but weird sensation. It was quite busy so we decided to go for a morning swim the next day, when maybe the hot spring would’ve cooled down during the night.
The next morning felt totally different. We were alone. No person around while we stepped again into water. This water wasn’t like any other place I’ve ever swum in. I promise that I felt the energy closing in on my body. While Tim tried the hot spring again that appeared to be still the same boiling temperature I started floating in the water. Taking in the peaceful sound of the hot waterfall colliding with the cold clear swimming hole. A ray of light was shining through the green tall jungle trees upon me. I felt in the present, the same feeling I would get from skiing in the fresh powder or mountain biking downhill. It felt so pure with an energy clattering down the mountain straight from its source.
Finca El Paraiso a place I’ll never forget.