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In Guatemala, a Torturous Drive to a Remote Eden

YOU might have thought years had passed since a foreigner had traversed this remote

stretch of road in the interior of Guatemala. Here, in Alta Verapaz state, just the sight of our big American vehicle cruising over the endless and totally unnecessary speed bumps in the small and even smaller villages was enough cause for children to abandon their soccer balls of crumpled-up paper and wave as we passed by.Now and then, as we rose higher into the mountains, we’d catch the sound of singing from some tiny church, and as we rose, the scenery grew more lush — the trees a shade of green that seemed almost artificially altered. But as the sun moved lower to meet the spectacular mountainous horizon, we remained nowhere close to the place that had inspired our quest. There were not simply stones in the road, but entire boulders, some of which looked as if they might have rolled down the mountain only moments before. My boyfriend, Jim — a confident driver — gripped the wheel tight. We had rented our four-wheel-drive in the city of Antigua, roughly 250 miles from Semuc Champey, our destination. It was March, a fine time to take Jim to see a place that had remained a source of fascination and trepidation over the 35 years I’ve traveled to other parts of Guatemala. Not necessarily easy places to visit. Just easier than this one.
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