We got to El Retiro in Lanquin, Guatemala. El Retrio, means retirement or the retreat. It sure appeared this way. We found it relaxing immediately upon arriving and look forward to some much needed relaxation. The grounds are beautiful and there was even a little area we could park the rental car on the main road.
Our Room at El Retiro
Tour of the Facilities
The staff met us and gave us a short tour, stopping by some really nice rustic bungalows near the water before we decided on the private room with private bathroom perched up on the hill. At 25 USD per night, we figured it a bargain. We had our choice of bungalows, and dormitories, but, the private room offered maximum comfort with it's private bathroom and it also had 3 twin beds.
El Retiro Complex and People
Getting to Know the People
After getting settled in, we made our way to the river's edge and met some girls sun tanning named Alexandra and Talia from San Francisco. They were very nice and we chit chatted a little while with them while we got some much-needed sun. We sat there from about 2pm until 6 speaking with various people from all over the world. There was Leo and Doh from Israel, there was Karina and Yachan (not sure if that is how you spell it) from France, (Yachan a cute little blonde boy who only spoke French and took a liking from me right away.) We met a guy from Spain named Alberto, a guy from Germany named Fabian, two guys from Holland named Fritz and Charlie, and countless others.
The Magical Vibe of El Retiro
It was absolutely magical there. The vibe was almost "hippy" in nature, but not. I guess they call it a "backpacker vibe". These people were most likely just feeling the awe and inspiration of being in this valley at the bottom of a large jungle gorge, with a clear green river running along the banks of grass hut bungalows and hammocks strewn about. It truly had a very special feel here, and EVERYONE working here has been great! The town is a small Mayan village with a few shops and mostly locals. Some don't even speak Spanish and only speak the Quiche Mayan language. The town itself is only a few blocks away.
Hammocks and Relaxing
Fantastic Food and Company
We sat around most of the day when the staff told us that dinner was at 7:30pm. It's a buffet style meal and we had to pay and sign up by 7pm. It was 50 Quetzals which is about 6 dollars and it was barbecue night! So we went and showered and got ready for dinner. Everyone goes to the restaurant/bar hut, which seats about 50 people and it was packed with people from all over the world. We ate THEE most delicious BBQ chicken, pasta, potatoes, and bread dinner we have had in a while! It was incredible!
Talking the Night Away
We sat in the common area where we ate talking the night away with new friends until about 11pm. We heard about a trip that El Retiro sets up every day to Semuc Champey. It was a bit more expensive than I thought it would be. 160 Quetzals each plus 25 Q for the box lunch. That comes out to about 200 which is roughly 30 dollars. The bus left for Semuc Champey at about 9am and most of the people we spoke with tonight are going. We also got a great opportunity to learn more about Central America and where to go and what to see. It's this kind of networking that makes a place like this amazing! We found out there is an amazing sunrise tour at Tikal that we never heard about before.
Amazing Day in an Amazing Place
Today was absolutely amazing. We lounged in the sun, we lounged in hammocks, we met interesting people and we ate incredible food. This place is beyond special. We highly recommend if you are going to Semuc Champey to stay at El Retriro. We understand it's not in Semuc Champey, however the vibe, food and people here make it one of our favorite places we have stayed yet. Maybe we just get lucky I guess or is it this country and its amazing people and scenery? Either way, Guatemala and El Retiro will always be in our heart as a wonderful place we will never forget.