The minibus ride from Coban- Lanquin was our shortest in 3 days, but it was rough. Very little of the road is paved and its very narrow and mountainous. All down the 'road' you can see evidence of landslides and fallen boulders. It takes about 2.5-3 hours, the beginning and end being gloriously paved. We were charged Q30 per person. Oh, and, it was spectacularly scenic.
Finding out about the bus schedule was difficult. We now know only one thing for sure: a minibus left Coban for Lanquin at 9am from the corner of 3 Calle and 3 Avendia. Well, maybe two things: we also know that there is a pupusa stand on the corner at which you can buy breakfast. (Q5 per pupusa)
Just outside of Lanquin our minibus was met with a pickup truck that was going to Semuc Champey and a plethora of guides looking to be of assistance. In hindsight they were helpful, although I was incredibly suspicious of everything they said at the time. Its hard not to be. The pickup was going 'directo' to Semuc Champey (apparently) and cost Q25pp. This is, according to our hostel, the correct price (for tourists at least). It was raining cats and dogs and didn't look like it was going to clear up anytime soon, so into the back of this pickup truck we begrudgingly climbed. The 'directo' part turned out to be a lie. The road down to Semuc Champey is insanely bad. Unpaved, slippery, muddy and at that point, flooded. The truck bounced around like a kernel in a popcorn maker. It was very unenjoyable. Add to this the pouring rain. We're standing in the back of a pickup truck, jostling about, in a downpour. There is no doubt in my mind that a drown rat was in better shape than myself and my backpack were after 5 minutes. Everything we own (aka our bags) was getting soaked and our hands were slipping all over the wet rails as we tried to hold on. Finally, after 40 minutes (or a lifetime) I saw a sign that said “Semuc Champey 2kms” pointing to the right. I was very happy to see this sign, signalling the end to this most uncomfortable of journeys. And then we bumped right on past it, continuing on straight. NOOO!! And so on we went, in the wrong direction, in a torrential downpour on a road that was becoming increasingly non existent. Another 15 minutes on and we came to an empty clearing where we dropped off a big white bucket of something, turned around, and continued back towards Semuc Champey. Sigh. I hope that we had just delivered a bucket of liquid gold to a village of starving children because, otherwise, that detour most certainly didn't enhance my day, let alone further my endearment to Guatemala.
When you're soaked, you're soaked, I suppose. You thankfully can't get more wet once you're drenched, and drenched we were. Right down to our skivvies. I dreaded opening our bags. It wasn't until we were finally dropped off at Greengos (after 1.5 hours and a whopping total of 11kms), and greeted by a smiling English speaker that finally exhaled and smiled. It was still raining, but we had made it and were safely in a land where we could actually communicate with people (ie, The hotel staff), hang all our wet clothes and eat some warm yummy food.
Definitely in hindsight, I would have skipped Nebaj and Coban all together and taken a shuttle from Xela all the way to Lanquin. Sure, it would have been long, and maybe even involved a night in Antigua, but it would have likely been the better option for us.