On my second full day in Guatemala, my friends and I took a motorized boat ride arranged by our hostel to a family-owned spot across Lake Peten Itza with a diving board, platform, and a rope swing. There was also a covered patio with chairs, tables, and hammocks to relax and order from their small and very inexpensive menu which included nachos, a lunch of the day, Cuba libres (rum and coke) and the local lagers, Gallo and Brahva. The place is called Jorge’s Rope Swing, because the family patriarch is named Jorge. He and his family live in a modest open air home and all work at Jorge’s Rope Swing. Entrance is 10 Quetzales (less than $2) and the boat ride is around $10 per person. Beers are around $1. There are also very cheap and very modest overnight accommodations.
Pulling up to Jorge’s Rope Swing
The wooden diving board, platform and rope swing
My first jump into the water was from the platform, the least scary of the three options. Then I tried the rope swing, after my friend Keith did it and told me what I needed to do – swing out far enough and let go. There were knots on the rope that made it fairly easy to hold on, so that was a relief.
I then tried the diving board, which was higher than the platform. As I walked out, I was gripped by fear and inched my way back, almost shaking. I remembered when I was a kid and we had visited to my dad’s alma mater, Penn State. We went to their Olympic-sized pool with several platforms, all of which I eagerly jumped off of. Where was that fearlessness now?
The lovely patio area
I jumped off the platform and the rope swing again several times, all the while thinking about how I wanted to get up the guts to jump off the diving board before the end of the day, especially because most of the other people there had done it and survived. Finally, I asked an American woman who was in her twenties how she had talked herself into jump of the diving board. “I didn’t think about it,” she said. I told her I wanted to do it by the end of the day but was scared. “Do it now,” she said. “Don’t think about it.” She led me over to the board, and then urged me to get on. I walked quickly to the edge of the board and jumped off. I got a little water up my nose, but nothing terrible. Most of all, I felt relief, as I no longer had to torment myself for being afraid of jumping off the board.
Keith jumping from the rope into the water
My friend Keith, meanwhile, with several other tourists, had gotten the guts to jump from a higher perch on the rope swing, something I never convinced myself to do. Throughout the day, people came through, a group of German tourists, several Australians, including two friends, a couple, and a family, the American who convinced me to jump and an Italian female friend she had met while traveling. An energetic Canadian couple came and quickly did all there was to do. The boyfriend ran off the diving board and did a big jump holding his Go Pro. But as he jumped in, his Go Pro flew off. He came up, realizing he had lost his Go Pro. None of us could see it floating. When we asked Jorge’s family if there was anyway to use a scuba mask to get it, they gave us a mask but told us that there were probably several cameras on the floor of the lake. The Canadian guy looked around, but it was hopeless. The floor of the lake was too deep.
Feeling bad for him, we tried not to dwell on it and eventually made plans to meet up back at our hostel to use the hostel’s sauna. We left Jorge’s some time after 6 p.m. after enjoying a beautiful sunset.
Keith trying to rub in the vacation to Instagram followers
Younsook & I enjoying Cuba libres
Sunset from the patio