Coban is a small town of about 20,000 in the Alta Verapaz department in the middle of the country. We´re about a mile above sea level and surrounded by Dr. Suess-styled mountains - many small, rounded mountains jut side-by-side from the ground. Steve and Camille arrived from Tucson five days ago (Saturday) to meet Heather and me in Antigua [photos: 1 2]. After a day seeing the local color [photos: 1 2 3 4] here and finding closed doors at every museum, we hopped a shuttle to the capital to catch a bus to the warmer air of Coban. [Photos: 1 2 3 4 5] Monday was a full day. Two hours from here is a recently discovered cave with a gently flowing stream pouring from it. Decked out in swimsuits, borrowed shoes, and candles (plus a couple flashlights), a group of ten of us waded into the cave´s mouth surrounded by the screeching of bats. Stalagtites dripped into the water and our candles barely lit the ceiling in many parts. All told, we probably walked and swam 1/3 of a mile, which included climbing rope ladders, scaling a 10-foot waterfall with a rope, and jumping off a 6-8 foot wall into a pool. It was absolutely incredible. The cave opens up to the Rìo Cahabòn, where we jumped into tiny intertubes for a lazy half-hour float downstream. The riverbanks are densely forested with a thicket of enormous vines begging to be used in a Tarzan-like fashion. From there we were driven to the most beautiful swimming hole I´ve ever seen, Semuc Champey. It´s an expansive stretch of emerald green, stepped pools in a limestone bed. All of this sits over the river which flows beneath it for a quarter of a mile. The river enters an enormous cave in a torrent of whitewater, and exits at the other end below a wide 50-foot waterfall into yet another a large pool. This land, as I understand it, is cared for by the government but has no legal protection. There may be a giant resort hotel on its banks by the time you get here. [Photos: 1 2 3 4 5] Steve and Camille left today for a few days of solo exploration, and we´re staying behind for a tour of a local coffee plantation [photos: 1 2 3 4 5 6] and to plan tomorrow´s journey. We expect a couple weeks more of travel before settling into Xela (again) for more language courses.