Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guatemala: Everything I remember and more

By Ronnie Lovler

It has been more than ten years since my last trip to Guatemala, so going there again was really a treat. This time around I was traveling with my 22-year-old son, Tiffen. Our first stop was Monterrico – a small village on Guatemala’s black sand Pacific Coast.  

From the airport, we went straight to La Avellana where we caught the “lancha” or ferry to Monterrico.  It was a four-hour ride, even though it is less than 125 miles away.  Why, you might ask? Traffic coming out of Guatemala City, which is more than words can describe. Rain. And roads that are filled with potholes and the aftermaths of frequent mudslides.
           When we got to La Avellana we were able to get one of the last “lanchas” into Monterrico. These are more like motorized wooden rowboats. Yes, there’s a motor, but oars are there, just in case.
            And we arrived, bodies, souls and luggage intact.  It took twice as long to get from the airport in Guatemala City to Monterrico than it did to fly from Miami to Guatemala (and that’s including airport security, pre full body scanning of course!).
            But this shouldn’t put you off – it’s part of the adventure – and when you get to Monterrico it’s well worth it, as long as you are not looking for high-end hotels, with fancy restaurants and a neon-studded nightlife.
It’s a village on the beach. And it’s a village on the beach in a developing country. It’s laidback and low-key.  The sunsets are fantastic. Every night, it seems. And so are the walks on the beach – even at night. The sand is black and the sky is black. You can see the stars, because the there aren’t lots of streetlights to dim the view.  The only real light comes from  the flashlights of people looking for the sea turtles that have come to shore. We got to see one. Amazing. I’ll tell you more about that in my next post.