Wildlife, Soccer and Sunken Ships at Monterrico

monterrico_egret_4Monterrico has became a favorite weekend-destination for me. In the past several months, I’ve shuffled back to the lazy, Latin beach town at least four times, maybe more. There are several ways to get there, but hands down, the best way is to include “una lancha” or a small, motorized boat in your route. For just Q5 (Q7 to Q10 if they insist on giving you the “gringo” rate), you get to skim through a swampy waterway, observing wild birds among the tall swaying reeds and knotted roots of thickly tangled mangroves. You can spy local huts, with children bathing near the shore. For the Westerner, it’s rather alarming when you first see a small, wooden “ferry” slowly churning by, carrying one, even two automobiles. You wonder how the “ferry,” which looks more like leaky planks of wood tacked together, manages to stay afloat with such a load.

Elegant white egret with fish at Monterrico

Just this last weekend I went to Monterrico with some friends on a last-minute whim. I took the chicken bus, or camioneta, to La Escuintla in order to catch up with Chicharon, Pepin, Peter and Asusana who had already left. We finished the trip by car, crossing over the bridge that passes by the sunken ships, but skipping the boat ride. When we arrived, I immediately changed into my bathing suit and ran out to join the locals in the daily game of beach soccer. Once again, soccer has served as an invaluable resource in bridging the “local-foreigner” gap, helping me get to know the local people and the local culture. I have a lot of local friends at Monterrico now and it’s because of soccer. After the soccer match it began storming. At night, the night sea always feels fierce and wild, but when heavy, ashen clouds charge a dark sky with crackling lightening… the waves responding with their own fit of crashing fury… the wild and fierce sensation is overwhelming.




We dined at El Pelican with the rain spilling off our palm-thatched shelter. I enjoyed guicoy soup (guicoy is a zucchini type squash) and a Camembert cheese salad with walnuts and grapes. The French-cuisine restaurant is a little on the pricey side for Guatemala, but the extra Q is definitely worth it. The food is mouth-watering.

The next morning Pepin, Peter and Asusana took off. Chicharon and I decided to stay and enjoy the rented beach house complete with its little, palm-shaded pool for a few hours more. Our plan was to leave around noon. But, noon turned into never… that day at least. I was having too much fun sun-tanning and enjoying refreshing fruit licuados. Chicha was enjoying new friends he met over cocktails. By four I was enjoying another game of beach soccer with the local Latino chicos. I must say, its quite fun playing the sport you love on the beach with a bunch of dark, handsome men! Hahaha.

That night was the typical dance party at Johnny’s Place, the most-popular place to chill out in Monterrico: Dancing salsa, reggaeton and techno with those same chicos guapos. Yeah, the beach is sweet… especially when it’s in Latin America.

Chicharon headed back to La Antigua quite early on Sunday. I decided to stick around for a few more hours and catch a ride back with another friend Randy and a random Polish traveler who tagged along as well. Because Randy had parked on the other side of the canal, we got to enjoy the little boat ride through the reeds and mangroves before leaving. I am so behind on photos that I haven’t been taking many lately. But, I did whip out my camera to try to catch the elegant egret (pictured above and below) taking off with its freshly caught fish as we lazily cruised by on our lancha. I should have picked a higher shutter speed for the shot since we were on a moving boat… but the pic still turned out pretty cool.

Elegant white egret with fish at Monterrico

I also spent the weekend prior (Sep 12,13) at Monterrico. In contrast to the highly-festive, beach party atmosphere of this past visit, this was a nice tranquil visit at the exquisite, beach paradise house of a friend. Alex invited Joaquin, Chofo, Sofia and I for the chill getaway at his family’s beachfront home. We spent our time relaxing by the pool, reading on hammocks, playing cards and cooking pasta and ceviche. Joaquin and I also enjoyed a nice, black sand beach run before heading back to La Antigua.




Bodysurfing at El Paredon Beach

El Paredon beach, Guatemala

Okay, getting life set up (as well as keeping up with the non-stop social life) in La Antigua Guatemala has left me with few spare moments. I’m still hoping to catch up on what I can remember from Barcelona as well as chronicle my adventures from the nearly 5 months I’ve already spent back in Central America (3 weeks in Honduras and 4 months in Guatemala). I can’t believe so much time has flown by! I wouldn’t be here still if it wasn’t to a bit of help from family… definitely a shout out to you all… LOVE YOU!

Anyway, while I still frantically try to find time to invest in my blog while writing for REVUE Magazine and AntiguaDailyPhoto.com as well as directing photography for a Guatemalan-based NGO… I figured I can at least start making a post a day with a photo and a brief quip (AntiguaDailyPhoto.com style). I’ve bought a portable internet modem so as long as there is a Tigo phone signal, I have internet service for my laptop. So here goes:

El Paredon Beach, Gautemala

As we speak (or write), I’m sitting under a palm canopy at El Paredon Beach. It’s a remote little beach that’s a favorite among the local surfing culture. There’s even a little surfing school here. A fiery blood orange sun has just disappeared from the semi-cloudy horizon and dusk has settled. I’m making the local mosquitoes quite happy, offering a buffet of fresh Gringa blood. Slap, scratch, scratch… Slap!

Tagging along with acquaintances Giallo (Dutch-Guatemalan) and Gael (Isreali) was a last-minute decision I made after running into Giallo on the cobbled streets of La Antigua this morning. Michelle, an Aussie that room’s with me at Gloria’s house, and I were just strolling back home after having breakfast at Fernando’s Kaffee (some of the best coffee in town – and that’s huge for being in coffee abundant Guate – and awesome chocolate-covered cacao beans with chile. Great typical Guatemalan breakfast too). I started my day off with a rich cappuccino and split a crepe filled with eggs, tomato, local-style cheese, refried black beans and onion with Michelle. After running into Giallo, Michelle and I ducked into Antigua Outlet. A random little store in boutique-crazy Antigua. I think the store has a special connection for getting its hands on Target overstock or something. Today Michelle and I scored big when we each bought a big bottle of Este Lauder golden lotion for Q30 (less than $4). Normally, U.S. brand lotions are super expensive here, more expensive than the States. But this tiny “outlet” is a bit of a LAG (La Antigua Guatemala) secret stop for beauty products and random household products, nicknacks. I came out with Nivea toner and Lavender scented incense sticks along with my Este Lauder bargain.

El Paredon Beach, Guatemala

On the ride to the beach with Giallo and Gael, I typed away for more upcoming posts on AntiguaDailyPhoto.com. On part of the drive, close to the shore, there’s a stretch of land that looks like a landscape out of Africa. I didn’t snap a pic… just took it in. First time I’ve seen that kind of landscape here in Guate. As soon as we arrived at the beach, I followed the boys into the water. They had the surf boards and I had me. I’ve been longing to surf for years. I’m hoping to slowly realize that dream as I work myself into the local surf culture. It was great getting used to the water and the waves today. I swam out to meet the boys at the start of the incoming sets a ways of shore. I watched from the water as they caught waves (and bit it a few times too… hehe.) The waves aren’t crazy big here but big enough to catch some rides. I feel that being out in the water was a great way to start learning more about surfing and how to better handle myself in the ocean.

Okay, it’s time for me to jet. The boys are probably setting up the tents we’ll be sleeping in as I’m hidden away here writing this post. I should go help… plus, dinner is calling!

Besos (kisses) from El Paredon!