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.

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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.

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