The first encounter with Guatemala took place in Monterrico, a tiny fisherman village on the Pacific Coast. Previous visitors reported it’s dirty, hot as hell, inappropriate for swimming and quite deserted during weekdays. Well, they were right, the place is undeniably not for the faint-hearted. But for those restless souls who value the raging ocean with all its quirks, it’s a subconscious dream come alive.
The mangroves tour
Early morning trip to the mangroves reveals a rich wildlife, tropical birds and four-eyed fish, special creatures, able to see the world above and underwater at the same time. Local fishermen immersed in their morning routine, searching for catfish and other aquatic beasts. As the day is awakening, so is the sun, only a few hours left before the heat gets unbearable. Cleaning the dirty unpaved streets, preparing for the day ahead. There is not much to do, but to spend upcoming hours in the shade of palm trees, sipping coconuts as known as Cocos frios or trying to make a living. As a vendor, lady of tortillas or the local painter, in charge of the tacky wall decorations depicting sunsets in all their glory.
Since Guatemala has several problems, one is certainly a lack of garbage distribution system, the wildlife gets ruined daily with piles of trash, being left absolutely everywhere. The only solution by the locals is burning the trash, leading to lung disease as one of the most common causes of death among people. Western products find their way anywhere, so is cheap plastic and surplus of packaging. Picking up the litter on a Friday morning raises quite a few suspicious looks among residents, used to shoving the garbage out of driving vehicles. The country has a long way to go, starting with the basics, as it’s education or social welfare. A story about an abandoned boy, who sleeps in the hotel breaks a heart, as the only solution is the orphanage, with absolutely no other institution in the country willing to help. Guatemalan life is as harsh as the tropical heat and violent Pacific waves, crushing down the weakest.
No one backs down, not even just hatched tiny turtles on their first, for some the last, pathway to the ocean. This is the way of nature leaving only the strongest and most adaptable to survive, with others gone to a distant memory of past time.
The setting sun
But every evening, without exception, there comes a time, when the atmosphere changes. The beach, uninhibited during the day, comes alive just in time for the big spectacle. The wind calms down, the sky colours in every possible shade of dusty pink, the white foam caresses black sand while flocks of pelicans, orderly flying in line, take over the air. Residents hurry to the black dunes of sand with a childlike excitement only the sea can evoke. Since the water is too savage for most, probably only a few know how to swim, they stay on the verge of the ocean, dancing in the shallow water, until another big wave thrust them to the solid ground. They laugh and whoop and bury themselves in the sand, as there is nothing in the world to worry about. The beach is their playground, no matter what their age or social status.
The sun at the equator sets early, at around 6 o’clock, that is when the nightlife begins. With Monterrico being a hot spot for a weekend getaway of Guatemala City residents, the village fills with huge pickup trucks, brimming with people ready to let off some steam. No one escapes lustful reggaeton vibes overfilling the sizzling night atmosphere, there is an intense energy in the air, comprised out of need and desire. There is no point in pretence, animal instincts sleep in each one of us. The new cycle begins again, as the dawn rises and another day is born.