Travel Shots: Monterrico’s Black sand, Brown rum

Kate and Katie’s Excellent Adventure came to an end just in time to meet Cami at the airport. Cami is one of the volunteachers who I met in Chile.  Coincidentally, while I was in Guatemala, Cami and her family planned to volunteer in Guatemala City with an organization called ProjectWalk.  With our stars aligned, Cami and I enjoyed a short reunion before she prepared for a challenging two weeks in Guatemala City.  We had one mission: Get Cami to the beach!

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Monterrico is the closest beach to Antigua, but it is not quite like the beaches in Costa Rica or Panama. The black sand from the volcanoes makes the beach unbearably hot during the day.  So hot, in fact, that you cannot walk on it comfortably until dusk.
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Monterrico’s intense sunlight and body-crushing waves kept us off the beach almost the entire weekend.  Aside from a few evening strolls down the coast, we stuck to the hostel’s hammocks and swimming pools, the latter of which were more like warm baths by noon.
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 With no where to go to cool off, we sought shade in the cafe at Johnny’s Place, an infamous Guatemalan hostel.  When we walked in, Cami and I were greeted by excitable Guatemalans who insisted on buying us welcome shots of Guatemala’s best rum, Ron Zacapa.  The generosity didn’t stop there, our new amigos insisted on buying rounds of sangria, cuba libres, and even dinner.
We soon learned why the Guatemalans were eating and drinking so excessively (if not just for the fun of it).  It is impossible to sleep through a night in the Monterrico heat without a few shots of rum.  We learned this one night too late.
On our first night in Monterrico, neither jungle-strength bug repellent nor cold showers helped us sleep. Instead, we laid awake cursing the humidity and hungry mosquitoes throughout the night.  By Saturday night, we got the memo, and by Sunday, we were ready to get the hell off the coast and back to the airy mountains.
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Before we left though, Cami and I explored the Monterrico nightlife.  With four options for dinner in the one-road town,  we stopped at the first cafe with a friendly face.  No menu to be seen, an older Guatemalan woman greeted us at the door then cooked up the plato del dia before we could change our minds.
Served with heads, scales, tales and a huge citranella candle, Cami and I forgot about the heat long enough to enjoy a wonderful meal. On our way back to the hostel, we heard an acoustic guitar and cheerful singing coming from a local bar.  Unable to pass up live music, Cami and I spent our last quetzales on cuba libres and sat in for a song.
Too soon, Cami and I parted ways.  She stayed on to volunteer at a hospital in Guatemala City while I made my way back to the US of A with my adventures on hold. For now.
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Kate Springer

Freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong. Contributor at CNN, Forbes Travel Guide, BBC Travel, Fodor's Travel Guide, superfuture, Tatler, and more.

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