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Last day in Monterrico

We went to bed around 9 pm last night. We are crazy gringo party animals. We invited Nate to sleep on the pull-out bed below our bunkbeds tonight because he didn’t sleep very well on the couch in the family room the night before. There are no window coverings in there and the lights from outside were shining right on him. He fell asleep almost immediately, but he didn’t last very long. There was thumping music and fireworks keeping the rest of us awake until about midnight. And that’s about the time Nate decided he would rather sleep on the couch than in our room. I guess we are too noisy with our random coughs and snoring. I woke Charmaine up a few times to get her to stop snoring, but I think I slept pretty well overall.

We finally ate the granola and milk for breakfast. No sense letting it go to waste (or spoil in our cars on the way back). We negotiated with our Airbnb hosts for a later checkout. It’s usually 11:00, but they said we could stay till 2:00. We were out by 1:00.

Back to the beach

The ocean called us back again this morning. There’s just something magical about being out in the waves, even when they’re not that good. I’m drawn to it. It’s amazing that we ever moved away from San Diego. I wonder if we’ll ever live in a warm location with a beach again. I hope so, but I’m not sure. It feels like it might be a trade-off that isn’t worth it.

There were a lot more people on the beach today. We didn’t have it to ourselves. There was still a big warning sign right as you left the hotel about the “dangerous currents” in both Spanish and English. I have to say, there were no rip currents or sneaker waves or side channels or whatever else. But it’s definitely not a place to be in the water if you’re not a strong confident swimmer. You will get pounded into the dirt by these waves, and the dirt is made of volcanic gravel. It’s not something you want to drag your face across. I wore a white athletic shirt to help protect me from both the sun and the breaking waves. It worked well, but I doubt I’ll ever get the tiny black sand particles out of it. And that’s OK with me.

After about an hour playing out there and basically being the entertainment for lots of rich Guatemalan families who had come down to enjoy their weekend at this ritzy kid and family paradise, a few of them ventured out into the ocean. Up to this point, nobody we had seen had ever stepped more than about 2 feet into the water. Now we had real Guatemalans seeing how fun it was and how easily we recovered after unexpected things happened to us, and they couldn’t resist trying it themselves. It didn’t end well for them. They were too uncertain to go out deep enough to get past the trough where the waves break closest to shore. After one or two of those, they went back to shore.

Always in the spotlight

When we went back into the secure area of the resort, past the guards with shotguns, through the showers to remove the black sand (nobody wants that crap in their pool), we hung out in the “deep” (4 feet) pool. Soon the kids wanted to do chicken fights, but that wasn’t a great idea. Eventually Brett turned that energy into something good and had each kid stand on his shoulders and they would both hold their arms out in a ‘T’ while Jess took their pictures. I’m sure she got plenty of good ones. There was a lot of laughing and giggling as they were learning how to perfect the pose and falling into the pool. It attracted a lot of attention from little Guatemalan kids who thought it looked awesome. It did look pretty cool. Soon there were Guatemalan dads in the deep pool with their kids standing on their shoulders. It was pretty cool to see.

We were aiming to leave by 1:00, so by 11:00 we left the pools and headed back to our condo to clean up and start packing up so we would have time for another round of fancy drinks and a great lunch at the snack shack (I’m still sorry and a bit embarrassed that I never found out the real name of that restaurant — it definitely wasn’t called “the snack shack”). We sat down at a table for lunch around 11:30. There were a lot of families with a similar idea to ours, so things moved a little more slowly than usual, but they still delivered some great food.


By this point almost everyone had decided the Pina coladas were the best fancy drink. We actually bought them out of Pina coladas yesterday. Today I opted for Horchata, because nobody from our group had tried it yet. It was pretty good, but not as good as the Pina coladas, and not as good as the horchatas we had found back in Antigua (we are so spoiled). The rest of the group got more Pina coladas. We saw them adding sweetened condensed milk to them as they were making them. I had suspected that ingredient from the first time I had one. No wonder everyone loves them.

Tortilla soup
Tortilla soup

I tried to order Arepas, but they were out. I decided not to order anything and just steal some of Charmaine’s tortilla soup and nachos. That was a brilliant move on my part, because I wasn’t all that hungry after the huge bowl of granola I had earlier, and Charmaine ordered way more food than she could eat. In fact, some of it went to Nate, who was waiting at the end of the table for scraps. Jess went with the steak that everyone raved so much about last night, and Brett switched things up and got chicken fajitas. Other than the nachos, each dish was another hit. The fajitas were quite spicy, which was really great. I added some of Brett’s chicken to a few nachos. Mmm. When Charmaine was done with her soup, we added some of Jess’s rice to it and gave it to Nate. He consumed it so fast you’d think he hadn’t been fed in days. I don’t think his body has a “full” indicator; he can always eat more. I don’t think we’re going to miss that place, even though it was so great, because we’re headed right back to Antigua and our in-home chefs, who are amazing.

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

The checkout process was super smooth and easy. We were back on the road in no time. We made sure each car had 15 Quetz to pay the bridge toll on our way out. Traffic along the beach going back to the autopista was insane. It’s a tiny two-lane road through a couple tiny beach towns. But groups of crazy idiots would all pull out to pass and just keep driving in the left lane, forcing oncoming traffic off the road. The main body of traffic was going along close to the speed limit of 60 kmph, but the groups passing on the left must have been going more than 100 kmph. Eventually they all had to merge back in so they could cross the toll bridge. That was interesting. There was a minivan trying to alpha his way in between me and Brett. I didn’t allow it. I just kept moving closer and closer to his van until he backed off. Charmaine was a little nervous about how close I was getting, but I knew there was plenty of room for me to move away to the right if I had to… and we were only going about 1 kmph at the time. But I did get within about 3 inches of the right side of his van. It was easy for me to see how close we were getting, because I was sitting on that side. The driver of the van knew his car well, but not well enough to trust how close I was getting to him.

The toll bridge worked the same as before, but this time we paid the toll and drove on through. The highway coming south was really nice and smooth like any highway in the states, but our side of the highway going north was anything but smooth. I’m a little surprised we didn’t get a flat or go out of alignment on our way back. It was pretty crazy. But the drive went smoothly and we arrived in Antigua early enough to have a snack, unpack, make some plans for the week, eat diner, and do some church. Then we cleaned everything up and headed to bed.

Tomorrow at 9:00 am we’ll return the cars, which probably means we’re going to have to leave here by 8:30 to drive the 1.5 miles through crazy Antigua traffic. On Tuesday we’ll be climbing Volcan Pacaya and camping somewhere on the mountain. It’s erupting pretty good right now, so we should see some interesting stuff on that adventure. And later this week we’re heading into the jungle to swim the pools of Semuc Champey. I doubt there will be internet access either place, so some posts will be delayed a few days.

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