Guatemala and Ecuador 6/30/16 - 7/20/16

Sunday, 7/17/16 - Road Trip to Champerico on the Pacific Coast

We had a great excursion to the Pacific coast today, to visit the black sand beaches of Champerico. It was our first time visiting the Guatemalan coast, though Humberto and family had made several trips since purchasing their van.

We left the house at 6:30 a.m. The family had packed a cooler with food and drinks, and we all brought bathing suits, towels, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The kids had just rolled out of bed, and settled in for a nap as soon as they got in the van.

Humberto drove as far as Solola, at which point we picked up his driver Victor, who would drive the rest of the way.

We made a pit stop along the way to lend a hand to a tuk-tuk driver who needed to borrow some tools to fix a mechanical problem. It was a nice chance to stretch our legs and view the beautiful mountain scenery.

Later, we stopped at "Churrascos y Ceviches El Viajero" for breakfast. It was an outdoor roadside stand with tables and stools. A man was cooking churrasco in a large pot full of boiling oil. The family bought several plates of the fried pork, along with tortillas, cole slaw, chilies, lime, and avocado. Paulina also made ham, cheese, mayo, and ketchup sandwiches with picnic supplies she had brought from home.

After about half an hour, we were on our way once again. As we descended out of the mountains, the vegetation changed, and we started to see palm and banana trees. Roadside stalls sold bananas and coconuts.

When we arrived in Champerico at 11:30 a.m., we pulled into the garage at Rancho El Bucanero. We could park the car here while we went to the beach, and then we could return to swim in the pool and eat in the restaurant.

The beach here is comprised of volcanic black sand. There was a picturesque old pier in the distance. There were areas covered by tarps where we could sit in plastic chairs in the shade as long as we purchased some food from the vendors. This was no problem...we all immediately got nice green coconuts and enjoyed the coconut water. The kids got fancy granizadas (snow cones).

The large waves were breaking in curls that looked perfect for surfing. The waves were intense, and so was the undertow. Though Craig and I only waded up to our knees, we had a hard time staying on our feet! Many laughs ensued as we all were thrashed about by the surf.

A nice man stayed by us and helped to keep an eye on the younger kids, especially Aracely and Eddy, who were easily buffeted by the waves. There was a lifeguard on duty preventing people from going too deep. But you certainly didn't need to go deep to have fun!

At one point the waves pushed Humberto into Craig, knocking Craig off his feet and into the water. At another point, Craig and I were both knocked down by the undertow. The sun was very strong and hot, and the waves were exhausting, so Craig and I soon took refuge under the tarps while the kids continued to play in the waves.

Humberto tried to take baby Ian Ivan down to the water, but he would have none of it. He also didn't like the sand; when dad tried to set him down in the sand, Ian clung to him for dear life and refused to put his legs down, sticking them out at a 90 degree angle like a cat refusing to get into a cat carrier. He tuckered himself out crying, and eventually fell asleep in Humberto's arms.

We all had black sand stuck to our bodies. When everyone was sufficiently tired, we toweled ourselves off and brushed off as much sand as possible.

We walked back to Rancho El Bucanero. Several swimming pools were flanked with thatch-roofed dining areas. We rinsed ourselves down wih their freshwater hose, and then we claimed a table and put our beach bags down. They laid the sleeping Ian Ivan onto a bed of towels on the table. Vanesa and I stayed with the sleeping Ian while the kids, Craig, Paulina, and Humberto went swimming in the pools.

When Ian woke up, the family tried to convince him to go swimming. He was quite hesitant at first after the trauma of the sand. They sat with him by the pool's edge and let him play with a pail of water. Eventually he got wet enough that he didn't mind getting into the pool. They ditched his diaper and Paola swam him around the pool.

When everyone was done swimming, we reconvened at the table for lunch. We had local fried shrimp, salad, and French fries and glass bottles of Orange Crush. It was very tasty. The only complaint we had was the tenacity of the vendors. People would bother us throughout our meal, trying to sell us coconuts, peanut brittle, and ugly turkeys made out of sea shells (?). No, we don't want a turkey made out of sea shells. No, we STILL don't want a turkey made out of sea shells.

After that, we walked around town a bit. The girls did some shopping. We were constantly bothered by pedicab drivers. They followed us around and didn't seem to understand that we actually wanted to go for a walk. Maybe it was our mere presence, as the only gringos within miles!

At 5 p.m., we got back into the van and headed home. It had been a long, satisfying day, and we were all tired. Craig and I, being oversized gringos, were a bit too large to get truly comfortable in the crowded van. The sun, waves, and long drive had taken a lot out of us, and we were anxious to get back to the house.

We hit some serious fog as we gained altitude, but luckily Victor was able to navigate safely. After a couple of pit stops (including a stop to get some snacks; Craig and I had been craving ice cream, and we got some Tortrix Chile-ros also), we arrived back at the house at 9:30 p.m.

Thanks to Humberto, Paulina, the kids, and Victor for making this a truly memorable and fun day for all! This had been our first trip to the Guatemalan coast, even though we have visited the country regularly over the past 9 years. We had been to the highlands and the jungle, and now we have been to the Pacific coast as well!

When we got back to the house, we had a quick, functional dinner of ramen noodles and chamomile tea. Everyone was exhausted after the long round-trip drive and a day spent in the sun and surf.
A day at the beach in Champerico

A day at the beach in Champerico

Playing in the waves at Champerico

Playing in the waves at Champerico

Paola at Champerico

Paola at Champerico

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