Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chopping coconuts, hanging with Alfredo, and dreaming of Cayawana

From the moment my ride picked me up and I heard the sounds of Reggaeton coming from the pickup truck’s speakers, I knew it’d be a good weekend.  I was riding to the beach with Amy and her friend Chris, and we were meeting 7 other CAG folks at a beach house. 

When Chris picked us up, he informed us we were going to take a back way to the beach, avoiding most of the city and taking the ferry.  It was definitely the way I would always choose to travel in a country as beautiful as Guatemala.  We enjoyed pretty good roads for the entire drive, and took in some beautiful countryside. 

You know you're in the Guatemalan
countryside when you come around the
corner and see this.

The ferry was the first part of the weekend’s adventure. 

“How often do the ferries leave?  Are we going to have to wait for one?” Amy asked.
Chris smirked.  “It’s not that kind of ferry.  Just wait,” he said.
“How many cars fit on it?” she asked.
“Two,” he answered.  And then, after a bit of thought, “…it’s really more of a car canoe than a ferry.”
“A car canoe?  What do you mean?”
“Just wait,” he told us. 
We waited.  And I couldn’t really envision it.  I definitely didn’t think it would look like this.

So we loaded the 2 cars in our small caravan (Michelle, Steph, and Kenra were following us), and all six of us hopped into the truck bed for the ride, enjoying a coco frio along the way. 

After the ferry, it was a pretty short trip to the beach house in Hawaii, a small village on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, near Monterrico, which is more of a tourist destination than Hawaii. 
Our beach house was large, with 5 bedrooms (2  queen beds in each), and it came with a pool and a gate right out onto the beach.  Ideal for a weekend escape. 

That first night included a lot of camaraderie as we got to know each other (of the 10 people there, I only knew Kenra and Amy really, and I rarely see them since we work in different sections of the school).  We still had our coconuts from the ferry, and we really wanted to crack them open and enjoy the meat inside.  We noted a machete around the front of the house, and the groundskeeper being around that evening, we asked him if we could use it.  He let us girls try until we realized we were failures, then he expertly chopped open our cocos for us. 

The man with the machete

Well, at least I made contact...

Saturday morning, most of us woke early (the sleep schedule of teachers) and spent the morning relaxing by the pool, reading or napping.  (Get up early in order to nap in the sun?  Hey, no judging.)  Mid-morning, Chris rented a 4-wheeler and gave Kenra and I lessons on how to drive it, since we hadn’t before, and we spent a fun hour running up and down the beach.  After that, and after a delicious lunch at the house, we continued with more of the same.  Read, snack, chat, swim, nap, repeat. 

At 5pm, we left the house to go into the town of Monterrico, where we found the guy with the bucket on the beach, gave him 10Q (about $1.25), and each received a baby sea turtle that we could personally release into the ocean.  The money goes towards Turtle Hatchery, an organization which buys turtle eggs from locals (who have found them on their stretch of beach) and reburies the eggs to keep them safe until hatch, then ensures they make it from sand to sea.  Their survival after that isn’t guaranteed, of course, but it gives the little guys a leg up.

Releasing my baby turtle (who I named Turbo, because he was super squirmy in my hand) was definitely a very cool experience.  I mean, what’s cuter than a baby sea turtle??  Not much.  Maybe an especially fluffy puppy.  Maybe.  But that’s not the point. 

After our turtle experience, we had dinner in town, then returned back to the beach house to celebrate Amy’s birthday (which was on Sunday). 

Sunday morning, Amy and I took a short run on the beach (because, why not?), and then we all reluctantly packed up and bid good-bye to our retreat.

The weekend was a close to perfect as I could ask for.  It was exactly what I needed—a perfect escape.  Escape from what, you ask?  From the city, from smoke and smog, from work and from the people I see every day.  It’s not that I don’t love all of those things (with perhaps the exception of smoke and smog), but I needed a break.  And this weekend gave me that break, leaving me refreshed and excited to see the city and the students and my colleagues again on Monday morning.

As for the wacky title of this post?
Well, cutting coconuts you understand.
Alfredo was purchased by Chris on our way to the beach.  He’s a pretty sweet ball—the kind with a handle that you’re supposed to sit on and bounce with.  He made a great pool companion.
And Cayawana?  Only the best country in the world.  Ask Amy about it.  She’s been there, I think.  

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