During my previous trip in 95 I hadn't dropped down to the Guatemalan Pacific Coast. I had in Mexico and Costa Rica but for some reason had bypassed it here. This time however my son Cole had become very interested when I'd mentioned 'black sand,' so we slated it in. It was a leisurely ride down from Antigua and when we arrived at the coastal city of Puerto Quetzal we headed south following the coastline to Monterrico. It was New Year's Day so things were pretty busy, very busy in fact and very very hot! This particular bit of the Guatemalan coastline caught me off guard. Not so much by the absence of beaches, but in the sense of their inaccessibility. I'm used to riding coastlines with water in plain view, here however the road was set back from the coast so no water was in sight, if it wasn't for the map one wouldn't even know there was a coastline to be found. Instead every now and then a road would cut toward the beach and a cluster of resorts, lots of in and out roads if you will, and a tad disappointing if I were to be honest.
We eventually found a place by water's edge and the resort manager, a big burly fisherman, cut us a deal so we settled in for the night. It was a pretty cool place, lots of swimming pools, a bar pool, a restaurant and patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean...and the black sand beach which Cole took advantage of as the sun sank lower in the sky. I must say it really was a beautiful setting and the sand was indeed black as Cole can testify to as he filled a ziplock bag to take home to Canada.
The next day we headed out for Tikal. It was going to be a long day and I didn't think we could make it in one shot so we aimed for Rio Dulce. It turned out to be a long day that took us through the guts of Guatemala City and numerous roadworks but we arrived in Rio Dulce just after nightfall and found a place on the edge of town that looked like home for the night. For the most part we slept well, except for gunshots in the night, at least we think they were gunshots. When they went off I looked at Cole to see his reaction.
"Fireworks," I said in an effort to maintain calm as they definitely sounded like gun shots.
"No dad, gunshots," he replied unphased.
I wasn't sure but I was some impressed by his cool demeanour. He was getting to see and 'hear' a lot on this adventure and that was the point wasn't it?