Montericco is a beach town along the Pacific coast near the Guatemala-El Salvador border. It’s a popular get-away spot for local Guatemalans. It can only reasonably be reached by traveling by boat along the Canal de Chiquimulilla which runs from La Avellana to Montericco. The canal is a busy waterway and looks and feels a lot you’re going up the Nung river in Apocalypse Now (only without the violence). There are many little waterways off the main canal and it looks like you could very easily get lost….either on purpose or by accident. Our boat was an open, flat bottom wood boat with a small outboard motor. Other boats were larger versions of this; some large enough to transport cars and trucks along with people. The other boats we passed were extremely crowded and there was definitely a festive air to them. Our little boat generated a lot of attention because we were probably the only white people for miles around. We were safe because we were with Denis and Sari who are well known and well liked in the community, but even Nancy said she wouldn’t have done this trip without a local Guatemalan along. I admit, I would have felt very foolish and unsafe had we done this alone.
The southern part of the country is more impoverished than the rest of Guatemala and, honestly, it was a kind of heart-breaking abject poverty that I have never been exposed to before. Of course, there are reasons for this. Guatemala endured a civil war that lasted from 1960-1996. In a nutshell, democratically held elections brought a leftist, pro-worker government into power. The US had big economic interests in the country and a leftist government just wouldn’t do. A coup was staged and the first of many military dictators was installed. Many Mayan villages were burned and people were displaced from their land during this period and when the peace accords were signed in 1996, they went back to reclaim their land only to find they were “owned” by someone else. All these refugees had to be relocated somewhere and down south was one place with land available….likely because it’s so difficult to cultivate among other reasons. The terrible poverty we see here today is a legacy of a 30 year war.
But I digress. We stayed a couple hours at the beach watching the waves and the people and then trekked back through town to the boat landing. Back in La Avellana there was a place where you could buy a fresh coconut and drink the water inside. Since I had never done this before, my traveling companions decided that I MUST. So I got a coconut, De
nis hacked off the top part with a machete that was standing around and popped a straw in it for me. After being out all day in the heat and humidity, the cold, sweet coconut water was amazing! Before I knew it, we were back at Denis’s compound having dinner and then tucking in to bed. That’s when the storm hit. It came out of nowhere…an absolute deluge of rain that was deafening when it hit the metal roof. It was so cool! I stood outside my room and just watched and listened. Almost every time it would thunder and lightning the power would go off….then the generator would kick in and the power would come back on…..then go off….then on…..it was wild. I think this storm was the tail of Hurricane Michael.