The holidays are always an adventure when traveling. There is a slight panic of demand for experiencing something special, a trip within a trip. This New Years’ was no different. For the first time in my life, I found myself in my native country, with no family to whom I could simply attach myself too. I suddenly realized my dependency when I began constructing a list of possibilities. The only conclusion I arrived at was a bit dreary. Elevated prices at every hotel and increased chance of runs ins with drunk drivers on the road. April and I don’t exactly subscribe to common practices of hard partying and staying up all night either. We glumly agreed to stay in Guatemala city and ‘guard’ the homestead.
Another thing I don’t like is telephones. I shy away from ever having to carry on a conversation without present company, or at least written word. I’ve even been quoted saying “I’d rather go hungry than have to call to order a pizza.” But as a dutiful grand-daughter and grateful guest here, I answered the telephone in lieu of my Manina. Forty-five minutes later we were loading baskets of random food hastily collected from the house, a change of clothes and our neglected books into the back of a chauffeured SUV Crossover.
It was an easy drive out of the capital (seems no one else wanted to be on the road on New Year’s Eve). We watched the landscape change for 2 hours, crossing the volcanic chains that separates the cool highlands from the heat of the Pacific coast. The air changed and we felt invigorated – altitude can have serious effect on morale.
The sun had just finished setting when we arrived in Chulamar – described in untouchable terms by most guidebooks as an exclusive home/resort area for ‘Guatemala’s wealthy elite’. The sightseeing would have to wait as we acquainted ourselves with our hosts; old friends of the family. We feasted on mouthwatering boquitas, meaning appetizers – but more literally translated to ‘little mouths’, a fact that still makes me giggle – until dinner arrived. April finagled her way into a fresh coconut infused with some of the finest Guatemalan rum, Ron Zacapa, merrily referred to as a Coco Loco. As the midnight approached, families and neighbours gathered on the charcoal volcanic sand strip dividing dreamy getaway homes and hard, steadied whiplash of the Pacific Ocean. Like so many other holidays in this country, the launching of coloured firebombs into the sky is the main event and we were warned (excitedly) that the neighbours held the audacious reputation as champions of this beach.
Size matters. Volume matters. They didn’t even bother with the colourful sparklers. Other neighbours were already littering the sky with low lying smokes of etherial twinkling, emerald sparkle and violet comets. These neighbours lit bombs, larger than a fully grown coco, rocketing into darkness and riveting through our chests. It was enthralling.
Just one single projectile failed to explode, careening back to earth and the village children gathered below; I’ve never seen children run so fast.
As if on cue, just as the party was shifting into full gear, April and I felt the call of our cool air conditioned rooms. Those younger than us were just departing to massive parties and concerts on the beach. Their parents exclaimed “Good riddance, now we can really get the night going!”
The next morning, we caught a glimpse of the ocean and melted into the poolside sofas. Aside from a few runs down the beach, a rodeo round on the quads and some laps swam, April and I, coffee in one hand, book in the other, were permanent fixtures for 5 glorious days.
~ An Extraordinary Story by Karina Noriega ~
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