Play first, work later! That’s our approach to our February, 2016 Enfoque Ixcán trip to Guatemala. So here is a short travelogue of the beginning of our trip.

My wife, Joene, and I arrived a few days early this year to spend 3 days at the beach with a Guatemalan couple we have known for several years. Monterrico is a beautiful black sand beach on the Pacific coast, about 2 ½ hours south of Guatemala City. We stayed at a small and very fun hotel called Dulce y Salado (sweet and salty). A big part of the fun is the owners, Graciela and Favio, who interact with their guests like family. No Wi-Fi and no TV make the ocean the main attraction along with the delicious Italian meals Favio prepares.

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The beach has a steep approach, so the waves crash loudly when the water is rough. At night it’s like the sound of distant thunder. The four of us had lots of fun playing in the waves, which set us up for some relaxation in the quiet water of the pool.

The first evening we went to watch and help with the release of the day’s hatch of turtles. An eco-center oversees this turtle sanctuary. Eggs laid in October hatch this time of year and each day 15 or 20 are born. A line is drawn in the sand and with the help of on-lookers, the turtle race begins. The little guys, about the size of silver dollars, “race” down the beach to the oncoming waves. It looks like an overwhelming challenge and in fact, the chance of survival is only about 4%. But, they do what their ancestors have been doing for millions of years, take the plunge.

On day 2, Joene and I took a guided canoe trip through the Mangrove reserve. Our guide, Alexander, kindly showed us the flora and fauna of a part of this 15 miles long swamp. He stopped for photos of the many birds which live here. Joene got some great shots. The swamp also has an interesting fish called “four eyes,” cuatro ojos. Up to maybe 6 inches long, this fish swims at the surface with 2 eyes above the water and 2 more below. When disturbed it jumps partly out of the water and “flys” across the surface for up to 30 feet. Remarkable!!

An energizing massage and another beautiful sunset and I’m ready to go to the Ixcán and check some eyes. The beach was a wonderful way to begin the trip.

Scott Pike
Enfoque Ixcán
February 9, 2016