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Erica's Travel Adventures

Playa Likin

GUATEMALA | Sunday, 6 January 2013 | Views [1381] | Comments [1]

December 26 we packed up our stuff and headed to Playa Likin (playa means beach).  Dani and Ari assured us that it was nothing special, but they’re very wrong.  Their beach house is very spacious with enough beds to fit about 15 people comfortably.  Ari, Dani, Cara and I shared a room again, and the other rooms were occupied by Oshi’s mom, sister, brother-in-law, nephews and niece.  The Farchis recently redid their backyard, and it is stunning.  There is a beautiful pool with a waterfall and a tanning area.  Next to the pool is a hut-like canopy.  It is complete with tropical plants, hammocks, and plenty of lounging areas.  There is a set of stairs that go down to their pier where they keep a boat and a wave runner.  The houses are set up on a canal so in order to get to the actual beach from their house you have to go by water.  Ari took Cara and me on the wave runner and David drove Dani in the boat.  They took us all around the water to show us the beach area.  The beaches there are all black sand because of the volcanoes.  It’s very cool! 

 Our first complete day at the beach house David took us to learn how to water ski.  It was the perfect day to go because not many people were at the beach yet so there were almost no boats out.  It took me a lot of tries but I finally stood up, and I loved it.  After Cara and I spent a couple of hours inhaling salt water and falling on our faces, Ari showed us what it looks like to actually water ski.  We met Ari’s friend Julianna and her very nice family.  Julianna took me for a ride on her wave runner (it’s amazing to me that 14 year olds are so efficient driving on the water).  Then Julianna’s dad took us on his boat to watch her wakeboard.  She was incredible!  She would hold on with one hand like it was nothing and do jumps.  She made it look very easy.  The afternoon flew by and before I knew it we were heading back to the house for lunch (these people eat lunch around 3:00 PM and a light dinner around 7:30). 

 That evening we went back out on the boat to go tubing.  I was not very good at holding on and managed to bruise my entire body from hitting the water at all angles (totally worth it).  By the end my arms were so tired because of the water skiing earlier and from holding on for dear life.  I think I spent just as much time in the water as on the tube.  Ari managed to weasel her way into the center between me and Cara so she hardly fell off (possibly not at all?  I can’t remember).  Cara and I were not so lucky.  And in our defense, we are as seasoned as Ari who has grown up at the beach (terrible excuse).  Needless to say, I was exhausted at the end of the night!  I went to bed early because Cara and I were getting up early to hike Pacaya, one of Guatemala’s active volcanoes. 

 We woke up at 6:30 AM, an hour I hadn’t seen since my arrival in Guatemala.  Cara and I went with Julie and Moty, Ari and Dani’s aunt and uncle.  The entire upper half of my body ached from the previous day’s activities and my whole body was covered in sunburns.  I was looking forward to evening out the pain with a nice leg workout up the volcano.  We drove about an hour and a half and at the bottom of the volcano we found a guide to lead us.  We bought walking sticks from young children for 5 quetzales each.  That’s less than one American dollar.  This was the first time I saw the impoverished side of Guatemala.  I felt terrible that these kids weren’t out playing and, instead, had to work while I enjoyed the luxury of their country’s terrain, but I was glad we could help them out.  There were also men with horses asking us if we wanted a taxi up.  We were all very determined to hike the whole way and told them no, gracias.  Clearly, we were not the first gringos to attempt the constant uphill climb because they followed us with their horses up the hill.  Not 10 minutes in to our trek we all begged for horses.  I’d like to think I decided not to hike so that I could truly enjoy the beauty of the volcano and its surroundings.  We stopped a couple of times at breathtaking look out points to take pictures and admire the views.  We spoke to the horse owners, and one of them said that in his lifetime Pacaya had erupted 5 times!  When we reached the farthest point that the horses could go, there was a stand selling bracelets with bits of volcanic rock put into them.  The proceeds went to help the poor communities surrounding the volcano.  Cara and I each bought a bracelet, which came with intricate, handmade cloth bags.  We walked the last few hundred yards up the volcano as high as we could go.  Nobody was allowed to go to the crater that day because it was too hot.  I felt like we were on the moon because there was seemingly no sign of life and mounds of volcanic rock everywhere.  Our guide brought marshmallows that we roasted from the heat of some rocks.  It was so cool!  Then we hiked up a little peak and he took some pictures for us.  We ran into a lot of Americans and spoke with a kid on a stop for Semester at Sea.  Naturally, he was Jewish, and Julie wanted Cara to get his number.  The kid heard us talking about it which was very amusing (not for Cara). 

 Our descent down the volcano went relatively smoothly, except for the pounds of sand that accumulated in our shoes and the amount of times we all slipped.  When we were almost all the way down we turned around to see a huge puff of smoke come out of the volcano.  It was so cool!  Our guide said it would have been even better if we had been up at the top and even though he is constantly at Pacaya it’s not something he sees all of the time!  He was so excited about the volcano and very knowledgeable which made it all the more fun and interesting.  As we drove to drop our guide off where we picked him up we stopped to give our sticks back to the kids so that they could resell them.  I passed out on the car ride home!  We got back to the house by 1:00 ish and were prepared for a rough day of reading and lounging by the pool. 

 We spent the next few days swimming, tubing, reading, relaxing and eating.  Our favorite treat was chocolate covered bananas (I think I ate at least 1 a day, if not more).  The lifestyle never got old, and I would go back in a heartbeat.  I couldn’t believe I was so lucky as to be in such a stunning place with such incredible people.  We spent a lot of time playing with Dani and Ari’s adorable cousins.  They spent so much time in the pool and were so fun to splash with and play with!  We spent one afternoon on the beach and the kids loved to be in the ocean and see all of the boats pass by.  The black sand made my skin so soft and smooth.  We only swam in the canal area because the waves in the actual ocean have a lot of rip tides and strong currents and isn’t very safe.  There was an old house on the beach that was broken down from the waves and a lot of driftwood ended up on the shore.  We also watched the sunset a couple of times on the beach, which was gorgeous!  The sky was pink and orange and the sun fell so quickly!

 Our last night at the beach was New Year’s Eve.  We spent the day soaking up sun and watching another sunset.  Cara and I decided we wanted to wade in the ocean (there were a lot of people there) and we finally understood the waves.  They hit you and move back out so quickly that it’s hard to stand up!  Both of us got black sand all in our bathing suits and all over our faces and hair.  When Ari and Dani told us we would ruin our suits they weren’t kidding.  David maneuvered through the waves like a pro, making Cara and me look even more ridiculous.  It was a good experience. 

 That night we went to a neighboring friend’s beach house to celebrate New Year’s Eve with mainly the same families that were in Irtra.  We had a nice dinner and it was very calm and low key, except for the fireworks.  Guatemalans love their fireworks on New Year’s Eve.  At the house we were at, we must have set off all sorts of fireworks for at least an hour before midnight.  They have all kinds of sparklers and fireworks that swirl around.  They also have paper parachutes that they light and put in the sky that look beautiful.  At midnight everybody sets off fireworks.  The sky is covered with them for at least 30 minutes, and they all look like professional shows even though they come from people’s yards.  I’ve never seen so many fireworks at once in my life!  The sky is foggy from all of them.  The only one I didn’t like were the ones that were set off on the ground and could fly in any direction.  I tried to stand far away from those, especially when anyone under 14 was lighting them.  Seeing the fireworks and spending time with all of these kind people was a great way to bring in the new year and a fabulous end to our vacation at the beach.       

Comments

1

So happy to get to read what you are up to. Sounds like the time of your life!

  Leah adler Jan 7, 2013 6:25 AM

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