I’d heard a lot about Monterrico, Guatemala, a tiny tourist destination located in the southwest corner of Guatemala. Nothing I heard was particularly positive, other than it was warm and cheap… but I heard nothing that was negative either. So I decided to make it my last stop in Guatemala before continuing my journey south.
I planned to spend just one night there, Thursday night, and then move on. I intended to take a launcha (boat taxi) or the ferry to La Avellana, a trip that takes just 30 minutes and costs only Q5 (US$1.65). Once I got to land I planned on taking a bus to Taxisco, which would have been another 30 minutes and Q5. From Taxisco I would be able to catch a chicken bus that would take me to the El Salvador frontier.
Well, I spent 3 days in Monterrico, spending two nights at Hotel el Delfin before leaving Saturday afternoon on the 4:00 PM shuttle bus back to Antigua. Before going right back to where I started from, a business necessity, I had ample time to explore Monterrico.
There is only one main street in Montericco that has businesses on it, and a couple of secondary roads with a handful of businesses along each. There are a handful of residential roads too, but that’s it for the city centre. The main street is paved, but very few other roads are, or are only partly paved. In other words, Monterrico is a typical rural Guatemalan village. Being as tourism is the primary income source there are 16 hotels and hostels in tiny Monterrico. As one would expect, there are dozens of restaurants and bars as well, many of which were closed for the season. There is a bank, numerous shops selling swimwear, flip flops and assorted summer clothing, and a lot of convenience stores that sell fresh produce, beer, soda pop, ice cream and assorted confectionery goods. There was an auto repair place, which was actually a shed set up on a lot where cars and motorcycles were being repaired. I was surprised to find a barber shop near the launcha docks, so I stopped to have my new goatee trimmed for the first time.
I’m not homophobic. However, having my face caressed by an openly gay man, far from where my goatee was located, was a creepy sensation. Since I had a straight razor being pulled across my face I sat perfectly still, eyes closed, and remained silent – the sarcastic comments I’d thought up kept to myself. Travel writer and blogger Bob Inman, who I traveled with to Montericco, decided to opt out of a trim for his goatee, instead choosing to enjoy the show.
The Monterrico launcha and ferry docks are the most interesting feature of the village, and where tours of the mangrove swamp, the only major sightseeing attraction, depart from. The large number of launchas tied up for the rainy season, like the closed up restaurants and bars along the main street, hint at the vast number of tourists that visit Monterrico during high season.
Monterrico is far from being an enticing tourist destination. Fortunately, no one visiting Monterrico is there for city lights and stimulating night life. Most visitors are there to enjoy the beach. Others come to take part in the collection of sea turtle egg and/or the release of baby turtles hatched at the two turtle hatcheries. The village itself does little more than accommodation the needs of visiting tourists, and does it adequately.
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