El Paredón – My personal Paradise // Guatemala // Part IV

We decided to do the entire route to our destination El Paredón by taking multiple Chickenbuses. From Santiago (Lago Atitlàn) our first stop was a small town called Cocales. Every Chickenbus has a bus driver and a ‘helper’ – a man who collects the money, which they do while the bus is driving and that can be very shaky and adventurous on the roads of Guatemala. The helper also gets out at every stop and yells out loud where the bus is going, during the ride he also stands in the frame of the open door, so he can easily jump out and help people get in and out. So we had asked the helper if they were going to Siquinala as well, and he confirmed so we didn’t have to switch buses in Cocales (one less Chickenbus – yes!). From Siquinala we switched to a different bus towards Sipacate. When we got to the small town we took a Tuk Tuk towards the lancha  (boat). From the small dock we drove along the river – Rio Acomé, which is parallel to the beach and flows into the ocean. Then we had to walk another 15min to get to our accommodation Soul Food Kitchen. We got a lovely welcome from the hosts and settled in at our new home for the next few days. As it was late afternoon already we didn’t do much, just checked out the beach and chilled by the pool for a while. In the evening we ate dinner at the restaurant that is part of the hotel (it’s not a hostel because they don’t have dorms, it’s more like a bed and breakfast feeling but without breakfast haha). The food was so delicious and finally something else for once – Thai and Indian curries and different types of asian noodle dishes! (Imagine my happy face right now). It was a successful Sunday! On Monday we decided to just chill out (we don’t do much more than that haha), we slept in (actually just me) and we went to a local place called Yolis, they cook out of their home kitchen and have a few tables on their patio. We ordered some pancakes and smoothies and we got huge portions for only 35 Quetzales each (4€ !!). We spent the day reading books we had borrowed from the bookshelf and enjoyed the tranquility of the beautiful oasis. We were the only guests staying there for the entire 5 days, and we loved it. We had organized some surf lessons for late afternoon and were super excited to get back in the water! It was so much fun and we had super friendly teachers, Jairon and Anderson who are our age and are local surfers. In the evening we ate at Soul Food Kitchen again, which we ended up doing every night because it was just so good! Tuesday and Wednesday were spent the same way. We got up, went to Yolis (one time we went somewhere else) for breakfast. Then just chilled by the pool, reading our books, taking a dip, reading some more, taking our surf lessons, eating dinner and then going to chill by the bonfire with the local surfers (Christian, Efren, Jairon, Anderson, Jorge etc.) – the guys were all super nice and chill and we had a great time talking and playing “Chinese whispers”  (I had to google the english translation and had no idea that you guys call this game by this name! In german it’s ‘Flüsterpost’). The best part was the sky. We could see endless stars and even the milky way as we waited patiently for shooting stars. I appreciate the little things the most… and coming from a big city with many lights I unfortunately can’t see many stars there, but the universe gifts me with its beauty in many places around the world. And all I wished for, when I saw a shooting star, was that I want tomorrow to be a good day. And it was.

Overall we had an amazing time in El Paredòn. To be honest it was more than amazing, it was one of the best places I have seen and experienced in all of my travels. Just a small surfer village only accessible by watertaxi (there is a road but it takes way longer and is not the fun way to do this haha), NO WIFI – which made everything so special and even more enjoyable. The whole vibe of the place was just tranquilo (calm, serene). No stress, no drama – literally good vibes only.  The beach was beautfiul; black sand, huts made out of palm trees and barely any people  (maybe the most was 20 people). There are only a few restaurants and hotels/hostels around, a few shops to buy snacks and then just fields and the houses of  the locals. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, always vibranting with good energies. We were fortunate enough to be alone at our accommodation, so we got to know the owner a little bit. Gary is a middle aged man (maybe between 45-50 something) and has traveled all around the world. Originally from South Africa, he has opened up 14 restaurants in different countries. He stays somwhere for a few years, builts up a restaurant, works on it until he wants to move on and sells it to locals. He had opened up his last restaurant in Honduras where he had lived for 6 years. After Honduras he originally wanted to go to Nicaragua but he had some problems on the border so he decided to stay in Guatemala. About 2 years ago he started his project in El Paredòn, with his restaurant Soul Food Kitchen.  He actually didn’t plan on adding rooms, a pool and a hang out area but he changed his mind and did. A young couple, Caroline from the USA and her boyfriend Dani from Guatemala City, have been working with Gary for the last 6 months with Caroline being the manager. They are currently building a bar area and a small appartment for Gary. The couple is probably going to take over the place once he decides to move on. The 3 were super nice and interesting people, and we felt very comfortable and welcomed by them. I enjoyed my time here so so much, and I might have left a little piece of my heart there. I can’t even describe what it is – but if you have ever felt a strong, vibrant and unique connection to a place then you can probably understand. To me the people that I meet influence my perception and feeling of a place extremely, and in this case they have made it very special. This is the oasis I’ve been dreaming about and I have found it. Dreams do come true, and your own, personal paradise really does exist! You just gotta believe in it and one day you will find it. Trust me.  With that being said, we had to leave my favorite place on Thursday morning. I was actually pretty bumped, I could’ve easily spent a few years there. But life goes on, and I will return for sure. We took a shuttle to Antigua and spent our last day strolling around, eating some good food and Lina also did some souvenir shopping while I was sleeping in the hostel dorm (I stayed up very late so I was super tired). We went to bed early and woke up around 3am to go to the airport. Our uber driver picked us up and once we were at the airport we checked in and waited for our flight. We have really enjoyed our time here in Guatemala, and once again I am so grateful for all the amazing opportunities in my life. I can definitely recommend you guys all the places we have traveled here – Guatemala is a beautiful country, it has so much history and culture that is still alive today and the nature is unbelievably stunning (there are over 37 vulcanos!), the people are genuine and compassionate. I already see myself in the future – traveling a few months through Mexico and then going down to Guatemala, Belice, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. Hopefully with a surfboard in my arms. On Friday morning we arrived in Costa Rica and our ways parted, I went back home to Poás and Lina went back to Heredia…

Gracias Guatemala por tu amabilidad!

//Olivia

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